Tony stretched, yawned and reached for the remote. His girlfriend, Mindy, was awakened from her nap by the movement. She smiled sleepily and touched his stubbled face. "Did you sleep any, honey?" she asked.
"Naw, just watched the rest of the Minnesota game," he replied.
Mindy looked out the window at the rapidly-darkening streets. "So much for our brisk walk after lunch!" she said dejectedly, scowling at her curvaceous hips. "Instead we flaked out on the couch for two hours!"
Tony laughed and ran his hand over her hips, which were filling out her Gap khakis most seductively. "Ah, no biggie - we can go running tomorrow morning," he said reassuringly.
"Oh yeah, tomorrow morning... how many times have we told ourselves that? Today was our 'tomorrow morning' after we hit the new Chinese place on Parker Road last night, don't you remember?" was Mindy's somewhat peevish reply. "Instead of running, you went out and picked up pastries!"
"... Oooh... pastries...." Tony replied with his best Homer Simpson-like monotone. He chuckled to himself as he recalled that on his way to the bakery, he had hit the drive-through at Burger King for his usual four sausage-and-egg croissantwiches and two hash rounds.
"Yeah, well, I just noticed, it isn't tomorrow yet... so we can cut loose today!" Tony joked as he friskily tussled with her. "Besides, I am in good shape, right?" he asked, flexing his biceps and throwing his chest out. He indeed had an impressive musculature; when he expanded his chest, the buttons on his old flannel shirt pulled taut over his bulbous pectorals. He conveniently ignored the shelf of flab forming under his ribcage, which sagged forward against his shirtfront, competing for hegemony with his powerful chest.
Suddenly noticing how his clothes were fitting more snugly, Tony made a mental note to take an extra Xytrim pill that night to nip this problem in the bud. Wandering to the scale, he looked at the damage and saw, indeed, that his weight had strayed upward by nine pounds since the last time he had checked it, some months before. It showed 209 pounds, and Tony was slothfully determined to keep his weight at 200, no matter what. Time to take five per day, instead of the four he'd been taking for the past few months. He popped the pills...and joined Mindy for some aerobic exercise in bed, before waking up at 199 the next day.
Before we go on, a bit of background is in order. How had Tony come to depend on these pills to maintain his svelte physique? If we look backward a few years, we would see that Tony had been a high school jock: football, wrestling, and track had kept him busy for the full school year. Regular weight training and the ceaseless aerobic demands of his sports had kept him at 180 pounds on his 5-11 frame.
With his arrival at college, Tony had, like most freshmen, kicked back and relaxed. Regular exercise became a thing of the past, replaced by regular beer nights out... and his metabolism, after struggling to stem the tide of decreasing caloric burn and increasing input, had sagged slightly, putting him at 185 by Christmas, 190 by Easter, and 195 by the end of the school year. Tony reacted as do most Frosh when presented with the fait accompli of the 'Frosh 15,' and his summer was a frenzy of activity to work his blooming love handles down to a more respectable status: exercise and diet were strictly enforced. He nearly succeeded, returning to his sophomore year at 185 lb., but with the additional five pounds attributable to muscle gained in his workouts, as well as to an inch of growth in height.
Once lured back into the opium dens of college dorm life, however, Tony's disciplined habits went by the wayside, and he rebounded to 195 by Christmas break. New Year's found him at 200, and this previously-unimaginable weight was supplemented by ten more pounds over the next three months. Accordingly, it was with a sense of guilty horror that Tony found himself, a week before Spring Break, feverishly trying on his swimsuits and shorts, cropped T's and vests, which had lain dormant since last summer. His winter wardrobe had indeed been forgiving, although even his new 36" jeans, exchanged at Christmas for the 34's his well-meaning family had bought for him, were protesting the load that 210 pounds were putting on the waistline. As for his summer clothes, most of which were in 33" waists from two summers ago, he was embarrassed to see that they didn't come close to "slipping on" over his thicker thighs and rounder gluts. Once the shorts were yanked up to almost-normal height, they were prevented from closing by his ponderous love handles and the beginnings of a discernible gut. He hightailed it to the bathroom, which was blessed with a reliable scale, and was depressed to see the result: 211.3 pounds.
Tony's reaction was admirable, a true testimony to his generation: he promptly went to his fridge, dumped its high-fat contents in the wastebasket, and literally ran to the fitness center. Three hours later, our hero had done the treadmill for 45 minutes straight at maximum incline; circuit trained every muscle group in his body; and sweated in the sauna for 30 minutes, all of it performed in the rubber suit he had retained from his high school wrestling's 'make weight' days.
