Falling out of the total character immersion was a Freudian nightmare. Luckily, before she could admit her losing of wind to the camera, and before she could fully appreciate her newfound attraction to the man who was playing her father, Adam as Daddy said, "How have you been?" Jolene thought, I've been great, you fucking stud. "Having fun?"
Taking After Grandma
By Arbitrary Point
(This story would not be possible or readable without first enjoying one of my personal favorite WG pieces, "Rebecca's Grandmother" by Admirer, to be found in this Weight Room. In fact, to completely understand what is going on in this story, you must read that first. I hope you like this as much as I liked writing it, and if you would like to comment or possibly collaborate, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy.)
MARCH 23, 2000.
The alarm sounded like a billion tills at seven in the morning, and Jolene Richards darted out of bed feeling fresh and groggy at the same time. She was to meet with her manager Pam Cardona in an hour and a half. She set the alarm pretty early before going to bed the night before to ensure she had enough time to put herself together nicely before walking out the door of her penthouse.
She slowly and methodically took her covers off and strolled her skinny body, decked out in her pajamas of black bra and panties, to the bathroom and looked herself over in one of her best friends: the mirror. It was rewarding to spend time with it, and it never told a lie.
Her hair was cut short, but not too short, and parted at the left side. She put a clip in it to hold it in place, and inspected her face: her jaw clearly defined, a pair of eyes that constantly yearned for more. Her body was trim and subtly muscular, her hips just barely there, her breasts not at all. Most of the time, she didn't even wear a bra. Her stomach clinched the slightest sign of a six-pack. She worked hard for her body and she loved it. She had to. She was a movie star, after all. She disrobed and thought, while taking her time in the bathtub, about how grateful she was to have such a wonderful publicist who was willing to carry her, every step of the way, into new and exciting directions. She dried off, clipped her hair again, and began to get dressed to jog to Nolan's Diner, where she would meet Pam and would undoubtedly get presented with a script.
She could have just as easily slapped on a pair of sweats and a tank top, and no one would have given two thoughts about it, but she refused to leave her apartment looking the least bit slovenly. She decided she would wear a pair of black nylon capris, and a red baby tee. She wasn't exactly covering the breadth of fashion, but it would do. After one more satisfied look in the mirror, she felt ready enough and began to jog through the streets of Los Angeles, and, in her healthy hurry, arrived more than ten minutes early.
She took a seat and was almost immediately accosted by a waitress, who, just like Jolene, was sharply dressed, neat, and thin. She asked the starlet, "Can I get you anything?"
Jolene brushed this aside like she had been asked to murder someone. "Nah," she replied, scratching her brow, "I'll just have a water." If there was anything that Jolene learned in this business, it was two things: 1) You had to stay true to yourself, and 2) You had to keep up appearances. Sure, she wanted a cookie or a hot chocolate, but why would she ever do such a thing to herself? On top of that, she had to keep up her renowned image of celibacy and sobriety, something she held dear. After she took about three sips from the water, Pam came in, Jolene stood up, and gave her publicist a warm hug.
"So, what do you have for me?" she asked, like a little girl whose mother just came home with a shopping bag bursting with toys. She was tapping her feet against the tiles of the café's floors.
"Well," began Pam, not really taken aback by her client's rampant eagerness, having worked with her for so long, "I only have two. One's right up your alley, and the other one maybe isn't, but it would really take you one step further as an actress." Jolene shot a look that said, "Go on."
"The first one, Matt Damon has already signed on, and you would play his partner and international operative. It would be pretty similar to what you did in 'New Blood', but there wouldn't be any risk at the box office. It would target your two demographics, y'know --"
The actress interrupted her, apathetically, "Teen girls who want to be like me and college guys who want to bed me." Frankly, she wasn't impressed. The last thing she wanted to act in was another handout to the public. "Next," she demanded, to Pam's dismay.
"This one is going to be a bit of a, um," the manager sputtered, "a stretch. Mike Silverberg, who's directed a ton of indie features already, is now prepared to jump to major distribution with his next movie. He's already got Jodie Foster and Drew Barrymore to play parts in it. He's specifically asked for you to be the lead."
Jolene had seen his movies. They always involved people rising up from difficult situations and making the best of the cards handed to them. His movies heralded the growth of people. She was excited at the prospect, and said, "Tell me about it!"
"It's an adaptation of some story Mike found on the internet, that he just went ga-ga over. It's centered around a skinny, self-conscious college dropout, played by you, hopefully, that goes to live with her grandmother for a year, develops this great body, and pushes it to the point of obesity, all the while gaining so much freedom with the pounds."
Jolene thought about it for a second and went ga-ga over it, too, or so it seemed. "Sounds great! There's a fat suit, I'm guessing?" She took a couple more sips of her water.
"Well, yeah," Pam answered nervously, "after you gained about forty-five pounds. Or you could balloon up to 240 yourself." She wrung her hands together; they were soaking in impatience. Jolene wanted none of this now. There was no way she would gain even fifteen pounds; it wouldn't make a difference if it was the best part in the universe.
"I don't think so," she declined.
"Well, consider your career dead in the water, then. No one's exactly handing you parts left and right, here. It's got to be one of these."
