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(An Observer Tale)

The local State University where my sister Rosa attends college participates in an international exchange program. It involves selected outstanding students from both here and schools in other countries. Each (assuming fluency in the counterpart language) is given the opportunity to attend the last two years of classes at the counterpart school at no increase in tuition. Transportation, lodging and meals are paid for.

Now, my sister is a good student. However, despite her Hispanic heritage, she is not fluent enough in Spanish or any other foreign language to qualify for the two years out of the country. She was, however, offered the job of being a sort of country host during her last two years in school. That meant free residency on campus while overseeing the dorm where a number of the exchange students were staying. This is how she came to be familiar with Maria and Catalina --- two exchange students whom she told me about towards the end of the first semester.

Maria de Campo was from Spain, Catalina Lara from Paraguay. When the fall term began they both had typical bikini bather type figures --- to the envy of Rosa, who passed size 12 somewhere in early High School.

Around thanksgiving Maria lamented to Rosa that she had gained five pounds since coming to America.

"But at least I am not like Catalina," she added. "She doesn't know how to stay away from the cakes!"

"What do you mean?" Rosa asked.

"Take a look for yourself --- she is getting fatter and fatter every day. But, talking to her about it means nothing. She just doesn't care. Every morning she eats a cake, then again at night!"

"A cake?" Rosa replied, "Oh, you mean pastries! Well, they are provided free you know. Does she really eat a lot of them?"

"Sometimes two! I tell her that she needs to watch it, but she just laughs and tells me not to worry. She is here to learn, not to diet!"

Actually Rosa was busy enough studying herself that she had not paid much heed to such matters. Due to the fall cold all the girls were wearing wear warm, bulky, sweaters that concealed details of their figures. They were assigned two to a room in the spacious rooms of the converted turn of the century residence that functioned as the dorm, so they tended to be somewhat clothed when in the common areas. But over the next week Rosa made a point of paying closer attention.

Catalina, she noted, did indeed enjoy having a Danish or coffee cake for breakfast; she also tended to have an eclair or some doughnuts in the evening. Maria, on the other hand was very abstemious in her habits. But Rosa noticed that "cakes" were not Catalina's only indulgence. She observed her enjoying seconds from the all you can eat buffets on the commons as well as patronizing the fast food outlets near the dorm.

At the end of the week Rosa happened to catch a glimpse of Catalina changing clothes in her room. The effects of the previous three months were beginning to show.

The previous August when Rosa had seen Catalina in a bikini type bathing suit she had looked like a typical "wanna be" model, probably 5'8", 110 or 115 # - very slim with a tight belly, slender arms and thighs, not an ounce of excess flesh on her chin or jaw.

This evening, however, Catalina was wearing only her bra and panties while attempting to don a pair of jeans. Her legs and arms looked about the same, but her waist and stomach had noticeably softened and thickened. As she pulled hard to button her jeans, a soft never-before-existing roll of flesh hung noticeably over the waistband. Also her hips appeared much fuller, as though threatening to tear out the back end of her pants. Her breasts also appeared a mite larger as her bra cut into her soft upper body flesh.

"Maria is right about Catalina gaining weight," Rosa noted, "but that is her affair." And so she said nothing. She did note, however, that a few weeks later Catalina had stopped trying to wear her jeans altogether.

At the beginning of the winter break, seven weeks later, Rosa noticed Catalina in a pair of slacks. Whereas before her stomach had been entirely flat there was now a noticeable tummy bulge pressing the fabric outward. Her tanktop concealed her torso so Rosa could not tell how much more thickening had occurred, but it seemed that by now Catalina must be at least fifteen pounds heavier than when she entered school. Strangely, though, she seemed happy and content --- and appeared to be doing nothing to abate her appetite.

Rosa shared all this with me over the holidays because she knows I like girls with fuller figures and good appetites. "She is a nice person - honest. You should get to know her."

"Yeah," I thought, "and soon she will look in a mirror and decide to start dieting." But my curiosity got the better of me. It was on this account that I decided to visit my sister on the campus from which I graduated four years before. It would be, I knew, a good excuse to at least meet the fabled Catalina.

She had long dark hair and the erect bearing of a person who is confident of their position. At perhaps 135# she did not strike me as being especially plump, at least not by my standards, but she was an intelligent and outgoing person. She helped the relationship by plying me with questions almost from the start. I told her that anyone with so many questions deserved an afternoon to answer them all --- and we made a date for the next Sunday.

I took her on a tour of the city, included a movie and capped everything off with dinner at a small out of the way quality restaurant. At my suggestion she ordered the prime beef tenderloin accompanied by a generous portion of homestyle mashed potatoes topped with pale onion rings. I had sautéed lamb chops with Swiss chard and a butternut squash puree. She ate heartily and commented with gusto on how good it was. She even suggested dessert! This, I noted, was indeed a senorita after my own fantasies. It was hard to believe, given my sister's report, that someone with her appetite could be as slender as she was.

