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Old 01-06-2015, 12:12 PM   #1
agouderia
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 2,100
agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!
Default Energetic Expansions ~BHM, ~~WG

[ Author's Note: For as long as I can think, I've always been intrigued by the idea of an intentional gain story, but have never found any reasonably plausible story-line or format that I could relate to and develop convincingly. Now in December, the European Court in Luxembourg came to a landmark ruling which is seriously expected to have a significant impact on EU labor legislation. It served as inspiration ..... ]


Energetic Expansions


I.

„Mynheer Bartholomon …. this way please, “ the glossy haired blonde receptionist didn’t lead him into the small meeting room he had been last time, but across the broad lobby to a spacious street front office with an alcove and historic French windows to the floor. “Seat yourself. Dr. van der Vaals will come to you immediately.”

So far he had only felt uncomfortable, now the sensation turned into a form of dread. The young labor law specialist he had talked to had seemed down to earth and fine for the mess he had gotten himself into. He wondered how bad it might truly be what it meant that one of the senior partners wanted to see him. After several minutes the door opened and a woman maybe in her early fifties entered, in a skirt suit but with ballerina flats and unruly curly hair a convincing mixture of professional and motherly.

“Mr. Bartholomon – I’m Sylvia van der Vaals, I specialize in all EU labor legislation related cases. Since this might apply to you, we’ve decided that I take on your case. I’ve read through your documentation and would like to go through it step by step to make sure I understood all the details, would that be okay?” Her English was an impeccable as with most Dutch professionals.

“Yes, of course.”

Sylvia van der Vaals settled behind her desk briskly, put on her reading glasses and opened a folder. “So – you’re Alexander Bartholomon, US citizen, have been working in the European office of the American energy company FuturePowers located here in The Hague for 2 years?”

“Umm… yes …. more or less. I’m American – but I work here as a Greek citizen.”

“How’s that? I mean – it’s not that unusual for US citizens nowadays who have some claim to an EU citizenship to take it on; simply to make things easier with work permits and the like. But in this case details are important. Are you married to a Greek?”

“No … I’m single. My grandmother is Greek, was born in Greece, so I was eligible after being baptized orthodox.” He shuddered briefly as he remembered that ceremony, in a drafty church during a cold New York November with a nice young priest from the Greek Orthodox Church of North America chanting unintelligible things. Standing in swimming shorts and a short night-shirt in a basin full of water, his faced rubbed down with olive oil – very high on his list of most ridiculous moments in his life. At least he didn’t have to change his first name since Alexander was as Greek as it could get.

“Did you do this explicitly to get this job with FuturePowers?”

“Actually I did. They had messed up something with previous work permits for US citizens – somehow had too many registered in one office to comply with some sort of regulation. I only got the chance to get the job because I was able to work here as an EU citizen without needing a work visa. So I went through the procedure. The job was originally offered to two much more senior colleagues. The company wanted someone from the US to do the project acquisition on the EU market truly from a US perspective.”

He saw her checking items in her files, but crossing out others and writing down notes. “Your experience so far had been only in the US? College, university, work? Focus on energy?”

“Yes sort of. I have a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and a M.S. in Engineering Economics. After grad school I worked for 3 years for a company that made power generators, then I moved on to FuturePowers. I had been working there for 2.5 years when this offer came up. I wanted to internationalize my career, renewable energies are big here in Europe – it sounded interesting, professionally and also as a personal experience.”

“Sounds convincing. Now to the details of your transfer here – this is important. You had an unlimited contract with FuturePowers in the US? They paid for your relocation?”

“I had a normal contract in the US. The difference between limited and unlimited isn’t that important. Employees in the US don’t garner that much in extra protection against being laid off simply by having longer term contracts.” He sighed – this is where the mess started he had gotten himself in. “FuturePowers paid for my relocation and everything. I got a 2 year US contract for the work I still do today, project acquisition, here in the Netherlands. With the written guarantee to either be able to return to my job in the US – or get a successive contract here in the Netherlands with a promotion.”

“So far so good – then what happened?”

“A little over a year ago, there was a change in our main shareholder in the US mother company. Many of the employees got new contracts. I got a Dutch contract, an English translation of the same, was told that it matched my former US contract – only that I would be promoted to Head of the EU project development department in 1 year,” swallowing hard and staring at the floor.

She let him pause for a moment before asking: “And two weeks ago?”

“Two weeks ago the new US CEO was here. Together with our European Director Thomas Ross we had a talk. They told me I wouldn’t get promoted, I didn’t match their profile any more. I was too technical, not entrepreneurial enough, too little policy orientation. I couldn’t convey the lean, modern, innovative image of the renewable energy industry as FuturePowers wants to,” quoting the words left an indescribably bitter taste in his mouth.

Looking up, he saw true sympathy in Mrs. Van der Vaals eyes.
“Four days later I found that envelope, unmarked, with the copies of the e-mail correspondence between several board members, senior managers and HR about my case. It spurred my to have my Dutch contract re-translated into English – to find out it was a limited contract for 36 months, now ending in 20. The return guarantee to the US is no longer applicable.”

Closing his eyes, he took another deep breath and then blurted. “And my promotion was given to Polly Harding, who has half a year in work experience, but a M.A. in International Relations focusing on renewable energies in non-traditional banana growing countries.”

“You’re not serious,” she giggled. “Renewable energy in non-traditional banana growing countries?”

“Yes - I am. Exactly that was the topic of her master’s thesis. I was exaggerating a bit – the actual masters program is titled International Relations in Renewable Energies with Developing Economies. Maybe I’m biased, but until she came I didn’t necessarily see that as a necessary head start to do EU energy markets,” he could tell he sounded cynical.

Polly’s appearance had gotten to him. Not getting his promotion would’ve been sufferable if it had been for someone who was in any respect more qualified than he was. But Polly had almost no previous professional experience, no technical expertise at all – and not even other useful assets like an EU citizenship or the ability to switch languages mid-sentence like Alex did. She wasn’t even a real looker –short with the required tiny figure, yet her features where bunched up with pointed nose and chin giving her a mousy look. Stunning was only her hair – a hair model worthy hazelnut mane, always superbly coiffed. “Sorry, I’m being unprofessional. It’s getting to me.”

“I understand. Some of these new masters programs have an incredibly specific focus – I have my doubts too whether they can be considered a serious academic qualification,” she smiled at him warmly. “So this Polly has this degree in renewable energies without an EU or G8 focus, and limited professional experience. What about her other skills? Languages? Connections?”

“She even has a US contract as a US citizen. Language skills as non-existent as mine – many Americans suck at that. Previously she worked on a project in Indonesia – so I see no contacts or so here in Europe.”

“I see. Still, not being granted a promotion for whatever office political reasons is a common phenomenon. There is not all that much we can do about it, since in a small office like yours the normal hierarchy and seniority rules are difficult to apply. But that is not your actual problem. It is that you’ve been misled into accepting a limited Dutch work contract that expires in 20 months leaving you unemployed then, with no return option to the US. In theory, it of course would be possible for you to expect to get an unlimited follow-up contract then, since the work evaluations and project success you have documented so far speak in your favor. This email correspondence leaked to you makes it seem extremely unlikely that they will keep you. Does that sum up the situation?”

He nodded wearily.

“Do you have any idea who might have leaked the emails to you and with which intentions? Do you have any good friends or supporters on the board level or with HR?”

Ever since he had found that envelope in his home mail box, he had been brooding as to who could have fed it to him. The ‘CC’s’ of the correspondence had been carefully deleted, so he couldn’t be sure – but he had a gut hunch it had to be Alex, who did HR for their office. She was friendly to everyone and would be one to have access to this, even though he couldn’t really see why she would do such a thing, except her occasionally voiced general skepticism to the shifts in business policy. “I don’t really know. I have a suspicion, yet no supportive evidence.”

“Have you tried to speak to this person?”

“No, absolutely no. That’s impossible,” cringing at the idea of having to open up to cool aloof Alex – and maybe being totally wrong about it.

“Hmmh..,” Mrs. Van der Vaals scribbled something, before scrutinizing him over her reading glasses. “I must admit from reading these emails, I expected you to be a totally different person. Apart from the fact that these comments in the mails are unprofessional – like ‘the professional future of our industry is not with fat engineers’ or ‘nobody who can’t handle his own energy intake can advocate energy efficiency’ – I have trouble seeing their point. I honestly assumed you to be much heavier.”

He gulped and felt his cheeks grow very hot. This was the part of the conversation he hated most. The last thing he wanted to discuss with anyone, let alone any woman, was his weight.

“If you forgive me for asking, what is your height and weight?”

“Umm … about 6’1”, 1.85 meters … and …. and … right now about 110 kilograms…” he muttered looking under himself. At the end of his diet it had been 108, but that had been before Christmas vacation.

“Okay … BMI 32 … that’s on the edge of the so-called obese category,” she fiddled with her calculator. “Looking at you though, you’re totally normal. Like one of many men who like their beer and a hearty dinner with dessert, and it shows a little. Discriminating against that would mean losing 40% of the entire workforce at one stroke. You’re not working as a model or professional athlete, so the weight you have is completely irrelevant. Have you been much heavier while working here at FuturePowers?”

Another awful dissection of his weakness, he sighed. “The first year I was here, I went a bit overboard with tasting new things, indulging myself. So I got up to about 125 kilograms. But I dieted last year and got back down to this weight now.”

“Good … you showed responsibility and commitment in dieting. Have you always been heavier, is it your phenotype?”

He nodded again, shaking his head. “Unfortunately yes. I always have been the tubby guy, really have to watch what I eat, keep my appetite under control.”

“Ever had any health problems with regards to your weight?”

“No – never. I’ve always been active, played college football. I’m the only fat guy in my family. No health problems far and wide – knock on wood. All my grandparents are still alive and well, except my grandfather who was killed in the Civil War.”

There was a lull in their conversation as she sorted her papers before looking at him openly with clear concern in her gaze. “I’ll be honest – your case is quite a conundrum. Any possible angle of leverage is undone one way or the other. First I had thought we might be able to retract the Dutch contract because you had a work permit hinging on your US contract. But as an EU citizen that doesn’t apply to you. Second – 36 months is the legal maximum for a limited contract in Dutch labor law. Since you had a US contract before, it isn’t really possible to construct that yours is a non admissible limited follow up contract. Third – what might have been an option is to nail down FuturePowers on the fact that they made you sign a contract in a language you don’t fully understand and didn’t offer a certified translation. Yet there is a deadline for making such claims and we’re past that. In addition, you would’ve had better chances making those claims if you were low skilled. As an academically trained professional, it’s presumed you can look after yourself and take care of your own interests.”

Smarting under her critically raised eyebrows, he groaned quietly: “Yeah .. I know I’ve behaved like a stupid, trusting idiot…. it’s all my own fault.” He had been kicking himself in the ass ever since he found out the extent of his gullibility. Alex had offered several times to go through the Dutch contract with him, check everything but he had shunned her, too annoyed by his own linguistic inferiority to her.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself. Not being watchful enough regarding the content of work contracts is very common, even among lawyers. When different country legal systems come into play it’s even more complicated. From my experience mainly people who do finance and managers who hold actual professional liability really do their homework as far as contractual safeguards go. Maybe because they’re most familiar with risk analysis.”

“I know everything about grid risk analysis …”

“That isn’t much help in this case. There was a fourth option I had considered, that of weight discrimination. But you’re way too thin for that.”

“I’m too thin? That’s the first time anybody has ever said that to me. Is there legislation here protecting against fat discrimination?”

“There’s a brand new ruling from the European Court in Luxemburg. It states that being very overweight equates to a form of disability that in result offers employees special protection against being laid off. It’s a first ruling based on a Danish case – but there will be more to come to come up with a more exact definition. Since people are getting heavier, companies will certainly be forced to offer more protection and assistance to these employees, less discrimination and harassment. But it doesn’t apply in your case. Your weight plays no role in your professional performance and not liking it is an opinion not discrimination. It’s like firing people on the grounds that they have big feet. You’d have to gain another about 50 kilograms for the ruling to apply. Even though these emails and the way the company double-crossed you would make an excellent case.” She gave him a crooked smile but her eyes were glittering.

“Are you honestly saying that if I weighed 160 kilograms that we’d have a chance of suing FuturePowers?” he laughed because it sounded like a joke.

“Hypothetically speaking – if you were to get that heavy in the 20 months until the end of your contract, we would most certainly be able to successfully sue for an unlimited contract for you, probably even some damages. Or at least a very sizable financial compensation package of minimum 3-4 years’ salary along with your relocation to the US being paid.”

“Seriously?” he couldn’t believe his ears.

“As said, that is a total hypothetical since gaining so much weight isn’t a measure to be considered.” She grinned at him ruefully. “Even though my fingers are itching to bring such a case before the European Court. Controversial cases, paving the way for more modern interpretations of the EU labor code, adapting it to real life employment challenges is something we love doing.”

Looking down at his currently relatively small belly and not too broad thighs, he couldn’t help shaking his head. It was grotesque that he had worked so hard to lose weight – and now was being told that he probably would be legally better off if he had put on that amount of weight on top.

“What is your actual goal Mr. Bartholomon? What do you want to happen with your job?”

“Well … I was hoping … yeah … just to keep my job. I like it, it’s really interesting looking into, working with all those new models for generating more renewable energy in Europe. Solar and wind generation are probably beyond their peak for various reasons…,” he could see from her expression that he was getting carried away with his technical enthusiasm. “I want to keep doing what I do now. Europe is more interesting for large scale renewables than the US is currently, so I’d like to stay a few more years. I’m not ready to go back yet …. It’s also so interesting living so close to everything here. Ideally I’d like the promotion I was promised…. And a bit of revenge maybe, some compensation for all this deceit and frustration.”

“That sounds reasonable. Since you’re an EU citizen – have you thought about looking for a new job here? I can understand you don’t want to quietly accept being tricked out of your job, want compensation for that ….. But wouldn’t working for a different company, either an American or European one here also be a solution? There must be plenty of options in your field right now.”

“In theory that’s possible – I have one major drawback. I only speak English. All the other guys with my qualification here on the market, the Dutch, German, French, Belgian engineers all have the huge advantage that they can work in at least one other language next to English. I dabbled a bit with French in high school and German in college – never got anywhere near fluency. I’ve tried to learn more German here with little success.” He sighed.

Before coming here, he had seen himself as fabulously qualified; now he was baffled by the importance of this one soft skill. In several cases, companies he had dealt with or met at fairs or conferences had expressed interest in hiring him, but so far all had withdrawn after he had admitted to being monolingual.

“Compared to a small language country here like the Netherlands, language education is neglected in Anglophone countries. It’s a known phenomenon – and on the daily working level even people in small language countries prefer having their native language, with English only coming in second.”

“So what am I supposed to do now? Is there any chance of at least getting some compensation?”

“I can try talking to the law firm that set up this contract, make it clear that their reputation is also at stake if they don’t interfere when employees are being handed mistranslated new contracts. But that won’t amount to much – maybe a small compensation or your relocation back to the US being paid. Since one of their lawyers is my brother-in-law, I can do this under the radar. Right now I would advise against taking official action in such a case we cannot really substantiate if you at least want to be able to fulfill your contract halfway in peace. That’s all I can offer right now.”


Dazed he left the law firm not knowing what to think. He was mad at FuturePowers for having tricked him – but he was just as mad at himself for having in such blind trust taken the bait.

Right now, he needed something to sustain him, so he walked to the small beer bar he liked. Lots of beer and some major consolation calories were asked for. Especially since he had learned that his diet ironically had been on the counterproductive side. Ordering a beer, he ordered the large helping of cheese croquettes with salad, munching them done joylessly with a second and third beer.

The pony-tailed waitress balanced a considerable very tasty looking platter past him after he was finished. “What’s that?” he asked on her return.

“Our new daily special. Cordon bleu – turkey Schnitzel stuffed with ham and cheese, with fries and broccoli.”

“Yeah – bring me one.”

“Ummm …. you had full portion of croquettes ….. not the starter….”

“So what – I’m hungry! And another beer please!”

Methodically he ate his way through the greasy platter; downing beers four to six in the process, ending with two double Jenever, the local gin, to help him digest. He hadn’t eaten or drunk so much in one sitting in ages so he was decidedly tipsy and a bit unsteady on his feet.

Taking the tram home, the blue and white sign of Albert Heijn beckoned; letting him darkly become aware he needed coffee and milk, but even more some dessert right this minute. Next to a tub of peanut butter brittle ice cream, he bought three bags of those delicious little cookies. Some type of Dutch gingerbread covered in caramel and chocolate - so good.

At home he collapsed on the sofa, turned on the sports channel and in semi-trance spooned down the ice-cream and two bags of cookies. The overload of sugar, grease and alcohol let him half pass out on his sofa, for he woke at 4:30 in the morning, desperate to pee, with a budding headache and the TV now showing Sumo wrestling. Laying back down on the sofa only in t-shirt and boxers with a blanket, he wondered for an instant whether he would be sick because his stomach felt so funny. So he took to rubbing the taught, achy sphere carefully, belching a few times until he only felt very full.

Laying there the talk with lawyer Van der Vaals circled in his head. If he ate everyday like he had done today, he would certainly get fat, really fat, maybe to those 160 kilograms … in pounds that was …. somewhere north of 350. He eyed the Sumo wrestlers, their roles and bulges, how their flab squished and shook in the fight. Would he look like them? How would his belly feel like then? Everybody would tell him that getting so fat was a terrible idea … but for once not having to worry about his weight sounded like a highly appealing prospect.


During the next days, the idea kept haunting him, leading him to deliberately eat more than he normally allowed himself here and there. He looked up the coverage of the Danish case at the European Court, noting that it matched Dr. Van der Vaals depiction. And there was quite some debating as to which practical turn and further legal consequences this ruling might have. Several unpleasant run-ins with Polly and a row with Thomas at the office about taking away the interesting new Irish wind farm project and giving it to Polly fueled his need for revenge on FuturePowers.

Dr. Van der Vaals sent a note that her talk with the other law firm had brought only a meager result. FuturePowers would most likely be willing to pay his return flight to the US as well as half a shipping container for his possessions. That amounted to less than $ 3.000, so was absolutely not worth it.


Until he sat across from Sylvia Van der Vaals in their second meeting, he was actually undecided what to do. Seeing her sit there, all the legal papers around her, a copy of the thick legal commentary on the EU Social Charter lying there, he knew it. He wanted to revenge himself on his scheming employer and stupid colleagues – and he wanted to help form European legal history.

“So what is your plan Mr. Bartholomon? Have you re-considered and looked into new jobs?”

“No – I haven’t. I actually want to discuss the hypothetical with you. What will happen if I do weigh 160 kilograms at the end of my contract?”

“You’re joking! You can’t seriously want to gain that much weight! It was a hypothetical…”

“So – hypothetically speaking: What would you do if I come in here 20 months from now weighing 160 kilograms and asking you to take legal action to secure me my job?”

Watching her reaction was fascinating – she went from shaking her head and waving off gestures to her eyes darting back and forth in eagerness, rubbing her hands in glee and a slow grin starting to spread over her face. “It would be a beautiful case – we’d definitely win it. Young competent chubby engineer from the US working in important innovative sector comes to work here, is tricked out of his secure and legitimate work contract, is denied a promised promotion and harassed by his employer for being a little bit heavy. The situation and the uncertainty makes him so unhappy he comfort eats and gains so much weight that he no longer has good chances of finding a new job. A clear case of employer abusiveness that needs protection under the European Social Charter. You’d even have the tabloids on your side…”

He took a deep breath: “Okay then, I’ll do it. So I don’t make any more mistakes, please write down exactly what I may do and what not, how I should behave in the office and what I need to document.”

“That sounds like a hasty decision. You don’t really want to gain 50 kilograms…. do you?” she studied him intently.

“I don’t think I’ll mind. My weight has never bothered me physically, or kept me from doing anything. Even 125 kilograms felt normal to me, I'm used to something in that range. I’ve spent all my life trying to keep my weight in check, have been really struggling. And what did I get out of it? Everybody calls me fat; either makes fun of my weight or continuously tells me to lose it. So what’s the big difference if I finally get really fat? Somehow I don’t see much of one. And if it’s the silver bullet to get back at my employer – so be it.”

