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Old 06-27-2015, 02:48 AM   #1
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Default "525" - by agouderia (SSBHM, ~XWG, ~BBW, Dining)

SSBHM, ~XWG, ~BBW, Dining - A SSBHM faces personal and professional decisions more demanding than putting together the next exquisite menu.

by agouderia


The number rang out into the complete silence in the room. The physician looked shocked while pain, anger and distress washed over Warren Langdon’s face. In contrast he was astounded to feel only mild surprise, combined with a wicked tingle - so this was how 525 pounds looked and felt like. Over the past years he had gotten used to his expanding bulk, its weight, how it enveloped him in its roles, quivers and jiggles; the comfort of sensing its heaviness wrapped around him and resting in his lap. This reassurance surfaced again as he put both of his plump, well-kept hands on the sides of the vast pale expanse of flesh stretching before him, shoving it back and forth slightly, the familiar wobble re-vibrating through him. The sensation of moving flesh increased as he stepped down from the makeshift, awkward small manual fork lifter scale – and walked ponderously over to where he had draped his clothing over his desk chair.

“Jeez… 525 … that’s much worse than I’d imagined!” Warren groaned. “Christopher …. you have to do something about it! I can’t watch you slowly killing yourself with knife and fork! I don’t want to hurt you, believe me. You’ve been more of a son to me these past 10 years than my own children have. And I want it to stay that way, make you a partner in my hotels. You’re only 32…”

“Do you have any reason not to be satisfied with my work here at the ‘Langdon Residency’?”

“Not in the least my boy, not in the least. Your work is outstanding; you know that … hell, you’re better at it than I am by now.” Warren showed a sad grin. “But to continue in this line, become my partner, maybe take over the hotels some day, you can’t go on ballooning like you have over the past years – or sooner or later you’ll no longer be able to do the job. It’s for your very best, my boy.”

Despite sensing his sincere concern, Warren had gotten the fundamentals wrong in Christopher’s opinion. His girth was a in every sense of the word a big part of his success: His constant monitoring had made theirs one of the best gourmet hotel kitchens in the country, a league better than that of Warren’s own flagship ‘Langdon Imperial Residency’. Their, or better his, deli-range had received countless awards; he had even managed to revive his family’s bakery. And he had noticed his size seemed to put guests at ease, made them feel safe, comfortable, well taken care of in his presence.

He slowly sank into his wide, reinforced chair breathing deeply, his overinflated buttocks sinking into the cushion, the flab of his immense thighs spreading out to accommodate the enormous expanse of his stomach, his side roles flowing over the arm rests. Bending over as far as the flesh mountain of his belly permitted, he wiggled first one then the other leg into the tent like folds of cloth that made up his trousers, his feet somehow magically resurfacing from the much narrowed openings at the bottom. Pulling the cloth over the knees, he fitted his feet into the expensive, widened leather slippers with thick soles with the help of a long-handled shoe-horn, noticing how his breathing was becoming heavier as the pressure of his gut cut off some of the oxygen supply to his lungs. Leaning back, he took a deep breath as he pulled his button-down shirt over his arms. With another deep breath and a small grunt, he heaved his mass back into standing position in the movement tugging his trousers over his extra broad backside, the usual ton like slump of his belly giving into gravity, sinking lower towards his thighs running through him.

As he started to button his shirt, he noticed it had reached the degree of tightness that normally filled him with a certain naughty delight, since it documented the increasing volume of his body: It was not yet difficult to button in standing, but there was a palpable closeness and with his bulk expanding in sitting, the buttons would be put under tension, the fabric creased in tight folds and a agreeable light sense of constriction would encircle him. Same was true for his waistband – though only because he had had it let out recently: It was barely necessary to tug it a little to close the hook, but seated a conspicuous role of fat would now hang over it. He put on his tie and then his suit coat, closing the straining top button to put his wide bay window on best display. His stomach grumbled demandingly, since he had not been able to have his customary full breakfast because Warren had arrived earlier and the course of events had turned to the current nightmarish health check up.

“Christopher, I have several more business appointments in town now.” Warren fiddled with his phone not looking at him. “I’ll leave you with Dr. Wershowitz to discuss everything concerning a healthier lifestyle for you. We can all have dinner then together to talk about … well … I’d also like to know which events you’re planning and so on….”

He nodded, poured himself a glass of water and turned to Wershowitz: “Dr. Wershowitz, how shall we proceed? I do have some work to take care of.”

“Hmmm, actually, to get a good overview, also while we wait for the lab results, I would like to simply follow you around your work, maybe ask a few questions in the process, if possible.”

“Why not? Even though I do not know how interesting it will be for you. I need to make some phone calls first.” He sank back down heavily into his chair, his flesh stacking itself in the accustomed thick roles and tires around him, it taking a while until the waves lolling through the fat settled.

