I have a question for you. I do not want you to tell me the truth. I want you to tell me what you think I want to hear. Here is the question: Am I fat?
Rob Miller and I stood on the top of Private Property, a crag outside of the Tioga Pass gate to Yosemite National Park. From nine that morning until five that evening, we climbed at the steep granite sport cliff. The routes featured some of the best rock in the Sierras. We stuffed ourselves first with the quality of the climbing and then we over loaded on quantity. At the parking lot, I sat with the sliding door open in Rob's mini-van, packing my face full of junk food, trying to satiate my appetite. I was tired, hungry, and I desperately needed to stuff myself.
Rob's calves are hearts, his biceps bulge through his shirt, and when he is not establishing new hard free routes in Yosemite, he works as a personal trainer at his own Crossfit gym in Santa Cruz. Rob is a dictionary; he has definition. He carefully cracked a 16 ounce can of imported Japanese beer, grabbed two pieces of low-fat string cheese, and tore open a bag of organic nuts.
Rob poured some macadamias into his hand. He counted them, plucked three from his palm, and returned them to the bag.
"How many macadamias do you eat Rob?" I jammed a fistful of cheese poofs into my mouth.
"Well James," his eyes scanned me. "I eat ten but you, since you are a little," he paused and his cheeks ballooned, "you would only want to eat seven."
I spit out my Cheetos.
A year later, Rob and I stopped at Inn & Out burger in Manteca. We regularly stopped on the drive back from Jailhouse, the steep Sonora crag we climbed at. This was our twentieth time getting dinner there. Occasionally, I would buy Rob's burger or he would buy mine.
We walked in and behind the counter was Stacy, the beautiful Inn & Out girl. Flush with the pride of having sent my climbing project, I sauntered up to the counter.
"I have the Inn & Out urge." I told her. She tilted her head.
"I would like a double-double," I said. "I really like the two meat patties on the sandwhich."
She punched the keyboard.
"And can I have it animal style?" I smiled. Stacy tilted her head again. I turned to Rob and nodded, indicating that I would buy his meal. Stacy stared at me then looked at Rob, who began his order.
"We are together," Rob said, looking at the menu.
Suddenly, I became aware of what had just happened. I had told her that I had the in and out urge, that I wanted something with extra meat between the buns, that I liked it animal style, and then Rob told her we were together, like we were not climbing partners but partner partners. My mind stutterred. She probably thought I was a complete freak. I had just blown it with the fast food woman of my dreams. I needed to recover and so I blurted out, "We are not really together. He just tells me I am fat sometimes."
Rob and then Stacy both stared at me. Rob shook his head and ordered the protein burger, the double-double without the bun. Stacy batted her eyes at Rob and stared at his muscular frame. I inspected the color of my shoe laces, and thought that perhaps I should have gotten a protein burger. Maybe if I cut out the exrta buns, I would not be so fat.