Their debate continued back and forth for quite a while, Dr. Van der Vaals questioning him, pointing out the risks, doubting his resolve, fearing the consequences and the more. In the end she seemed reasonably assured, especially since she couldn’t hide her eagerness to push ahead in this new legal field. “Okay, if you’re absolutely convinced, I will let you go ahead with it. I want you to monitor your health and have regular medical check-ups to see whether your health isn’t suffering too much.”

“I have a brand new one from my family doctor back home – I’m doing fine.”

“Then – eat nutritious and healthy food, not only junk. Go see Linda Reetsma; she’s my neighbor, a physiotherapist specializing in pregnancy care. She knows everything about how to stay healthy with an expanding body. Don’t look so peeved – that isn’t any crazier than your plan in the first place. Beware, I’ll check regularly on you to see you’re being as sensible as possible about this!”

Three days later he had the appointment with Linda, who showed him back exercises, special belly massages with prescription oil, a long nutrition list, measured his feet to order insoles and more. Leaving her office he felt like a patient in line for surgery and treated himself to an apple-beignet to calm down while reading with long list of guidelines Dr. Van der Vaals hat sent him.

To embark on his new life in style, he reserved a table for the specialty fish buffet on Fridays at the grand old Casino in Scheveningen, allowing himself the luxury of a real bottle of champagne to go with it.
“Here’s to a happy fat life!” he toasted himself.
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Old 01-06-2015, 12:28 PM   #2
agouderia
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agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!
Default II. Energetic Expansions

II.

Embarking on his new regime of deliberate indulgence and anti-dieting turned out to be more difficult than he would ever have dreamed of.

For as long as he could remember, all the constant admonitions of: ‘Oh Alex – watch what you eat! Not so much – no second helping! Don’t you think skipping dessert would be better today?’ he had fantasized of being able to eat what he wanted and how much he wanted. Now that this was not only possible, but actually desired and intended, the ingrained patterns of restriction, denial and food guilt wouldn’t release him from their claws so easily.

If he had a really full breakfast, wasn’t that hungry for lunch, he’d more or less on autopilot eat only soup and salad. Did he in turn eat moderately throughout the day to try and catch up with a big dinner as well as chips and beer with TV, his overstuffed belly would keep him awake in bed with physical discomfort turning into something like shame.
Not being able to button his new slim jeans he had so proudly bought at the end of his diet filled him with such a deep sense of failure and self-loathing that he ate only yoghurt and apples for 2 days. This reaction shocked, frustrated and then angered him. How could he let himself be guided so much by standards he had hated as long as he had been aware of them? Why stay voluntarily under an oppressive yoke he had always wanted to shake off – now that he had the best reason to rid himself of it?

Part of these deliberations had to do with the subconscious doubt that maybe Dr. van der Vaals was wrong in her assessment of his employment situation. What if it was possible to either turn his contract into an unlimited one of the base of the mistranslation – or him receive at least a fair compensation for this? Or what if he did get hugely fat …. and then the European Court ruled it was his fault and had nothing to do with his weight? Then he’d be huge and unemployed, with less chance than ever of getting a good new job! Doing a lot of reading online of the press coverage but also in specialized law and labor journals calmed him a bit since the general opinion did prevail that the trend was clearly in favor of extending protection through European labor legislation to fat discrimination of employees.

Then he told himself off for being an idiot and not thoroughly enjoying this opportunity to finally eat plentifully with pleasure for a good and meaningful cause, vowing to make the most of it. What did the trick for him in the end was actually planning his overeating – methodically and measurement oriented as befitted his engineer training. In the past year he had taken a diet group cooking class to eat healthily and have more variety in his food. Now he used those tools he had learned there to fit in more good, tasty, appetite enhancing food into his regular meal plan.

Like having a second roll for breakfast or a brioche with great jam on top. Always taking starter and dessert with lunch. Enthusiastically giving in to the perpetual tea time sweet craving in the later afternoon. Not only having water, but beer or wine every day with his dinner. Nibbling on a little salty snack while making dinner – some nuts, chips, olives, bites of antipasti – one of his favorite temptations he had rarely dared succumb to.

What he did pay attention to was keeping his intake healthy and balanced, not forsaking this deep rooted habit. His Greek grandmother’s anarchist and anti-any-type-of-establishment views had extended to the food industry, making her bombard her grandchildren with a mantra of: “Do you know what’s in that you’re eating there? Look at that color – it must have chemical coloring! No food that will keep for 5 years can be good for you – who knows what they put in it!” Her indoctrination proved stronger than the weight guilt, which probably was a good thing.

Like for dinner he’d make himself one of the vegetable stir fries he really liked, but with more vegetables, a nice side of rice or pasta as well as a steak, a Schnitzel or a chicken drumstick. Or he’d make pasta with cheese sauce but have two different salads to go with it.

To fill his rather ample free time he started actively searching for and going on food related weekend trips and excursions – cheese markets in Gouda and Edam, beer and chocolate tasting weekends over the border in Belgium. In the coming spring a white wine, asparagus and strawberries river cruise down the Rhine. A quick drive through Flanders to France and their foodie paradise supermarkets and delis. When he went on business trips, he scouted online beforehand which specialties existed, where the best restaurants and food hangouts were he should discover and do justice too.

This regime paid off within a few weeks: His appetite picked up, he started to unequivocally enjoy the warm sated feeling of a well fed stomach, his tension eased as all the small doubts and restraints faded. He slept well, over all felt as relaxed and energized as he did after a vacation, letting him become aware how much time and mental-energy the constant weight considerations had absorbed of his daily life.

His anti-diet did turn him into a bit of a loner though. During his first 2 years at The Hague, he had worked on keeping up a regular social life, playing recreational baseball with a team of internationals and joining Democrats Abroad. Back in the US, he had considered himself an independent – but since Republicans Abroad didn’t really exist and the renewable energy stance was easier to discuss with Democrats, he went to their meetings and events to have casual but interesting encounters with fellow expats.

Now he shirked from these activities, inventing excuses or scheduling other appointments to coincide. He was uncomfortable with other people watching him eat the amounts he was currently putting away. Furthermore, in almost any casual conversation these days, the talk would inescapably turn to food fads or diets – something he had eternally despised because of all the unasked for advice people had dumped on him in that context. Someone or other was constantly on a diet, or missionizing for some new nutritional religion – and the last thing he wanted right now was to have to defend his actions and slowly but surely visibly swelling belly.

So food became his main companion; a quiet, cozy most soothing friend that joined him wherever he pleased. Increasingly his camera also came along again – he even went ahead and bought himself a new one that came with several variable lenses. After he had chaired the photography club back in college he hadn’t had the time he would have liked for this hobby, but now with his voluntary withdrawal from company, he greatly enjoyed finding new perspectives through the lens again.

Returning on Sunday evening from a stormy weekend in North Holland, he stood under the shower looking down at the bloated full curve of his belly, sticking out nicely with the familiar role of weight starting to sag at the bottom. It was stuffed with cheese in all variations – cheese soup, cheese salad, cheese croquettes, tasting board of cheese with rye bread – taught and heavy. Under the hot shower, very well fed after a day in the fresh sea air, he was so satisfied and at peace with himself that he gave his belly a very affectionate rub. Drying off, he pulled the bottle of medical massage oil out of the box for the first time and did the weird plucking and kneading massage he had been instructed in. Despite scowling to himself during the exercise, he had to admit that his belly was velvety smooth afterwards and felt even better.

Getting on the scale the next morning, it showed 121 kilograms – or 266 pounds. Sipping coffee and munching on some cereal he contemplated that this most likely was his body’s standard weight, the often mentioned set point. If he lived normally with the usual common sense restrictions, his body naturally fluctuated between 260-270 pounds. Getting below 250 always meant a lot of hard work and unpleasant denial. Going above 275 so far was uncharted territory; he had always pulled the emergency brake, like last year, when his weight had gotten to this point. Now was the time to find out more, he slapped his belly playfully.

At work, the understanding of how the company had duped him first led him to going on a kind of slowdown strike, letting him leave the office at 4:30 sharp and only doing the absolutely necessary. As the physical and mental tension subsided, he shifted towards simply doing what he thought was right. Conciliatory by training, he had always tried to leave everybody content with the results and find some sort of compromise, not play up his superior engineering knowledge in comparison to the many technically illiterate business people doing renewable energy these days. In line with his weight rebellion, he no longer took into account these considerations – but did and argued for the approaches he thought were right.

During meetings it now helped that he was never hungry, feeling content and empowered instead of insecure or simply lacking concentration due to a sugar low. True dislike, but also contempt for her limited professional qualifications let him bypass Polly as his new team leader whenever possible and in discussions he was not above challenging her authority.

One day they had a meeting on a major investment in a German solar power company. Polly was representing an insanely optimistic, if not to say hazardous plan for acquiring a 28% share in the country’s largest solar production and distribution conglomerate. “It’s a fabulous opportunity – they’ve just restructured and share prices are at an all time low. We would get a great foot in the door in Europe’s biggest and most important market!”

“What are your estimates for the further development of the German solar market?” He tried to phrase his question open and neutral, and to keep from rolling his eyes, he looked down at the new cookie like things Alex had brought along and picked one with raisins to bite into. She had introduced them as ‘Madeleines’ and explained something about 3 different flavors. This one with raisins was definitely worthwhile, light and juicy in texture with fruity raisins soaked in liquor. He’d try the obviously chocolate one next.

“Since there is the national agenda of concentrating on renewables and ending all nuclear power by 2022 it’s the best investment possible. Subsidies will continue going strong, people will be installing more and more solar power units ….,” Polly enthused.

“Have you ever considered that it might be a saturated market with too stiff competition? Not the still eternally expanding from an impossibly low level banana country market?” he couldn’t stop that barb and grabbed a chocolate Madeleine to keep his features busy with chewing.

“The amount of national investment per year will exceed ….. umm … billions until…,” Polly thumbed through her pages.

“15 billion per year until 2050, official position of the Federal Government,” he countered from memory, swallowing quickly. “That entire transition to renewables will blow up on the Germans if they don’t shift funds from subsidizing the generation of renewable energy to its distribution. Meaning investments in new smart grids and storage facilities! Enough people in that country know that – so if we want to invest, we should look into a grid modernizer or such! How about doing your homework for a change – not falling for advertizing?” he grabbed another chocolate Madeleine.

Polly took a deep breath but Thomas as European Director stopped her, interfering for once: “Keep the discussion professional, will you!” before turning to Alex. “What’s your opinion as a demi-local, Alexandra?”

“From the policy side, I would say that Alex has the stronger arguments on his side,” she stated as smoothly as ever. “Polly is right that we need a bigger footing on the most important EU market, but Solar Universe most likely would not be the right move.” Her comments left him once more torn between gratitude for taking his side and annoyance at her aloof superiority.
“Apart from the fact that individual solar units probably are beyond their peak in the EU, also considering the Chinese competition – I also have my doubts about Solar Universe as a company. They burned a lot of shareholder cash in their recent restructuring. Their structure is still more than opaque. And their founding CEO is a … well …. questionable personality. Rumors in Germany say that he has only gotten around being charged for subsidy fraud by having very strong political connections to the upper echelons in several Länder, German states.”

Thomas nodded thoughtfully: “If you say so – please help Polly with the material in German so we can be surer of the content. And you Alex – stick to doing more on the Poland and Baltic projects. Anybody have anything else we need to discuss?”

“Thomas, I have something more office and less project related,” Polly chirped. “As a company committed to the future of our planet by investing in the use of renewable energies, we should also show this commitment in our everyday work and life. So I would like to propose we go vegan in this office, asking our cafeteria to cook only vegan meals for us, choose vegan restaurants for our business meetings. It would be a powerful statement and strengthen our credibility.”

“Okay- I’m out on this discussion,” he stood up and picked the last raisin Madeleine from the platter.

“It would be good if we could all discuss this,” Polly smiled at him. “I was particularly thinking of you Alex in this context. A vegan lifestyle would be very good for your health and body.”

“Neither of which is any of your business – or that of anyone else here,” studying the cookie platter, but there were only plain looking Madeleines left. For good measure, he took two.

“It’s important we all do our part,” Polly continued. “Like you Alex could from now on please bring only vegan treats – possibly also low on sugar and gluten free.”

Alex raised her eyebrows as far as they would go in a disapproving arch but didn’t say anything. Biting into a plain looking Madeleine, the same juicy, light dough texture with a tinge of orange filled his mouth followed by a stream of creamy caramel, the good one with the whiff of salt to it, a moan of pleasure escaping him.

“Everything alright Alex?” Her disdained expression changing to one of worry as she looked at him.

“Fabulous new cookies Milady, honestly!” He scooped up all of those left on the platter in exiting the meeting room. “Whatever you do, don’t turn them vegan and sugar-free!”


What did irritate and even slightly trouble him was that his professional and personal situation was turning him into a sort of grumpy misogynist. Having grown up as the sandwich brother between two sisters and a dominant mother, he had always thought he had above average abilities and experience in understanding and handling the opposite sex. Despite a life of being the chubby guy, he had never had problems finding nice girlfriends since he was easy going, helpful and took care to look decent. His last relationship with Suzanne would have led to marriage by now if he had stayed in the States – she just hadn’t been willing to come along abroad. Even though since last Christmas vacation he had been getting more messages from her again, hinting at re-kindling their relationship, her praising his weight loss and better professional position. Well that was both over and done with now.

In the Netherlands, he had found it more difficult to date than he had expected. He would have liked a new girlfriend after his break up with Suzanne, had never been long without one since the end of junior high. Something was missing with no female in his life for affection, companionship and sex. Here the codes were different; not only because of having no 100% common language it was easy to get the clues and messages wrong. Then he had considered Democrats Abroad as a possible dating pool – which proved the emptiest pond he had ever seen. All, really all the women his age were married, except the three Lesbians. Leaving for him only those more than 10 years older than himself and man desperate or legions of college and university girlies who were more into partying and natives than hard-working compatriots.

At work there was a massive gender imbalance with 77% men – and women like Polly or Alex. Why he didn’t like Polly was clear – she was unqualified and had stolen his job. It was more perplexing to pin-point why he had such an aversion to Alex, who did the HR part in their office, in charge of personal recruitment and development.

Maybe because they had already started off with an awkward moment when they were introduced shaking hands and both simultaneously saying: “Hi I’m Alex!”

Everybody had laughed, he had blushed furiously as she had said: “Welcome dear namesake – we can never have too many Alexes here, can we?” It was this always considerate, cute-sy way of handling everything, letting her radiate an aura of superiority in any situation that made him feel inferior, clumsy and drove him mad.

Tall, a bit willowy yet with notable breasts, regular features, ash blonde hair and the most incredible blue eyes wearing understated classical fashion she was sure to cut a very elegant figure. Being half American through her mother, she moved around their business environment with an ease of understanding he envied her for. Like she’d always translate for him into Dutch, or also German when she went along to meetings there, instead of letting the others remain the linguistic underdogs while he spoke English. She even offered to help him with his language classes, stating that trying to learn German – more important in his field – would be challenging as long as he lived in a Dutch environment. This of course proved true and infuriated him further.

But there was nothing he could seriously hold against her – she was never anything except nice, kind, friendly and truly helpful to him; to an extent he felt he clearly didn’t deserve. It was more than her interpreting and baking skills she showered him with, also the advice about European markets, local bureaucracy or places to go when on business trips, vacation tips and more. His underlying grudge now had increased since he suspected that he was truly indebted to her for having leaked him the information about the plans of letting his contract expire.

What subconsciously irritated him probably most that as perfect as she was, she naturally wasn’t just ‘Alex’. She was Countess Alexandra, could be correctly addressed as the Lady Alexandra in English, her passports defining her as the utterly unpronounceable Gräfin Oeynhausen-Sierstorff. Rumor had it she even was somehow related to the Dutch King, partly proven true by the fact that she had been absent a few times during big ceremonial occasions of the royal House of Orange. This filled him with certain awe on the one hand, on the other it brought out a so far unknown republican and class belligerency in him.

Initially to not have to address her with his own name, since saying it out loud sounded absurd to his ears he had started calling her ‘Milady’. Several colleagues picked up on this and she clearly didn’t like it at all, for once losing her composure as she snapped at him: “Look, if you don’t like that we share a common name in the male and female version, call me by one of my other first names!”- making him cringe at how she had obviously seen through him. “I have five more to offer: ‘Constance’, ‘Friederike’, ‘Isolde’, ‘Claudia’, and ‘Beatrix’. Choose the one you dislike the least and use it!” before storming out.

From then on he had avoided addressing her directly at all – only resorting to Milady like now when he was in a foul mood.


Several days later during another torrential April downpour, she came to his office carrying a small cake and closing the door behind her.
“Raspberry blondies – if I remember correctly you really liked those,” her smile was sad as she placed it on his desk.

“Do I look like I don’t like good baking?” They were delicious in his memory but he shifted uncomfortably as he caught her fixed gaze on his bulging belly in a tight shirt with straining buttons pulled tautly over it. By now he must have reached his former peak weight and was squeezing into the last clothes he could fasten somehow; soon he would need to do some serious shopping for bigger sizes.

“Fortunately you look like you really appreciate good baking – I like that in a man,” her smile took on a little devilish twist letting him groan inwardly. She sure had a way of packaging insults so nobody could call her out on them.

“What can I do for you?” He wanted this to end quickly, not least so he could start devouring the blondie.

“The cake is a farewell present – I’m leaving FuturePowers.”

“Okaaay,” that was a surprise. Why was she telling him this? “Umm … when? And where will you be heading?” Curiosity got the better of him.

“In four weeks. I’m handing in my notice tomorrow.” She pushed her hair behind her ears with a sigh. “Since you’re going to Bratislava tomorrow and won’t be back until my vacation starts, I wanted to tell you and say good-bye. We won’t see each other again here.”

“Hmmh … yeah …. Thank you very much,” he turned in discomfort on his seat since his too tight pants were cutting into him sharply. Also his ability to restrain himself in the face of good food was getting embarrassingly low so he started tweaking off a little bit of overhanging crust from the blondie and nibbling it; it tasted divine, even better than in his memory. Alex giving him a bright smile of recognition made his face flush with hot shame and pull back his fingers. “So … where’re you going from here?”

“I’m staying in the energy business, in HR and in town. Which other choice might there be?” she looked at him with unusual unease.

His brain was somehow tangled so it took him a while to come up with the obvious: “Oh of course …. the national champion, where the royal House holds an unknown quantity of shares and daddy is director of the German branch in Hamburg …. Where else should Milady head?” letting her turn scarlet but her eyes flash angrily.

“I’m going there because I am highly qualified as a sociologist specializing in international workforce development. It’s here with headquarters and not the German branch. It has nothing to do with family connections.”

“Sure Countess – you would’ve gotten that job on your own merits, wouldn’t you?”

“Indeed I did – I sent in an anonymous application,” she turned to leave. “Office politics and personal bickering are getting out of hand here. It’s starting to interfere with business decision making. That’s not a good trend.”

“Yeah … I think we can agree on that,” he was a bit shame-faced because he realized his remark had been an undeserved low blow and wanted to say something nice in parting. “I’ll sure miss your cakes and cookies Milady.”


Coming back to the office without Alex proved odder than he had imagined. Not only were the cakes and cookies missing since nobody else really knew how to bake well, but also Polly’s vegan craze was catching on. Most colleagues followed it – at least as long as they were in the office. Alone having cheese on rye bread during lunch break was starting to turn him into an outcast. He also missed her in meetings and discussion, because she clearly knew the EU and its members well and had tended to bring up realistic assessments.

With a surprisingly warm and sunny spring spreading good cheer, he continued with his regular work projects and concentrated more again on growing his gut. Many city business hotels now offered great weekend deals with free breakfast and dinner buffets which he took advantage of. The nice weather pulled him outdoors more to the beaches and by bike on the dikes where he did a series of water photographs he was so proud of that he had them enlarged and mounted to hang up in his apartment.

Succumbing to the inevitable, he had done a notable wardrobe upgrade, buying summer clothes 2 sizes bigger for them to fit during the whole season, letting him actually look slimmer again since they were so roomy. With his scale insisting he was 125 kilograms for several weeks, he mail ordered one with a weight limit of 200 kilograms, wide sturdy with an extra large display – that should hold out for as long as he needed it. And it directly showed 132 kilograms, seven more than his last top weight, twenty more than when he had made the decision to go for the fat labor protection ruling … and inching closer to the magical 300 pounds which in a time not so long ago had been a nightmare threat to him.