As he half-heartedly jogged home from the fitness center, Tony mentally pictured how much weight he would have lost. His body cried out for hydration, as it had sweated mercilessly in the rubber singlet he forced himself into. The rubber, having lain idle for two years in the bottom of his dorm trunk, was itself showing signs of the fatigue Tony was feeling: grayish bands were appearing on the areas where the material was working hardest to contain Tony's newly-resurgent paunch.
Arriving back at the dorm, Tony immediately stripped off the torture suit, tossing it across the room where it landed on the radiator cover. He wrapped a towel around his "waist" (actually, instead of his past practice of cinching the towel tight around his hips, he attempted to cover the evidence of his decadent excesses by wearing the towel 5-6" higher, around the soft part of his middle, the way he had once laughed that 'old men' wore their towels.) Once so adorned, Tony grabbed his bathroom basket and headed down the hall.
About 3/4 of the way there, Tony realized why the old men seemed to be always clutching the towels around their waists... his frantic puffing and panting, and the undulation of his gut as he loped down the hall, quickly worked the towel loose, and he had to grab at it as it began to slip off.
No matter - Tony made it to the bathroom and strode to the scale. Dropping the towel and kicking off his flipflops, he fairly pounced on the scale, daring it to lie to him. This it did not do; the digital readout flickered momentarily, then showed the results of his three hours of torture: 207.5 pounds. "Hot dog!" screamed Tony. "That is 3.8 pounds! At this rate, I will be at 195 in uh... three or four days."
Tony leapt into the shower, washed the hard-earned sweat off his body, and raced to meet his friends at Friday's. Still conscious that exercise alone would not take care of his problem by the start of Spring Break, Tony eschewed beer, instead ordering a Stoly and cranberry, then a second. He also sanctimoniously forswore any chicken wings ordered by his crowd, eating only the celery sticks (plain) that were commonly served with chicken wings.
His buddies laughed at him. "Hey, at least some one is finally gonna eat the celery sticks! What's the matter, Ton, you on a diet?" The kidding came from Chet Morton, a fellow traveler with Tony in the up-again, down-again cycle that most ex-jocks experience at college. Only it seemed to Tony that Chet, while he was eating as much as ever, looked a bit leaner. He asked him as much at the dartboard later. "Yeah, man, I am back down to 180," confirmed Chet, taking a long swig of his beer as he nodded. "No way, how long did it take you to do that? I mean, you were pushing 200, weren't you, Chet?" was Tony's stunned reply.
"I was about 200, 203, give or take," Chet said cagily... then dropped the bombshell. "And I lost it a week ago without any change in my lifestyle." Again, Tony's faintly-doubled chin dropped as he sipped on his Stoly and cranberry. "It took you only a week to lose it? Twenty pounds? That is amazing!" he opined. "No. I mean I lost it a week ago. Exactly. I went to bed at 202, and woke up at 182. Thanks to these..." Chet furtively reached in his shirt pocket and pulled out a small tin. "'Smalltoyd's?' what the heck are they, peppermints?" laughed Tony as he looked at the box.
"No, you twit... I am beginning to think that some of that fat you've packed on has settled between your ears!" groused Chet. "I carry a few extras in this old candy box. They are Xytrim, a new product, not even approved by the FDA. My cousin got them in Mexico last time he was down. You take one a day for each ten pounds you gotta lose. Take them for as long as you need to keep the weight off, basically until you get back in shape, cut back on the cheeseburgers, you know... until you, I mean, we, work it off naturally. They don't actually make you lose the fat, they just sort of micro-encapsulate it so the fat cells shrink. Each dose lasts 24 hours, so you gotta keep taking them as long as you want to stay slim." Chet knew that Tony's interest was piqued, but Tony's anti-drug morality was even stronger.
"Uh, wow... well, I think I will do it the old fashioned way. I already lost four pounds just today, in one workout, and I only need to drop about 12 more..." Tony said, finishing his third Stoly. His judgment somewhat impaired, he agreed to Chet's seemingly innocent offer of a "nightcap" glass of beer from the communal pitcher. From there, it was not difficult for Tony to fall into his "old" habits, and by 1:00 AM, his early discipline had been abandoned in favor of two dozen wings smothered in Bleu Cheese, 5 slices of the 'coronary special' pizza, and the better part of two pitchers. He sauntered back to the dorm with Chet after closing time, looking a trifle enviously at Chet's already-flat abs, and unconsciously sucked in his gut as he walked... which only made him breath heavily and seem more out of shape than he, in fact, was.
Tony's damage continued that night when Chet persuaded him to stop by the local Denny's for some company while Chet had a snack. He confined himself, initially, to a glass of ice water, then a tall orange juice, then a tall milk, as Chet dug into his French Toast and sausage with a vengeance. "Ah, what the hell, I will do a few extra miles on the treadmill," Tony rationalized as he caved and ordered Eggs Benedict, which arrived piping hot and smothered in Bernaise sauce.