After he had discussed the necessary arrangements for a conference booking and talked about an offer for a new set of bar tables and chairs, he looked at his watch and once again raised himself, half pushing himself off from his desktop. “Now I have to go check on our laundry delivery, there have been some problems lately,” he gestured to Wershowitz to follow him.

“525, 525, 525 … this is 525 moving pounds,” kept running through his mind as he fell into his regular lumber down the long hallway from his office to the service elevator. Despite the thick carpeting, the weight of his tread was audible as a small thump, as well as the swooshing of the fabric of his pants as the blubber of his thighs rubbed against each other for one leg to pass the other in walking and his loud, steady breathing. At first he had been embarrassed by his loud breathing as his weight had soared, but he had noticed he got much further, did not get out of breath as quickly if he took deep breaths as soon as he started moving. His bulk, especially the gigantic expanse of his belly started shifting and swaying in front of him and his arms fell into the practiced rhythm of vacillating along with his legs, helping him keep his balance and move forward. How many of the 525 pounds might be rolling around him right now?

“This is quite a walk to the elevator,” Dr. Wershowitz interrupted his train of thought. “Do you regularly walk it? Have you ever thought of moving your office?”

“You can’t run a hotel professionally sitting at your desk all day – there are many things you need to get a first hands impression of. And why should I move the director’s office? It has an ensuite and the nice balcony to the park.”

Having reached the elevator, he called it with his master key and stepped into the spacious cubicle, habitually resting his belly on the handrail to take some pressure off his back. Wershowitz observed him from the side, and wrote down a few notes.

“Ah, good to see you boss. Here are the only some of the flawed pieces of laundry from today’s delivery,” Odile, the large black head of the laundry department greeted him. He liked and respected her very much, not only for her professional competence, the fact that she had given her fabulous Mississippi chocolate fudge recipe, a family heirloom, for their deli selection but also for the feeling of personal kinship her size, which was close to his, always inspired in him. She gave Wershowitz a shrewd glance, resting her shapely breasts the size of small water melons on the counter, pointing at stains, little holes or discolored spots in the laundry.

Christopher pushed his belly to rest on the counter, looked at the damaged laundry asking: “What do you suggest?”

“We need to try out a different laundry. Too many deliveries are flawed– and they’re often late. I know they were the cheapest, but at this rate, we’re throwing out more than we can save. I’ve already gotten two new offers from other laundries. Why don’t we do a sort of competition? Like have each do a third and see which over the course of the month offers the best service?”

“Sounds like an excellent idea! I trust you to manage this. Send me a copy of the various offers and document the performance during the competition – then we’ll decide.”

Turning to leave, Odile handed him a flat box with a motherly grin: “Boss, here’s a little thank you for giving the job here to my poor neighbor’s little girl Sally. Home-made pecan molasses pie, I remember you really enjoyed that.”

He reddened under Wershowitz’s raised eye brows as he accepted the box, his stomach letting out a very loud growl. “Sounds like you haven’t been taking good care of your tummy and its needs today, boss. Your lunch time is still too far off for such a growl!” Odile winked and gave his belly an energetic pat as he pulled it off the counter making it bounce. “But remember, the pie is for dessert – eat the good veggies Claire is cooking for you first!”

“Thank you very much Odile – that is really not necessary. It’s good you suggested Sally; she is doing a fine job in her team. Oh – one more thing: Please finally call me Christopher like everybody else!”

“Any time boss!”

He ambled across the laundry and through a heavy steel door into a dim stairwell, Wershowitz following him. “Well, Mr. Maynard … I do not know how to put it, since it obviously was very well meant, about the pie…”

“Dr. Wershowitz, no need for detours. Don’t you think it has occurred to me that one of the first things you would take off my menu is a molasses-pecan pie? Here – take it. You in contrast look like your palate could use something sweet for a change,” eyeing the deep furrows running from his nose to the hanging corners of his mouth. “Only one thing: Don’t let Odile know – it’d hurt her feelings.”

Handing Wershowitz the box, he turned towards the stairs, firmly grabbed the handrail and slowly, methodically started his climb, pulling himself and pressing his bulk up over his legs step by step, taking no break on the landing arriving on the ground floor puffing a bit.

“You take the stairs?” Wershowitz couldn’t keep the note of surprise out of his voice.

“According to my orthopedist, climbing stairs is good for my back and knees – while going downstairs is bad for both. It’s part of my day; after all, I live on the third floor with no elevator.” After a few deeps breaths, he opened the door, entered the lobby and walked over to the front desk, where the staff opened the barrier to let him in. Settling on a very wide stool, he went through papers, signed some, checked lists, took a few notes on complaints.

“Now I need to go to our restaurant, check on booking and menu suggestions for the days to come. Come along please.” As he made his way across the lobby, it seemed almost as if he were proudly pushing his belly ahead of him a lithe, long-legged blonde skipped over. “Wait, Christopher, it’s so good I get to see you before I leave.”