Persistent good weather and constant satiation left him feeling as physically perfect as he couldn’t remember. There was a bit more wobble to his belly and it rolled a trifled heavier over his boxers than he was accustomed to, but all in all the 20-25 pounds more than his median weight over the years made no big difference. Sitting in the tram to drive out for a beach walk in Scheveningen he crossed a diet plan ad in the paper which made him shake his head. In a testimonial, an average teacher his height complained he had gained 18 pounds and how terrible that felt, how he struggled to tie his shoes, etc. etc. A clear case of diet industry mind warping as he now could tell – it was no big, physically notable deal to carry that weight difference at all. He patted his own much more expansive softness approvingly – it would take another while before it grew into a true obstacle … and by now he was curios what that was going to be like.

Since it was an almost summery day in late May, he was wearing long shorts to be able to walk over the tidal flats with his feet in the still icy water along the miles long beach while doing a little snack-athon. Starting down at the small harbor, he had two large fish sandwiches with a beer at the fisherman’s sale. Walking along the beach just past the Casino, he headed to a small side street which had an excellent fries place. They were fresh, cut by hand and not frozen, served with home- made ketchup and mayonnaise – treating himself to their hot, crisp and greasy XXL portion. Ambling on, he slowed his pace, resting on a bench, applying sun tan lotion, gently slapping the dome of his stomach until a consoling belch escaped.

With his salt and spice hunger satisfied, he was astounded at the violent sugar craving that almost compelled him to buy and inhale any old sweet. But he managed to control himself until the end of the beach where there was a little booth that made good cherry filled poffertjes, small waffle pancakes, of which he had a large portion with coffee. Savoring this total gratification on his return walk to the Casino pier, he was hot and had a big ice cream there on a bench again, stretching out his legs and his gut. This was truly the life; he should have given into these urges much earlier.

“Goede namiddag Mynheer Bartholomon,” a voice tore him out of his drowsy reverie, Dr. van der Vaals on inline skates with two teenagers in tow, whom she quickly waved off. “How are you doing? You look very well – somewhat bigger…. how much is it?” sounding intrigued.

Grinning broadly, he pushed out his belly as far as it would go and thumped it with pride. “132 – twenty kilograms more than when we decided on this project!”

“How do you feel? Are you really doing well?”

“I’m fine, honestly just fine. I haven’t felt this comfortable in ages. Letting my appetite rule actually makes my life easier – I’ve always had to struggle to control it. Now I save a lot of time I used to waste on agonizing over it.”

“That sounds pretty good. Are you getting enough exercise and fresh air? Eating healthy?”

“You almost sound like my mother,” he had to roll his eyes. “Do you see this tan now in May? Do I look like a guy who uses tanning beds? I’ve been out a lot, walking, biking – today 5 miles up and down this beach. It’s asparagus lasagna for dinner, so enough vegetables.”

“Okay, okay, I believe you. What are your plans for the summer?”

“I’m actually flying back to the US next week – for family weddings and graduations. I’ll be back in late June, haven’t decided yet on more. Some of my other colleagues have kids – they have the prerogative for the school vacation period.”

“Fine – come see me then. We can talk more in detail how everything is progressing. Enjoy your holidays.”





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Old 01-06-2015, 01:08 PM   #3
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Yesssss. I always love the intricate corporate and legal details you add.
And i am so sorry about the legally yours chapters...rewriting is so difficult!
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Old 01-06-2015, 01:33 PM   #4
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Sweet Jesus, another great story begins. Life is too good!
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Old 01-06-2015, 05:22 PM   #5
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I was sorry to hear about the lost Legally Yours chapters, but this is a good consolation prize!
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Old 01-07-2015, 11:00 AM   #6
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Ah, you make it sound so good....I wonder how many of us would find life easier if we didn't put so much effort and willpower into fighting our appetites?

And the whole story is lovely, too--it was just that aspect that is going to be haunting me for a good while to come.
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Old 01-12-2015, 09:35 AM   #7
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Thank you for the sympathy Xyantha, Anjula, bayone and Tad!

This story is indeed a sort of consolation writing for myself.

I sincerely hope though it isn't too much of a 'déjà lu' for those here who've already read several of my stories. It admittedly does include themes and motives which have appeared in the others: working abroad (Moving on), the EU Benelux component and multi-national environments (Available in all sizes), legal issues (Legally Yours).

Ever since that ruling by the European Court that story popped up and started digging through my mind, Alex tried to convince me to give him a chance and write his story down.

I attempted several times to come up with another context the mainly Anglophone/transatlantic crowd here could relate to, but couldn't find anything convincing. The real life back drop though is EU law, the social charter and the Luxemburg court ruling - so it has to make sense and be credible within that framework. Something like this story happening is what European employers are actually fearing, if you go ahead and read their responses to the ruling.

Also - it includes literally 'writing off' a number of frustrations I had during one recent work project.

To keep readers interested, I promise to do my best to introduce a few other twists and aspects the other stories so far didn't include. Let's hope it doesn't turn out to be the same old reheated brew.

So I hope not to disappoint .... first of all with the next 2 chapters.
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Old 01-12-2015, 09:52 AM   #8
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Default III. Energetic Expansions

III.

Enjoyable - that was definitely the wrong word for his vacation at home in the US. Somehow he had been too optimistic expecting that his oversized new summer clothing would camouflage that he was a good 20 pounds heavier than his average weight over the years. What he had especially underestimated was that the women in his life had very well and positively registered – and perversely remembered - that he had been on his slimmer side over Christmas.

“Oh Alex darling – what have you been doing to yourself?” was his mother’s dismayed exclamation on arrival. “You’ve gained 50 pounds since Christmas, how did that happen?” Letting him shudder as if he was caught in some total surveillance horror thriller since her unflattering estimate was so freakishly accurate. He really had gained almost exactly 50 pounds since he had last seen his family.

Gone was the swelling belly comfort zone he had been able to cocoon himself into back in The Hague. His weight, his eating, his inflated size were all dragged out in the open, debated 20 times a day, criticism, restraints, intrusive advice and more rained down on him in a deluge.

Melina, his bossy big sister, pestered him with authoritarianism. When he sat down to a meager breakfast provided by his mother of half a grapefruit, a small Greek yoghurt and a slice of toast with cheese. She came up, looked at the minuscule spread and took away the toast. “You don’t need that – grapefruit and yoghurt is enough for you. Tomorrow you must do a fasting day so you won’t look so bloated for cousin Taylor’s wedding.”

Zoe, his little sister, tried it with sweet talk after she caught him one night in the kitchen, raiding the fridge to appease the hunger howling in his stomach. “Alex, what’s wrong with you? I’m so worried! You can tell me what’s troubling you… is it lovesickness? Many guys eat too much then. Or job problems? We’ll find a solution, let me help you…,” once more someone hitting uncomfortably close to home with the latter assumption.

His grandmother’s grumbling: “They feed you too much cheese there, those Dutch. I’ll make you more vegetables. A man must be big and strong, but not so big,” also wasn’t so far off, yet easier to take in stride.

The constant critical comments depressed him and started undermining his resolve to carry through his project of gaining so much weight that the anti-weight-discrimination ruling applied. If he told any of this to his family, they would make him give up the job immediately, come back home, go on a diet and find a new position in the US. Or if worse came to worse, enter him into a mental institution. Maybe they would even be right, maybe it would be best to quit FuturePowers and return here to the US, start over with a different company.

The path he had taken was truly a deviant one – and he couldn’t 100% rationalize what made him so intent on following it. One aspect might be that it did have something to do with the anarchistic streak he had inherited from his grandparents, to shun what might be reasonable and expected.

It certainly was connected to the profound enjoyment eating lustily and without inhibition had brought to him over the past months. Controlling his intake, reining in his appetite had always been quite a struggle for him – now, after months of indulgence, it amounted to an epic battle raging in him every day. One late afternoon he went to the old-fashioned diner in the neighboring town to have an early dinner so he could survive on the diet his mother would set before him. A friend of Melina’s saw him and tattled, leading to a major home intervention. Zoe locked the kitchen and storage cupboard at night so he couldn’t find reprieve there anymore.

After 10 days at home, he was grateful to leave and visit several old college friends, but it didn’t get much better. One had also put on quite a bit of weight himself and tried to make him join in on a diet bet. Others with friendly concern made low-fat, low-carb and mostly low-taste food in small portions or brought water to the table joking: “Your gut says you’ve clearly been in too close and regular contact with Heineken Alex … let’s do something against that.”

Suzanne staring at his belly in shock before quickly excusing herself after the minimum cup of coffee – and she had been the one to suggest meeting – was the final straw.

Boarding the plane to Amsterdam let him sink into his seat with a deep sigh of relief, order a double gin tonic and start inhaling the pound bag of roasted nuts he had brought along to finally eat again plentifully in peace.


Back in his apartment in The Hague, at his desk at FuturePowers, he couldn’t manage to return seamlessly to his expansionary course. It was vacation season now; the office was empty with many colleagues were away with their school-kids. Polly had special leave for get married to her odd fiancée who ran a vegan yoga free-climbing school. This gave him a lot to do, many meetings to fill in for those who were absent and didn’t leave him the time he would’ve needed to carefully plan his food regime again.

The beautiful summery spring had turned into a most autumnal, very rainy summer, so excursions and outdoor activities were not really inviting. Weekend trips in peak season were expensive and everything was packed with tourists.The doubts and depression induced by the avalanche of criticism back home had left him mope-y and dented his appetite considerably.

Around the middle of August, Dr. Van der Vaals called him: “I’m back from rain hiking in the Alps with the family. How about lunch tomorrow?”

They met at a nice small Thai place not far from the parliament at the Binnenhof. She looked him over seriously and asked: “What’s wrong? Where is the happily overfed tanned man I met in Scheveningen on the beach?”

“He got lost somewhere on the way back ….,” he groaned listlessly scanning the menu and ordering the chicken lemongrass fry.

“Is that really all?” Sylvia van der Vaals’ tone of surprise was audible.

“Ugghu …,” he sipped the white tea.

“So … I gather you’re having second thoughts about your project…. Have decided to either stall …. Or maybe even try to lose some weight again…?” the questions came out very carefully.

“No …. Not really. It’s just …. well …. how shall I put it …. It’s somehow …. I can’t manage to get back into the eating groove …. Can’t find the time and motivation ….”, when the waiter with a bow set down a big platter of appetizers for 2.

“This is their specialty. It’s really good – so I thought we should treat us. Tell me what happened,” setting a plate in front of him on which she had arranged an assortment.

“You’re right – I was doing great before I went back to the US. There my family raised hell for me having put on so much weight in only half a year. They’ve forever been on my case to eat less, be slimmer – they’re all thin except me. They were nice about it so far, helpful, concerned, not mean. Now …. they went totally overboard. I would’ve been fine with eating ‘normally’ at meals – but being put on starvation diet was just … uggg…” he bit into a little roll with very spicy beef in it. “Hmmh … these are really good.”

“Did you tell your family about what you’re doing, what’s going on with your job?”

“Hell no – they would’ve had me institutionalized. The only thing I told them was that I didn’t get that promotion…,” dipping a little dumpling into the peanut sauce.

“So where are you heading right now?”

“Nowhere … I don’t know. I had hoped that when I came back here I could just continue like I had before…,” he refilled his plate from the big platter. “But yeah, the shit I got back home somehow unnerved me. Then the weather is bad … I have so much work because everybody else is on vacation…. it just doesn’t work out….”

“But you are still intent on continuing with your project of gaining 50 kilograms until the end of your contract?” He could hear how serious her voice had turned.

“Yes – I am. I mean – I don’t have any other solution. The last thing I want is to try and get rid of these 30-50 pounds again I’ve already gained beyond my ‘normal’ weight. It’s too … too exhausting to think about. Right now … well … how to put it …. I’m having trouble getting back into expansion mode. Sounds crazy – but that’s more or less what it boils down to.”

“I see – there’s our main course and more tea.”

With astonishment he noted that he was starting to feel full already and then realized that he had demolished what must have been 80% of the appetizer platter. From the little paper shells on her plate he could tell that Dr. Van der Vaals hadn’t eaten much at all. The chicken smelled heavenly so he tackled it with zest nonetheless.

During the main course they chatted about her vacation in the Alps, the awful weather this summer and the plan for her son to spend a year on a high school exchange program in the US.

After they had finished, he leaned back sipping more tea, looking down to notice that his stomach was so full it had reached the dome like shape he had known so well in the spring. The minor, lusty ache an overloaded gut gave off was back, it spreading the warmth from his core, so he could actually physically perceive the tension sliding off, down from his neck, over his arms into nothingness. Deep relaxation spread, making his eye-lids droop from food anesthesia. This is what he wanted back, this comfort of complete satiation.

“Thank you – that was just what I needed – a great lunch,” he mumbled.

“You’re welcome – I’m glad you liked it. What are your next plans, what do you want to do?”

“Don’t know exactly – try to relax and eat more. Like this here feels really good,” he rubbed his midsection unthinkingly.

“Do you still have vacation days left?”

“Yeah … of course … why? Vacation days here in Europe are so much more generous than in the US – and I mainly took mine in combination with public holidays so far, made the most of them.”

“Why don’t you go on an end of season vacation? I know several very nice resorts I can recommend, where you can let yourself be pampered and eat good full board,” she winked at him. “I’m especially thinking of one in Northern Italy, near Venice, their cuisine is sinfully good. Big buffets, 3, 5 or 7 course dinner …… Shall I mail you the contact information?”


Hanging out in the warm thermal bubbly Jacuzzi after having his abundant flesh kneaded through in the professional massage included in his package, his belly digesting breakfast, he blinked into the sun contentedly. The next thing to do would be heave himself out of the water, dry off, relax on the broad sturdy deck chair. Followed by the incredible exertion of getting fully dressed to go to lunch to eat his way through the lovely Italian buffet. With always at least 2 dozen salads and antipasti, 4 different pasta dishes, a risotto, 2 fish, 2 meats, fruit, and a confusingly broad selection of desserts. Finishing with an espresso, he’d push his bulging gut to the elevator and retire to his room for a real siesta. Curling up on his side to spread the pressure of his loaded stomach better, he’d fondle all those deposits of burgeoning flab until he dozed off.

Refreshed he’d get up in the later afternoon, as soon as the peak heat was over to lumber into town, testing one great gelateria after the other. After all, full board with 3 extensive meals might prove insufficient. If he felt truly energetic, he’d go for a pre-dinner swim on coming back in the pool with the supposedly healing water. For him and his physical and mental condition it seemed to be doing the job.
Then remained only the task of dressing up for dinner in good slacks and a neat dress shirt to settle at his table and have Giorgio serve him the 7 course dinner with excellent wine until the world around him faded into the rosy haze denoting food coma. During the first days Giorgio had seemed a bit astounded that he always ordered the 7 course menu, since most other guests reserved this only for Saturdays. Before long he got the impression that Giorgio and his colleagues were trying to test how much he could put away by making the 7 portions bigger and bigger from day to day. And he never disappointed them but managed to increase his capacity continuously to without fail clear all 7 plates. At the end of the day, this left solely the struggle to maneuver his overstuffed body into standing position, schlep it to the pool side bar to have an espresso and Grappa before hauling that daily dose of thousands of extra calories back to bed.

A very plump, pretty Austrian woman about his age, who was there with 3 skinny girlfriends once winked at him conspiratorially at the bar and sighed: “I can’t tell you how jealous I am of you. Seeing you eat all those 7 course dinners, not worrying about your weight. We have no more than the 3 course one every night – and my friends only let me have salad for lunch. I wish I had the courage to indulge like you, no longer worry about the consequences and comments.”

“Yeah – eating what you want is great, I can only recommend it,” sticking out his gut even further which helped ease the pressure while giving it some very careful pats to not upset the overstretched sphere more than necessary. “Actually – the fuller you are, the more padding insulates you – it actually gets easier to blend out those worries and comments.”

Dr. Van der Vaals had been right – this Italian resort vacation was the perfect way to get back into indulgence mode. The regular rhythm of the days focusing around the extensive meals brought a peaceful lull to his mind and body, naturally leading him to concentrate on contemplative digestion.
It was not that he only lazed around – for that the resort’s surroundings were too interesting. Venice and Vicenza were only half an hour by train, Bologna an hour, Padua less than 15 minutes. On the cooler days he did excursions there, doing some serious architectural photography which he planned to turn into a calendar as Christmas present.


The two weeks in this paradise passed way too quickly, but the healing and invigorating after effects lasted to push him on. Getting on the scale back at home, it read 136.6 kilograms, letting him successfully crack the 300 pound mark, tingles he couldn’t fully interpret running down his spine. His heightened appetite and capacity kept him on the track of dedicated eating facilitated by the change in season.

September brought the end of summer, better weather and everybody back in the office. Professional conferences and fairs with their complementary buffets were supplemented by an endless array of all kinds of harvest festivals featuring food and specialties: Wine, beer, potatoes, apples, bread, mushrooms, whatever. These events merged seamlessly into the Advent and Christmas markets season with their mulled wine, seasonal bakery and food outlets which blended into the most tantalizing mix of aromas that he started salivating whenever he only went near one. There was so much on offer within the range of a 3 hour drive it almost turned stressful fitting in everything he wanted to see.

These many professional and recreational pleasures were underlined by regular signals of growth his body was sending him. Since the weather stayed very mild, he was able to continue wearing the clothing he had bought 2 sizes too big in the spring. Now those were getting tighter and tighter, bulges of fat swelling demandingly against buttons or tender blubber being painfully bitten by uncooperative zipper teeth. In early November he weighed himself at 143 kilograms to notice he had developed a real double chin. So far he had only had apple cheeks and a thicker neck – now he found that pronounced juicy roll under his chin positively cute, especially since it was a better balance to his round face.


What didn’t work quite as well as in the spring was sticking to his self-imposed loner-dom to preemptively avoid discussions about his very obviously increased weight or other personal matters. Shortly after he was back from Italy, he was bringing out the trash when a voice called him: “Hey Alex, long time no see!”

It turned out to be Hannah, chair of their local branch of Democrats Abroad, a lawyer who worked for the International Court, one of the many married women his age. “How are you doing? You look good, nice and tanned, maybe a bit filled out – have you been on vacation?”

“Yeah – just recently got back from Italy, near Venice, fabulous experience.”

“What have you been up to, we haven’t seen you in ages with Democrats Abroad! I haven’t even had the chance to introduce you to the newest addition of the Berger family – please meet Carolina,” indicating to a baby, so small it was still lying in a big old-fashioned baby carriage on its back.

“Congratulations – she’s number three, right?” racking his brain to remember the details of Hannah’s family. Her husband was a guy named Max who worked for the ICC if he wasn’t confusing him with someone else. “How’s Max? What are you doing in this neighborhood?” trying to appear polite.

“Everybody is fine; Max transferred to the prosecutor’s office. Josephine just entered first grade and Maurice is in kindergarten. We bought a terraced house right around the corner.”

Relieved he had been vaguely correct, he smiled: “All the more congratulations. We’ll be seeing more of each other then…”

A polite phrase couldn’t have been more spot on, because right the next week he was invited to their house-warming party. Hannah talked him into chairing a working group on transatlantic energy policy at their annual conference coming February in Amsterdam, along with a list of people to contact and work on an online resolution beforehand. Then he got invited to Sunday dinner – and returned the favor by taking a series of family pictures they wanted for their Christmas cards. Finally the event that forever crushed his hopes of being able to disentangle himself from the Bergers invading his life.

He was a bit wary of Hannah’s encroaching attitude because it reminded him so much of Melina. He soon honestly liked Max, her husband, a cheerful Bavarian lawyer who had the additional advantage of being about as chubby as he had been before this weight gain quest.

One morning they met in the tram and Max invited him to watch a soccer game Netherlands – Germany in a sports bar with a few colleagues. It started out easy-going with lots of beer, fries, chicken wings and bratwursts to take a turn for the melodramatic as a distressed Hannah called at half-time.

Little Maurice had fallen in a romp and had a gashing wound on the side of his head that needed stitches. They rushed home to find Hannah holding Maurice’s head, Josephine staring helplessly and baby Carolina wailing. A quick assessment of the situation told him it wouldn’t be fair and responsible to leave: “Max – you go drive Hannah and Maurice to the emergency room. I’ll fill in as instant baby-sitter with your girls, if that’s okay.”

“Alex, you’re a life saver! It’s more than okay. Carolina is freshly diapered, so that’s not the problem. She’s teething and doesn’t want to eat. Bottle is in bottle warmer on kitchen counter just in case. Thanks a million!” Hannah threw him a kiss.