The next morning (or, rather, afternoon; Tony had slept until 12:15, completely missing his morning classes) was a bit of a comeuppance for Tony. He knew that his four-pound drop the previous day was partially water weight, but he also rationalized that he had weighed in late in the day, after he had eaten two meals already. Surely his morning weight would be lower, right? He bounded to the bathroom with a purposeful look in his eye, and made sure to use the toilet before he whipped off the towel and hopped on the scale again. His eyes widened...
"Holy shit! 213!!!" he wailed, grateful that the bathroom was empty at that hour. The tile walls seemed to repeat the echo for a second, further darkening his mood. Just at that time, Chet puttered in, a sly smile on his face. "Hey, Ton, how's the, ah... diet coming along?" he mocked, hopping on the scale and breaking into a full grin when Tony, his curiosity even more piqued, glanced at the monitor... 183. "Whoops, better not take too many of those babies... two is enough for now!" crowed Chet, as he patted Tony's sagging gut condescendingly. Too late, Tony sucked it in with some effort.
Tony showered glumly, noticing a slight rash beginning to form on his sides, the legacy of too much sweating in that damn suit yesterday... but he was not one to quit! He figured his current weight, allowed for a target weight of 200 (he gave up on the 195 number) and figured, at 4 pounds loss per day, he could lose 12 pounds in... three days. Just enough time! His plane left Saturday... it was now Tuesday. Herculean effort and Job-like discipline could get him there by Friday! He resolved to try.
Tony's workout was less satisfying that day than the previous day's. His rubber suit, which he had foolishly allowed to dry out on the radiator cover for 24 hours, was tighter than ever, and it quickly began to give him that sort of 'prickly heat' feeling that he loathed from his high school wrestling days. He wished he had bought some Mexsana powder to counter the rash that was rapidly enveloping the fleshier portions of his anatomy. Meanwhile, the suit turned grayer, a "bloom" such as appears on fine chocolate that has been left in a warm room now spreading over its entire midriff region. He also resolved to forego the bar for the next few days.
Tony was pleased to see that he was down to 210 by the next morning, a loss of three pounds, almost what he had lost the first day. He was wrestling into his rubber suit (now with a heavy coating of Mexsana with cornstarch on his tender skin to alleviate the rash) and grunted as he laced up his cross-trainers. He was going to go running, to sneak in a quick extra workout before his main workout.
Tony was beginning to like the warm feeling that the rubber suit gave him; it loosened sore muscles (and at the pace he had been going, almost all of his muscles were sore) and it acted like a much-needed girdle, holding in his expansive paunch and making him look merely well-padded, not fat. He did not notice that the chalky 'bloom' was beginning to rub off the surface of the suit onto his tank top. Under the shirt, a hairline spiderweb of tiny cracks was appearing on the surface of the rubber. The suit was finally yielding to fatigue.
Tony loped along at a 7.5-minute mile pace, faster than he was really conditioned for. His diaphragm expanded manfully, gulping in great quantities of cold wintry air, struggling to fill his lungs fast enough to exchange the oxygen for C-O-2 that his muscles craved. Each time he breathed in, his stomach expanded, then contracted... expanded, then contracted... rrrrrriiiiiiiipppp! The end, for the singlet, was horrifyingly sudden. A small split appeared on the right side, over his love handle, and opened all the way down to mid-thigh, where it was stopped by the hemstitching. Tony was so surprised that he tripped, and fell skidding into the muddy patch by the side of the path.
Tony looked at his knee, which had been opened up pretty well by his tumble and was bleeding profusely. "Oh, great, abso-friggin-lutely great!" he swore. He yanked off his tank top, the only cloth he had on him, and tied it tightly around his knee. He attempted to conceal his rashy, reddened flesh and CK briefs by casually holding his hand against the breach in his breeches. The long, limping walk back to his dorm was, thankfully, interrupted by a friendly toot on a horn - Chet, of course - offering him a ride back. He accepted gratefully, and thanked his stars that the rip in his rubber suit was on the side facing away from Chet. Chet soon erased any hopes Tony harbored of preserving a few shreds of his dignity.
"Looks like that stupid suit has bit the dust. Was betting it would blow out on you, the way you been shoehorning your fat ass into it the past few days...how you gonna work that gut off now, Tony, old pal?" Chet grinned snidely.