Jolene was biting her nails. "Let me see the script," she asked and began to read “Taking After Grandma."
And, after sitting there, completely engrossed in the screenplay, completely identifying with the character of Rebecca, secretly wanting nothing more than to let loose and eat whatever she wanted, she simply said, “I'll think about it," but she couldn't even begin to for quite a while. Her rock-hard stomach groaned.
"Good. Please do," said Pam. "By the way, I have a couple of your new posters in my trunk that I need you to sign."
JULY 3, 2000.
Feeling fat was something of a new and generally uncomfortable experience for Jolene, and though the only reason she was gaining weight was for an incredibly challenging and worthwhile role, being underneath the scrutiny of cameras and respected colleagues was harrowing and embarrassing. But, unlike Rebecca, she knew that she was getting chubby. She could feel the cattle calls of her burgeoning hips, she looked in the mirror and felt uncomfortable knowing that her face was puffing out. So, it was almost impossible to successfully play her part, but she somehow managed to pull it off.
Now, she was at a Hyannisport arcade and had to feign denial while looking at a scale and having it read 135 pounds. She was, in fact, 141 pounds when she looked at her own scale that morning, and she had felt every ounce creep up.
Drew Barrymore, who played the part of Cindy, her best friend away from home, had been the first person to sign up for the movie, and consulted a dietician to find out the safest way to gain sixty pounds. She had been yo-yoing for much of her adult life, and tackling this small part resulted in two distinct outcomes: the opportunity to act in what looked like an amazing movie, and a reason to become fat and stay as such.
She was in a cherry red two-piece bathing suit, and that, coupled with her ringleted auburn-orange hair and bloated baby doll face, made her look like a ripe tomato. However fat Jolene felt, she looked like a pencil with an eating disorder when standing next to Drew, who, as Cindy, listened to Jolene as Rebecca duly expressed her disbelief at what she saw on the scale.
"135 pounds?!" she gasped, bewildered, like it had told her the sky was orange. She had to ignore the late-night "girl chomps" with Drew, the many moments of submission when Mildred, the kind and chubby woman who played the part of Rebecca's grandmother, had coaxed her into ordering "one more plate of fries," even more nights alone, after finishing a ton of Chinese food or polishing off a bag of Oreos.
"This can't be right!" Momentarily gone from her memory was the day she realized size three panties just wouldn't cut it anymore, the day she learned her lower body could sway without dancing, the day she knew she wouldn't get away with going braless any longer.
"So you've gained a little," recited Drew, and thought of the countless tabloids that had bashed her about doing just that. "Aren't you having fun?" With the storyline embedded in the two actresses, it was more than apparent that Rebecca was. With nary a critical sentiment other than her own, Jolene was, too.
"Of course," replied Jolene in character. Any doubt that she and Drew had nailed the scene was long dead at this point. As soon as Mike snapped, "Cut!" they high-fived each other. They were done for the weekend.
"So," began Drew, "what are your plans?"
"I'm going to visit the folks," gave Jolene. She hadn't given them the slightest indication that she was anything less than the perfect twig starlet they were so proud of. Worrying about it now, she grew a bit scared.
"How are they going to react to this?" Drew asked, pinching her little love handles.
"I haven't the foggiest," Jolene responded, and she was just as anxious to know as her co-star.
The two-hour drive home got more and more unbearable each time she made it, this one especially, because she had a lot to worry about. Her mother wasn't so critical of her daughter, and neither was her sister, but her father had hounded her about her physical appearance, at times making her feel worthless, unless she maintained the body that would plunder the safes of Hollywood. Only a few minutes away from her house, she realized that it was her first unexpected visit home.
The lights were on fairly dim for an eight o'clock summer night. She burped, turned the key, and entered the family room, startled to find only her seventeen-year-old sister there, sprawled out on the couch. Holy shit, thought Jolene, has she been gaining weight, too? If the evening pop-tarts in her hands were any indication, the answer was yes.
"Hey, Kate!" bubbled Jolene, and as her sister ran up to hug her, she could distinctly make out a little extra padding to her cheerleader frame. As she tickled her hello, she struggled to remember a time when her stomach had been this squishy. And as Kate tickled her back, she tried to do the same. In unison, they asked, "You too?" and laughed and laughed.
Kate had explained that since she broke her leg in a pyramid formation accident in October, her popularity in school was waning, and days before school let out, Kevin, her boyfriend, dumped her. Apparently since then, she'd been holing up at home and watching television and repairing her broken heart with a layer or two of cholesterol. She had kept her elder sister rapt with attention, giving only the slightest pause for her to ask, "Can we discuss this over dinner? I'm starving." Without a second's pause, Kate nodded enthusiastically, and off they were to Angelo's, their local pizza place. In no time, they had casually flirted with the waiter and received their extra-large pie. They agreed they would eat, at most, half of it, and take the rest home for their parents or their own later consumption.
"By the way," began Jolene, already halfway into her first slice, "where are mom and dad tonight?"
Kate swallowed rather audibly, and told her, "Weight Watchers." Jolene could only assume, that by the way her sister immediately looked downward, her parents were there to get their prom queen back in shape. Not one to open up sore wounds any further, she didn't inquire any longer.