Suddenly alone with a perplexed six year old and a wailing baby in his arms, he tried to remember what he and Melina had done when they had babysat Zoe.
“Okay Josephine, it’s almost bed time, isn’t it?” making the little girl nod solemnly. “You’re a big girl, aren’t you?” answered with a very energetic nod letting him smile. “So, go brush your teeth, put on your pj’s, then come here with your favorite book and a blanket. I’ll read you a bedtime story.”

In the meantime he attempted to quiet the crying baby which was all red in the face. He tried walking up and down, jouncing, cradling, tossing a bit with no success. Tired and after an not precisely rememberable number of beers a little wobbly, he sat down on the couch, leaned back and rested Carolina on the ample curve of his non too empty belly. Breathing deeply, he mentally scanned options of what to do next to quiet her down. Before coming up with a solution, he was baffled to notice she had calmed down considerably, was digging her little fists into the softer fat on the side of his gut. Doing little puffing exercises that made all the flab wobble even more let her go quiet and only gurgle softly.

“Finally- you got the baby to shut up. Mommy should’ve let you come much earlier,” Josephine’s precocious assessment made him glow with pride inwardly as she settled next to him so he could read her from ‘The wheel on the school’.

“Do me a favor, will you get the bottle from the kitchen before I read you the story? I don’t want to move her.” While he read the next chapter, baby Carolina drank half her bottle and then fell asleep as he bounced her with his belly. Josephine followed shortly afterwards curled up on the sofa – and he must’ve dosed off too, for he was woken by Max picking up his older daughter to carry her to bed.

“You’re genius Alex – how did you get Carolina to drink the milk and fall asleep?” Hannah stage whispered in awe.

Glancing down he grinned sheepishly: “I guess you can call it the power of the belly,” pushing up his knee to make it wobble, the sleeping baby responding with small kicks.

“She never does that when she lies on my belly,” Max sounded almost offended.

“Yours isn’t big enough,” he had to suppress a laugh at their incredulous faces.


From then on, he was the emergency neighborhood baby-sitter and soon closely integrated family friend. So close, that he sometimes had to defend his privacy and free weekends for traveling with some insistence. It was nice to have an occasional family dinner again, especially after Max confided in him: “It’s so good when you’re here – Hannah always makes bigger portions and is much more generous in letting me eat.”

Previously, he had had little interest in children, let alone babies. But it was impossible not to like a tiny human being that clearly showed she was fond of him: Carolina insisted on being on his arm or lap when he came over, and there indeed was no faster way of putting her to sleep than cradling her on his belly. Exasperated father Max who was unhappily jealous of his little daughter’s preference actually collected hard evidence to prove that by doing a series of tests with a stop watch. He laughed so hard when Hannah showed him the measurement sheets, all the heavy new flab spilling into his lap jiggled wildly so that his strained stomach muscles ached afterwards.
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Old 01-12-2015, 10:05 AM   #9
agouderia
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Default IV. Energetic Expansions

IV.


The decision not to fly home to the States for family Christmas had subconsciously already been brewing in him when he boarded the plane to return from his unrewarding visit back in June. It became a firm decision when he saw the offers for Christmas vacation at the resort in Italy even preparing to compensate for his absence with really nice presents. He bought great leather gloves and quality wool scarves for parents, sisters and grandmothers at one of the markets there, beautiful handmade Christmas tree ornaments for all the females, and had personalized theme calendars printed with his best pictures. All that he packaged nicely; gave it to someone from Democrats Abroad to take back, because he could transport much more on an army flight.

He hadn’t been honest with his mother when she asked, fudging over that he couldn’t tell yet when he would be able to leave the office before Christmas and that it might be difficult to find an affordable flight then. Zoe, Melina, his grandmother all called and urged him to book a flight, but he strung them along. Facing the family with another good 30 pounds more under – or better wobbling over – his belt was worse than anything stocked in his nightmare repertoire. Spending Christmas as the western world’s food festival of the year with diet food and endless lectures, right now when his life was in such turmoil was impossible for him.

On the other hand, he couldn’t decide on what to do instead. Stay alone in The Hague and cook his own Christmas dinner wasn’t too appealing. He was tempted by the Italian resort’s package – but value-for-money oriented as he was, he found the 180% holiday upcharge a bit steep. That applied to many other seasonal offers – every restaurant and hotel in Europe wanted to cash in on the festive spirit. Plus he had to consider that he’d not only have to pay a lot of money, but with 90% certainty be stuck in horrible weather, since even the Mediterranean wasn’t sunny and warm in winter. Better wait for a last minute bargain and then decide.

The biggest pre-Christmas celebration in the Netherlands, mainly for children, but gripping the whole country traditionally was ‘Sinterklaas’ or St. Nicholas. That might even have increased in the past years after the continuous public debates whether ‘Black Pete’, Sinterklaas’ black-faced side-kick, wasn’t racist. So on December 6th, he was invited to an office party, the party of the Dutch renewable agency, a Democrats Abroad party as well as the one Max and Hannah were hosting for their friends.

The day at the office started out as usual, he was doing the finishing touches on his presentation for the meeting with a Dutch-Danish consortium to speak about the outline for joint project of new, low emission bio-masse electricity production facilities. Shortly before 11 o’clock, he grabbed the stick and his print-out and headed out of his office, to be intercepted by Polly and led to Thomas’ office.

“Alex, we want to inform you that you cannot hold the presentation now,” Thomas said stiffly, staring down at his desk.

“Why? Who shall give it? It’s the outline for a brand new plan, a novel processing procedure, components from different producers – who else knows the technical details of this?”

“I’m fully capable of quickly comprehending all necessary details, Alex,” Polly jutted her pointed chin up, a hint of triumph in her high-pitched voice.

“I don’t understand why..”

“Just accept it as it is, Alex.” Thomas interrupted him. “You no longer can convincingly represent FuturePowers in public and to the clients. Be realistic – look at yourself in the mirror.”

“We need to convey that we’re a modern, innovative, dynamic company – committed to the sustainable use of resources.” Polly chimed in. “What’s wrong with you Alex? I can’t believe how – sorry for the word – incredibly fat you’ve gotten since I’ve come here. How can you expect your appearance to comply with our company profile?”

Despite knowing that Polly and Thomas disliked him, the blatant and unjustified discrimination, the stealing of his work and project shocked him into speechlessness. They went on about the company profile for a while before he was able to respond: “I work here as an engineer and technical expert. Not as a fashion model or professional athlete. My professional knowledge matters, not my appearance,” remembering what Dr. Van der Vaals had said.

“We not only sell technical products, but also a philosophy, a way of life. That in done in what we present and how we present it. Do you seriously think your … umm… look … is in line with your professional credentials?”

Glancing down, his cheeks began to smart hotly. He had let his business clothes get far too tight and ill-fitting to look adequately professional. The sports coat could be buttoned at the top when he was standing and sucking in his gut; in sitting here, the two sides only framed about half of its inflated protuberance. His dress pants were worn belted together way under his belly, it hanging over the band in a deep doughy droop. At least it was well covered in a nice, new pin-stripe shirt he had bought last weekend registering that shirts needed to be buttoned to be able to wear them in public. It would’ve been smarter to buy a new business suit too.

“We’re running out of time here – please hand over your presentation materials to Polly. Send me a list of all client meetings or public events you have scheduled; we will find a replacement for you. Polly will give you more work to do here at the office.”

“What about conferences or seminars where I was invited in person? Not necessarily as a representative of FuturePowers?” he had trouble believing his ears. What would Dr. Van der Vaals recommend to do in this situation?

“Polly will handle that. We have to go.”

Instead of going back to his office, he walked down into the little court yard and tried to call Dr. Van der Vaals. She wasn’t in the office but in Eindhoven at court, but her assistant agreed to contact her immediately and call him back, which she did about 10 minutes later.

“Mr. Bartholomon – what happened?”

In rapid shorthand, he explained the situation to her.

“Excellent!”

“What do you mean – excellent?”

“They’re digging their own grave in your case. American companies on the EU labor markets often overlook that local laws and customs need to be kept in mind when doing business here. We’re no banana republics after all. What you need to do right now is write an exact documentation of what happened. Call my law clerk Katrina in the office, she’ll give you the details – and then double check what you’ve produced. I’ll call you this evening when I’m back in The Hague to discuss the further strategy.”

Doing as instructed, he spent the rest of the day putting together the lists and documentation. Revolted by the thought of partying today with those who were supposed to be his colleagues, he set to leave the office towards five. Thomas was re-entering the building as he was leaving, stopping him: “Where are you going? The Sinterklaas party starts in 10 minutes! It’s an official event!”

“Didn’t you say this morning that I can no longer represent FuturePowers to clients and in public? Well – you’ve invited outside guests – haven’t you? Don’t want to let them see me, do you!” Thomas’ dumbfounded expression was a small vindictive satisfaction.


Unable to stand people around him, he walked home in the rain through the park and quiet side streets for over an hour, getting soaking wet and with aching feet. After a long, hot shower he heated some leftover tomato cream soup and he had just retired to bed with a tablet of Belgian caramel crunch chocolate and his e-reader as Dr. Van der Vaals called.

“Tell me everything in full detail? What happened the rest of the day in the office? Also – important in this context- how much do you weigh right now?”

“About 145 Kilograms. Admittedly, it really showed today since my suit was on the tight side,” to then report his parting encounter with Thomas Ross, making her laugh.

“That’s cheeky! And can be fit into our strategy. You only have to write him another email this evening, documenting your exchange and that he did not contradict your interpretation of their new ‘no public appearances policy’ for you. How do you feel about all this?”

“Not too great. Granted – I know they hate me and my fat. But having the favorite part of my work taken away really sucks. Especially those events where I as a person, an expert am invited, not as FuturePowers employee. For instance an EDF conference in Brittany in February – I was really looking forward to that.”

“Understandable. I think you need a break. Distance is a good, useful tool in these lengthy disputes. Aren’t you exhausted?”

“Oh totally.”

“I thought so. You will see Dr. Klaassen on Monday, I’ll call him. He’ll write you a sick note for one week because of mental exhaustion. It’s good meaningful addition to your file anyway.”

“That means I get to stay at home a week?”

“Yes, stay at home, relax. Or with mental exhaustion a change of scenery might also be medically advisable.”

This was an instant mood boost – for he immediately decided he’d do an extensive Christmas market tour down the Rhine, much better during the week than on the crowded weekends. The door bell rang.

“Oh – you have visitors. Go then, happy Sinterklaas.”

To his surprise it was Josephine with Maurice at her hand. “Hello Alex. Mommy and Papa say to come right this minute to our Sinterklaas party. You’re not allowed to stay away.” Sending her kids meant business with Hannah, so he dressed again, grabbed the goodie bags he had brought for them and accompanied them back home.

The party was fun and cheerful, the amounts of mulled wine helping restore a certain equilibrium. The events of the day as well as the prospect of having a week off with sick leave made his mind go into planning mode and left him unfocussed regarding his direct surroundings.
So he didn’t pay attention to what he was saying when Hannah asked him: “When are you flying home for Christmas Alex?”

“Oh, I’m not flying. I’m staying in Europe.”

“So where are you going, what are you doing?”

“Haven’t decided yet, wait and see what comes up…,” refilling his wine cup to see Hannah and Max exchange one very long worried look.

“Something has come up – you’re spending Christmas with us and Max’s family in Bavaria,” realizing his mistake. He should’ve told her some convincing lie.

“That’s very sweet Hannah, but I don’t want to impose on you. It’s a family holiday – and you family is big enough, can’t bother Max’s parents with strangers. I’ll be fine, visit some new places….”

“Exactly, Christmas is a family holiday – and you must spend it with family. Max’s parents absolutely agree. We always include people who don’t have family at hand.” Hannah interrupted him and wouldn’t let any more protest in. “They have a small guest apartment. Max’s sister married a local dairy baron, they have 2 big company guest apartments where we’re staying just around the corner. It’s beautiful down on the Bavarian lakes, you’ll love it. No more excuses – be there on Christmas Eve in the early afternoon!”



Thus he ended up standing in the entrance hall of a Bavarian farm house near a pre-Alpine lake on the early afternoon of Christmas Eve. The office had shut down since the weekend anyhow so he had slowly traveled south by train, testing several Alsatian and southern German Christmas markets along the way he hadn’t known before. The situation was so stiff and awkward the first 10 minutes he instantly regretted coming. Facing Max’s parents who spoke little English and Bavarian, not German, so even his negligible vocabulary proved useless, he reckoned himself totally misplaced. Killing time by using the restroom didn’t help much and he was already frantically searching for reasons to cut the planned 10 days short to the required polite minimum of 2 days.

An exhilarated squeal saved him. Hannah came in covered in snow with Carolina in her stroller, who immediately stretched out her arms to him, kicked and babbled until he untangled her from her wraps and scooped her up gratefully: “Come to Uncle Alex cutie.”

Max’s mother smiled fondly and said something he couldn’t decipher, looking searchingly at Max for help. “We love those whom our babies love,” Max translated, “It’s an old Bavarian proverb.”


The Berger’s family Christmas proved as lovely, traditional, warm and filling as Hannah had promised: the snow, the live music in church, the real candles on the tree - it fulfilled almost every thinkable cliché there was of the perfect Christmas. Real Swiss cheese fondue on Christmas Eve, roast goose with 2 types of cabbage and home-made potato dumplings on the first, and venison goulash with three winter salads and fried bread-dumplings on the second day of Christmas. It was so much, that even he did not object tho plain potato soup and salads on the third day. Eva and Julia, Max’s mother and sister, were both excellent and highly competitive cooks who outdid each other in spoiling their families with culinary delights.

“Whenever I eat here with Max’s family,” Hannah confided in him after walking home of from Julia’s on the second day, “I wonder why he stays married to me or hasn’t starved. What I feed him has about the quality of dog food in comparison to what Eva and Julia cook up.”

“He really loves you. Don’t be so hard on yourself–your cooking is at least as good as cat food; they’re the pickier eaters,” his laughter was stopped short by getting the snow Hannah threw at him in his mouth.


Nevertheless, it was undeniable that the Berger women were domestic goddesses. They made him fall madly in love with Bavarian cuisine – the hearty meat dishes, the stewed cabbages and vegetables, the hot, baked sweet desserts which often substituted main courses. Not only Strudels, but ‘Kaiserschmarrn’, originally Austrian, literally meaning ‘emperor’s nonsense’, a very fluffy, ripped up pancake with rum raisins and a tart fruit sauce.
The tradition of ‘Brotzeit’ – bread time – at any given time of day when somebody might be hungry: meaning a very sizable board piled high with cold cuts, sausages, cheeses, pickles, small salads. Served with a basket full of hearty dark bread and crisp pretzels which could reach the size of a children’s bike wheel. The spectacularly creamy dip of ‘Obatzda’ it often came with.
Not to mention dumplings, to-die-for round dumplings of all types – made with bread, potatoes, Topfen, yeast, semolina, in sweet and spicy versions, with herbs or fruit, served with creamy sauces. An entire universe of delicious dumplings. That beer was served with almost everything morning, noon and night. Max told him that in many Bavarian labor contracts beer still was not considered to be alcohol, but food and so was served at the work place.

“Bavarian food is for real guys, like they used to be, not modern wimps” Eva told him, making him nod enthusiastically with a full mouth.

Christmas time pushed this up another notch by everyone setting out large flat painted dishes overflowing with seasonal goodies – apples, oranges, nuts, dried fruit but also chocolates, marzipan and home baked cookies. Everybody was invited to help themselves and they were constantly replenished. Probably he went through one whole filling of them in the course of the day, he guiltily admitted to himself one day as Maurice stole the last juicy gingerbread cookie before his preying fingers could grab it.

Since cooking and preparing the lavish daily feasts was the only real work being done, he tried to be useful by helping out in the kitchen, doing things like peeling potatoes, grating carrots, chopping cabbage or forming dumplings. He developed a bit of a crush on Max’s sister Julia, who was as easy going as her brother, but with the added plus of having a buxom figure very appealingly presented in highly feminine costume dress. What added to her allure was that her hands were constantly handling the yummiest foods, occasionally popping a bite to taste in his mouth.

His mouth was never empty for long in the course of the day. At mealtimes, this was partly due to the language problem that posed itself, since the older generation hardly spoke English. So keeping his mouth full, jovially chewing along spared him from having to stutter something in German or force some else to interrupt their eating by having to translate.

The natural aftermath of a full mouth was of course a glutted stomach. Following its evolution during the day, it started out as soft, well filled bag of flesh, growing into a stuffed thick pillow of fat by the afternoon. After dinner in the evening it was a solidly bloated dome that he had to maneuver carefully ahead of himself, that forced him to lean back when sitting and made it impossible to bend over.

For the first time he experienced that his girth dictated his movements and limited their range. Undressing at night, it was a too uncomfortable hassle pulling the socks off his feet; so he unhitched them with the toes of the opposite foot and kicked them off. This was not the only physical change he discovered: Holding a hand of cards for the local hugely popular game of ‘Sheepshead’ he noticed that his fingers were getting very pudgy with a sausage like optic to them.
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Old 01-12-2015, 10:16 AM   #10
agouderia
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Default IV-a Energetic Expansions

One of the few duties he had – next to volunteering to peel potatoes and the like – was to take baby Carolina on her daily stroll. Germans firmly believed that even small babies needed at least an hour of fresh air a day, no matter how cold and wet it was. So Carolina was bundled up into a snow suit, stuffed into her fur stroller bag and off they went for a longer walk. It was the least he could offer to do in exchange for the kindness and hospitality he was experiencing. And it did him good to interrupt the routine of eating and relaxing with a minimum of exercise and fresh air, as he pushed his lunched up gut and the stroller puffing up a hill.
The landscape had a pastoral picture book beauty – snow covered foothills with the Alps rising in the distance, dotted with quaint villages crowding around cheerfully over-decorated baroque churches with the signature onion shaped steeple-tops. In the village large elaborately painted farm houses with spacious wooden balconies and scrollwork, the lake glittering from a far in the wintery sunlight.

“Alex wait for me!” Hannah called from the street corner and he was surprised at how fast she caught up with him after the 3 official days of Christmas. “So, how’s your Christmas been so far?”

“It’s wonderful – I can’t thank you enough…,” he had the swallow hard to keep his emotions in check.

“That’s great. We’re glad you’re enjoying yourself. Being such a dedicated gourmet for Eva’s and Julia’s cooking as well as a natural at ‘Schafskopf’, or favorite game of cards makes you a most welcome guest.”

“Hopefully those minor contributions are at least somewhat useful….”

“What’s the critical ‘but’ you’re swallowing….?”

“Nothing.”

“Oh no not nothing. You swallowed half your sentence. What’s the problem?”

“Uggh … I feel so insufficient because of the language. My little bit of German gets me nowhere. You, Max, Julia, her husband – you all try to help out … I feel like a translation burden. And constantly having to accept the services of a 6-year old interpreter isn’t good for my ego….”

Hannah laughed. “Josephine is really, really good at it – we’re proud how bilingual she is at her age. Her trilingual isn’t bad either – she’s doing fine keeping Dutch and German straight, which isn’t that easy. It’s a major advantage Max and I are fluent in each other’s native language, so we can always stick to practicing one at any given time. But you shouldn’t compare yourself to her.”

“What do you mean?”

“You grew up only speaking English – even though – what’s your other EU passport again?”

“Greek.”

“Nobody in your family spoke Greek with you as a child, did they?”

“No, my dad didn’t even learn it – he was born 3 months after my grandmother came to the US as a young, pregnant widow. She was told she had to speak only English for him to fully master it.”

“That was the standard, stupid policy in the US for many years, until I was a child, I know. There is no better way to learn languages than to start early.”

“Your German sounds very good to my ears – I can’t hear any difference when you talk to Max.”

“Thank you. I hope and think that’s the case. I learned it as a child though – I’m an army brat, was actually born in K-town.”

“K-town?”

“Kaiserslautern. Not too far from the French border. We lived there until I was five, and came back when my father was posted in Wiesbaden, I was 12.”

“Very pretty city – great wine festival. I went last year.”

“Indeed – it’s like a 19th century architecture museum. I loved it there. We didn’t live on the base, but in town, in the middle of a major metropolitan region. It was safe, I could move around freely on public transport. Do great teenage things like take the 20 minute train to Frankfurt for rock concerts and the like. There was no drinking age. We actually hiked to a winery with our German partner school freshman year, were shown how wine was made and did a tasting. Nobody got drunk by the way; it really was about learning and the taste experience.”