In his present state of mind, Tony was willing to yield to Chet's pressure, and he accepted the offer of 25 tablets... two per day, to drop 20 pounds and keep it off, for 10 days, with a few in reserve. "After that, you can see if you want to continue it, or get back in shape the *yawn* honest, old-fashioned way, Ton! But in the meantime, at least go on Spring break looking like you haven't swallowed a watermelon, man! I mean, it is unsightly, at least on the beach... sweaters cover a multitude of sins up here in the northern climes," Chet blithered on.
Somewhat shamefacedly, Tony accepted the pills, and popped two after Chet had driven him to the infirmary for stitches and a tetanus shot. He fell into bed that night, sore, fat, disgusted with himself for letting himself get outa shape, and for taking Chet's easy way out... and highly skeptical that any results would come of it.
The next day, Tony had sat up on his bed and was only reminded of his injury by the pulling of the stitches as he bent his knee sitting up on the side of the bed. "Ouch!" he said, drawing the leg of his pajamas up gently, to survey the bruise and scab that resulted from his goon-move of the previous day. But right away, he noticed something else - while his knee hurt, it wasn't as painful as it had been the previous night. And his sore, aching muscles felt completely restored! "Well, whatever that shit is, it is one hell of a painkiller," Tony chuckled, getting ready to hoist himself to his feet. He almost pitched himself over when he shot up from a sitting position like a springboard diver, and had to grab the desk to steady himself. His surprise continued when his drawstring waist jammies promptly dropped to the floor around his ankles.
Then he caught a glimpse of himself in his mirror... holy cow, that stuff had worked! Love handles... gone. Gut... history! Chest defined once more, arms showing some peaks... why he almost had abs, and he never had abs outside of deepest, hardest-working summer! He quickly retied his pajamas, a full three inches tighter around his hips, and walked with only a slight limp to the bathroom, eager to see what the scale said...
193! Holy moley, he was practically back to his last summer weight! He ran to Chet's room, to tell him the 'news,' which Chet of course, received with typical sang-froid: "Hey, bud, I told you it would work. Now let's go to the cafeteria and pig out!"
Tony accepted joyfully, and waded into lasagna, fried potatoes, calamari, four slabs of pie, and assorted other caloric bombs with a gusto that he had barely shown in his most decadent days of yore. Several days of this lifestyle, and he stepped nonchalantly onto the scale in the bathroom the morning of his departure to check his weight. Whoops, 199, he had backslid a bit... he did notice some small love handles had reappeared around his previously almost-chiseled obliques. An anxious conference with Chet resulted in an upping of his daily dosage to 3 tablets a day, and a reminder that the pills don't actually keep you from gaining weight, they just temporarily erase any weight you might have gained. Tony popped three of the Xytrim tablets, and got on the late flight. He awoke the next day in Florida at a svelte, indeed, quite buff, 190 pounds.
That week was amazing - Tony ate like there was no tomorrow. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, he popped his three tablets nightly and woke up apparently unchanged. His exercise regimen consisted of strolling across the street, laying waste to $10 worth of McDonald's finest breakfast items, and tanning his hide on the sunny beach.
On Tuesday, his mood improved further when he met a girl named Mindy, there with her sorority sisters. Their friendship progressed rapidly, but neither Tony nor Mindy was sleazy - it would take nearly three days and nights before they rounded the bases. Mindy was a picture perfect match for Tony - same age, 5-7, 125 pounds, fit and active, and fond of wearing a bikini that was plainly two sizes too small - its electric-blue fabric covered only the front portions of her firm, buoyant breasts, breasts that told Tony on some subliminal level (though he would have been horrified to admit it as a soph in college) that she could suckle many healthy babies. Her prominent, swaying hips bespoke a roomy pelvic girdle, and would have suggested, even to the most imbecilic, soon-to-be-washed-out premed student from Great Neck, that she could produce Tony Jr. and Antoinette with little difficulty.
Oh yeah, and she was pretty smart, too, I guess. Whatever...
One final feature of this winning creature won her over to Tony: she was plainly dedicated to keeping in shape, and would be just the sort of discipline-enhancer that Tony would need when he returned to a regular program of aerobic and weights workouts. She got him out on the beach running one day, and he was somewhat embarrassed to find that she 'smoked' him, keeping up a 6:45 mile pace, which he had to quit after only a mile. Fortunately, Tony's manhood did not entirely shrivel and drop off after this affront to his masculinity (which was a blessing, as he would be needing it later...) In short, everything was dandy.
But a bit of a cloud passed over his tanned visage when he reached for the tin of pills on Thursday and found... only four left! He had not counted on his increased dosage over the past week, and he was already into the reserve supply, with four more days of his vacation to go. He decided that the best approach was to ration his supply, and he noted his weight on Thursday, the last day he had his full, 3-pill dosage working for him. It was 195... damn, he had put on five pounds in five days so far... breathing a little promise to go running on the beach with Mindy the next day, Tony took two of the remaining pills.