She did, however, ask, "So, are you excited about getting back to cheerleading in the fall?" Kate gave a "Yeah, right" raspberry with her lips. Jolene was incredulous. She and her little sister had always done what was expected of them, and strived to stay slender and stunning. Not anymore, apparently.
Kate continued, "Maybe if I burn this spare tire." She had gobbled six pieces already. There was to be no tire fire anytime soon. Jolene was well into her fourth piece, and it was only when she took a step back and considered what she and her sister were doing that she put down the pizza.
"Maybe I shouldn't be eating this much," she said, and groaned in a fit of self-consciousness.
"Well," supposed her younger sibling, "when's your next movie to begin its production?" The cat was out of the bag. The actress didn't want to lie to her sister and told her all about it, and before she was finished waxing freedom on camera and off, she had successfully downed four more slices. Her sister wiped some pizza sauce off the side of her mouth, and they were both cracking up. Both only barely full, they left, belching and hiccupping into the night. As Jolene buckled up in the driver's seat, she noticed that she'd have to adjust the seat belt or it wouldn't fit in the clasp. It was one of those rare moments that were slowly but surely graduating into frequent occurrences: she felt just like Rebecca.
They arrived home and walked into the living room, still laughing. The murmurs from the dining room belonged to their mother and father, and cascaded in volume to actual conversations that the sisters could soon make out.
"…and she's not that big, I mean--," battled their mother.
"Not that big?" goaded their father. Kate and Jolene looked at each other caringly and both felt like sisters for the first time in a long while. "I take it back," he went on angrily, "she's nowhere near as big as you!"
No! She couldn't believe her ears! Her mother was perpetually a size four, and exercised constantly. Had the whole family fallen into some fat dimension? She burst into the living room, just after she overheard her mother deliver the zinger, "Look who's talking!" Jolene saw alright, with bewildered eyes. How long had she been gone? Her mother looked just like Roseanne, and her father had a pretty substantial beer gut. She walked in her family's realization that they'd been enjoying themselves, and before they began the coping process, they had to address their daughter.
"Oh, sweetie," her mom began, "we haven't seen you in over a year!" She looked her daughter up and down and smiled. "You've been enjoying yourself, haven't you?" Jolene blushed, and considered how ridiculously bizarre the situation was. She'd prepared for scrutiny and to endure the weekend, but now she was ready to cement her jaw in slack place, and doubly prepared to scrutinize her family.
"Uh, yeah, mom," she answered, and lifted up her shirt and rubbed her soft tummy, whose six-pack looked like it had been smothered in mashed potatoes, for added effect. Her father guffawed as her mother did the same.
"Actually," her mom propositioned, "have you eaten dinner yet?"
Jolene was so baffled by her household and felt such need for catching up that she said, "Nope, I'm famished." She was incidentally really full. At last she had entered a dream world where she didn't have to feel bad about herself. If only everyone could gain weight with her! She had a lot to tell everyone in Hyannisport, that was for sure, and she'd probably have enough food this weekend to last her a lifetime. Well, maybe not.
Still, the thought of gaining even more weight made her feel uneasy. It would take a lot for her to be completely comfortable counting the pounds.
NOVEMBER 9, 2000.
Jolene walked into IHOP at ten thirty in the morning, with sunglasses and an apprehensive veneer on her face. She looked like the perfect picture of mystery in those sunglasses. She was wearing a pair of form-fitting blue jeans, khaki-colored sandals, and a checkered red and white button-down shirt. Her hair was now just long enough to put into a ponytail. To put it simply, she was voluptuous and stunning. She was a far cry from the svelte androgyny she embodied onscreen. For one thing, she had sexy, swiveling hips now. Her thighs absolutely filled her size 12 jeans. Her upper arms surely were not twigs anymore. This fact was evident from one glance as the shirt clung to them, and their partner in crime, her bosom, did its best to point out that the shirt buttons were there to hold together the movie star's body as much as to hold the shirt together.
For someone who wanted to go unnoticed in a small Cape Cod town, she wasn't doing the best job of it. All of the townie guys had their eyes frozen on her frame. She wanted none of this, and conversely believed that she looked rather unattractive. At the very moment the host asked if she wanted smoking or non, she was considering her priorities. She was really sinking into the role of Rebecca like none before, but was losing her beauty worth it?
As she took her seat in one of the closest booths to the back, she could feel the beginnings of a belly creep up above her belt. She unconsciously tugged at her tight shirt, as if it would somehow erase the months of eating abandon. It didn't. The only purpose it served was to blot out any doubt that she'd put on enough weight to shoot a pivotal scene later that afternoon, and that the “beginnings of a belly” was actually a squishy protrusion that rested about two inches past her waistband. She couldn't even try to model anymore, and if she auditioned for a hotshot part in a big budget flick, there was no chance in Hell that she'd get it. She was still clutching her stomach when the waiter arrived. Out of reflex, she sucked it in.
"Have you decided what you'd like to eat this morning?" he asked. She looked up and immediately blushed. God, was he handsome. She worked up quite the appetite these past couple of months, but she wanted to flirt with this man. What did she want, then? A water? A light salad? An air soufflé? She knew what she needed to eat to work, and, moreover, what she had been lusting after all morning.