“Hi Cara, how’s my favorite model doing? Did you have a good shoot?”

“Everything worked out, thank you so much – all arrangements were perfect,” she beamed at him and squeezed his massive upper arm. “I want to introduce you to Jack Baines, our photographer he might want to use your restaurant for an evening dress shoot. Jack meet Christopher Maynard, the adorable director of this wonderful hotel.”

“Nice to meet you Jack. Haven’t you also done some food photography, I remember something in the Culinary Review..?”

“Pleasure Christopher – wow, you saw that? I was thinking of combining the two for a new client of mine– a stylish dinner dress shoot with real good looking food to go with it. Would that be possible?”

“Sounds great. Here’s my card. Why don’t you write me a short exposé – date, room you need, ideas for the menu, etc. – and then I’ll get back to you, see what we can do.”

Cara reached up and gave him a big smooch on the cheek. “Thanks Christopher, hope to be back soon and see you then.”

On entering the restaurant, he steered towards the stairs to the main level, once more heaving his weight up where the chef was waiting on the landing. He slumped a bit into a chair and asked for a certain tea. “Dr. Wershowitz – would you like anything?”

“I’ll have what you are having.”

“Sorry Christopher, I don’t have any samples for the menu suggestions for the next days for you. Claire said Langdon is here and you wouldn’t have time….”

“It’s okay Paul. Claire was right – this is not the occasion for me to start sampling,” his voice ripe with sarcasm as he shot Wershowitz a look of disdain. “What we do need to talk about are your menu suggestions in relation to produce prices. It looks like you’ve been going a bit too much for the show effect lately, when you could have achieved just as good, sometimes more innovative results with more basic ingredients. We should check if we can’t cooperate with the youth project that has started the organic gardens. They’re trying to do some good stuff, the squash we got there was very good – and it’s an idea worth supporting. Will you get in touch with them, or do you want me to do it?” His stomach growled more loudly than ever.

“The social stuff is a lot easier for you… shall I fix you something to eat? That sounds dangerous, like a whole pack of very hungry bears..”

“This tea is excellent, Mr. Maynard – very spicy, a sweet tinge to it, where did you get it?”

“Thank you Dr. Wershowitz – I recreated it from a tea I once drank in some back alley French Salon de thé. I’ll take care of the organic project … and lunch unfortunately has to wait.” Draining his tea, he got up abruptly, swept papers off the table with the sway of his bulk and headed towards the back entrance, from where he took the elevator back up to his office.

Half collapsing onto his chair, he took a few deep breaths to calm down and drank some more water. He was exhausted. The walking around was no problem – he was used to hauling his bulk, or his 525 pounds as he now knew, through the hotel. What he was no longer used to was going for so long with so little food to keep his energy level up. Normally he would have had a nice full breakfast, now tasted Paul’s sample dishes – and would be sitting here with his belly resting in his lap, ever so lightly puffed and satisfyingly filled, its soft heaviness confirming that everything was just the way it was supposed to be. Instead it was growling to the point he felt faint, he had to do everything under the scrutiny of this Wershowitz guy, disapproval for him and his fat seeping from his every pore.

After he had finished checking his e-mail, sorting the mail, he went over into the hotel room ensuite to his office, aware that he did prefer using his own, adapted to his needs bathroom since he had gotten so big.

“Oh so you do live up here,” Wershowitz commented on his return.

“No, it seems you have not been listening to what I say very well, instead only looking for clues to confirm your pre-conceived notions,” there was barely suppressed rage in his voice. “I told you I live on the third floor with no elevator – in my old student apartment I bought a few years ago. It’s right on the other side of the park.”

“That’s good. So you drive here every morning?”

“No, I walk here. It’s only a little over half a mile through the park – and it’s easier than maneuvering my weight in and out of a car simply to get stuck in a perpetual traffic jam. It’s probably even faster, despite my lack of speed,” sounding cynical by now. “Now – even though you seem to have the objective of keeping me from eating, I’m going for lunch. I feel literally faint from hunger, even if you think that ridiculous in my case.” He stumbled and puffed a bit on the way to the elevator, his flesh rolling around him with more force than usual since his anger had kept him from getting into the correct pace of movement and breathing.

“Mr. Maynard, please to not get me wrong. Mr. Langdon sent me to you with the best intentions. It’s not about criticizing you, it’s about finding ways for you to live healthier and lose weight. If I may ask, could I speak to your kitchen staff about what I would suggest as your lunch?”

“If that’s part of your commission, please go ahead. Ask for Claire, she’ll fix everything you think adequate for me.” His normally light brown, almost amber colored eyes had gone dark with resentment, his tone was cutting.

Some twenty minutes later, Claire brought out his lunch – a piece of steamed white fish with a plate of mixed steamed vegetables – her eyes wide with helpless fright and pity, her ‘Bon appétit Christopher’ only a whisper, hurrying off again. Taking two hungry bites, he called after her: “Claire come back – have you forgotten how to cook? How bland is this?”