Friday, as expected, Tony had regained 10 of the pounds that the pills had been magically keeping off. He awoke at 205 and groaned as he surveyed his resurgent love handles and budding paunch. A blessing in disguise, however, arrived in the form of an overcast day - no beach! - and he slipped into a loose-fitting Hawaiian shirt and his drawstring shorts, and headed out, vigorously sucking in his stomach all the way.
Looking around for the first time at the other guys, Tony noted that he was actually, even in his somewhat re-inflated state, one of the more buff guys on the boardwalk. Many guys wandered around shirtless, their burned skin seeming barely able to encase the ponderous paunches that seemed daily to be growing, almost before their eyes... Tony relaxed his stomach muscles about 50%, took a few gulps of oxygen for the first time since he had gotten up that morning, and eased his hand around a tall Margarita. Naturally, he did not stray far from a greasy tray of nachos, a bowl of wings and bleu cheese, or a heart-stoppingly-delicious slab of pizza for longer than a few minutes.
Tony felt emboldened enough by the fleshy display going on around him to float the subject of "getting soft" with Mindy, and was somewhat chastened by her reply. While not exactly donning black hip boots and goose-stepping around with a monocle, Mindy made plain her disgust for the obvious debauchery and decadence of the fat foodophiles around them, and squeezed Tony's muscular thigh with a proud look of 'but I am plainly preaching to the choir, my toned Tony, aren't I?' in her eyes. Tony smiled weakly, cocked his head higher with a sneaking suspicion that he was showing a double chin again, and resumed 100% gut-sucking activity for the remainder of the afternoon.
That evening, as Tony ushered Mindy into the room, he found no necktie among his clothes to hang on the door. Not wanting to be interrupted in his conquest, he stripped off his Hawaiian shirt and hung it on the doorknob, unwisely doing so before he could scramble across the unmade bed to dim the lights. The tanned seductress who was, after three days of careful preparation, willing to get in bed with him was somewhat taken aback by his expanding love handles and somewhat-sagging stomach. It was damn hard for him to get in the mood with her lying there, advising him of how many sets of oblique crunches, leg lifts, and trunk-twists he should be doing on a daily basis to trim that spare tire of his. He decided to shut her up (or at least the intelligible portions of her repertoire) by going straight for the clincher, spending only a few minutes on her breasts and neck before going south of the border for a snack. It worked. Finally getting her quieted down for a few minutes, and with his mental self-image helped by the dimmed lights, he proceeded with the main attraction.
Tony was not a vastly experienced lad in this regard, but he had some reason to be proud of his few conquests. There had been a bit of a dry spell since the fall, when he had broken up with his last girlfriend, however, and his long, slumbering winter of hibernation had not improved his aerobic fitness any. It should come as no surprise that he was, therefore, puffing and panting pretty loudly as he approached climax with Mindy, who at least was decent enough to wait until he had finished before commenting acidly on his obvious lack of conditioning. "I think, with 45 minutes of aerobic exercise a day, six days a week, you will be able to sustain your erection much longer, honey," she said encouragingly. "And quit smoking, of course, at least around me, O.K.?" Tony lay there, gasping for breath, taking deep drags on his cigarette and wondering if maybe this Claudia Schiffer wannabe was exactly as perfect as he thought she was...
They did make plans for meeting again, back at her school, which was close enough to his that they could meet for weekends on a monthly basis. He sealed the evening by taking her out for a hearty meal (no surprise, eh?) at which he demolished a plate of ravioli, a nine-inch trough of fettucine alfredo, a hearty Caesar salad, and half of her entrée, before dessert. Mindy was beginning to forget his somewhat pedestrian performance of earlier that evening (women love men with hearty appetites) and thought to herself musingly, 'well, if he can eat like this and only have a bit of a paunch, then he is O.K.... I guess I could get him running again and get some abs back, and he does have that cute little 'waterfall' of hair from between his pecs down to his, ah... stomach.'
Such thoughts were appropriate for a romance-minded girl, as that night was their last night together on this trip. She had booked a return flight on Saturday, whereas he was returning as late as possible on Sunday. Before tumbling into bed in the wee hours, Tony took the last two pills, and next morning, his farewell to his new love was made as he wore his by-now-well-filled madras shirt at a nearly pre-diet 209 pounds.
A cold front sent him scurrying that afternoon, into a Champion store, where he picked up a roomy (XL) sweatshirt and a warm pair of sweatpants - having packed no cold-weather clothing, he needed the insulation. (He needn't have worried, however, about a need for insulation... but lest I foreshadow too obviously, I will quell this parenthetical outburst.) He headed out for his final night of revelry, determined to make it memorable... how quickly he forgot the "restraining" influence that the drugs were having on his metabolism!