"Uh, yeah," she cooed cheerily, and as she shot a glance back down at the menu, the waiter noticed an oh-so-slight double chin, a shadow of one, a taste. Who was this girl? She reminded him of someone, that was for sure. "I'll have a stack of chocolate chip pancakes, three, no four links of sausage, three slices of French toast, and the biggest blueberry muffin you got."
"You've got quite the selection there," he began to her bashful blushing, "uh, what did you say your name was?" Jolene decided to play on her black cat persona.
"Genevieve," she said, and made sure it sounded extra sultry. "What's yours?"
"Dick," he admitted, and it couldn't have been more perfect. She uncrossed her legs and started to run her fingers around the brim of her glass of water.
"That's grand," she intoned. "I've been looking for one all morning." They both laughed.
As he left, she was startled at how turned on this silly exchange made her. Was it these new curves that gave her such freedom with the tongue? She had to admit that, even if she was incredibly self-conscious these days, she felt incredibly womanly. No, she thought to herself. Even if I'm comfortable flirting, it doesn't change the fact that I'm getting really chubby. Once shooting stops, it's time to go on a diet.
The afternoon symbolized a crossroads of sorts. Making of the film would enter a period of hiatus for half a year after filming the sequence that involved Rebecca's parents visiting, the crux of the film. Jolene had come this far in packing on the pounds, so to speak, and it was suggested by Mike that she should, if she didn't want to gain anymore weight, try to stay at her present poundage so that it would look more believable when she got fitted for a fat suit to complete Rebecca's physical development. She could either do this or gain around eighty more pounds, which to Jolene seemed both ridiculous and impossible, even given her eating habits lately. Also, she could have even worked off the forty pounds she'd put on if she wanted to, though everyone agreed that it would look inauthentic and really be a last straw option.
As she was grasping at straws, her inner soliloquy was interrupted by a mountain of food. As she took her first bite, her will collapsed. She decided, as she shoveled forkful after forkful of fattening food into her mouth, that while she wouldn't balloon to 230 pounds, she would stay as big as she was now, and get fitted for prosthetics in May. She eventually finished her succulent breakfast, and after she fought the urge to order another platter, she laid a fifty dollar bill on the table underneath the check, which had her lip print on the corner for one last tease with the waiter.
Mildred and Jolene shared a smoke almost as soon as she arrived on the set. Despite the age gap, they had become good friends, and just recently, had been spending a whole lot of time together, going to the movies, sunning at the beach, and playing cards. Jolene's elder even coaxed her into her first taste of wine, and they eventually came to frequent the local bars together (which perhaps aided in the growth of Jolene), masquerading as Jenny and Millie, mother and daughter. On three occasions, Mildred cooked them dinner, and it was around her that Jolene felt most comfortable with her weight. Besides, Mildred was as big as a house, comparative to Jolene.
"oh, I can't wait until you meet Adam Brandt!" Mildred squealed with impish delight. Adam was 45 and just getting his feet in the water in regards to the movie industry, and hoped this movie would be his big break. "Rumor has it that he is very excited to be working with you," she said in a characteristically grandmotherly tone. Jolene laughed.
"Rumor has it or Mildred has it?" Now she was particularly excited. Maybe there was more to this afternoon than she had already anticipated. After they finished their smoke, it was time to get to work. She went into the bathroom and disrobed. She had a hell of a time pulling everything off.
She had an even tougher time getting into the black one-piece bathing suit. In the story, Rebecca was practically spending every waking second in her bathing suit, undoubtedly stretching it to its limits. To get this effect onscreen, Mike insisted that the bathing suit be three sizes too small. Needless to say, putting the thing on was like trying to catch a fish with your bare hands. Things were downright seismic as they were bouncing in and out of the suit. After about ten minutes, she managed to stuff herself into it.
She walked out the door that led to the living room, where the crew, Mildred, Adam, and Jodie Foster, who would play her mother, were waiting, and they were all staring at her. Jolene noticed Adam's eyes, especially, so dark and handsome the face around them were. This did not make her feel any less self-conscious. Her blushing probably accentuated her sunburned cheeks, which the scene called for.
"Well," she began, breaking an awkward silence, "Are we ready?" And everyone took their places. In the face of scrutiny, Jolene dived right into Rebecca, and it seemed everyone assumed their roles as well. The cameras began filming.
Jolene and Mildred wait on the porch in almost identical bathing suits, except Mildred's fits her. Adam and Jodie call to Jolene, as she is standing on the porch, almost ignoring the calls, eating brownies. The brownies and all they symbolized magically transform her brain into that of Rebecca's. She was in the zone. Before she can comprehend the awesome weight of the character study she'd unraveled and totally transcended, she feels a pair of arms thrown across her waist. She smells her mom's perfume and becomes incredibly comforted knowing that she and dad had come to visit. Her mother's kiss feels so warm and loving.
She says to her daughter, "Sweetie, I missed you so--" So what, mom? Rebecca thinks as her mom runs her hands from her back to her thick hips and her growing stomach. Oh no, thinks Rebecca. I just know Mom is going to tell me I need to stop eating so much. She's always so critical.
As expected, her mom gets angry, and, turning to her father, asks, "See this? I told you this would happen!" What would happen? Rebecca thinks long and hard. Oh, jeez. Blame it on Grandma, why don't you?
