So I’m walking through Walmart. I’m feeling good after leaving the gym, and T and I are picking up some groceries before heading back home. There’s yogurt and an assortment of fruits and veggies in our cart, along with a carton each of chocolate and vanilla ice cream. T is trying to figure out what frozen veggies he might take to work to have as snacks, and I’m standing in the aisle waiting and playing on my phone.
And then she comes. Leather black bucket hat, matching oversized black leather coat, cane hooked to the front of her cart, shoulders hunched. She stops at my cart.
“What are you going to do with that?” She nods toward my cart.
“With what?” I ask.
“That ice cream. What are you going to do with that?”
I’m completely confused. Why is this church mother all up in my cart? Why does she need to know how my food is going to be consumed?
I look back at the freezer to make sure I didn’t get the last one, just in case this is some ploy to convince me to give her my ice cream because she’s already knocking on death’s door.
“I’m going to eat it.”
“They’ve got sugar free, you know.”
“That’s cool for whoever eats it. I’m buying these.” Now I’m annoyed.
“Maybe you should cut down on your sugar. You have to be careful.”
“Ma’am, there’s nothing wrong with my sugar levels. Thanks for caring though.”
Listen, I know I should probably have left at this point, but I’m a glutton for punishment. T is still trying to figure out what he’s getting, and is completely oblivious to what is happening.
“I’m just trying to help. Listen, I used to be bigger than you. And I used to eat ice cream by the carton. I had diabetes and didn’t even know it. I ended up going into shock and then going into a coma for seven days. I woke up and was paralyzed from the waist down.”
“Well I’m glad to see that you’re up and moving and in the land of the living. I’m sure that was a scary experience.”
I turn around to T. Finally get his attention. She’s still talking to me. Something about trying to help me. I’m looking at T like…
…but he’s not helping me. He’s looking at me and mouthing, What’s happening?
“You can’t be eating all this ice cream. I’m just trying to help.”
“Ma’am, you don’t know me and you’re making a lot of assumptions.”
I damn near start full-on defending myself, getting ready to point out all the other stuff in my cart. Then I realize, this lady doesn’t know a thing about me.
“I’m just trying to help. I love you, give me a hug.”
She opens her arms wide, waiting for me to hug her. I’m just staring at her. T has finally come my way, and she’s still trying to school me on the diabetes I don’t have.
“Ma’am, I don’t know you, and I am not comfortable hugging strangers.”
“I’m really just trying to help, that’s all.”
She walks off. I summarize what just happened to T. He reminds me that sometimes folks just need to talk to someone. I’m like that’s cool, but she basically just tried to give me a diagnosis based on two ice cream cartons.
Here’s the thing. I’m 325 pounds. Was 337 two months ago, so I’m moving in the right direction. I go to the doctor regularly, and I am nowhere near diabetic. Was pre-diabetic for a hot second in college, but I got that shit together. And if you REALLY know me, then you know I don’t like ice cream that much. I’m a Pinkberry girl. But every once in a blue moon I want to eat ice cream, and I make it happen. Besides, I live with a 5-year-old. He’ll be happy to eat the ice cream.
I’m sure people look at me and see the fat girl that probably can’t do much. And they’re right on some things. I’m not about to run a mile, but I can power walk the shit out of it. My knees ain’t ready for all that running. That’s why my cardio gets done on the elliptical. It’s easy to make assumptions based on my appearance, and I get that. It is hella rude to just walk up on someone you don’t know and start speaking illnesses into existence.
If my mom, gma, hubby, or mother-in-love had decided to say something to me out of genuine concern that I may be doing something to harm my health, then cool. It may be hard to hear, but at least I would know it was coming from a place of love. There’s a right and wrong way to do things, and that lady did it all types of wrong.
There are well-meaning people in the world, I get that. But when does that well-meaning cross the line into something more, something intrusive and downright rude? It’s the never-ending questions at Thanksgiving and Christmas when you’re the only single, or the only childless person in the room. Maybe you just like your time to yourself, and you’re conscious of the fact that you are not (and may not ever be) ready to share your time with a partner or a child. And that’s okay. Folks should stay out of your love life, your uterus, and your entire reproductive system. And Leather Mother Church Lady should stay out of my damn plate.