The next morning was one of overcast, a low scudding cloud cover hanging over the town - and that was not the only hangover present: Tony had tried one of nearly every drink and appetizer that the Mucky Duck had to offer the previous night - and the combination of dark liquors, white liquors, and more beers than he cared to count gave him a headache the likes of which he had seldom seen. He also awoke famished and therefore all the grumpier. He rolled out of bed in the gloom of the bedroom, noting that the others in the room had already checked out and gone their separate ways - guys in college not being ones for teary-eyed farewells - and noted that he had about three hours before he had to catch a taxi to the airport.
Tony felt his way carefully to the bathroom, eyes squinting against even the faint glare coming from between the drawn drapes - and found his quest - the super-strength Advil geltabs. He silently breathed his liver a prayer of apology and downed four of the magical pills, waiting for them to take effect. It was then that he saw his face in the mirror, bleary-eyed and puffy - had he gotten beaten up last night, he wondered? Not just puffy... rounder, it seemed... then the empty bottle of 'Xytrim' caught his eye. "Oh, shoot, man, does this stuff give you a hangover when you come off it? I feel like crap," he muttered, managing to hit the toilet about 60% of the time during his prolonged voiding. Gradually, as his haze cleared, Tony became aware that his poor aim was due in part to his inability to see the barrel of his weapon... a fleshy mound of flab that had never been there before blocked his view. Eyes wide, fully awake now, Tony stumbled over to the scale and climbed gingerly on. 210... 215... 220... beads of sweat broke out as these numbers spun by on the old yellowed dial. 225... 229... 231, the scale finally said, seeming to groan in protest as it displayed the full fruits of his excesses.
"That slimeball Chet, I am gonna get him! This isn't a diet pill, I am fatter than I was before I ever started the damn thing!" Tony cursed roundly (how appropriate) as he threw his belongings in his duffel bag. His first two choices of pants were quickly rejected, as his protuberant gut silently declared 'Uh-uh, no way you makin' me get in none of them 36's, no, suh!!!' and he wound up in the sweats outfit that he had worn the previous night.
He had time for breakfast, and headed out to the McD's across the way, intending to have Cheerios and skim milk. As soon as the smell of the Egg McMuffins hit him, though, he realized how hungry he was, and decided to order one, "No cheese, no bacon, please." "Sorry, sir, breakfast is closing, no special orders!" the pimply, paunchy, pusher behind the counter sang out, and Tony consented to one regular egg McMuffin. The youth, wise beyond his years, eyed the gut on his captive customer, and said, half under his breath, 'Only one, sir? You've been eating four or five all week, what is wrong?' Tony looked annoyed and said "Well, I was trying to start a diet, kid..." annoyed at the youth's effrontery. "OK, one it is, sir" the kid said, winking, and proceeded to reach for a large bag. "One!" he said, as he dropped the Egg McMuffin in the bag. "One!" as a Sausage biscuit with egg, then one more, then one more, joined the first. The kid proudly handed Tony a bag groaning with 7 rapidly-congealing breakfast sandwiches, 3 hash browns, and two cheese danish, before ringing in one Egg McMuffin and asking for $1.54 in toto.
"It's the end of the breakfast shift, sir, it would just go to waste, and you looked like you could put it to good use!" the kid said. "We'd hate to have it go to... waist!" he punned, patting his own paunch, which had obviously been helped along its path toward regional, if not global, domination by a healthy diet of McDonald's finest. Sighing, Tony yielded to temptation (he found that it was so easy to just go with the flow; maybe the pills did have some calming effect after all) and sauntered over to a bar stool to see what he was going to eat.
Half an hour later, Tony was feeling considerably more content, his stomach comfortably full. He went up for the third time to refill his coffee, absentmindedly dumping his now-typical five creams in the cup before filling the remainder with coffee. "Man, it is funny, how I used to eat so lean when I was cutting weight," he mused, sipping the calorie-laden beverage, the caffeine of which was helping to restore his more philosophical mood.
"Heck, maybe this is what 'fat and happy' feels like," Tony said to himself as he returned to his room, checked out, and waited for the shuttle to the airport.
Tony's good luck continued when he got to the airport and found he had been upgraded to first class, without even asking. "How come I got this break?" he wondered to the gate agent, a fellow who was obviously no stranger to the beer-of-the-hour club at his local bar. "Well, to be truthful, sir, I am a 'Gator's fan, and that sweatshirt just got me all misty!" the jovial chap announced, at which Tony laughed and slapped the fierce-looking gator on the front of the sweatshirt. "Also, you looked like you deserved a break from coach - did you know those darn seats are only 19 inches wide?" the hearty fellow bellowed. "Jeez, if I knew I was gonna be treated like this once I put on a few, I wouldn't have tried so hard to stay skinny!" laughed Tony, thanking the fellow before heading off to the Priority Lounge to swill free beer and more nachos (he managed 3 beers in the hour wait).