Her dad playfully elbows her mom, and laughs, "Leave her alone!" He's thinking that his daughter doesn't look so sickly anymore, that his mother has been taking good care of her. Rebecca feels redeemed to have such a nice dad. Come to think of it, he was the one who always let her get whatever she wanted when the family went out to eat.
Rebecca's mother asks her grandmother, "What have you been feeding her?" Oh, shut up, Mom. So what? So I've gained a couple of pounds. I'm enjoying myself. "My god!" I haven't murdered anyone! The girl looks herself over and loves what she sees. She feels so soft and cuddly. She just wishes her mother would appreciate and not insult her.
"Gee," Rebecca begins sarcastically, "thanks, Mom. I love you, too!"
"I'm just saying," says her mother. She loves her daughter, but is worried she's ruining any future chances at romance with any sane boy. "Sorry, hon, but you have gained a bit." It's sickening looking at her daughter. She looks like an eggplant!
Her father comes to her defense once more. "Leave her alone!" This time, he's serious, and Rebecca feels better having him there to protect her. I love Daddy so much. He kisses her on the cheek, and the warmth of this act smothers her newly heavy body. He kisses her. Adam kisses Rebecca. Adam kisses Jolene. . .
Jolene responded, “"h, yeah, Dad," and suggestively and unexpectedly added the line, "I've been having more than fun." Following the script, she darted to the bathroom, almost tore the bathing suit off and struggled to understand what had just happened. She could hear Mike say, "That's a cut" in the distance. She looked at herself, so naked, so thick and round. She had no qualms about thinking she looked amazing. She ran her hands all over her curves and felt grateful that, not only had she become Rebecca for ten minutes, but this experience made her infinitely more comfortable and free. She put on her white bra and panties, and without thinking twice, went back into the living room, her meaty thighs obviously rubbing together, her cute belly bouncing with each step. Everyone's jaw was subtly dropped, except Adam's, whose was exaggerated. He had been smitten by this girl for the longest time, and was dumbfounded at the angel that was pounding her way into his eyes, so plump and ripe. She bent over in front of him, her round rump shimmying to and fro as she looked for the right can of beer in the cooler.
He whispered into her ear, "That was amazing." Jolene whispered back, "What? My ass?" They both laughed. "No," he started, "your performance. But your ass can perform a ballet if it wants to."
Jolene blushed and hurriedly put her jeans and shirt back on. She suddenly felt naked and cold, but she knew that her new friend's conversation would warm her up. She just wasn't as ready to jump into alluring flirtation as she thought, but one thing was certain: she'd learned what Rebecca was all about, and although she wasn't real, she'd taught her so many things.
She retreated back into the bathroom, and called her friend Janice, and told her that things were going really well, and that she would be ready to go back home in a couple of hours. She supposed that living with her parents might do her some good, but now, it was time to put on the outrageously tight bathing suit and continue to embody freedom onscreen.
MAY 19, 2001.
Pam was waiting at Café Limbo for about an hour and was just getting ready to leave and give up on the idea that Jolene would arrive to meet her for lunch, when, with a brand new waddle, and a belly that no one could possibly suck in, she appeared out of thin air.
"Wow," was all her manager could say.
"How about that?" notioned Jolene. "I'm gone on sabbatical for six months, and I don't even get a hello?" She was more than aware of what a sight she must have been. She brushed a couple dozen hairs from her full face. If there was any question as to whether or not she had a double chin before, there was to be no speculation now.
"You're really fleshing out this role, aren't you?" Pam asked, incredulous at the fact that it looked as if her client was going to gain every pound the part called for, foregoing any need for plumping prosthetics. She thought, for sure, that, although she'd maintain her weight while on break, she certainly wouldn't dare to gain any more, and how much did she weigh right now, anyhow? 180? 190?
"202 pounds," Jolene grinned self-satisfied. "And I can't remember a time when I felt better than this." Another incendiary thing that Pam noticed was the movie star's wardrobe. It would make Joan Rivers have a field day. In fact, she looked like she was dressed for one. However good she felt underneath her own skin, she was tugging subconsciously on a pair of navy blue, draw-stringed sweatpants that looked like they could have been baggy once. The Jolene Pam thought she knew would never wear her workout clothes in public like this. Then again, she clearly hadn't been working out for ages. Had she stopped caring about everything?
Pam struggled to feign appreciation, but she did. Hell, she thought, no one else in this industy has the balls to gain so much weight for a part. She asked, "So, what size do you wear now?"
Jolene thought about it for a second, and replied, "Well, these are a size ten, but I'm pretty sure I'm a size sixteen or something." She laughed mightily. "I guess I should go shopping pretty soon." Her manager was positively baffled at the sight that lay before her.
"Aren't you concerned about your health?" she asked.
"My health is fine!" Jolene shouted out, like it was the most ridiculous thing she had ever heard. "Look, when I first started working on this project, it was so difficult to get a feel for the character," she began, noshing on some complimentary biscotti. "But," she continued, mouth full, "the heavier I am, the more like Rebecca I am."