“I did everything as this doctor ordered.”

“Well, it’s obvious then that this doctor cannot cook. Bring me the 5 pepper-mix, lemon juice, freshly chopped parsley, our French fish spice, a teaspoon of olive oil and grill three spring onions. Then this will be eatable.”

“Please Mr. Maynard; it really is for your best. This is a healthy, balanced ….”

“Dr. Wershowitz, to be very blunt – I am thoroughly fed up with your condescending manner as if I were some 525 pound imbecile. The additions to your meal I am having Claire bring will not add many, if any calories, but a whole lot of taste. It’ll stay as healthy, balanced as you intended.”

As Claire placed the ingredients as well as a hot plate on the table, he aggressively started seasoning the fish and vegetables, before he hungrily shoveled in almost the whole portion before turning to Wershowitz again, who was only picking at his food. “Just so you finally understand: All of this here is high quality fat, probably has a lot better ingredients than those measly few ounces of fat you might have to offer.”

He stuck out his belly farther, making the buttons of his shirt gape, the flesh pushing onto the table and patted it provocatively. “I’m not a lazy 525 pound slob who sits on the couch all day and stuffs himself with fast food. I’m a successful professional who happens to love, live and work with excellent food. My fat is made from scratch – no industrial chemicals masquerading as food, artificial ingredients, food substitutes, transfats or the like. I’m active because that’s the only way to run a hotel, and it’s my life,” finishing off the rest on his plate, frustrated at the lack of filling satisfaction. The portion had barely taken the edge off his hunger.

“I’m sorry if I offended you Mr. Maynard. You seem to have misunderstood my intentions. Mr. Langdon and I have the utmost respect for your professional credentials and achievements. We’re worried about your health. You must be aware you are severely overweight, or not? Technically speaking you have a BMI of 66 and are high up in the category of morbid obesity.”

“Morbid obesity,” he murmured, a warm glow rising in him. Like “amaretti morbidi” the wonderful soft, bittersweet Italian cookies – or the ‘Salon morbide’ 19th century French style, often depicting food in their paintings. How could something be bad that brought upon such delicious associations? From his ears, morbid had decidedly more positive connotations.

“Have you ever thought of, or tried to lose weight before?”

He shrugged and then shook his head slowly. “Is an espresso okay before we return to my office?”
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Old 06-27-2015, 02:49 AM   #2
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To avoid the uncomfortable situation of Wershowitz further observing and lecturing him in front of others, he mainly stayed in his office all afternoon, reading through all sorts of papers, proposals and applications he normally would have taken the time for on weekends. He only left twice, once to sign off the delivery of sauna equipment replacements needing his signature and the other time to greet one of their regular VIP guests, a Senator, to accompany him to his suite.

By the late afternoon, he had a splitting headache, a queasily empty stomach and was having evil fantasies of suffocating Wershowitz with the weight of his stomach to be rid of him. Instead he took a banana, an apple and two kiwis from his fruit basket and had them with his tea like an obedient boy, receiving a benevolent nod from Wershowitz. Knowing he was not fit to have a constructive discussion with Warren about his weight this evening, he swallowed hard and asked Wershowitz as amiably as possible: “Dr. Wershowitz, on a day like this, I normally would go swimming to relax before dinner. Would it be fine with you if I go now – I can offer you a hotel room for you own use for some privacy?”

“Oh, so you swim regularly? Here in the hotel pool? ”

“Yes, I started that after I had injured my back some years ago on recommendation of my orthopedic surgeon. I go 3-4 times a week – back has been fine ever since.” He tried hard to keep his voice level, then made a phone call. “Namée, I’m coming down swimming now. I know it’s not my scheduled day, but would you have a little time for me? … oh, that’s not necessary … if you insist; you’re wonderful, thank you so much.”

Utterly relieved Wershowitz let him go swimming on his own, he closed the pool for maintenance, locked himself in and slowly started to swim his laps, overtime feeling the oppressive mental weight that had settled on his chest in Wershowitz’s presence lift. After showering, he lumbered over into Namée’s spa section, already feeling much better as his naked flesh bounced freely under his bathrobe, his belly hanging comfortably over his loose boxers.

Namée made him settle wordlessly on the broad tilted massage stool she had had custom made, adjusting the headrest for him since his belly had long ago gotten too big for him to comfortably lie down flat on it for a back massage. The stool matched the wide, sturdy wooden massage table – and somehow word had spread of this equipment, because he knew that Namée, her husband and cousin who ran the spa section made good money from many heavy weight customers who appreciated this arrangement and service.