Accordingly, Tony was in high spirits when he floated off the plane and caught the T to his dorm. Hitting the button for the 8th floor, he waited for the doors to creak shut and begin the slow, toilsome climb. And waited. And waited. Then he stepped out, and noticed the "elevator bustid" sign posted by the illiterate maintenance crew. "Aw, shoot, well, I guess something has to go wrong today," he mumbled good-naturedly, and headed for the stairs.
He fairly bounded up the first three flights, slowed somewhat on floors 4 and 5, then hit a wall on 6. Gasping and puffing, he pressed his cheek against the cracked plaster, trying to cool off as his fitter fellow classmates bounded effortlessly by him. He resumed his climb, and emerged gagging, sweating and coughing at the 8th floor. "Man, that was awful... I gotta do something about that, I can't be getting outa breath on these stairs like this!" Tony told himself, in a fairly convincing reprise of his "fit jock dude" act from the earlier part of our sordid tale.
Having caught his breath, however, Tony lumbered down the hall to his room, pausing only to dump off his overloaded duffel bag before continuing on to Chet's room. "I still owe that guy some serious punishment, for not telling me about these pills, or the side effects, or not giving me enough of them, or... uh... whatever... he has it coming!" he grunted to himself as he arrived at the door, panting slightly. He was all ready to rip into Chet, mentally preparing his self-righteous speech, when the door swung open and Chet greeted him.
Or rather, "Chet-plus" greeted him. Far from being the 180 pound svelte stud that had left for Spring Break, Chet now sported a gut that, to Tony's recollection, was bigger than it was at his decadent worst, immediately before Spring break. The sight took the wind out of Tony's sails, and he stumbled into the room, staring at Chet's resurgent paunch, saying "what the heck happened to you, you skank?" with all the righteousness he could manage. He then related the sordid story of his re-emergent gut.
"What's it look like, same thing that happened to you, you fat fart!" Chet ribbed good-naturedly. I ran out of my cache of pills, after I had given you half of them. Looks like both of us enjoyed ourselves on Spring break, though I seriously figure some of this is from those last few days before break..." Chet told Tony. "Look, let's do the math... you were 213 before you took the first two pills, right? And they knocked you down to 193, so that is 20 lb. You gained to 199 before we left, so you had to up the dosage, right? Ok, so that means on a "no-pill" basis, you had put on six pounds in four days, you fat flunky... and were really 219 before we left. Now, you had to cut back to two pills a day before you ran out entirely, but you were 209 even with taking two pills, meaning you were really 229. That, plus the food you packed in over the weekend, has put on a few more, I bet."
Tony sheepishly admitted to having been 231 that morning on the old scale at the hotel, but swore that scale had to be inaccurate. "Oh yeah, it probably was, man... let's see the real damage, Ton!" Chet laughed. "You know, I have been pronouncing the monosyllabic variant of your name with a long 'O' as though it were spelled 'tone,' my buddy...maybe I should start pronouncing it like it is spelled!" he teased, swatting Tony's gut with his free hand as he swigged a beer with the other.
Once in the bathroom, the true scale of the damage became apparent. Even after Tony had stripped to his stretched out CK boxers, the scale blinked out, coldly, cruelly, the truth: 230 fat-laden pounds. "Man, oh man, I am a fat fuck!" Tony wailed mournfully. I am up 17 pounds since before break!" "Hang on, now save some of the tears for me, brother," countered Chet, who hoisted his frame on the scale and was somewhat amazed to see it register 224 pounds, up 22 pounds since before he had started the pills.
"Looks like you and me got a decision to make, Anthony," Chet mused, using Tony's full name for the first time in recorded memory. "We can get friggin discipline, start running, eating lettuce and dry toast, do abs three times a day for the next two months, and maybe drop this extra in time to go back home for the summer only 15 pounds heavier than we arrived. Or... we can call my cousin and get some more of the pills!" Chet almost cackled at the ease of the choice as it appeared to him. Tony had to admit, the second option sounded far better, especially as he was planning on seeing Mindy in about a month, and didn't have a prayer of shedding 20-plus pounds in that time. "Better make it a double order!" he laughed, as he helped himself to a beer from Chet's fridge back in his room. "Don't worry, I'll order plenty!" Chet said.
