Friday, November 19, 2010

It should be illegal to be that fat

Part of being a good restaurant host (not that I am one, try as I might) is welcoming people as they arrive, and being cordial and responsive to their concerns, complaints, or whatever they want to express, as they wait to be seated, or are on their way out the door, while of course he keeps track of everything else at the podium.  Recently circumstances presented the opportunity to test these very aspects of the job in a way I would not have predicted.

A couple was sitting in the waiting area, as their family was arriving; they were celebrating forty years of marriage, with their children and grandchildren, at our restaurant.  When the time came, I informed that couple and their family that their table was ready upstairs, and sent them up to the second floor dining room.  A woman from another party, who had noticed the anniversary couple, then said to me, "It should be illegal to be that fat."

She was filled with visible indignation and disgust.  I told her it was an inappropriate thing to say, but she went on to give me a minor lecture on cholesterol and heart disease, etc.  Soon her car was brought around, and she was gone.  The woman surely had a couple of drinks in her.  When Milwaukeeans drink they tend to celebrate with each other, but when some of them drink they prefer to turn on each other. 

Quite aside from the asininity of theories of government controlling the nutritional content of our food, and other such public health measures, and also quite aside from the fact that there is a complex variety of factors that leads to obesity (it is possible, eg., to eat moderately and be overweight due to wacked out metabolism), the incident brings to light the self-righteous attitude that leads a person to say such a thing about someone else. 

If legalities could solve problems, maybe we should say that it should be illegal to go out in public with an obnoxious personality.  In fact, such an approach would itself be obnoxious.  Gentlemen, and ladies, in a civilized world act kindly to those they meet in public.  Nor should it be merely an act.  We ought to truly see others as having a beauty and a dignity the full story of which we cannot fully appreciate by meeting them for a moment on the street.  Our children will learn from this example; and as a bonus, the friendly nature of our city will be more fully realized.

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