Pam considered the script, and imagined how easily it must now be for the actress, who she could more than suppose developed a regal appetite and figure, to feel just like the college dropout in the screenplay, feeling fresh and free. It was high time she stopped playing mom for her client.
"Well," she began, unfolding her stern hands, "I am proud of you, honestly." Jolene felt wonderful and beamed her thanks, smiling the same, hearth-like, angelic way she always did. She accidentally brushed her napkin off of her lap, and as he bent over to pick it up, she experienced the one-two punch of the sound of a rip and the subsequent draft of cool air, so prevalent in the weight gain fiction she'd been studying ravenously, even in the particular short story "Taking After Grandma" was based upon. She had split her second-skin sweatpants, but there was no humiliation at this table. Pam gave an empathetic squeal, and Jolene chortled huskily, and raced to the bathroom.
She could feel all eyes were on her ass, and, coincidentally, they were, because contrary to her belief that it was a small tear, it was a gaping cloth wound, as she would soon find out upon further inspection in the ladies' room. She didn't know what to do. She wished she didn't put on a thong that morning. A girl, who looked like she was a sophomore or junior in high school, entered the bathroom, saw what state Jolene was in, and sort of guffawed. The last thing she needed at this moment was negativity.
"Looks like God's telling you to lighten up on the fried chicken," the girl cattily snapped, and puckered the new coat of lipstick on her lips. She looked skeletal. She finally took her gaze off of her own narcissism and looked at the surprisingly smiling face next to her. She recognized it as that of her all-time favorite actress.
"Oh my gawd," the girl managed to blurt out. Here, in front of her, was the visage of her hero, bloated and boneless, a thousand shadows of her last public appearance on "The Late Show with David Letterman," when she discussed a new top-secret role that would potentially involve a fat suit. This was some fat suit! Here was Jolene Richards, her role model who kept her, via press junkets and her films, drug and alcohol free, whose influence basically shaped her body into the sliver of slim satisfaction that it was in the mirror. How was she supposed to feel now, after insulting her idol, and what was worth insulting in the first place?
She expressed her incredulity by yelping, "You're Jolene Richards!" Jolene was caught completely off-guard by this realization. She thought no one would ever recognize her, as inconceivably plump as she was, as much as she now could care less about style, as long as free-flowing her hair was. Her cover was blown, anyway.
"You must be blind!" she exclaimed, exasperated. "I wish I was her. And for your information, I'm thinking about going on a diet, and how ridiculous the idea is. Jolene Richards, ha! I give her two weeks before she dies of starvation!" She hoped her fan believed her. She bit her lip and fought a burgeoning frustration.
The girl didn't buy it. "No," she said like a stone, "I know that voice." Jolene balked, gave a mousy smile, and scuttled out of the bathroom, her naked, fleshy buttocks swaying back and forth. She evaded bulging eyes and sat back down with her manager, who said, "Let's talk business."
Still in shock, the starlet sputtered, "Okay."
"So filming starts up again in about two months." Jolene nodded, practically squirming in her seat. "What do I tell Mike?"
"What do you mean?" asked the actress.
"Will you need the aid of any fat suit in July?"
"What do you think?"
The conversation pretty much disintegrated thereafter, and before the two officially parted ways, Pam smacked Jolene on the behind and said manly, "Keep care of yourself," to which she shimmied her hips. All eyes were certainly on this voluptuous stranger.
Jolene drove to a Blockbuster on the way home, and used her mother's card to take out "New Blood" and "Almost Home," her two smash hits. No one recognized her, luckily, though the woman at checkout told her, "It's funny that you're taking these ones out, because I think you look just like Jolene Richards." Who wouldn't be flattered to hear that they look like themselves? Jolene replied by saying, "Except," and she grabbed a belly roll, and they both said, "Yeah," inside of the awkward moment. She left the video store, laughing to herself.
She got to her apartment minutes later, to find Adam waiting for her with a tray of brownies. She took them from him, gave him a warm hug, and said, "It's great to be home." He noticed there was much more to hug than in hugs past. She'd looked chubby six months ago. She was fat now. He struggled to contain his excitement as they held each other close.
And so they cuddled on the couch while watching Jolene the mistress of international espionage, and Jolene the heroin-addicted runway model. All she could think of was how ridiculous and uncomfortable she had been while playing those roles, and how impossible it would be to get those roles with her present body, no matter how ridiculous the characters may be.
At one point during "Almost Home," she realized that in her character Gisele's death scene, she was wearing the same thong she had on now. "Holy crap," she subconsciously blurted.
"What's the matter?" posed Adam.
She realized she hadn't changed her pants at all, and not only had everyone at the video store seen her big, bare, ass but so had Adam! She thought this both hilarious and embarrassing. He squeezed her hand. She responded with her immediate realization.
She asked, "Will you go with me to the store tomorrow? I have to buy some new clothes."
JULY 26, 2001.
It was surely difficult for the production crew to find, in Cape Cod of all places, at the end of July at all times, a considerable amount of empty beach in broad daylight. But they did it, and Jolene, looking tan and brilliant and huge in a four-sizes-too-small black one-piece bathing suit, sat down, with picnic basket in hand, on a blanket.