Thus it was that, months later, Tony found himself enjoying one of his increasingly-frequent weekends with Mindy, and having to only make up the tiniest bit of fiction about the rigor of his daily workout program, which kept him at a solid 200 pounds and still enabled him to party with her on their weekends together. "I just don't know, food doesn't taste the same when you aren't around, hon!" he mumbled, over a massive platter of fried clams, which he was rapidly burying under a mound of tartar sauce. "Guess that is why I feel I can cut loose a bit on weekends with you!" he said, romantically chewing on mounds of greasy fried mollusks. He only took the pills on Friday nights, and Saturday nights, and then only on the weekends he would see Mindy, to save money - the price of the pills was skyrocketing as the demand had taken off on the black market. During the week, he was his usual paunchy self.
So, we have returned to the present day... Tony and Chet popping four, now five pills a night in a constant battle to keep their weights at levels their girlfriends imagine to be 'ideal.' (Chet had also met a chippy in Aruba who fancied his tight butt and abs). Tony noted with satisfaction that Mindy's lithe frame was expanding a bit, the longer she knew him. He didn't dare ask her weight, but he imagined she must have put on ten or fifteen pounds. Meanwhile, his un-"Xytrimmed" weight continued to climb, albeit at a slower pace. He thought he had tabled off at around 250, until he woke one Saturday morning, about seven months after the memorable Spring Break that had put him on this track, and he noticed the scale, which he rarely consulted any more, had bounced up to 225... this with five pills, worth 50 lbs' 'relief,' taken the previous night!
In a panic, he raced down the hall to Chet, who was similarly encumbered with about half of his "off-Xytrim" weight adorning his midriff. "What the f--- happened, man? I gotta go out and see Mindy in five hours, and I look fatter than she has ever seen me!" whined Tony, in that half-desperate wheedle that would really be way the hell annoying if this story were a radio play (be thankful it is only text).
"Calm down, calm down, something about it on the new packaging... they say that they had to halve the dosage of Xytrim in each pill, to comply with some cockamamie guidelines," Chet said. Here, lemme read the bottle. It has this "disclaimer" in it," Chet said, reading. "Yadda yadda, ..no responsibility... yadda yadda... hair loss, tooth discoloration, sunspots, ... other side effects... renal failure, high blood pressure, cataracts, shingles, toenail fungus, ... yadda yadda... severely elevated serum cholesterol... blah, blah... maximum daily loss safely achievable, 20 pounds???" ... Chet tossed the disclaimer in his wastebasket, eyes widening. "Most of it is pretty usual stuff, I guess, typical of Scooby Doo Pharmaceuticals' Mexican operations, but what is this, you only should take off a maximum of 20 lbs? We've been shedding forty or fifty lately!" Chet said, nervously puffing on a cigarette, which he had begun to smoke with increasing regularity in the past few months.
"Uh, Tony?" Chet asked, becoming concerned about his friend, who had slipped into something of a trance. "You OK, man?" Tony had gone pale. "Man, do you think this s-t might be bad for us?" he whimpered. "I mean, blood pressure, cholesterol, all that stuff, due to this Xytrim stuff?" Chet looked at his somewhat dull friend in disbelief. "Wake up and smell the five-creams-per-cup friggin COFFEE, dunderhead! No, of course the Xytrim doesn't cause all those side effects! But, did you maybe consider, that maybe, just maybe, the 8 fried eggs and pound of ham you inhale for breakfast, the case of beer nightly, the Cheese-lover's pizzas might be, hmmm....?" Where'd you think all that saturated fat was going, anyway... Cleveland?"
"Listen, chump!" Chet continued. "Xytrim is supposed to be a temporary supplement, until we get back into our normal active, lean-living lifestyles, right? Well, that is part of its problem. It is so damn successful, that people forget about the "getting back on track" part and just keep on going. Now, bud, you and me, we got nothing to worry about. We are friggin 19 years old, for gosh sake! We got plenty of time to get serious about this... later!" Chet finished his speech with a proudly symbolic drag on a freshly-chain-lit cigarette.
Tony was chapfallen at Chet's somewhat direct message. He hadn't thought about it before. He just had gotten fond of the way he could pig out royally, day and night, for a week, two weeks, and then, magically, get rid of all the visible evidence overnight. (In time to show off his solid, if not svelte, bod to Mindy). He had gotten very used to his decadent lifestyle, and he admitted that he didn't mind not going to the gym, not running, not doing anything healthy at all. Heck, he had even started smoking more, like Chet. He was encouraged, however, by Chet's comforting, if somewhat gruff, assurance that, indeed, any chickens that had somehow escaped the depopulating ravages of their chicken-wing-fed gluttony in the recent past, would indeed take many years before they came home to roost. And so, in defiance of the warnings on the now-discarded disclaimer, they each doubled their dosages, to preserve their fictional fitness levels if only on the occasional weekend.