On our third date I caught her loosening the clasp of her pants at the end of a meal. She smiled embarrassedly and said, "I am sorry, all this good food --- it makes them so tight. I am being such a pig I guess."

"Not in my eyes," I replied. "Good food often makes pretty girls lovelier."

"You do not mind that I gain weight? Or do you claim not to have noticed? Such a gentleman!"

"I have not known you for long enough to notice anything, you must remember. But you are right, no, I do not mind that a girl gains weight. I think them to be very nice that way."

"That is Ricardo's attitude where I come from back home, but I did not think American men thought in such a way."

"Who is Ricardo?" I replied, my heart sinking at the thought she might already be committed to someone else.

"He the son of my Father's boss --- after I graduate from college our parents expect us to marry. It is still the custom there for parents to be involved in such things. And Ricardo likes me and I like him. He is very nice, but he does not understand why I starve myself at home."

"I guess I don't understand either --- do you starve yourself at home?"

"Not really, but there are nine in our family and enough food we do not always have. I am the oldest and so I have always made sure the others have something to eat before I take for myself. There is seldom enough for everyone, so I just take less."

"And this makes you skinnier than Ricardo likes?"

"Yes. Or me as well I guess. The way I have enjoyed eating here in America I think I am making up for lost years. But I think it matters more to him. Ricardo's father is the one paying for my education. When I earned the right to come here, Ricardo said he hoped I would gain more than just knowledge. I told him I would try. So, ever since I have giving myself permission to eat whatever I desire."

"And so you have been gaining weight as a result?"

"Yes --- nearly twenty pounds so far. My jeans no longer fit and my bras are too tight. Soon I will be stretching my dresses and slacks as well. I must either stop or get some new clothes."

"And your choice will be?"

She looked closely at me, took a deep breath and said, "I have been setting aside money for the clothes."

My smile of approval told her all she needed to know.

"How do the girls at your dorm feel about this?"

"Only Maria has said anything --- I think the others don't think I know what is happening or don't care. Have you been able to tell?"

"As you said, I have tastes like Ricardo. So I take it you don't mind my taking you various places to eat?"

"I love it!" she said. "I have been afraid only of two things --- that I would gain too much and you would criticize me or that when you found out about Ricardo you might not want to do it any more. But I had to be honest with you because I could tell you were beginning to like me."

"Did it show that much?"

"Yes --- but let me tell you something that might cheer you."

"What is that?"

"I have a younger sister but Ricardo's oldest and only brother is far younger than she. And my sister and I are very much alike."

"And she likes to eat as well?"

"She is already as large as me!"

"But she is in Paraguay. Too bad she isn't here --- you, she, Ricardo and I could double date"

"Very possibly, in a year or so, she may make it here. But, now, what about us for now?"

"Why don't I take you out to dinner again next week and I'll give you my answer, " I replied. It was devastating to know that this nubile young lady who so loved good food was spoken for. But I was not ready to dump her after such honesty either.

OK, I decided later that evening. we can still be friends. I will enjoy plumpening Catalina, even if it is for Ricardo, and possibly later do the same with her sister. I'm young, making decent money, why not blow it on a good cause?

The next week Catalina was wearing a new, loose fitting outfit, one waiting to be filled out. For the next fifteen months we did many things, always with plenty of calories included, and she filled out nicely for Ricardo.

By the beginning of the first summer Rosa would note that Catalina's once visible ribs were impossible to see. However, her silken top, which once had hung well below her waist, now barely extended below the waist band. A good deal of this was due to the expansion of her bosom, for she had gone through several bra sizes. At times, especially when she lifted her arms, the top would even pull above the waist band, exposing a generous presentation of plump new flesh.

When wearing shorts Rosa could tell that Catalina's thighs were noticeably thicker and her hips becoming wider. Her arms, too, were becoming rounder, and her face was definitely fuller. When she had on a tight pair of pants a noticeable 2-3" bellyroll formed between her ribcage and her waistband. One could see it even through her tanktop or cardigan, both of which were becoming increasingly tighter trying to contain her growing torso. But what was most noticeable was a joy and radiance about her that had not been present a year before.

Towards the end of the summer we went to the beach. There Maria displayed the full grandeur of her developing body. Her formerly flat belly now extended nearly out four inches in front of her thighs, themselves seeming double what they had been before. I figured this represented a gain of sixty pounds. The cups of her bathing suit supported an ample pair of breasts graced on either side by a pair of supple arms. I guessed that she by now must be over 180#.

If this bothered her at all there was no hint of it. On the way there we had a breakfast of pancakes, turkey sausages, and eggs. At the beach she enjoyed had several hot dogs. two ice creams, and a couple of sodas. She had excellent posture, walked with confidence and authority, and I thought her to be the most beautiful woman there. That night we each had three helpings at a smorgasbord on the way home.