For him it had all started as he had torn a muscle in his back some years ago from the combined hazard of a massively growing belly, a poorly exercised back and moving around heavy furniture with the interior decorators. Along with physiotherapy as treatment, working on the laundry weight pulley as he had already been too heavy for most gym equipment, he had started walking and swimming more again. Early on in his program, Namée had come to him stating he also needed her special massage for his back to heal and he must come to her three times a week. At first he had refused, being acutely embarrassed by the idea of one of his female employees seeing let alone kneading through his flesh masses. Namée was from the Philippines and had a polite, silent bossiness that everybody sooner or later succumbed to –so he had started getting his massages. After overcoming his initial embarrassment, they had done him a world of good – and even after his back had healed, he continued his sessions with Namée regularly, by now wondering if he could live without them.

“Mr. Christopher, so tense today. No wonder, I know Mr. Langdon in the house today.” Namée intensified her massaging his hard neck muscles. “Now go over lie on the bench.”

Her quiet empathy soothed him as he swung on the bench, his fat shaking like in an earthquake as he rolled himself into position and lay down on his back. The continuous soft jiggles of his huge belly along with the revitalizing massage of his tired feet and legs made him slide into the state of drowsy arousal and utter relaxation that made his sessions with Namée so rewarding. Come to think of it, much of the credit for his sense of physical well-being, of feeling genuinely comfortable in his excessively padded skin probably belonged to Namée. During the past years of his steady expansion, as gaining more and more blubber had made his body swell, she had helped his skin stay soft and stretch smoothly, made sure his feet and legs were well –tended to carry the added weight in addition to simply making his now 525 pounds feel really good.

Joining Warren and Dr. Wershowitz for dinner, with still damp black hair, freshly shaven and in his favorite pin-stripe shirt, he almost felt like his normal self again, apart from the gnawing hunger, confident he would not let out his anger and frustration with Dr. Wershowitz on Warren. As he sat down on his XL chair, his belly pushing demandingly onto and between his thighs, spreading them wide to make enough room, forcing him a good stretch off the table, a plate of soup was immediately set in front of him. Tasting it, he noticed it was Claire’s signature cream of Broccoli soup, only with less cream than usual. Unable to restrain himself, he spooned it down quickly, along with the tiny slice of rye bread.

“I thought it would be a good idea to leave the cooking and seasoning to Claire, with only some basic guide-lines, after my failure at lunch,” Wershowitz gave him a small smile.

“Claire knows what she is doing, I appreciate your consideration,” he acquiesced.

After the soup, the main course consisting of small turkey medallions and green beans well sautéed in savory with small pieces of tomato confit was quickly served. Since only small talk was made so far, he had the premonition that Warren and Wershowitz preferred him to be fed before they started on any uncomfortable subjects. Sure enough, as soon as he had finished his plate, Warren said: “So, Dr. Wershowitz said you had a very good day together, what do you think Christopher?”

“For me it was a successful day of work…,” he stated - and a miserably hungry one in the accompaniment of an ignorant food fascist, he thought in the back of his head.

“Mr. Maynard, I’ve all the results from your blood-test and all other information here,” Wershowitz looked into some papers to avoid his eye. “Apart from your high weight, you are in good health. As I already noted, I was very pleasantly surprised how active you are at your size – that is a very good thing. You clearly know everything about quality food – what we need to work on is the amounts you eat and the types of food, reducing your caloric intake for you to successfully lose weight.”

Despite the positive assessment and Wershowitz obviously trying to be motivating, he was seething inwardly again and clenched his fist under the table, which Warren saw. “Christopher, please … take it as it is meant. I’m here with Dr. Wershowitz because your health and well-being is very important to me. You do understand that you’ve gotten way too big, that 525 pounds are just too much – do you?”

Looking into Warren’s mild, worried blue eyes, he registered that he was actually expected to answer. Lowering his eyes, looking down on the vastness of his body, the thick mounds of his man boobs, his belly’s seemingly endless curve with its fat spilling onto the table, he tried hard to process that this was supposed to be all wrong. Somehow it had never dawned on him that the expansion of his belly from the small role of flab over his jeans to the shapely flesh do-nut around his middle to the duvet sized pillow of fat now in his lap might not be as good a thing as it had always felt for him.

In cooking and baking, expansion was something positive – yeast dough, beaten egg whites, a soufflé; the bigger they got, the better they were. He must have subconsciously applied this philosophy to his own body – interpreting its growing bulk as the result of good work and quality. But consciously there was no denying that Warren was probably right – 525 pounds was objectively too high a weight for a 6’3’’ man. How come he had never noticed that? So he quietly said: “I understand Warren, 525 pounds are too much. I hadn’t weighed myself in years.”

“I’m relieved to hear that,” Warren’s exhale was audible. “Ever since I’ve known you, you’ve been a big boy with a big appetite and an enormous talent for developing and marketing good food, making people comfortable. As I said, you’re better at our job than I am. We just need to make sure we get your big appetite and body back to a reasonable size, okay? Will you do your part in that?”

“I’ll try sir.”

