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Absence Makes the Heart Grow .....
as told to The Observer

[As always with these tales based on facts where identities have to be protected, this story has some innovation mixed in with the original. But the conclusion is modified the very least of all --- simply because it is too close to the truth to change. Read and enjoy]

Alex couldn't help but take note of Cindy the very first day she came to work. Comfortably over 200, were full cheeks, cascading shoulder length dark hair that cascading gracefully over her shoulders, and the definite beginning of a lovely second chin, it was impossible to do otherwise. She wore a bright yellow blouse which streched somewhat tightly over her ample bosom and climbed up over a nicely formed belly. She had all the markings of a girl who not only enjoyed eating but had recently added a few pounds. A goodly portion seemed to have settled in her buttox, for her round hips were outstanding.

At lunch he made a point of noticing her. As he suspected, her appetite was not timid. She had a double cheeseburger from the lunchwagon that visited the plant, along with a hostess fruit pie and a milk. Not an enormous meal, but not the mark of someone overly concerned with dieting either. He smiled at the thought of what he might see happen over the next few months.

She was a good worker, intelligent, able to think through and solve problems, and was friendly towards others. Alex wasn't always able to match lunch periods, but he noticed a pattern. When she was with others she tended to be catious in her eating habits --- salad with an apple, sandwich and juice, that sort of thing. But on days when she was alone she nearly doubled the caloric intake. Obviously someone who enjoyed eating but didn't want to let others know. But he was sure her blouse and skirt were slowly getting tighter.

He noticed that she frequently had something to available to read --- sometimes a copy of Reader's Digest, more often a novel. And when she was reading by herself she seemed to munch more --- even going back sometimes for seconds. Food and her definitely got along well. Alex knew this was someone he had to get to know better. But the time just didn't seem right.

After about four months the chance came. There were few seats and no empty tables in the lunch area. But Cindy had a table with an available chair. He bought his lunch and asked if he might share the table. She barely glanced up from her Reader's Digest and chips as she nodded agreement. He ate his own meal, waiting until she had finished her article before asking what she had found so interesting.

Disarmed by the impersonal approach she shared the story with him --- a true life rescue by an heroic Eagle Scout. It led to some sharing of other stories and then it was time to get back to work. But mission accomplished --- the ice had been broken. A few days later he dug out an old Reader's Digest issue and handed it to her as he passed by. She smiled and thanked him.

The next week he again had occasion to share lunch with her. He commented on the food from the wagon, noting that it was alright but not as good as some of the restaurants in the area. He asked her straight out if she had visited them.

"Occasionally," she replied. "I was out of a job for four months and had to conserve my pennies."

He grabbed the opportunity and suggested that they go to the Olive Garden, a popular Italian chain that had opened a local outlet just recently. She accepted.

That evening his suspicions were confirmed. With very little encouragement she enjoyed the appetizer, the main course and even had dessert. "I hope you don't think me a pig," she said, "but I starved myself all day just to have room for tonight. Its the first time in ages I've been to a place like this."

"No mind at all," he replied. "I like to take people out dining who can appreciate a good meal instead of picking at it."

"Nice to hear a man who feels that way. I like to eat and if it adds a few pounds, I decided that's what large lady dress shops are for."

He laughed, and a common bond began to form.

Two weeks later they went out again, this time for a Sunday brunch. This time it was a natural foods restaurant which had turkey burritos and a side order of whole wheat pancakes with bananas and walnuts. They both ate the whole thing along with a side order of turkey sausages. Then they went to a movie where they shared soft drinks and some candy before heading home.

And so it went for another few months. She openly shared with Alex her enjoyment of food, admitting that she was more concerned about criticism from others than the adding of pounds. He told her every ounce was beautiful and encouraged her to get over her shyness --- even helping her to pick out some new (and larger clothes). She called him her "liberator" and even invited him to her place for dinner a few times. She was, he noticed, an excellent cook.

She was easily picking up 2-3 pounds a month, he noticed by the end of the first year. Must be close to 240. Meanwhile her work continued to be excellent and she got a promotion. Now she was supervising three other people. Something told Alex that he needed to make a move or he could lose her, but his natural inibitions about a long term relationship held him back. He had had some rough spots in his life and didn't think anyone who knew his past would want him. Or if he was even capable of real commitment and love. Better, he thought, just to remain friends.

And then it happened. The firm opened a new plant 300 miles away. Cindy was one of those chosen to help open it and train the new crew. She left town, at first just for three months, then six, then a year. Occasionally he would call her and she was always friendly. Twice he drove on the weekend to see her --- and noticed that she was still growing nicely, especially her hips and thighs which he admired so much. Probably around 275 or so. She called him once or twice as well, always mentioning how she had enjoyed their times together. But despite the hints he still wasn't ready to commit.

Then one night, about two months ago, Alex was on the internet. Actually it was a size acceptance chat room on AOL --- you may even be able to guess which one. A couple of girls were talking about the men who were breaking their hearts. One had a man who was more than wiling to be "just friends" but didn't have the courage to move any further. Another had one so busy being macho that he didn't seem to realize he already had her heart if only he would temper his language and be a gentleman.

No, at least so far as is known, neither of them was not Cindy. That would be too senditpitous and this is supposed to be a realistic story. Truth is, Cindy doesn't even own a computer so far as Alex knows. But he does, and he was not so hard headed and macho himself not to get the point. Their dialogue got him to thinking.

"She is a supervisor at the other plant now, so it would be better to get another job. But wouldn't it be nice if ......"

Alex has scheduled his vacation early next year. Rumor has it he's been studying places to go and things to do near a plant his firm has about three hundred miles from where he lives. Especially good restaurants. He has also been asking some of his friends to help him list things a couple should consider if they are thinking of getting hitched.

Now Alex is no dummy. It doesn't take Perry Mason to figure out what he his planning to do next. So, although this story ends here for now I think we all have a hunch what could happen next.