“Sounds totally cool.”

“It was. And then my father was transferred to South Dakota just as I had ended sophomore year.”

“That in turn sounds terrible!”

“More than terrible. I freaked – wanted to get out of there as fast as possible. Studied like crazy junior year, did anything for credit possible, so I could graduate after three years of high school and head off to college. My German got me into a good college program at Amherst which had an exchange with Heidelberg, bringing me back within 100 km from where I had started out from.”

“That’s where you met Max?” he had to smile – her enthusiasm was endearing.

“No – I met Max years later when I was studying for the bar exam here in Bavaria. My dad managed to get a position at NATO school in Garmisch, so I came over as often as possible. We met skiing through mutual friends.”

“So you’re trying to nicely package that you think I’ll never be able to learn the language?” This non-reassuring thought darted through his mind.

“Not exactly. Let me try to use an analogy from your field, although I’m not sure I’ll get it right. If you build some kind of electric system – it would work best if your plan it as big and interconnected as possible the relays, etc. from scratch. It’s much more difficult if you have like only one wire or cable and then have to add on every single other connection in the network. Is that image about correct?”

“Sort of.”

“Well, your brain has only the one wire for English. If you want to add another language, you have to do complicated extra wiring – while for someone like me or Josephine it’s much easier, as it is more like switching on another part of a pre-existing network.”

“So it’s hopeless for me?”

“Not hopeless – a lot harder. You’ll need much more time and energy, overcome many frustrations. Not be embarrassed that you’re an adult professional who speaks like a 3-year old. I’ve seen it with many Americans here, in France or Holland. Many give up too early before they reach the linguistic point of no return. You can receive a first class education in the States, without ever seriously learning a foreign language. Unless you focus on the issue. If you want to stay on here in Europe, you need to be willing to make that continuous effort. You need to practice continuously, speak as much as possible –not so easy when you have your mouth full most of the time,” she winked at him.

“Thanks for the pep talk.” He shivered; the freezing wind blowing over the snow was cutting.

“You’re not cold are you? That parka should be warm enough..,” as she stretched out her hand to feel it, three strained snap buttons popped open to reveal his sweat shirt, the zipper hanging uselessly at the sides. He closed his eyes in mortification. It had been weeks since he had been able to zip it up over his ever-inflating midsection, but in mild Holland only snapping it up loosely had been sufficient.

Very gently Hannah stroked the bulging curve, sending a quick jolt to his nether parts. No grown woman had touched his substantially expanded body yet, so it came as a mild shock. Her voice was as soft as when she tried to put her kids to sleep: “You need a new fitting parka or coat in this cold. Don’t think your own growing insulation here will do the job. You’re going to town tomorrow ….” She put her finger to his lips to stop his protest. “Max is taking you; he needs some new things too. He still has more pregnancy weight left than I do.”



“Now I understand why Hannah fed us only a meager portion of Muesli for breakfast….,” he clinked beer glasses with Max at 10:30 the next morning in a small eatery attached to a butcher shop. In front of them were not only 2 pints of beer but also a big china soup bowl with a dozen little white sausages in them served with thick crusty pretzels and sweet mustard relish. “This is the life…”

“Yeah – this is what real men do in Bavaria – a so-called second breakfast,” Max grinned broadly.

“Love it – would adopt that tradition immediately,” he walked over to the counter to get a second beer and another over-sized pretzel with ‘Obazda’, the camembert-cream cheese mix he was becoming addicted to. Max declined as he pushed some over to him, so he finished the big portion on his own.

“The two largest ‘big&tall’ stores in Germany fortunately are both here in Munich within walking distance, so we should find everything we need. Ready to bite the bullet?” Max screwed up his face.

“After 2 beers I’m ready to take on any foe…” he shuffled carefully after Max through the crowds in the pedestrian zone, a mild beer buzz, unaccustomed in the morning, leaving him light-headed. In combination with his full, ponderously wobbling belly a most appealing combination. His stay in Bavaria was comparable to his vacation in Italy – he no longer had any idea what an empty stomach was like; it was always at least appeased, mostly varying degrees of full to deliriously overloaded. Expansively relaxed, he could endure the horrors of cloths shopping.

The two major stores were excellently stocked, offered many post-holiday sales and had very professional, discreetly accommodating staff that made the experience tolerable. Once he found something that fit, he’d take the same model again in another color, pattern or material to simplify matters since he was in need of nothing short of an entire new wardrobe. He bought everything on the big side, so that Max and the salesmen told him several times it fitted better a size smaller.

“Ummh … I prefer it on the roomy, comfortable side…” he had muttered and taken the too large version, the result of some economic deliberations. His Christmas indulgences should have positively pushed him over the 150 kilogram mark – that meant he only had about 20-25 more pounds to go. If he bought cloths now that were about one size too big, they should still fit at the end of his endeavor. Being observed and scrutinized while trying on new clothes had never been his favorite task, presently he was irritated at how much stronger his mirror shyness had gotten.

Over the past months, he had mainly experienced his expansion by looking down on it. How more and more, rounder and rounder belly had invaded his field of vision; how his thighs had spread to better support this swelling balloon. The inflation of his soft chest into bona fide man boobs extending into a thick role under his arms to his back, reassuringly cushy in line with modestly pillowing upper arms. From the vantage point above his body all this had seemed normal, well shaped and proportionate to the legions of plates piled high with calories wandering into it. Looking at his oeuvre in the two-dimensional reflection of a looking glass, it appeared to be an alien object, grotesquely distorted, boundlessly wide and deep as in a fun –house mirror. This vision created more unease than he cared to admit, so he went through the motions as fast as possible.

“Are we heading back home, or do you have something else to do here?” he asked Max as they were finished shortly after 2 o’clock.

“I was going to ask you the same. What do you want to do here in Munich? You’re the guest. Shall we go get lunch?”

The latter was an unexpected proposition given their second breakfast, yet assumed Max cared to indulge away from Hannah’s scrutiny. “Sure, why not. I’ve been to Munich several times before, so I think I’m up to date on all the tourist stuff … except …. well… somehow …. I never got around going to that one famous Brauhaus….”

“The Hofbräuhaus? No – anything but that! That’s the worst tourist trap – only for Japanese, Chinese and drunk Anglophones….”

“You mean people like me?”

“No- roaringly drunk Brits, Americans and Aussies – you’re still too sober for that. And from staying with us, you know really good local food by now, shouldn’t eat tourist trash.”

“I do indeed know and highly appreciate that,” giving his gut a fond rub which partly brushed off the mental unpleasantness the cloths shopping experience had created.

“So my suggestion would be to go to a different Brauhaus, our personal favorite being Augustiner. Or we can go to the city hall cellar; they have a huge, colorful but good restaurant. Or to a small, cozy family restaurant with the best cooking of the three for traditional Bavarian-Austrian specialties.”

“The last one – best cooking is the magic word for me.”

“I knew I can trust your good taste,” Max grinned. “They have my favorite local dish – wonderful fried chicken on a huge assortment of salads, you should try it.”

The restaurant was hidden in a small passage way just behind the city hall, with historic stone vaulted ceilings and homely painted woodwork. Max ordered his salad along with apple juice soda, prompting him to ask with a shade of disappointment: “No beer?”

“Not for me – I have to drive us home safely from the train station over icy roads. Go ahead though, you can have one – I’m willing to transport inebriated passengers.”

After a moment’s hesitation he ordered a big beer, one liter served here in one of the quaint old-fashioned stoneware tankards. Initially he wanted to have the same salad as Max, but seeing the daily special was Schnitzel hunter style with creamy mushroom sauce, the wonderful bread dumplings and a side salad, he couldn’t resist. Bavarian portions strongly resembled US portions, so an oversized plate with the even larger Schnitzel partly lapping over the edge was placed in front of him, challenging his appetite. Together with the considerable quantity of beer, his stomach did start signaling fullness as he cleaned it off.

“How about coffee?” Max asked when they had finished.

“Good idea…,” his eyes following what a waiter was serving at another table – one of those ‘Kaiserschmarrn’ things, here with the delicious stirred fried cinnamon plums. Impossible as it seemed, a greedy appetite hollered. “How about sharing one of those imperial pancakes?” to not sound too insatiable.

“Sorry, I’ll pass – that was a lot of chicken with a big salad. Plus we had that second breakfast.”

Although his better instincts told him he should pass too, if even sharing was beyond Max’s not exactly small capacity, he went ahead and ordered it – as cover with 2 sets of cutlery. Max only had a spoonful for politeness sake, so he ploughed through the mountain of rich egg dough laced with the spicy-sweet plum sauce. From the third bite onward he could feel his stomach stretching further and further too somehow create room for everything he was trying to cram into it.

As he had almost managed to ingest the massive portion, he exhaled deeply and was surprised to catch Max’s troubled look: “Alex ….don’t be mad at me – okay? I have to ask …. I know myself what a shit topic it is…. Is everything okay with you? Is there anything I or we can do for you?”

Something in Max’s glance, the knowledge of how nice he and Hannah were being to him, wouldn’t let the brusque response of ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’ come out. Instead he half-shrugged after over a minute.

“I know I’m not one to talk – I eat a lot myself and am a big guy. A year ago you were about my size …. and now ….? Do you have health problems?”

At this he shook his head energetically. “No, not at all. I’m going to check-ups regularly.”

“Then what is it? Normal are a lot of things, I’m an open-minded person – but you’re eating like there’s no tomorrow. Or like you actually want to gain a lot of weight, get bigger….,” making him look up in thinly veiled shock.

Max shook himself and rubbed his eyes. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have asked. I apologize for being intrusive. It’s none of my business.”

“No, you’re right – I am gaining weight, need to get to 160 kilograms,” he murmured. There was a sincerity in Max, not only in his questioning, in the way that he treated him really like family that made him tell the truth. “It’s for job reasons. You’re a lawyer – can I talk to you as a lawyer, in absolute confidentiality, you won’t tell anyone, not even or least of all Hannah?”

“Of course. I’m a lawyer and I’m your friend. I’m no specialist in labor and contract law though.”

Unraveling his entire story was not as bad as he had presumed; with someone as understanding as Max it actually reinforced the sense of calm that had overcome him during these holidays.

“That is a very radical measure,” there was more than a hint of acknowledgement in Max’s voice. “Didn’t you think about just going back to the States, getting a new job there? Or a different one here in Europe, after all, you’re a citizen?”

“Sure, that’s the first thing I thought about. But I was so angry, felt so betrayed – I had gone through so much for this job, was promised so much – and got so little in the end. The mindset that the company somehow has to pay for that was stronger. And this seemed the best leverage.”

“Naturally, I read about the ruling of the European Court. Your lawyer is right, there’s more to come, that’s an evolving legal field. International companies these days are really screwing their employees over - and any attempts to get the courts to restrain them is a worthy cause. But – isn’t the price literally too big? Isn’t it maybe self-destructive?” Max’s voice faded towards the end.

He took a very deep breath that roused a stab of pain from his overstretched flanks, merging into a titillating cold shudder. This was the one thought he had never allowed to fully surface, even in his most doubting moments. What if he did harm his health, his professional or also personal options by getting hugely fat? He shrugged again: “So far not. I don’t feel that much of a difference. What recently happened in the office – it might also have happened if I had stayed the way I was. Polly and others plain want me out – because I’m not a skinny, do-goody, eco-vegan-fluff-talk person – only one of those stupid tech guys who actually knows how to make their renewable world work.”

“Still….. you might be doing something that’s not good for you….,” Max looked doubtful.

“Max – have you never wished you could eat all you want, not worry about the consequences? Doesn’t it bother you that Hannah is latently always counting the calories you eat, limiting them?”

“I’d love to eat what I wanted. Hannah is not too mean about my gut. Most likely she’d prefer it if I were slimmer. To be slimmer, I’d need to rid my life of everything except calorie controlled eating and exercising. The issue isn’t important enough for me to do that. I’ve also never met any fitness fanatics whom I’ve really liked – they were at best very mono-dimensional people. But I’ve never been brave or crazy enough to really cut the rope and let my appetite take me …. wherever.”

There was a lull in their conversation as the waiter came over and Max ordered 2 more double espressos. “We need these now,” Max sipped at his and asked very gruffly, looking under himself: “How does it feel?”

The trickle of the caffeine shot into his overburdened stomach was an instant remedy and he spread his thighs wider to be more comfortable, giving his achingly distended flanks a few long firm strokes. “Actually, it feels … mostly normal … but nice. If you’ve never been actually thin like me – you adapt pretty easily. I’ve been used to carrying weight all my life. This is sort of ..umm .. hauling around your own warm, heavy insulation. And like right now – so stuffed – it feels great. Come to think of it – this past year – most of it has been a pretty awesome experience.”



On New Year’s Eve, watching the fireworks go off around him sipping champagne, he wondered about his near future. The past year had been most mixed – starting with the bad news about his job and the path towards a radical solution with its most decadent pleasures he had embarked on. In consequence, his main hope for the coming 12 months was that this path would lead to success; be it either job security or at least a massive compensation for the suffered deceit. Sliding his free left hand under his belly, testing its heaviness and slightly lifting it, a surge of deviant pride ran through him – no matter what anybody else might say, this was a measurable achievement. A year ago he might have been proud to be able to fasten a pair of slim jeans, yet he had been hungry, irritable and tense. Despite the insecurities in his life currently, his increased physical substance had translated at least in part to a greater mental robustness, leaving him calmer and more grounded.

Observing Max and Hannah in a deep, tender New Year’s kiss a bolt of jealousy shot through him. Ever since Hannah’s touching his belly after his parka had popped open he had been suffering pangs of physical lust that had slipped from his mind during the past months. Or had it been that food alone had succeeded in satisfying his erotic needs? A female hand on an intimate part of his body reminded him how pleasing such caresses had always been for him. With a lot more skin surface to offer, it sent cascades of tingles all over him thinking about how that experience might be. He wanted that bad – just as badly as he wanted to maintain the devout relationship he had established with oral satisfaction.

Summed up he acknowledged that he had defined three wishes for his New Year – a successful job resolution, a new girlfriend or love interest – and staying on board the calorie cruise, clandestinely reveling in it’s inevitable consequences. They appeared immodest in their accumulation – including the unresolved dilemma that they allegedly were mutually exclusive.
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Old 01-12-2015, 04:53 PM   #11
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Anjula has a ton of rep. Literally. As in over 2000!Anjula has a ton of rep. Literally. As in over 2000!Anjula has a ton of rep. Literally. As in over 2000!Anjula has a ton of rep. Literally. As in over 2000!Anjula has a ton of rep. Literally. As in over 2000!Anjula has a ton of rep. Literally. As in over 2000!Anjula has a ton of rep. Literally. As in over 2000!Anjula has a ton of rep. Literally. As in over 2000!Anjula has a ton of rep. Literally. As in over 2000!Anjula has a ton of rep. Literally. As in over 2000!Anjula has a ton of rep. Literally. As in over 2000!
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I am a huge fan of your writing and even though gaining is not really my pair of shoes I highly enjoy reading this. Thank you
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Old 01-13-2015, 01:11 AM   #12
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ALS has super-sized repALS has super-sized repALS has super-sized repALS has super-sized rep
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Fantastic story!
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Old 01-13-2015, 04:03 AM   #13
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fritzi knows EXACTLY what's going onfritzi knows EXACTLY what's going onfritzi knows EXACTLY what's going onfritzi knows EXACTLY what's going onfritzi knows EXACTLY what's going onfritzi knows EXACTLY what's going on
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Originally Posted by Anjula View Post
I am a huge fan of your writing and even though gaining is not really my pair of shoes I highly enjoy reading this. Thank you
This! To a certain degree, I've always found gaining fascinating. But I haven't yet found a story about intentional weight gain in which the characters were only halfway credible. This one so far is plausible and lovely to read.

More please soon!
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Old 01-13-2015, 02:38 PM   #14
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I am looking forward to Alex gaining his just desserts!
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Old 01-19-2015, 07:01 AM   #15
agouderia
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agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!
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Thank you everyone!

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I am looking forward to Alex gaining his just desserts!
Who ever said Alex is going to get dessert???
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Old 01-19-2015, 07:15 AM   #16
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Default V. Energetic Expansions

V.

With a modicum of trepidation he stepped on his scale the first morning he was back home at The Hague – it blinking 154.6 kilograms. Once again that tingling of illicit pleasure spread all over him. Traveling back from Bavaria had for the first time confronted him with the fact that he was outgrowing aspects of normal life and had seriously more baggage to haul around.
Training to the airport, he had done a stopover in downtown Munich to pick up the newly bought pants which had been in need of hemming. Naturally this included a culinary farewell befitting his love for the local cuisine with a big portion of the white sausages and an apple strudel with vanilla custard – on top of the substantial ‘Brotzeit’ the Bergers had made for his late breakfast.

Lumbering through the endless corridors from the airport train station to the terminal, his fresh flab wobbled weightily around his gorged stomach, leaving him puffing, hot and irritable. Going for a pleasant walk outside with his bulk jiggling along softly was easy to handle. Hurrying indoors in a coat to catch a plane tugging a heavy suitcase suddenly made it burdensome. Never before had he been so aware of how thickly his thighs rubbed together.

On boarding the plane, he was startled at how narrow the aisle seemed, that some part of his flesh was always bumped or squeezed by the backrest or armrest of a seat. He hadn’t been on a plane since his trip to Italy – and that was how many pounds ago? In the past months, train had been the most fitting choice for all travel, which was much more spacious. Literally pushing his way to his assigned seat, a middle one, he looked at the tiny square between the 2 armrests and wondered how on earth he was supposed to squeeze all his bulk in there.

“Sir, will you please come here,” a flight attendant with a fixed smile beckoned him along and motioned him to wait in the side aisle. As boarding was completed, she led him up to the first row in the only slightly roomier business class, flipping up one armrest and immediately attaching an extension. “Please sit here,” waiting for him to maneuver his backside into the seat to quickly and efficiently buckle him up and actually give him a chocolate as she was finished. “Hope you’re comfortable.” Despite the very professional, accommodating approach the situation irked him and he brooded the entire way home.


As ambiguous as his initial reaction to the 154.6 kilograms was, over time the sense of defiant achievement overruled, letting him give his expanded reservoirs of fat small pleased pats. He was especially keen on showing Dr. Van der Vaals his progress, so he dressed very carefully on the day of their next meeting – and for once did not shy away from taking a thorough mirror inventory.

To emphasize his much increased rotundity, he opted for pants and shirt that he had bought mid-season back in November and that now were the tightest acceptable fit. The waistband dug into him under his belly, which drooped over it in a tire thick role, extending outwards to the in the morning flatter curve at the top. But he planned to bring out the domed swell with a big lunch before going to see her, making the buttons strain even more. The tight creases on the back of his shirt underlined the doughy over-bulging mass of his love handles. Beneath the belt they merged into substantial hip padding, but what surprised him most was how big his ass had gotten. Those puffed out spheres of fat laboriously contained by the overworked fabric couldn’t possibly belong to him? Same applied to the thigh blubber, stretching the top of his trouser legs. He had seen plump female thighs stuffed into skinny jeans make that cone like shape quite alluring – but doubted that this applied to his look. The entire appeal was that of a seriously fat man bursting out of his clothes, the impression he wanted to create for Dr. Van der Vaals.

After the Sinterklaas day in the office when he had been grounded, he took much care to cover up very well at work, not give them any additional ammunition that his weight made his appearance unprofessional. So he cloaked himself in a brand new, very loose sports coat which successfully camouflaged the stuffed sausage look underneath.

Post big lunch at the nice, roof top ‘La Place’ cafeteria at V&D consisting of soup, salad, rice fry, dessert, cake and coffee, all in the large version if available, his gut was visibly puffed up again. He had to undo his waistband, hold together his tight pants with the belt because otherwise they cut into his soft flesh too painfully. On being admitted to Dr. Van der Vaals office, he took off his sports coat and stuck out his belly, grinning as her eyes went wide as saucers staring at him.

“Happy New Year Dr. Van der Vaals!”

“Happy New Year Mr. Bartholomon! Turn around, will you please!” Grinning even broader, he did as told and then wanted to pull his coat back on, but she stopped him. “No leave it off! I need to take a better look at you. Can you sit down please?” He did as told, watching his belly push out into his lap. “Stand up please, go towards the door …. Come back….. very impressive! Very, very impressive! How much is it?”