Warren looked pained at the formality but went on: “In the next two years, I would ask you to get back down to the range of 300-350 pounds – I think that is realistic and achievable for you with non-too invasive measures. In exchange, to show you how much I value you, as a person and in your work, I will draft a contract making you my partner and sole inheritor of the hotels – leaving only a small percentage of the profits to my children as your then dormant 20% partners.”

He was shocked by the offer and stuttered: “That’s too much sir, I cannot accept…”

“Stop saying ‘sir’ to me – you last did that about 7 years ago!” Warren snapped at him, and then said more gently. “Christopher, you deserve it. I know the hotels, which are like children to me, will be in best hands with you – you love this one here as much as I do. I know you’re much better at taking care of it and the other 3 than my kids are. I just want to make sure you are in a good physical condition to be able to handle the job long-term. Now what so you say?”

“I’ll try my very best ….. Warren. I don’t know what to say, your offer is … so generous, more than a dream come true… well thank you ever so much.”

“Now that’s more the spirit my boy! Let’s hear what Dr. Wershowitz suggests as a program to shrink this monster gut of yours!” slapping the side of Christopher's belly, sending the familiar waves of contentment through him.
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Old 06-27-2015, 02:51 AM   #3
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questions lay on the table in the form of a questionnaire from the nutritionist Dr. Wershowitz had recommended to take care of his diet program. According to him, she not only held a degree in food sciences but had also been to culinary school so she would be able to relate to the importance food culture had for Christopher. Not finding a real flaw in this assessment, he had agreed and now had this questionnaire, as a printout and as a file, next to his meager diet breakfast, carefully assembled by Claire in a small basket. Warren had more or less ordered him to stay at home today, do the questionnaire, get three diet meals delivered from the hotel kitchen as his food supply.

Claire had nicely made him yoghurt with fresh strawberries, along with a whole wheat sandwich role with chicken, pineapple, salad and what probably was a diet version of her good curry spread. Famished after yesterday’s limited intake, he craved something like French toast with grilled pineapple after the yoghurt and then maybe an assortment of cheeses with relishes and grapes after the sandwich. Since he had been busy in the hotel lately, he didn’t have many fresh ingredients left in his kitchen – so he could go down to small organic supermarket around the corner, buy supplies and make himself exactly the food his appetite demanded. Still, no matter how much his inner self was wary of giving up the well-fed, tasty life that had grown his big body – he had promised Warren he would seriously try to diet and lose weight. He had to, after all, he owed Warren big time for having given him the life and work he loved. Not to mention the stupendous incentive Warren had put out on the table.

Sighing, he ate his breakfast as slowly as possible including a lot of coffee with the supplied skim milk before he turned to the 12 point questionnaire. Browsing through it, it looked like an extended, but admittedly more neutral and less biased version of Wershowitz’s questioning yesterday. Maybe he had warned the nutritionist how negatively Christopher had reacted to his interview, making her therefore decide to spare herself the displeasure of personally conversing with a difficult patient and have him do it in writing instead. Most likely not a bad idea, since he could think a while about his answers, starting straight away on his computer.

1. Were your parents overweight?

That was easy – clear NO. His mother was decidedly petite and he knew nothing about his father expect that he had inherited his black hair and height. His father had walked out on his mother when he had been barely three, leaving him with no real memory. His mother, an unbelievably unworldly art curator, who lived in a world of academic make believe, had been sweetly helpless in raising him as the lively, active strong boy he had always been. Thankfully there had been Uncle Tom, her brother, who ran the family bakery and had given him all the encouragement, support and guidance to set him on the track he still was on today.

2. What do you see when you look at yourself in the mirror? Describe your physical appearance (… looking at yourself at best naked or in underwear, if possible)

Now this was a bit more difficult; he was incredibly relieved he was allowed to do this on his own, not in the presence of a critical nutritionist. Pulling off his t- shirt in waddling bare foot to the bath room, where he kicked off his loose boxers, he looked at himself hard in the floor length mirror, for the first time in ages seriously observing his reflection. He saw himself in the many hotel mirrors at least three dozen times a day – how could he have overlooked that he had gone from big to huge somewhere down the line? Of course he had watched his belly grow extravagantly, pushing out further , hanging down obscuring his crotch, moving towards his knees in sitting. Or how his man boobs had swollen into decent sized round foot hills to the mountain of gut in front of him, being perversely fond of the thick roles they merged into under his arms, pushing up his ham like upper arms creating the perfect angle to comfortably fold his hands over his belly.