This was the last day of shooting, and for good reason. Jolene needed to be at her heaviest weight to shoot Rebecca's daydream sequences. Mike had intended for her to be the same weight in all of them, to let the audience see her transformation in total, from looking like a fraction of her daydream to identical to it. Weighing in at 233 pounds, now was the time.
Four or five mock families were situated around her, playing frisbee, running around, lifting dumbbells, and batting a beachball around. Every father, mother, daughter and son was unbelievably trim and athletic. Mike directed them to, at first, remain oblivious to the "beached whale" in the center of them. Jolene was told to absentmindedly chow down on the picnic basket's contents, which included an array of gyros, brownies, potato chips, soda and candy. It wasn't unbelievable how easily she acted the part of glutton. She was hungry, after all.
After about twenty minutes and twice as many angles, the "families" then circled around her, and began to point and laugh and make off-handed remarks about what a whale she was, and how she was leading an unhealthy lifestyle. The littlest children ran up expediently towards her, prodded her big belly, giggled and ran away. Jolene as Rebecca continued to gorge herself, not giving a single care to her surroundings. She remained opaque and oblivious.
Jolene found herself joyfully aroused during the filming of this scene. It seemed she had lived her life on the receiving end of people's comments. If there was anything she newly valued while making the film, it was honesty. Never before had so many people truly voiced their opinions on how she looked -- she was "even more beautiful" or quite the opposite. She loved this.
After the sequence was finished, she gleefully chatted with the extras, all of which had their eyes on her. The idea of a skinny Hollywood starlet risking over a hundred pounds for a part was surely a novel one, and the novelty certainly was not lost on this bunch.
One man, blonde, green-eyed, and obnoxiously handsome, approached her, all smiles, and asked, "Would you rather be thin or fat?" Quick flashes of memory buzzed on and off in the movie star's brain: visions of her past lithe body rollerskating, freestyle swimming, dancing. Just as soon as she considered these fancies, she thought that, even if she had been sedentary for quite a while, she could still enjoy those activities. In fact, it was more than ridiculous to imagine that she couldn't.
She imagined her fleshy body striding on skates, her huge butt swaying to and fro, bursting out of a pair of tight denim shorts. She imagined herself frolicking in a pool, laughing with old friends, her belly spilling out of a yellow bikini, as round as the sun that was tanning her. She imagined herself cavorting on the dancefloor, resplendent with glitter sprinkled over her chubby face, arms flailing about, her breasts bouncing up and down to the beat. She liked what her mind's eye saw.
"Being thin is great," she began, almost to the dismay of the muscular guy posing the inquiry. "But being fat allows me to do this." And she took a huge sip of soda and let out a burp that shook her from her double chin to her wobbly thighs. They both laughed, and the extra seemed smitten by her, and said, "I think you look beautiful." And before she could flirt with him back, Mike came by to tell her that it was time to shoot the next daydream.
On the way to the set, it was just Jolene and Mike in the car. His sun-glassed face was smiling in the afternoon light, and hers was munching on a bag of Doritos. Finally, he broke the minutes-long silence, saying, "You know, I know almost nothing about your personal life." She tersely replied, "Yeah," and continued eating. "Do you have a boyfriend?" he asked. She was flattered by this and continued what she thought was flirtation. "Do you?" she asked to his perplexity. "No," he blurted, "no, the only reason I ask is because I think Adam's taken a shining towards you." Jolene thought this was obvious but didn't respond with anything more than a chuckle. They were at "grandmother's house" in no time.
In the living room, the lighting was dim, and Mildred and four crewmen were sitting around chatting, and stopped once Jolene and Mike appeared. In a few minutes' time, shooting began. Mildred was pulling on her taut, red satin devil get-up. Everyone agreed she looked adorable in it. She and Jolene took their places. Their shapes appeared to be identically plump. They looked at each other and laughed.
"Are you ready for this?" Mildred asked, smirking, and continued, "Or are you too full from the beach?" Jolene gave her elder the tiniest, most pleasant shove imaginable, and calmly retorted, "Feed me." She took a seat at the coffee table, and the cameras started filming the curious scene. Pie after pie, Mildred was stuffing Jolene, and our heroine did not complain once, but seemed to be loving every second of it, every morsel. Everyone behind the camera was dumbfounded, in not only how realistic the images before them really were, but at the fact that she could pack so much food into her stomach, too. The two of them were having a grand old time. By the time it was a wrap, Jolene must have ravenously eaten about six pies and a dozen doughnuts.
Before they drove to the factor to shoot the third and final daydream, the two actresses discussed how natural the filming had become. Jolene remarked that this was the biggest accomplishment in her acting career, and how much she grew to identify with the role. They embraced and promised to keep in touch beyond electronic mail and awkward answering machines.
And with that, "Rebecca" and her string-puller seemed to instantaneously appear at the factory where Jodie and other cameramen waited. The "eating machine", which was really an elevated conveyor belt, was in motion to enter Jolene's mouth, stocked with all sorts of cookies and ice cream sandwiches. By this point, she was actually feeling a little full.
"Oh, well," she thought. The sooner she was done with this, the sooner she could think about deciding what to wear to the cast party that night. She opened her mouth for the billionth calorie.
JULY 27, 2001.