“154.6 kilograms – almost exactly 100 US pounds more than last year Christmas.”

“Again, I’m very impressed,” she tilted her head thoughtfully. “Also – I’m surprised. I’ve never seen anybody so .. so … big up close in detail before. I expected you to …. how to say …. look shapelessly vast. And unhealthy, like those people in the before pictures in diet ads always do. You look really good. Yes, you’re a lot rounder and wider …. but you’re broad, massive, carry the weight well. And you look fresh and healthy, a bit tanned again … where did you spend Christmas?”

“With friends in Bavaria, near the Alps, sun and snow. Thank you by the way – it’s good to know I look better than anticipated, whatever that means. I know I look really fat now – but all in all I still feel pretty good. Most of the time living with the weight is easier than I had expected.”

“Good. Take it as a real compliment. When is your next doctor’s check up?”

“I plan to go next month.”

“Okay, we can check on that then. Let’s talk about where we stand with our strategic approach in your office.”


His overall sense of well-being didn’t last long. Not unusual in the season, he caught a very nasty cold with an awfully sore throat reducing his appetite to soup, yoghurt and ice cream. Even cold beer tasted lousy. Then he argued with Dr. Van der Vaals, who told him to call in sick – while he believed it were better he worked with such a minor ailment to show his weight was preventing him from being productive.

The worst news of the New Year came from Zoe, elatedly announcing she had her first great job out of grad school with a British household appliance producer and would be near London from the end of January for three weeks on-the-job training – and naturally wanted to see him.

“We don’t really want any of the family to see you right now, do we?” he croaked down at his soft belly mass slapping it after getting off the phone from a lengthy call with Zoe where he had promised to look into options for meeting up. His throat was burning again so he drank some tea and had two orange popsicles, currently the most effective soother.

Realistically – unless he went on a three week business trip to either Asia or back to the US, and neither was happening right now – there was no way around meeting her. If he dragged his heels and tried to evade her, Zoe would at the latest before returning to the States hop on a train or plane and turn up on his doorstep here at The Hague. He knew the women in his family well enough for that, especially after his Christmas no show. Tactically, it was a better idea for him to go see her, so if worst came to worst; it gave him the opportunity to leave again. Letting her come over and maybe having to kick her out was the less intelligent approach.

Looking into the mirror 10 days before he was to meet Zoe, he was shocked: He looked pasty, bloated and flabby, although the scale with 152.1 kilograms told him that his cold had shaved almost 3 kilograms off him. No more image of ruddy, healthy, massiveness he had been able to convey to Dr. Van der Vaals. If he had to see Zoe at his current size, then he at least wanted to look his fat very best, feel good to not offer her – and in consequence the entire family – extra windage.
To get back to that point, he went on a true ‘freshness’ – air, fruit, vegetables – quest: Walking 20 minutes to the tram in the morning and over an hour all the way back home, the latter doing wonders for his reduced appetite. Eating salad with every meal and lots of baked or stir fried vegetables for dinner, whole grains and fruit for breakfast or snacks in ample quantities. To wholeheartedly be able to tell her he was doing fine, he went to his bi-annual check-up before going to London. The doctor – who hadn’t weighed him back in June because somehow the then roughly 10 kilograms more than usual didn’t register as significant – was appalled that the 150 kilogram scale kept bleeping ‘error’. Yet he grudgingly couldn’t find anything else wrong except for his weight gain.


Even in the dull neon light of a caustically early 6:40 a.m. Intercity train on Friday to Brussels, he appeared reasonably fresh-faced. Since his lay-over was considerable, he took a taxi to the best chocolate shop in Belgium, bought an assortment of favorites to literally sweeten the blow of his looks for Zoe before he boarded the Eurostar to London.
After some pondering, he had decided he would simply act as if there was nothing special, that his was the usual insignificant post holiday poundage. Stepping out of the train in St. Pancras, he could see her standing behind the barrier from a far with distinguishably increasing shock on her features. To smother any initial critical verbal assault from her part, he swept her into a big, long bear hug, inwardly praying that the warm cuddliness of his big belly might prove as calming on his little sister as it did with baby Carolina.

“Alex how are you? Are you really alright?” as he finally let her go.

“I’m so happy to see you. Everything is just fine – had a pretty bad cold, but that’s over. Bit of extra holiday poundage here,” he patted his gut, “Bavarian cooking was sinfully good. Tell me all about your new job! Is it as good as it sounds? How was the trainee program these past weeks?”

From then on he dodged the question as best he could, brushing off the 100 extra pounds of the past year as minor difference, talking more than he usually did to not let her get too many words in otherwise. Limiting his eating was easy given the outrageous London food prices- doing the conversion into Euros and what that might buy in a nice Munich beer hall was the most effective appetite suppressant imaginable. For their sightseeing, they traveled mostly by bus which saved him the laborious stairs in the underground – and his recent walking initiative paid off because he could keep up with Zoe’s short legs and high heels pretty well.


On Monday morning they went to the British Museum as it was less crowded then and afterwards she said: “I want to show you something,” linking arms as they walked around a few corners onto Stephen Street, where they entered a non-descript office building and took the elevator to the 3rd floor. As Zoe pushed open a door on the landing, he stopped in his tracks to read the sign: “Body Health – Weight Management Centre.”

“No, Zoe! No, no, no!” he turned on his heal and pressed the elevator button.

“Please Alex; you know this is absolutely necessary! Look at yourself – I don’t have words to express my shock at how much weight you’ve gained in the past year!”

“My weight is none of your business!”

“Yes it is – you’re my brother! It’s gotten totally out of hand! You’re even too ashamed of having gotten so … so … so … big that you didn’t dare come home for Christmas!”

“You can say fat – f..a…t – fat because that’s what I am! Always have been in everybody’s eyes! I didn’t go home for Christmas because I was ashamed. But because I’m sick and tired of your endless nagging about my weight! I want to eat my Christmas dinner in peace and quiet without a diet sermon! And this year was the first time in my entire life I was able to do that – because I had none of our family around. Instead I was with people who let me be who I am – and voluntarily offered me seconds and even thirds!” The elevator arrived and he stepped in, Zoe right after him, and he aggressively punched the lobby button.

“Alex, we mean well! We want the best for you! Please come with me! Let’s see if we can’t find a way for you. I can’t watch you killing yourself with overeating! I want you to be happy and healthy!”

“You or Mom or Melina don’t give a shit whether I’m happy or healthy! The only thing all of you want is for me to be slim! Tell you what though – constant harping on my weight doesn’t make me any happier, healthier or even slimmer!”

“You did such a good job last year Alex, you’d lost weight so well, we were so proud of you!”

“No you weren’t! Melina said: ‘Good for you Alex, you’ve only got another 50 pounds left to lose!’”, mimicking her bossy voice. “Have any of you ever considered that the thin gene might have by-passed me in the family? Or stopped to realize that just keeping my weight under 250 pounds is fricking hard work for me, endless self denial? Let alone that I may actually feel better when I can eat what I want – even if I get super fat?”

“But Alex…” Zoe looked at him helplessly – and he had the guilty sense that he was offloading decades of resentment on her even though she least of the 3 women in his family deserved it.

“If my being fat is such an embarrassment to you, Mom and Melina – know what? You won’t ever have to deal with it again! Farewell!” From the corner of his eye he had seen the approaching cab, so he hailed it, opened the door and climbed in, leaving an ashen faced Zoe staring after him.

Fuming, he had the driver take him to St. Pancras to see whether he could change his ticket from tomorrow to today, the early evening train so he would manage to drive back down to Wimbledon to pick up his luggage. No such luck – all trains were booked out. Seeing Zoe tried to call him several times from her UK prepaid phone, he switched his off – not bothering to answer the call from the office either. He officially had two days off.

Not knowing what to do, he lumbered down to the Tube and got on board the Northern line – too late realizing he was accidentally heading north instead of south. As he got off at the next stop, Camden Town, he saw a sign reading ‘Lidl – 3 minutes’. Starved and not willing to pay another arm and leg for what he assumed to be a microwave dinner; he walked the few hundred meters and with a sigh of relief looked at the familiar discount range. “As long as these Brits are still in the EU, we can at least stock up with the best discount fare the EU has to offer,” bagging French raw milk camembert, Comté and sea-salted cream butter, German rye bread, British stilton, Spanish Iberico ham, Belgian organic tomatoes and a bottle of Italian Nero d’Avola to wash it down with. Nothing special but at least decent value for money. Fortunately they also had household paraphernalia on sale, so he got a chopping board, a knife and a corkscrew to be able to access his bounty. To have the option of half drowning his sorrows in case necessary, he grabbed a second bottle of the red.


Returning to the B&B down in Wimbledon where Zoe had gotten him a room, he locked himself up, turned on the TV and spread his small feast on the table. After a large double slice of bread with each of the toppings he’d bought and two-thirds of one wine bottle, he lay back on the bed and exhaled deeply, his belly jiggling lightly. This was better. Chewing, swallowing, his stomach filling- these were the most grounding and soothing motions he knew. His mind was a jumble – he didn’t know what to think. He was hurt and confused by Zoe’s intervening to take him to a diet center. On the other hand it was as if he had freed his mind of a longstanding burden by finally blurting out how bothered he was by his family’s maybe loving, but also massively intrusive and bruising constant bickering about his weight. Letting it out on Zoe wasn’t fair, because she had always been nicest about it. Plus he wondered whether this might be a real rupture in his relations with his family, estranging him.

Physically and emotionally drained from his day of big city walking and arguing, he dozed off over a corny TV show something with Essex and woke up to a knock on the door. Looking at his alarm clock, it was already 10:30 p.m.: “Alex – are you there? Please open up.” Zoe sounding sad. For an undefined moment, he hesitated, not feeling up to another discussion. If it had been Melina, he probably would’ve left her standing outside – Zoe honestly didn’t deserve that. So he reluctantly opened the door and turned to sit down on his bed again.

Despite the dim light of the nightstand lamp, he could see she had been crying. She stood there before him, didn’t say anything as the minutes trickled by – and he could once more see tears running quietly over her cheeks. As she sniffed, he reached to the nightstand and handed her the box of tissues, which she took wordlessly. “Why are you crying?” he finally asked defensively.

“I don’t want to lose you….” she sobbed softly, once more wiping her cheeks.

Leaden minutes followed in which he was blocked, had no idea what to say, think, or do. Eventually he opened his arms and stretched them out to her, letting her step close to him and slowly wrap herself around him, settling at his side. He encased her in a tight embrace and she continued crying into his thick shoulder. After a while she quieted down and he once more almost dozed off, comforted by the warmth of holding her close.

“Alex, promise me you won’t go away, no longer talk to me?” She looked up to him tearfully until he nodded gruffly. “You’re my brother, the only one I have – you’re a great brother – and I love you no matter what.” He nodded more, closed his eyes and smothered her in a hug.

After another lengthy pause she added: “I’m sorry. I’m sincerely sorry.”

“You’re sorry?”

“I never had any idea how much we’ve been hurting you,” she stroked his back, rubbing her hands along the thick padding on its sides. “I can say for myself – I never wanted that. I thought … I hoped …. well …. assumed … it was good and helpful for you if we tried to control how much you eat. It was never meant to burden or pain you…..I’m so sorry.”

He hid his face in her shoulder, not knowing what to say but feeling something melt inside of him. He believed her – although he wasn’t so sure whether the same innocent well-meaning also applied to his mother and Melina. Zoe though had all the good intentions she professed, truly being the dear baby of the family.

“What can I do for you?”

“Hmmmh?”

“Honestly – what can I do for you? Is there anything that would help you in anyway?”

“Hmmmh …. How to put it …. It would be great if you could simply let me be who I am. Not make comments, not ask questions, not assume things, for once don’t do anything. Just take it as it is. Let me do my thing, on my own, for once.”

“Okay, I’ll try to do that.”

To his astonishment he heard a small growling meow. “What’s that?”

“Oh … nothing … I haven’t had anything to eat since breakfast…..”

“Well …. one advantage of having a really big brother is you never go hungry in my presence,” he gave his gut a resounding slap. “Go over to the sink, there’s a freshly wrapped plastic cup there. Pour yourself a wine – I’ll make you an assortment of sandwiches.” He made her a small slice with everything and pushed the cutting board over to her.

Quietly biting into her sandwich, Zoe shivered and he drew her back into his arms, gently rubbing her back, as she leaned into him. Tentatively she steadied herself on the side of his belly, letting her hand sink into the deep flab. “You always were big, warm and strong – now cuddling against you is like sinking into a cozy pillow…..” she murmured.

“Cozy pillows are a good thing aren’t they? Can you at least try and understand that I’m okay with being this big? That it feels … normal? That it’s a price I’m willing to pay for not constantly restraining myself, for enjoying the food I love?”

She nodded slowly and stretched out her cup for more wine. “I’ll really try hard to understand. It’s only … a very new and unusual approach. It hurts so much to think you no longer wanted to be with us as family. That you preferred being with a big dinner and other people to being with us…. I can’t stand the thought of you maybe never coming home again…..”

It took him a while to digest this, stroking her hair. “I’m sorry too. I never meant to hurt you, honestly. I’ll always be there for you. You’re my sweet baby sister – and you know I love you.” This was true – hurting Zoe was a collateral damage he sincerely wanted to avoid. Yet the uncomfortable truth was that he didn’t regret not going home for Christmas one bit. It was a poignant insight to admit to himself that he had spent the best holidays of his adult life away from his family.


Returning Wednesday morning to the office he was surprised to find everything in uproar. “Why didn’t you answer your phone when I called?” Polly barked at him first thing in the morning.

“I had 3 official days off. And I was traveling on the tube, had poor reception. With the work I’m currently doing, I don’t see what couldn’t have waited for 2 days.”

Ever since his week of sick leave after being grounded back in December, he had been mostly out of the loop of the ongoing procedures in the office. Polly and Thomas had been giving him assignments in doing initial project analysis from his desk and he had written a few presentations for her to hold at meetings where he had been taken off. After several rows as to his content being ‘unrealistically pessimistic’ he had reverted to an exact documentation of his work like back in grad school, including foot notes, copies of sources in the annex and the like. So he had trouble imagining what the time sensitive fuss was all about.

“Come with me to Thomas, right away.”

“Alex – we’ve had our differences, but this is the most serious business yet. We can’t put up with you sabotaging our standing with large competitors and partners in the field. I need your statement before I will decide on which punitive measures are necessary.” Thomas looked at him gravely.

“Thomas – not to sound stupid: Could you please fill me in on what exactly happened these past days while I was in England?”

“On Friday morning, someone here heard you talking to EDF in Paris on the phone, arranging for them to reject the proposed working group paper for their New Energy Horizons conference seminar. On Monday early afternoon we got the de-invite by email.”

“Ummm – that’s physically impossible.”

“What do you mean – I have the proof here that we were de-invited because the paper does not meet the expected criteria.”

“I wasn’t in the office Friday morning. I already had the day off – remember you yourself signed the 3 day vacation for family matters? On Friday morning I was on the Eurostar to London. I have the stamped ticket to prove it, in case you need to see it. Nobody can have overheard me making a phone call here.” Slowly but surely he was doubting the sanity of his colleagues and superiors. This was a beyond absurd accusation – it felt like in a very badly scripted movie.

Thomas looked at him in astonishment and shuffled through some papers. Polly’s face turned scarlet. “Well still – you wrote a presentation that was not up to the standards and requirements for the EDF seminar conference.”

“From my best knowledge, the presentation must have been okay. I followed their briefing very precisely. Let me go get it, along with the print out of the presentation – then I can show you chart by chart how it fits,” going to his office and returning with the dossier.

He had gone through 4 charts, explaining in detail how they matched the briefing when Polly said very quietly: “I didn’t submit exactly that presentation to EDF. It was way too technical. I did some modifications.” It was hard for him to stay calm and swallow any type of response, so he inhaled deeply, letting his belly swell.

“Alex, I think that answers my questions so far. Sorry for the misinterpretation. You can return to your office now,” Thomas made it more than clear that he was dismissed.

For the rest of the day he worked through emails, polished another presentation and started reading some journal articles until he could leave at 4:30. Thomas’ assistant intercepted him on the way out: “Please come to his office before you go.”

“Polly and I have discussed the situation with EDF,” he started, although Polly was nowhere to be seen. “We mailed in your presentation – and they accepted it. They said their conference was for engineers who did the technical side, not for the business aspects of renewables.”

“I know that. That’s why I was invited – and why I wrote the presentation in accordance with the briefing. After all I was supposed to chair a working group which included people who hold professorships in engineering or physics at technical universities.” There was no way to swallow everything; he had to remark on how uninformed their approach had been.

“Yes, I re-assessed the material. It is one of the most important peer group events by invitation only – so it is crucial that FuturePowers is represented. You will go with your presentation and chair that working group.”

“But that starts next Monday!”

“Your presentation is ready – prepare yourself for the working group. Make sure your appearance is as convincing as your presentation. Something like that, or maybe darker” indicating to his loose flannel grey sports coat.

“Okay – I guess I’ll do that,” alternating inwardly between anger and glee. “It’s my work and I like presenting and discussing it. Don’t you think though an apology would be adequate for the staggeringly false accusation regarding the EDF phone call?” As Thomas looked at him blankly, he left the office to write up this newest episode for Dr. Van der Vaals.
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Old 01-19-2015, 07:26 AM   #17
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Default V.-a. Energetic Expansions

With a loud puff, he pushed the bag with the cheese assortment onto the rack in the 1st class compartment of the Thalys from Paris Nord to Rotterdam, sinking into his seat and stretching out his belly and legs. The high-speed train set into motion with the most considerate of all jolts and with a yawning sigh of utter contentment he ran his hands along the bulging rolls of flesh along his side. This was the best part of overindulgence, awaking from food coma after starting to digest a grand feast, his entire being well-sated.

During the first leg of his trip back from Brittany, on the TGV from Rennes to Paris Montparnasse, he had been in the stuffed stupor of a truly excessive galette&crepe lunch in that cute little creperie not far from the train station. Together with Faith from EDF solar USA and her rotund husband Joe, they had tried every single one of the 15 salty galettes and 15 sweet crepes on the menu. Afterwards he had only been able to carefully push the sorely inflated balloon of his belly onto the train with his luggage and extensive culinary purchases before half passing out. Two-and-half TGV hours and a taxi ride from Montparnasse to Nord in Paris – no extensive hiking on metro line 4 in his overloaded condition – later, he had reached that point of unparalleled physical satisfaction typical of the aftermath of a calorie orgy. The minimal shaking of the train let the outer layer of his blubber vibrate pleasingly, making erotic currents run through him all the way to his manhood drowsily responding. Before his inner eye blue movies arose of a busty, faceless woman feeding him little treats, as he was sitting naked on a plush sofa, his blubbery pale gut swelling further again. During the time when he had still been notably slimmer, his only body reaction to overeating had been being stuffed – and guilt and shame afterwards. Alone for this feeling now, that of decadently soft flesh celebrating the sublime delights of its own expansion, putting on so much weight was worth every second.

Apart from the culinary pleasures – the fluffiest croissants, an excellent 3-course lunch every day, extensive patisserie parcours with tea in the afternoon, a convivial 5-course dinner in a different restaurant every evening as culmination – the EDF seminar on trends in renewables had been a professionally highly rewarding experience. Some of the things like the different models of using tidal and sea wave energy were fascinating. He had been able to have profound and inspiring discussions with many colleagues whose companies all had partly diverging approaches as the industry was currently in the process of re-aligning itself.

Most consoling had been meeting Faith, the abundant head of EDF solar USA from California, who proclaimed herself a foodie, citing it as one of the main reasons for working for a French company. “Don’t ask me now much I gain on every business trip,” she had winked at him, letting him slap his gut: “I know what you’re talking about.” Her husband Joe, an architect who had come along, was most likely even fatter than he was, about five inches shorter and looking like a walking globe. The three together made the most of exploring the delicious fare served them. But Faith also provided him with professional solace and new perspectives, after he opened up a little about his job woes after a shared bottle of Calvados after dinner.

“I know what you’re talking about,” Faith had nodded. “Renewable energies are starting to look like the dot.com bubble. Lots of capital and fluff-talking business self-importance flowing in, investment going on with little to no technical know-how and understanding. Particularly with start-ups in the US. Okay – I’m not one to talk, I’ve got an MBA myself, only do the investment management side. But I know I have to really go through everything with the engineers to make sure that the procedures and production figures make any sense.”

“What would you recommend to me?”