As he did a half turn he could see his buttocks jutting out like big round farmer’s market pumpkins, despite the deep fat still relatively shapely probably because of the walking he did. As he lifted his belly, appraising its weight, he could get a glimpse of his genitals, actually finding them more proportionate to his body today than he had as an awkward, lanky adolescent, below them the folds of fat bloating his thighs, how they creased and dimpled over his knees. It had been quite some time ago as he first became aware of how wide he was getting as he got stuck in a tight entrance turnstile of the Paris metro, when he was visiting a food fair. He had managed to squeeze his belly into the narrow lane, but the thick tires of his love handles widening his hips had refused to be fit in between the cold steel barriers. He had had to wiggle his bulk backwards out of the trap and call the attendants to open the extra door reserved for baby buggies or oversized luggage, unable to decide whether he found the experience embarrassing or exhilarating.

Shaving every day showed him that his face was fatter too, with plump cheeks, a thicker double chin with soft jowls rather harmoniously linking the two. He was indifferent to whether he could be called attractive or not; it somehow did not seem relevant. Since hygiene and personal cleanliness were decisive in handling food, he had always taken extra care to be freshly groomed and dressed, yet that was more in the line of feeling comfortable and being professionally convincing than caring about his appearance. His mother insisted the combination of his father’s black hair with the light brown, a bit flecked with yellow eyes that ran in her family was striking and good-looking, but he had never given it a second thought. What he saw today in the mirror was a rather tall, very fat, massively round man, every part of him heavily upholstered with well-tended flesh, presumably half-way decent looking for his size. Grabbing hold of his inflated love handles he shook them both, sending his fat off in a series of ripples, prompting a warm physical complacency to run through him.

Pulling his t-shirt back on and kicking up his discarded boxers so he could catch and put them back on in sitting, he went back to his computer to try to describe his findings in a comprehensible manner, making him not sound like a complete lunatic.

3. Which are your favorite foods?

Again an easy one – how easy he only noticed after he had typed more than three pages, at which he left it and made himself a pot of tea.

4. When (and how) did you start gaining weight?

Superficially a simple question -but one that made him awash with emotions triggering the best and worst memories in his life. Suddenly feeling restless, it struck him that he was not used to sitting all morning, normally his day started with the walk to the hotel. Deciding to go for a round in the park, he wiggled into his favorite black jeans which were almost too tight; his love handles bulged dramatically over the waistband, not to mention the heavy overhang in front. Under regular circumstances, he would start to upgrade his wardrobe, since a positively overindulgent – even by his standards - past holiday season had brought a sudden surge in his girth to the now confirmed 525 pounds. Namée was very strict regarding him not wearing too tight pants which cut red welts around the equator of his middle, saying they were terrible for his skin and forcing him to buy larger sizes as soon as necessary. Having committed to Warren to lose weight though, meaning shrinking his body, there was a chance that the jeans would fit him more loosely again before Namée noticed.

Lumbering around the small lake in the park left him calmer on returning, only his stomach growled hungrily. Fixing himself a second pot of tea along with an apple and an orange, he settled back at his computer, and started to make an effort to explain how he had gone from average 185 pound high school graduate to 525 pound, 5***** hotel director, a completely unplanned progression.

Almost from his elementary school days the plan had been for him to inherit the family bakery, run by his Uncle Tom, who had taken over from his grandfather its 125 year tradition. Established back in the mid 19th century, as a baker from the village of Maynard in the French Alps emigrated to the US after standing on the wrong sides of the barricades in the 1848 revolution – only to marry a Miss Schmidt, daughter of an immigrant German baker with a similar political background, in Beavercreek, Ohio. A match clearly made in bakery heaven, with the two not only having 9 children, but also combining two baking traditions and founding their own bakery in Cincinnati – passing it down along with a steadily increasing legacy of recipes over the generations.

Loving his uncle, admiring his work, Christopher had early on been captivated by the idea of taking over their family bakery one day – the logical solution also since the happy marriage of Uncle Tom and Aunt Katie to their chagrin had remained childless. The decision was made for him to do a two year apprenticeship in the bakery after high school before going to college to get the academic trimmings to further develop the business. The two years at his Uncle’s - living in their house, working in the bakery, learning all the old recipes for bread, cakes, cookies, patisserie, soon being allowed to develop new ones, getting to know his aunt’s great home cooking, cultivating his appetite and his taste buds - were the happiest ones in his life. There was great food, interesting work, love, encouragement and best prospects all wrapped into one big warm tasty package, only waiting for him to be opened and explored on a daily basis.

Then came the day when he noticed he could no longer button his jeans because there was a small strip of excess flesh round his middle. Its significance – he was much more importantly just learning how to make layer gateaux – did not register with him; he only went and bought a new loose size jeans. Developing his tastes, getting to know everything about ingredients, in the summer with an exciting internship in bakeries in Westfalia for dark breads and the Swiss Romande for white breads and patisserie, he was oblivious to physical changes. It was not until Christmas in his second year, when he was home visiting his mother – armed with a huge supply of baked goodies since she was a hopeless cook – and showing pictures that one of his old high school buddies laughed: “Look at you! You’re not only eating a doughnut, you’ve grown a doughnut on yourself!”