Jolene lazily picked her head out of slumber a little after two in the afternoon. The second she felt the envelope of morning breath, she realized two firsts: she was sleeping naked, and she was sleeping with a man.
And it only took her a couple more seconds to realize that the man was her co-star Adam Brandt, and that his hands were massaging her stomach. Soon after, she noticed that he, too, was stark naked. And she positively knew that she had much too much to drink at the cast party the night before.
Then again, there were lots of uncertainties jogging groggily through her head. Just how much did she have to drink? Why were they in the same bed? "Oh my God," thought Jolene, "did we make love?"
Except she did not, in fact, think this at all. Rather, she said it very much aloud to announce to the world that she was finally awake. Adam was bemused at this, and giggled in that way his bedfellow found sexy ever since the first time she heard it, some eighty pounds ago. Jolene suddenly knew the answers to all of her questions when she looked into his eyes and they screamed adoration.
Before she got the chance to say something clever and demure, Adam said, "Ever since I saw 'Almost Home,' I've admired you. But I never in my wildest imagination thought that I would ever get to know you enough to fall in love with you." He was running his stiff hands all along her blossoming shape. In a little less than a year and a half, he had gone from dwarfing her to appearing positively elfin next to her. She had been tossing and turning most of the night, and nearly pushed him off the bed with her size.
"Fuck," Jolene began, distracted not by any opposing thoughts of distaste, but by the fact that in less than two hours time, she would have to say goodbye to her best friend. Her best friend recently emblazoned with benefits. Adam was now stroking her chins and asking what was bothering her.
She pouted and said, "Press runs begin at 4:00 pm today. Fuck, fuck, fuck!" Little tears started to well up, but were quelled by more complaints. "Entertainment Weekly, Entertainment Tonight, Variety, Rolling Stone, Premiere, the New Yorker even! Oh, Adam, I just want to lay in this bed with you!" Now she cried.
"Look at it this way," Adam the wonderful diplomat commenced his speech, "You have the golden opportunity to tell the world what kind of freedom you enjoy, you can be an actual role model for all sorts of girls instead of last year's Jolene Richards poster!" He was practically spitting, almost frothing with idea.
Jolene raised her upper body from the bed ever-so-slightly and looked toward the wall. She pointed to the corner and coyly asked, "Oh, that one, you mean?" The poster she motioned to had a cheap Photoshop background and her name in streamlined, metallic lettering. She was wearing a white tank top and low-rise, hip-hugging blue jeans, an outfit to comfortably complement her paltry curves. She was smiling in it, but her eyes were staring into space. They were missing something.
Again, the eyes had it. "The very same," he said, tickling her belly. He gazed adoringly at his lover, and then back at the ghost on the poster. "Beauty, inside and out." He sighed.
She gave an apprehensive glare. "You find beauty in that waif?" She considered who she was a year and a half ago. Health food junkie. Non-drinker, non-smoker. Frumpy and thin as a rail. Where, she wondered, was the beauty in that?
"I didn't lie," Adam began his soliloquy, "when I said I admired you from the moment I first saw you. I met the beauty inside head on." He surveyed his best friend with appreciative eyes: the fully, happy, angelic face. The satiated belly. The plump, healthy breasts. The thick, meaty thighs. "And as our relationship develops, you're taking that beauty outside. In fact, I'd say it's spilling out of you."
Jolene squealed tears of happiness. She couldn't contain herself and planted peck after peck after kiss after wet kiss after sloppy, moaning kiss on her unsuspecting boyfriend. That sounded so good to her as it rolled gently off her brain in the bright afternoon daylight: boyfriend. The kisses gave way to stroking, and eventually that became groping. They were making out in no time, and making love in less. The passion perfectly filled the bedroom.
Afterwards, they lay there, sweating beautiful sweat, chests heaving. Though she had undoubtedly been deflowered in a most majestic drunken way the night before, she would forever consider this moment, sober and shiny, as the one in which she lost her virginity to the most amazing man she'd ever meet.
She wistfully looked at the alarm clock, still rapt with utmost pleasure. It read 3:47. She hurled all sorts of profanities and insults at herself and the radio. Adam, immediately realizing what was up, stayed out of harm's way by simply watching her toss around clothes, struggling to find something to wear.
He couldn't begin to believe how adorable she looked, shoving her portly, wide rump in his face, fat arms flailing about in a tornado of what once was a messy pile of clothes. In only a minute or two, she found a pair of navy blue nylon pants and a baby blue t-shirt. Love handles were pouring out of the waistband, and her breasts were two anxious friends, struggling to break out of prison. She bit her lower lip and smiled.
"I think this looks nice," she said, "but it looks like I'll have to go shopping again." They laughed in blissful unison.
Jolene got to the Hep Café, where her first interview, with Premiere, was scheduled to take place. After a long, smoochy embrace with Adam and a "Knock 'em dead," she strolled in through the ritzy doors and was greeted with a hug by Julie Davies, who incidentally gave Jolene her first interview, some four and a half years earlier. She sized her up with her eyeballs.
"My god," the reporter said, "what have they been feeding you?" She obviously knew nothing of the plot of the movie or its physical demands. It was an unfiltered shock. Without a second's pause, she gave her answer.
"Food." This was going to be a long day. She licked her lips and smiled.