“Right now? Actually instead of staying with a smaller new player in the field I’d see that I get into one of the big energy companies. Probably more here in Europe, as even the big, traditional energy utilities are going renewable big-time. Also they have the advantage of being historically engineer-driven companies, not business-driven. So it should be more down your line, you’d feel more at home among the colleagues there.”

The latter had already proven true over the course of his week. He hadn’t felt this comfortable talking business in a long time, with colleagues from all over Europe, the US and Canada, almost all engineers, all willing to discuss intricate details or technical challenges. None of them into any of these marketing and presentation gimmicks, comfortably oblivious to their own, his or anybody else’s appearance. This set up of the seminar conference was a holiday in itself for him, letting him wonder whether the idea of trying to sue himself back into his contract at FuturePowers really was the best professional idea.



The mental boost of optimism from the EDF seminar in Brittany – its physical component bringing him up to 156.3 kilograms - carried on smoothly into his daily work routine home at The Hague. A mild, harmless winter exploded into a warm, sunny pre-spring, making all those lovely outdoor activities and little trips worthwhile again. This forced him to deal with the necessary size adjustments of his seasonal gear – mainly tackling the bicycle issue.

Living in the Netherlands without a bike was – impossible. You might as well not own shoes. Everybody biked – from the royal family down to the last homeless hobo, from 3 year olds to people in their nineties. Somewhere he had read a statistic saying that the country had 22 million inhabitants, but 50 million bicycles. He never had understood this ratio until he talked to a married couple of colleagues: Between them, they owned 7 bicycles. They both commuted by train from a village near Gouda, meaning they had 2 cheap old bikes there to ride to the train station, 2 in The Hague to get to the office, 2 nice upscale bikes for tours on weekends – and his colleague had a racing bike on top.

Naturally he had bought an all purpose bicycle on moving here, but lately he had been using it less and less because he had sort of outgrown it. Its frame seemed flimsy and narrow making it difficult to find room for his inflated gut with its wobbling tonnage, the saddle had half folded under his girth. Passersby had repeatedly pointed out to him that he had a flat rear tire – though that was not the case, it was only his weight flattening it. So he went to the most recommended bike store in town, did some tests, had a few embarrassing measurements taken – and two weeks later could pick-up his custom ordered bike that claimed to be able to carry him until he reached 225 kilograms. Not that this was the plan.

On the unseasonably sunny last weekend in February, he wanted to give it a serious try and bike out to Scheveningen. The eight kilometers was a fair stretch, he wanted to go to the beach – and he needed to make a stopover at Bal, the best big&tall store in the area to get a new wind-breaker. His parka was getting too warm – and he had trouble even fitting his shoulders, not to mention chest or massive midsection into last summer’s wind-breaker.

Pedaling and puffing his way through the dune park on the bicycle lanes, he was winded and tired on reaching the waterfront, needed to rest, drink a lot of water before he could go shopping. In the store, he found a nice blue-and-gray windbreaker and they also had a three pack of polo-shirts on sale which might be useful. The salesman urged him to try them on since they had very odd sizing and gave him a XXL saying that should be big enough. It wasn’t - the shirt fit okay, but was way too short with a pale role of blubber hanging out at the bottom and a flesh sliver of his love handles visible in the back. In the mirror he detected a flash of something that seemed familiar, but was distracted as the salesman came with a 3XL polo shirt in white. This in turn was notably too long, ending only about 4 inches short of his knees, but skin tight, letting ever ounce of flab bulge dramatically. “Okay, this 3-pack might be a great offer, but their fit and I can’t come together,”

“Sir- please try the 4XL. This is special offer – the fit is crazy.”

“Okay, last try,” being surprised that this fit very nicely and he liked the thick soft knit of the shirts, with € 50 for a 3pack being a real bargain.


Heading out into the sun, he unlocked his bike and was musing where to go next, as a bike rider hit the brakes sharply and stopped next to him.

“Why Alex, what a surprise, how lovely to see you!” Alex, casual in skinny jeans and loafers, her blonde hair up in a pony-tail with sunglasses, stretching out a continental hand in greeting.

“Oh Milady, indeed a surprise!” shaking her hand and seeing her face fall at his response, he hastily added to not come across as too harsh. “How are you doing A-lexandra?”

“Fine thank you,” her smile reverted to what he had always thought of the one befitting the princess royal greeting her subjects from the balcony. “Did you get my email thanking you for the very pretty card from Bavaria?”

“Ummm … not sure…,” he was; he had gotten it but hadn’t wanted to deepen the exchange. She had out of the blue sent him a box with fabulous home baked Christmas cookies which he had devoured on his long train rides down to Bavaria. Since he couldn’t but appreciate such a tasty gesture, he had sent her a very elaborate folding card to thank her. “Those cookies were fantastic.”

“I’m very glad you liked them. You look really good, so prosperous. So what are you up to here in Scheveningen?”

Great, ‘prosperous’ is aristo-code for hugely fat, he groused. “Just a ride or walk down the beach – wanted to say hi to the sea after the winter….”

“Same here,” her smile turned brilliant. “Why don’t we do it together, catch up a little?”

“Ugghu…,” they wandered over to the beach, pushing their bikes, Alex quizzing him about the latest development at FuturePowers and various colleagues.

Shortly before they reached the wide beach front, she stopped: “Alex, have you been here to Palazzo for gelato? They have one specialty I think you should try…”

Looking at the small chairs, he doubted he would feel comfortable. A guy passed them, giving Alex a cat call which sounded like why she was with the fat guy, if his limited Dutch amounted to anything. His old resentment, of always feeling put down by her superiority surfaced again. Why should a blonde countess want to embarrass herself by having coffee with an enormous guy who didn’t fit into any chair? “Naah, maybe some other time. Was nice meeting you, got to be going… bye….”

“Okay- bye, “her voiced faded but she was on her bike quickly and kicked off.

He needed more time to sort himself, start clambering on his bike to see she had turned and once more stopped right in front of him. “Alex – what do I constantly do wrong with you? Why don’t you like me?”

The question left him dumbfounded, what was he supposed to say – you’re too perfect to be so nice to me? That wouldn’t do, so he shrugged.

“Please, it would mean very much to me if you could answer that question. What do I do wrong when speaking with you? I do my best to be friendly, try to help … I would very much like not to continue making these mistakes so please tell me what I do wrong?”

With horror he noticed a tear trickling out from under her sunglasses, which totally defeated him. “You do nothing wrong. It’s my fault – I’m your grumpy old tech guy. I’m not used to such perfect manners – don’t know how to handle them….,” he muttered staring at the spokes of his bike wheel.

“So it’s only a misunderstanding…. you … umm … fear my being friendly is … insincere…?”

“No,no … just … unusual,” it sounded lame and illogical.

“Well – would you give me a last chance to show you that I’m sincere and not scheming when I’m friendly? Like by inviting you to an ice cream right now? Or at least a coffee?”

Feeling as stupid as never before, he nodded let her lock up their bikes and meekly followed her. Considerate as she was, she bypassed the tiny chairs, went inside and steered him to a cozy corner with a view and a wide, sturdy upholstered bench where she motioned him to sit. Before he could say or do anything else, she ordered in rapid Dutch, the only thing 100% identifiable being coffee.

“So – how are your first experiences with your new job?” he asked, trying to make up for his inconsistent boorishness and come across as semi-civilized.

“It’s very different. It’s headquarters – not a small branch abroad. It’s a huge old company, so many traditions and hierarchies. Just really understanding the structures was a lot of work at the beginning.” Their coffee arrived and she raised her cup: “Here’s to no more misunderstandings – yes? To trying to be honestly friendly to each other? After all – we’re no longer colleagues, so that eliminates office politics.”

“You’re right. Here’s to me trying to be on my better behavior.” He made an attempt at his best smile which widened into an ‘O’ as he saw their ice cream cup. It resembled a salad basin with a foot in turquoise glass overflowing with scoops of ice cream, tuffs of whipped cream, little cookies, pieces of artfully carved fruit, chocolates and various sauces flowing between the elements of the arrangement.

“This is a so-called friendship cup for two. I hope it’s a way of successfully convincing you of my sincerity,” she handed him a long-handled spoon smiling sweetly. “That look on your face is priceless- the pure image of a total food crush.”

Seeing her smile stay genuine, he sighed. “No use denying it – I look like the personified food crush. I’ll admit it, what I missed most about you leaving are your cakes and cookies.”

“Well, at least you registered my leaving somehow. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with showing you hold the pleasures life has to offer in high esteem,” once more letting him wonder how much irony there might be in her sophisticated friendliness. A mouthful of some yoghurty ice-cream with cherries in liquor overruled any doubts. “Tell me about your vacation in Bavaria. Your card sounded as if you had been really enjoying yourself.”

It was easier to talk to Alex over a tub full of delicious ice-cream; it literally sweetened their entire exchange. Also her no longer being a colleague, since he needn’t constantly think of the possible office political context her remarks might be set in. He asked her more about her new job, since he was interested in other energy companies – who after all might be potential employers.

“What are your next professional plans?” she looked at him openly and intensely, with a flicker of something he would have called worry if he had seen it in Hannah’s or Zoe’s eyes. Given her previous position with FuturePowers she with 99% certainty knew that his contract was limited – and there still was his suspicion that she had leaked him the emails.

“Well – fulfill my contract – and then probably move on. I had a good international seminar last week – and there are a few other things I’m looking into.”

“There actually is an opening in one of our subsidiaries. They want to expand from the pipeline business into new forms of storage and transmission for renewables. Would that be down your line? It’s based in Amsterdam though.”

“Hmmmh …. maybe …,” he spooned a piece of pineapple along with its sorbet and rum sauce.

“I can put you in contact with them if you want me to; arrange an interview.”

“You would do that?” It sounded almost dismayed.

“Of course I would,” there was a defensive flash in her expression. “I know you from actually working with you. I can tell that you’re very competent in your field and work well in a mainly male environment. A recommendation would be a securitized bet.”

“Thank you – despite the gender reservations,” he felt his cheeks flame, but was touched that she was willing to use her good name to help him.

“Well – isn’t that the logical conclusion I had to come too from our interactions?” she teased.

“Alex..-andra – did you send me the copies of those emails?” Her kind offer prompted him to this level of openness.

“With all the emails I wrote at FuturePowers, I can’t possibly remember how many of them were also addressed to you,” she replied coolly, yet did not meet his eye and he thought he detected a hint of pink on her cheeks as she pushed a heaped spoon to his mouth. “Taste this – chocolate with caramel crunch and toffee sauce….,” a moan escaping him as the delicious gooey mass melted in his mouth. “Next spoonful approaching, here try it with one little speculoos …. Isn’t that good?”

Unable to resist the addictive onslaught, he let her finish feeding him the divine caramel chocolate ice cream across the table, greed being stronger than sense of embarrassment.

“Oooh, finished … which flavor is next?” she winked at him, eyeing the big ball of fat in his lap, pressing up against the table. He tried to suck in and loosened his sweat-shirt a bit, not that it did much good. “How about something fruity for a change? Maybe this – I think its orange-ricotta?”

“Yeah, looks good, I’ll try it,” almost defiantly digging in his own spoon this time.

“What time is it – oh dear, already 3:45… I need to run. We had such a nice talk here, I completely lost track of time. I have concert tickets for tonight.”

She got up, bent down and actually gave him a French style cheek kiss in parting. “It was so lovely seeing you again – I hope next time won’t be almost a year. Bye!” Hurrying off and paying their ice cream on the way off before he could protest.

Slowly, since his stomach was already freezing full and he suspected that he had eaten 90% of the monster ice cream, he finished off the rest and then set out on his long way home. With a grocery stopover at Albert Heijn he arrived home ravenously hungry, with sore legs that made each step painful and a backside, on which every single fat cell ached. Yet he felt great, it was the high after successful physical exhaustion and resolved to go out again tomorrow. Coffee and ice-cream had fit in as the perfect indulgent addition.

In his kitchen he fixed himself a wintery carrot-apple-Belgian endive salad to go along with Albert Heijn’s great fresh truffle spaghetti. Throwing them into the boiling water, his left hand kneaded the fat on the side of his gut with relieved cheer; profoundly appreciating he was going to treat himself to the entire half pound pack with sufficient butter, parsley and parmesan. During his diet he had only allowed himself 80 grams or a third of the pack – and had gotten back up from the table with a ragingly unsatisfied appetite. Today he knew he’d be able to lean back after his dinner and luxuriate in that priceless bodily satisfaction well fed fat was able to give off.

His mobile chirped – a message from Alex. He hadn’t been aware she had his number, but assumed she had kept it from her time at FuturePowers. Her message left him perplexed and entirely clueless of how to respond: “Was lovely reconnecting to you today. Why don’t we make sure no more misunderstandings harm our fresh friendship? May I cook dinner for you coming Friday?”
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Old 01-19-2015, 04:12 PM   #18
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I'd fallen behind in my reading, so just devoured every tasty morsel from chapter 2 on. my brain feels as delightfully sated as Alex's stomach was from Bavarian Christmas
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Old 01-21-2015, 01:46 PM   #19
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Cant wait for their dinner. Also it's such a pleasure to read about things, places or even shops I know. It makes the reading even better. Especially since I've traveled this summer around Europe by trains :3
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Old 01-21-2015, 03:13 PM   #20
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I like this story. The characters are so nicely developed. And I like the European flair. It's easier to imagine when you can relate to it. Thank you.
I hope there will be a lot more chapters.
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Old 02-03-2015, 06:11 AM   #21
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Default VI. Energetic Expansions

VI.

Alex’s message wasn’t the only one that set his mind and heartbeat racing. After brooding about it all Sunday, he had another one on Monday morning: “Alex – please indicate whether this is still the correct number, you received my message and Friday dinner would be an option for you?”

“Yes, number is correct, got message, need to check a few things at office to see if Friday possible” he answered, trying to play for time.

“Of course. Please get back to me latest on Thursday morning so I can shop and prepare with best ingredients” came as response, buying him three days. He had trouble forming any opinion regarding this invitation. Why was she doing that? They were no longer colleagues, and he doubted she was that interested in the further development at FuturePowers given her much bigger and more important new employer. Sure – she seemed to honestly like to cook and bake – and he obviously liked to eat, currently more than ever – but was that a reason to offer to cook him dinner? Something as personal as have him over in her own home? He also wasn’t certain if he wanted her to do something that personal for him – was it more than another opportunity of embarrassing himself further in her regal presence. On the other hand, a home-made dinner from someone with her culinary talents wasn’t to be disregarded lightly – and it probably was no more than a friendly gesture. He’d think about it until Thursday.

After his Monday lunch break, his personal email inbox contained another big surprise: Gilles Lebosquet from EDF’s strategy task force reminded him of their meeting in Rennes and asked whether he might be interested in working on establishing at new EDF subsidiary to better develop decentralized power generation and smaller scale grids.

On arriving home, there was a bombshell in the shape of a letter from his grandmother in his mailbox, making him shudder. Zoe had surely tattled and the whole family was in uproar. Yet he had been surprised that so far neither his mother nor Melina had tried to upbraid him any more than usual. Grandma Elli – short for Eleftheria, supposedly meaning freedom in Greek- mostly talked to him on the phone, wasn’t into emails, so her writing a conventional letter was a statement. It was handwritten with the funny beta, delta and lambda she still used after so many years.
“I don’t ever want you to doubt that we love you no matter what. I’ve always been very proud of you, what a smart, hard-working and kind man you are. If you decide to go down a road that is against the mainstream, it’s your life and your decision. Even if I don’t agree with your path, you will always have my unconditional support. You’re my only grandson – it would be the cruelest punishment to have to spend the rest of my life without seeing you regularly. Please come home for Easter.”

This made him swallow very hard several times to get a grip on his emotions, a mix of guilt and gratitude tearing at him. Over the next few days he wrote and re-wrote a letter to her, thanking her and trying to explain at least of bit of what was driving him. Ignoring her Easter question, he bought her the English translation of a very good French guidebook of mainland Greece and repeated his once stated offer to go visit with her.


On Wednesday afternoon everybody was in a meeting with a potential Spanish partner, so he had time on his hands to revisit Gilles Lebosquet’s email and on a spur of a moment writing him how interested he was in the project of a new decentralized EDF subsidiary and that it would be a pleasure to be kept up to date on the project.

Joining Hannah for a Democrats Abroad meeting in the early evening, he decided he would decline Alex’s crazy invitation – who knew if she hadn’t invited some other posh people who would look down their noses on his fat non-refined self. Their meeting was rather boring checking all logistic details for the upcoming annual European conference. Afterwards he wanted to join the other guys for a burger dinner, but Hannah held him back: “Max texted – Carolina is doing very poorly. Her fever is up and she hasn’t slept all day – could you maybe please come with me and try to help?” she looked up at him imploringly.

“Don’t know whether I’m any good as an actual nurse – but I can give it a try,” feeling obliged by Hannah’s tired and worried expression.

Baby and Max both looked terrible as they arrived; she was purple in the face from screaming and he was an exhausted mess, as she had vomited on him. Picking Carolina up from out of her crib, she was startled into quiet for a few seconds before continuing to wail. “Okay, no magic touch from Uncle Alex,” he sighed, walking up and down cradling her, noticing how hot the poor thing was. Having written to his grandmother brought back the memory of a similar situation he had experienced as a little boy with baby Zoe.

“Hannah, can you wet 2 handkerchiefs with very cold water plus a cold wet washcloth?”

“Of course - just a minute.”

As he got them, he tied the handkerchiefs around her little wrists and pressed the cool washcloth into the back and on the sides of her neck, indeed making her crying quieter. “Maybe also some plain cool, not cold water in her bottle?”
“She hasn’t been drinking at all,” Max seemed doubtful, but did so nonetheless.

“I’ll try. Also – put a large linen pillow case into the freezer, please.”

Over time he got her to calm down on the cool pillow case he draped over his belly, with the help of the wet wash cloth to drink a little water, dribbling some of her medicine in her mouth as Hannah gave it to him. It took over three hours though for her to fall asleep fast enough to put her to bed; before that she’d start crying anytime Max lifted her up from his belly.

“And who said he wasn’t a hyper qualified nurse? You have a new career option there ….” Hannah hugged him gratefully. “Can I at least fix you some dinner?”

“I just remembered what my grandmother did with my little sister. Also I doubt all babies have as crazy preferences as your little one seems to,” he yawned, recoiling a bit at her allusion to his ‘career’. “Sorry Hannah, I’m wiped. More tired than hungry – I’ll be heading to my own bed…” as it was past midnight.


Worn out, he overslept and was woken the next morning by his phone trilling with a new message: “Am standing in front of excellent looking roast beef cut. Shall I buy it?”

His stomach was achingly empty and he was half nauseous with hunger, so he truthfully answered: “Am starving, very much looking forward to it.” Since he was so late, he had to skip breakfast, even took a cab to the office to be on time, not give anybody the chance to complain about his work ethic. So it was not until after a big lunch – not in the cafeteria, but at the small Indonesian family eatery around the corner to do full justice to their good lunch buffet – did he realize that he had actually committed to dinner with Alex tomorrow night. Starting a 24 hour agonizing marathon of how to get out of the commitment again – and since that was impossible save for the end of the world, of what to bring along as gift and how to avoid any further embarrassment.


The anti-embarrassment deities were not on his side. After he was quite pleased with himself for buying a magnum bottle of brut imperial champagne – imperial had to be fitting for a countess – during his Friday lunch break, on returning to the office, he sat down at his desk to hear his chair disintegrate under him with a loud crack. The spider foot broke into three pieces and luckily he had taken off the narrow armrests months ago, so he managed to steady himself on his desk and stand back up unscathed but mortified. Not that this was really a surprise – ever since the necessity had arisen to remove the armrests to have enough room for his bulk, he had been anticipating this situation. Occasionally he had wondered whether he should ask for a new sturdier chair, but had always shied away from it to evade the inevitable weight discussion. Now he had no choice, because trying to mend the damage and continue using the chair at his weight, maybe falling, could be downright dangerous – with potentially even worse consequences than more humiliation. It was just today he needed to feel like his most competent self, not like the fattest loser.

Before leaving, he went down to Eric, the unassuming IT administrator who also sometimes took care of other office supply questions.
“Ummm, Eric – sorry to bother, would you also be in charge of things like furniture orders?”

“Yeah, I can do that. What’s your problem – your chair broke?”