Not every day was so gormandish, of course. Most in fact were more moderate, for Catalina had studies to pursue and was not always able to eat even three regular meals. But the days of relatively heavy eating and snacking were enough to keep her on the course she had set --- and she enjoyed every moment of the experience. On occasion she even prepared meals for me --- and there was no sparing of the calories.

Rosa became Catalina's friend. Now knowing that Catalina was comfortable with her gaining, Rosa accepted it. She even added a few pounds herself, growing to about a size 18. She went with us on a number of double dates, finally becoming a number with a classmate, Charles Williams, whom she now intends to marry. Catalina became Rosa's assistant monitor her Senior year --- the two are remaining friends, even despite the distance, today

All through Catalina's senior year of college I continued in my role of escort and gentle encourager. I made a point of emphasizing full meals with a balanced diet rather than fat-heavy fast foods and sweets, which I knew could lead to various health problems. And I always made sure to combine the food with other activities and plenty of conversation. Still, she never turned down dessert. Catalina on occasion made a point of wear her tightest clothes on our dates, seemingly ready to burst out of them, but always making sure that her stomach was not overly restricted.

Catalina's body continued to respond abundantly. Her belly roll grew to around four inches while fulsome love handles began developing on her torso. The filling out of her face developed into the sweet beginnings of a full double chin. It is a good thing that the campus required a great deal of walking up and down hilly slopes, for this helped to insure that her weight gain included muscle as well as fat tissue. Her sister would later tell me that she had gained a total of 90 pounds over the two years she spent in the States. That would make her around 205#.

Maria never did know what to make of all this, of course. Reared near the Riviera in Spain she was definitely one of the string bikini set in her thinking and culture. Rosa tried to explain to her that there were different types for everyone, but Maria never did seem to understand. She dieted and lost her initial five pounds, then gained ten, then lost five, then gained ten more. Her complaining about the situation was constant. She seemed unable to form a close relationship with any of the few men who dated her --- I thought possibly because of her constant focusing on her weight rather than on them. She finally, though, gave up criticizing Catalina and, when her schooling was completed, simply returned to Spain.

As for Ricardo, at first he was understandably a little apprehensive about my involvement with his intended fiancé. But, after being reassured by Catalina, he calmed down and ultimately was thrilled with the results of her metamorphosis. Catalina, after all, did make two short trips home each year and Ricardo could tell what was happening. When it came time for Catalina to graduate Ricardo's entire family came --- bringing along both her parents and her sister, Juanita.

Juanita, who indeed did qualify for the exchange program as her sister had predicted (I was later to find out that Ricardo's family financed that end of the exchange program!), was very much like her sister, although a little more demure. But she had not had to shepherd a flock of younger siblings as did Catalina. She also was not as initially slender as Catalina had been. I was introduced to her not by Catalina, but by Ricardo's Father, who simply told me to "show her a nice time and take good care of her."

On our first date she did not have the advantage of Catalina's three month break-in period of regular snacking. Her stomach quickly ran out of space on our first meal, a generous presentation of fried chicken accompanied by orecchiette, a form of macaroni made with an ear-shaped pasta from Southern Italy and aged cheddar cheese. But she did have her sister's charm and inquisitive mind and tried her best to eat well. Her sister had obviously briefed her and she was trying to please. It was an instant friendship and I told her to relax.

During the two weeks that Juanita was in town I found that she was just as sharp as her sister. I took her to a different restaurant each evening --- and her appetite seemed to grow daily with little overt encouragement. One Sunday afternoon enroute to a concert we stopped at McDonalds --- I asked her "would you like one big mac or two?"

"Whichever you have for yourself, but I am hungry," she replied. You know, of course, what I did.

Along with the fries and shake that accompanied it Juanita had over 2000 calories in that single lunch. Some eight hours later we had a full dinner. She seemed to be easily able and willing to consume an average of over 3,000 calories a day, definitely a routine which would, in time, make her plumper There was too little time to see any immediate effects, but my mind was entranced with the possibilities.

The best thing was that we genuinely enjoyed one another's company and planning what we would do together when she came to school. I would write and looked forward to seeing her again in the fall.

Actually it turned out to be sooner. We did exchange some letters, but when Ricardo and Catalina were married early that August I was invited to the ceremony in Paraguay and met the rest of the family. Juanita danced with me in a noticeably tight dress and said shyly, "Catalina has been seeing to it that we get desserts --- I've gained five pounds this summer."

I smiled and gave her a loving squeeze. She smiled back.

Which is why I am going to the airport this afternoon. School starts next week and her plane is coming in. We'll drop her bags off at the dorm --- and then we have reservations at Fellini's. It will probably be her very first taste of formal style Italian food; if she likes it (and, based on our orecchiette experience I feel she will) I can promise it will not be her last!