Although the question came matter of fact-ly with an understanding grin, his cheeks flushed with shame until his face was about to disintegrate.
“That was a tough chair. They officially only go to 110 kilograms – I’ve been waiting for it to crash for a while. Every time I see you, this one here is bigger,” giving his belly a backhanded pat.

“Yeah …. Well ….. what can you offer?” he did not know what to say in such an undignified situation, although he sensed Eric was not being judgmental.

“This is the catalogue from our office supplier – here are the heavy duty chairs. You need one over 150 kilograms?” letting him nod in resignation. “This one here should be good; I saw it when I had to find a new one for Polly.”

“Polly? But she’s tiny!” Right now he assumed that he amounted to a good three Pollys.

“Yeah – but she’s reckless with chairs. She scoots around across the office on them all day, wears out the wheels. You’re more like the gentle elephant with your chair. Here’s the voucher, this is the address of the shop – go pick it out today, then it’ll be here on Monday and nobody will notice.”


It was raining heavily as he got off bus 90 in Wassenaar-Eikenhorst where Alex lived in a very leafy, quiet dead end street bordering on the woods and fields with their ditches and small canals. Trudging along, the only thought looping through his mind was that this was the worst idea he had ever had. If he hadn’t been so famished yesterday morning, he would never have fallen for the texted roast beef fata morgana.

His visit to their office supplier had been okay, but not exactly a confidence booster. The competent elderly sales woman had been very considerate but the measuring and testing with the decision to give him a chair 2 grades stronger than Eric had chosen did not exactly make him feel better. While showering and changing at home he watched the weekly Dutch language learning news show which among others featured a report on the King and Queen opening a new exhibition at the Delft ceramic museum with a period music concert. A camera drive across the audience clearly showed Alex sitting in the second row in a blue dress, with an attentive look. Great – so this would be Mr. Too-fat-for-any-normal-chair visiting the sophisticated Lady of the royal court.

He was breathing heavily as he reached the address she had given, his feet and ankles were wet, the belt buckle was digging painfully into his soft underbelly and he felt as low as can be as he rang the bell of the pretty, white cottage style house.

“Oh – you should’ve called – I would’ve picked you up from the bus in this awful rain! You poor thing walked the whole long stretch from the bus stop!” Alex took his umbrella, and once more cheek kissed him in greeting, firmly pressing against his fat ones. “Come in – I hope this is comfy enough to make up for the dreadful weather.”

Entering the living room, he acknowledged his own folly – he hadn’t really developed an image in his head of what her home might look like. Only vague slightly paranoid notions of a cold intimidating castle, a skewed mix of Dracula’s dungeon and Barbie’s villa had lurked in his mind; both total nonsense. This was a nice, normal, tastefully cozy mix of a few obviously valuable antiques, some modern designer pieces and common sense stuff like IKEA book selves, combing glass, leather, lighter woods and shades of dove color.

“I lit a fire in this wet cold,” she motioned him to a broad easy chair which looked reassuringly sturdy next to the fireplace and pushed a little table full of hors d’oeuvres and a champagne bottle next to it. “Also – I already had this champagne on ice. So we can save your great bottle for our hopefully next dinner, okay? Great choice – I love Moet&Chandon’s Pinot Noir Brut Imperial.”

“This is perfect – fire and everything. Just what I need – thank you. It smells delicious, by the way,” and he meant it, smiling up at her in relief. She also looked reassuringly normal, in a jeans mini-skirt with ballerina flats bringing out her great legs, a long, low cut flowing top in other shades of blue and her hair gathered up with a simple grip.

“I hope it will also taste that way. Please excuse my being in a casual cooking outfit – but I thought content was more important than form in this case.”

“Don’t forget I’m an engineer, styling is mostly lost on me,” he grinned to try to keep the mood light and took off his tie slipping it into his coat pocket. “Knowing your baking I have true faith in the content, alone judging by those wonderful smells.”

“That comes as a surprise – you’re willing to trust me?” she teased, uncomfortably reminding him of his trusting stupidity regarding his work contract. “So far you only know my baking.”

“Well – but anybody who bakes so well can also cook…”

“Not necessarily. My sister-in-law for instance is a most gifted baker, especially of very elaborate gateaux – better than I am admittedly. Yet her cooking is bland, uninspired and often goes wrong.”

“Now you tell me ….,” watching her pour the champagne and then clink glasses.

“Here’s to a tasty meal – and hopefully more to come,” giving him a wink. “Rest assured though, I wouldn’t have invited you if I wasn’t sure that I’m able to cook a dinner worthy of your appetite.”

He sighed and reddened. “Yeah …. I have too much appetite for my own good ….”

“I think I’ve stated this at least once before – I firmly believe a big appetite is an asset in a man. Nothing is worse than a diet and body obsessed guy. That’s a shocking, almost anti-natural trend,” her voice sounded firm and convinced. “You would definitely not have been invited to a home cooked dinner here if you were some calorie counting beanpole.”

A fleeting look in her eyes calmed him a bit; she really didn’t look like she was making fun of him. “Umm … thank you … I guess….”

“It’s high time we finally start taking care of your appetite though …. These are the hors d’oeuvres: stuffed pointed pepper, rosemary ham rolls on potato rösti, mini grilled vegetable kebabs with a yoghurt dip, salmon and trout picks and …. save these for last please home - baked cheese puffs,” which indeed looked funny as they seemed to be wearing something that looked like a crown.

“Wow – I’m overwhelmed …. if these are only the hors d’oeuvres….” as she handed him a plate with two of each on it, taking one for herself. To get her to talk more and while he enjoyed the treats, he asked: “How was your concert last weekend?”

A bright smile – probably for remembering the detail, not knowing how recently he had been reminded of it – thanked him along with a lively description of the new exhibition, the music, Delft as such. Only omitting that it was an inauguration by their majesties.

“These appetizers are excellent – if they’re any indication as to the rest of your meal, I fear I will run of out superlatives pretty soon,” he bit into the cheese puff, the rolled up piece of decorative paper popping out. It looked like a menu.

“Why thank you – but don’t praise the content until you’ve fully tasted it. As you can see as menu I chose something wintery – a Riesling cream of herbs soup, a winter salad with prawn skewer, Polenta parmesan patties with mushrooms Italian style, a backed filet Wellington with 3 winter vegetables and a small surprise mix for dessert. Is that okay?”

“Sounds mouth-watering. I especially appreciate you’re having a hearty Italian style first course…,” he remembered his dinners in France. As tasty as the dainty fish courses had always been, they’d often been very light and not gratifyingly filling in the winter.

Alex grinned. “That’s what I thought. I have three brothers at home – I know men deep down prefer soul food to light nouvelle cuisine fish chi-chi. So – shall we move to the table?”

Her chairs were sturdy wooden constructions leather upholstered so he settled on the one she motioned to him, quickly re-buttoning his sports coat over the flesh globe in his lap.

The first spoonful of soup was a wave of divine flavor, creamy wine with herbs and crisp croutons, he let out a blissful moan: “This – this is the best soup I’ve ever eaten. Seriously. If I ever have to drown, please drown me in it.”

“Maybe I need to start looking for a pot that’s big enough for that … it won’t be so easy,” she smirked refilling his plate.

The salad with the prawns and the polenta patties were also marvelous and he took seconds of everything, feeling the tonic of food warmth dissolve his unease. This was nothing but a fabulous dinner with a very kind hostess, as she gestured to take his coat seeing he was getting too warm from eating. For an instant this made a flash of embarrassment return, but his coat didn’t conceal much of his 4XL size, so why worry about the little he had left to lose?

“Some more salsifies?”

“A very small spoonful – I’m getting really full. Thank you for introducing me to them though. They’re wonderful with a filet and a possible new favorite - how did you say - winter vegetable.”

“I love them too – my great-aunt always made them with this lemon sauce. It’s good they’re getting more popular again. But I must say I’m almost a little disappointed you only took thirds of the soup …,” she winked at him.

“Even I have my limits, believe it or not. What is the dessert surprise?” Having reached his well-filled dinner contentment level, he was honestly enjoying himself, the conversation flowing easily about food, places visited in the US and Europe, and his rekindled interest in photography.
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Old 02-03-2015, 06:19 AM   #22
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Default VIa.Energetic Expansions

VI.a.

“Espresso time is couch time?” she indicated back over to the living room section after the great tangy mulled wine jelly with vanilla custard, making him nod and carefully heave himself up and move over. The meal had been outstanding, leaving him in that perfectly stuffed state, his gut bloated to a dome, the minor ache in his flanks signaling utter satisfaction – but not so full that it truly hurt or had an indigestive quality. Leaning back on the wide leather couch, he loosened his belt buckle once more, not that it helped, it was the waistband itself that cut into him.

Alexandra set a silver tray with espresso and chocolate tidbits in front of him and looking up his eyes went big. She hadn’t changed, only literally let down her hair. It tumbled over her shoulders in soft waves to where her extremely noteworthy cleavage began. Her feet were in navy patent high heels, stretching her long legs to porn quality, especially as they were topped by the sexy lace band of those hold-up stockings. These were visible since she must have taken off her jeans skirt leaving only her long float-y blouse which barely skimmed past her hips.

“This is more comfortable on the couch than the tight skirt – I hope you don’t mind?”

“Oh no, no – you look great…..”

“Here’s your espresso and a chocolate Madeleine, I think you really liked those….,” she scooted next to him, tucking one foot under herself to face him sideways.

“Mmmh … yeah, these Madeleines were great …. Do you also have some with the caramel?” although this sounded a bit shameless to his ears.

“No – only chocolate is the theme today. Next time certainly. Try one of these liquor cherries dipped in chocolate….,” she put it to his lips, licking her finger tips afterwards and looking at him from under hooded eyes.

“Wow … another burst of flavor….” he finished his espresso, set down the cup and started to feel her hand firmly caressing his belly dome.

“I can’t believe how beautifully round you’ve gotten….,” she whispered, running her hand from side to side and then up and down, pressing into where the big role of fat folded over his beltline. “So luscious and abundant…..”

Automatically he went rigid and tried to suck in his gut, only to realize it was futile. It was way too big and full – and her hands seemed to know exactly what they were doing, stroking the stretched upper lateral curve, rubbing the dense flabbiness of his underbelly and squeezing where the blubber blended into rolls on his side. A warm numbing motional inability spread through him, this could go on forever. Since the day Hannah had kindly stroked his belly in the too small parka incident, the physical yearning for a female touch on his body had come back -this was totally what he had craved.

“You were so slight after dieting your second year here …. It was awful to see you wasting away from you chubby cuteness…,” she murmured, pressing her hand into the side of his belly, an electric jolt reaching his privates. “I couldn’t believe it when I saw you in Scheveningen last weekend, such a gorgeous expansion – and I missed most of it. Hmmmh ….. so massively soft…”

She must be much drunker than he had realized so far, as her fingers started to playfully fondle his double-chin. Okay they had gone through a bottle of champagne, a bottle of Riesling and almost a bottle of Burgundy – although he had assumed three quarters had been on him. Most people got nasty when they were drunk, so he wasn’t going to complain that she went the opposite direction in being absurdly, unrealistically nice. To show his appreciation, he wrapped one arm around her, his hand resting on the broad lace band on her smooth thigh, immediate tingles starting to race through him. With his other hand he pulled hers to his lips to give it a small reverent kiss.

From under her lashes she eyed him and reached to the tray and took a chocolate Madeleine and half bit into it, reaching up and pressing the other half against his lips. If someone pushed delicious chocolate into his mouth, what was he supposed to do except bite into it? After the chocolate her lips were on his, plump, nibbling away – there was no other option than to dig into them, their chocolate coated tongues intertwining urgently. In the same move, her hands dug deeper under his belly and the constricting waistband gave way and his fat pushed freely out into his lap. Not that she seemed to mind, her lips became more insistent as she straddled one of his thighs and her cool fingers were suddenly on his naked skin, clawing under his shirt.

This should be the time to stop, sit up, carefully untangle himself from her to avoid potential further embarrassment – but that was impossible. Any willpower to resist sensual pleasures when he was so wonderfully overfed must have gone downstream dozens of pounds ago – all he could think of was that his erotic hunger needed satisfaction too. Having channeled all his physical lust into food the past 12 months, he was rather desperate by now for the sins of the flesh, literally as there was so much more flesh that needed sinful attention. Alex must have intuitively understood that, for she had unbuttoned his shirt, pulled up his t-shirt and her pointed tongue played over the stretched skin of his gut before his nipples were sucked hard. If she was for no matter which reasons willing to offer a full course evening menu – why should he have doubts? They were no longer colleagues, he was as unattached as can be, there was nothing wrong with fully enjoying the moment….

Running his hands up from her smooth thighs over her hips, following their curve along the waist to her breasts, tracing the form of the female archetype let the last shred of restraint evaporate. He shoved her top over her head to have magnificent, real looking D-cup breasts right in front of him, his mouth only needed to plunge in. She arched up and pressed her pelvic bone hard against his thigh, shaking his love handles in a firm grip, ripples of flab lolling through his torso, fueling his arousal. In his arms, he noted with satisfaction that she was gratifyingly more substantial than he had perceived. Her long legs and relatively narrow hips with her height in well tailored cloths created the illusion of willowy-ness, for she not only had those actually heavy breasts, but also some tummy pudge.

In vain she tried to slide into his lap, but his belly fat refused to give up room, so she rose and started pulling him up: “We need more space….,” leading him into the hall pulling down his pants and going down on her knees to help him out of them. “Such a massively sexy ass …. Ouuh,” with a light hand she spanked it and grabbed one love handle, continuously palpitating all his wobbling blubber. His erection ached by now and he pushed her against the door frame with his gut, rubbing himself against her hip and kissing her voraciously.

Her bed thankfully was an oversized queen with a pile of comfortable pillows on which she settled him before leaning into his belly and making it move with her body. Flesh on so much more flesh, every part of his body at least in micro-motions let waves of lust wash over him as he let Alex take over, push him further and further until he was a sweating, pant heap, begging for more wanton fulfillment, all sense of time and situation lost.



Reclining against the elaborate headrest, he exhaled deeply until the flab covering the dome of his stomach quivered. Nevertheless his belly maintained the puffed out sphere, testimony to how much of the delicious breakfast cart he had demolished, that vast pillow of flesh his overeating had built up tangibly weighing down on his frame. The good 100 pounds he had added did make a profound change in how his body felt, reacted and needed to be handled. Last night had brought this as a full on realization, although a painfully lusty one.

With his ‘normal’ weight of somewhere between 240-270 pounds, he had been oblivious to his body. It had just been there, functioning on a subconscious level. He had never felt much of a difference with more or less weight – except that some tighter cloths fit better. It had always made him wonder what people were talking about when they told him: “Oh – you must feel so much better now that you’ve lost some weight.” The only feeling he had had then was that he was hungrier. How he perceived his body or its weight hadn’t change one iota. From his perspective it also couldn’t have been so different from that of the slimmer guys. Sure, the really fit ones had always outrun him or done better at pull-ups. But he had been able to keep up with the average guys alright, so the fuss about his weight had come across as overblown.

Now there was a marked physical difference and he had subconsciously been noticing it since his Christmas vacation during which he had crossed the 150 kilogram mark. It was not only that his expanded body needed more space and sturdy holds, causing him to automatically scan seating arrangements and the like to gauge whether he could not only fit his fat ass in, but also whether they were stable enough to hold him. Going about his daily routines, his girth constantly brought itself to the borderline of conscious awareness by its extension, weight, mass and movement. When he stood, he needed to plant his feet further apart to have secure footing for his load and not have his flabby thighs press together uncomfortably. Having to take a step back from the counter, sink or desk for his belly to have enough room and not bump into something. Any movement he made led to his flesh vibrating, wobbling, rolling, squishing or even swaying when some speed was involved. Sitting down meant that his excessive padding spread out, belly and thigh fat negotiating for space, his thick side rolls stacking themselves into position. Reaching over and around or bending down with his massive paunch was always at least a small challenge. At the end of a day of letting his taste buds and oral impulses reign supreme any more than 45° slant was out of the question. Yet at that point he mostly cared less – instead concentrated on savoring the afterglow of pleasurable gorging. Not so different from the immediate situation.

Getting going required more strength to gain the momentum that would set his mass in motion. It had crept up unnoticed, but having to move so much more weight had slowed him down considerably. His walk to the tram in the morning to go to the office had always taken 14 minutes, now he needed almost 20 to get there on time in a cool, comfortable state. The whole stretch by bike had been 20 minutes, now a good 25. Personal energy efficiency became an issue, as he did better planning of chores, went about everything more methodically to not get out of breath too quickly. Living in a county though that traditionally focused on pedestrians and cyclists, his car still being back in the US, he was forced to stay active. New sturdy shoes with good insoles helped – and the heavier, slower pace of his life had the side effect of him turning calmer and more reflective, not the least because he took his necessary time.

Rubbing the soft flab over his stretched stomach back and forth with two pudgy fingers, it had a truly surreal quality that he was lying here in her bed. His face flushed as flashbacks of how his very heavy body and its undulations had felt during their love making last night and this morning during breakfast. For a fleeting second as Alexandra had started to undress him, he had been horror-struck envisioning the inability to perform any sexual act with 100 pounds more. Fortunately she was even more diplomatically masterful in the bedroom than in real life, had not let a minute of awkwardness arise, steered him through everything while exciting him so much he quickly forgot about any reality. That his body had so much more surface to offer had multiplied erogenous options, and she knew how to generate lust in all of his susceptible flesh. The details were blurred in his memory – only that anything he had experienced with previous girlfriends paled to puppy dog sex in comparison. Obviously he hadn’t done anything wrong, for she had served him that wonderful breakfast and seduced him into action over it again. The images tip-toeing across his inner eye let another erection start slowly pressing against his thigh fat.

“Aaaugh …. Someone is enjoying his wonderfully soft tummy fat and thinking dirty thoughts,” he had been so absorbed by his weighty day dream he hadn’t noticed Alexandra leaning in the doorway and observing him with a small smile.

“Ummm..” the speech center in his brain was incapacitated from digestive arousal.

“Let me join in on the fun…,” she clambered on the bed, opened her bathrobe to show off those great breasts and bent over him, brushing along his belly dome with her hard pointed nipples, before biting carefully into his man boobs, instantly making his manhood begin to throb again.

Running his hands over her shapely ass cheeks, he pulled her up to kiss her, teasing her deeply. Slowly setting his bulk into motion, he rolled her onto her back and pushed himself half over her, kissing his way down over her breasts and pecking at her tummy, biting in between her thighs murmuring: “Mmmmh ….. Alexandra Frederica Constance Isolde Claudia Beatrix … you are one spectacular countess…. mmmh….”

With a quick jerk she pulled up his head and stared at him in open-mouthed disbelief: “I can’t believe you remembered all my first names …. and in the correct order….” He couldn’t believe it either, was dumbfounded as to where that might have come from - to save himself an answer he kissed her again. Her hands were once more pummeling, jouncing and squeezing his flab so he let her push him over for both of them to better revel in the agitation of his bulk. Playfully rubbing his hard manhood between her thighs, she suddenly froze and looked aghast.

“Shit, shit, shit ….,” she jumped up and out of the bed, her breasting swaying wildly as she tried to stuff them into a bra she grabbed. “Mist, mist, mist ….” She rushed into the kitchen and came back, one leg in a panty. “I’m going to miss my flight. I can’t catch the train to Schipol anymore … the kitchen clock stopped. Shit, shit ….. mist, mist,” In a whirlwind she was dressed, pulled a suitcase out of the closet, planted a last kiss on him. “Take the leftovers from the fridge, leave the key at the gatehouse, explanation is next to wireless router. Bye!”

Before he knew it, she was gone leaving him lying in her bed in the state of an emotional tornado casualty.
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Old 02-03-2015, 08:51 AM   #23
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There is absolutely nothing better than waking up to an amazing update! I glanced at my phone this AM before i put my contacts in...then squinted into it as I devoured all of it (no time to stop for something as trivial as vision!). I love how much delicate description you put into the food, it makes me hungry myself!

I particularly love how classy yet insistent Alex(andra) was about setting the date and making sure something came from the evening. That man needs to be pinned down and properly adored, both literally and figuratively!
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Old 02-03-2015, 09:42 AM   #24
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"If he hadn’t been so famished yesterday morning, he would never have fallen for the texted roast beef fata morgana. "

I love this sentence.
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Old 02-03-2015, 10:19 AM   #25
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oh, an update! start reading....









<--that was for the cliff you left us hanging off of!
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