“That’s not a doughnut, that’s a raisin bun!” Christopher had protested, to then take a closer look at the picture, showing him in a way too tight t-shirt with an indeed sort of doughnut like thick ring of flesh around his middle, smiling with strawberry jam smudged across his cheek. Laughing, he had pinched his middle: “Hey, we do make world-class doughnuts, so I’d say I’m entitled to growing one of my own! Do you see the strawberry jam on my cheek? Aunt Katie’s recipe is great- it was my idea to produce it whole scale to sell together with the sweet breads in our bakery. It’s a huge success!”

Even though his uncle had urged him to go to culinary school instead, he stuck to the idea of going to college majoring in business and marketing, since he had observed during his internships that more business skills might be of use in the further running of the bakery. Starting as a very chubby, spoiled 275 pound freshman, he was appalled by the quality of dorm food, unable to fathom how anybody was supposed to gain the notorious ‘freshman 15’ on it. Struggling a bit to get back into the mode of academic work, lacking time and the facilities to regularly do his own cooking, he dropped to 235 pounds without trying, only annoyed by often feeling hungry, but never hungry enough to eat the terrible college food.

Towards the end of his freshman year, Uncle Tom sent him to one of his customers in the city just 25 miles from his small college town, to discuss new delivery options for their bread – meeting Warren Langdon. Somehow Warren took to him, offering him a summer job in helping manage the kitchen, do the ordering – so he came to work at the ‘Langdon Residency’. Much happier with the option of combining work and study, having constant access to decent – in those days not yet outstanding - food again, he moved into the city halfway through his sophomore year to this very apartment, then still with a roommate, belonging to the neighbor of a college mate’s grandmother. Warren even gave him the chance to attend courses at culinary school part time, increased his responsibilities in the hotel kitchen slowly, keeping him nicely fed and making him thoroughly enjoy his academic success as well as developing his other professional interests. Special treats were two summer internships, combining hotel business and bakery, one in Lyon and one in Parma.

Coming back from Parma at a seriously round 320 pounds at the begin of his senior year, it was as if he had tempted fate somehow by being too happy, challenging him with a series of disasters that left all plans for his professional and personal life in ruins.

The door bell rang as he sat rubbing his eyes, half-way content with the first section of his answer, dreading to write the second part. It was Claire with his lunch. “Hi Christopher, I thought I’d bring you your lunch – some fresh air in my lunch break always does me good.”

“Hi Claire, that’s really sweet of you. Thank you also for the nice breakfast you made me. But you should have taken your lunch break to relax, not rush over here, sent it via delivery instead.” He smiled down at her, noting how tiny she looked in the hallway mirror next to him, her straight cut blonde bob slightly tousled by the wind.

“No, honestly it’s fine… I just wanted to….” she stuttered, shrugging.

“See if I haven’t starved in the meantime? Or am sabotaging my diet by baking chocolate cakes?”

“No, really … I didn’t mean to … believe me…”

Her embarrassment made him feel particularly big, clumsy and unfair. “Sorry, I know you are just being very, very kind and trying to help. What did you make for me?”

“For lunch I made you a lean cut of lamb stuffed with dried, seasoned tomatoes and mixed vegetables baked in foil. As a small treat for dessert, a scoop of our new blood orange sorbet. And for dinner a large pot of minestrone. That doctor suggested something else, but I thought some soup of which you can eat the whole pot if you’re hungry probably is better,” she blushed scarlet and looked down on the floor.

He was touched by how considerate she was being, at the same time mortified at having to discuss the awful diet issue with her, murmuring: “As I said, that’s incredibly sweet and thoughtful of you, thank you. Umm, well … does Paul know? I mean, could you do me the favor … this, you know … stay between us? Not let anybody else in the hotel know?”

“Of course, I’ll do anything you want me to do.”

5. Have you ever dieted? How often? How long? With which results?

Twice – he typed this in deliberately after finishing his lunch, which had not been enough for his appetite, but an excellent blend of flavors; Claire probably was undervalued as sous-chef.

This question left him off where he had ended, since his first real diet had been on his return from Parma. His then girlfriend Liza had pressure-teased him into it, stating that 320 pounds was too much and she only had sex with under 300 pound boys. He had also been a bit embarrassed; 320 pounds in college did seem like a lot. Relying on the cafeteria again instead of the hotel kitchen had done the job, bringing him down to 285 again, before other issues completely overruled the weight question.

The second diet had been when he had torn his back muscle, his orthopedic surgeon weighing him at 402 pounds. That had been an unpleasant surprise because his home scale had been telling him forever that he weighed 350 pounds. He had wondered why he needed to buy bigger cloths despite the scale insisting on the same weight, also noting that his belly had undeniably grown to the size of a medicine ball, forcing him to read the scale in the mirror because he couldn’t see past it any more. Yet he hadn’t questioned the number, so the truth came as a shock, making him sheepishly realize that his home scale maxed out at 350 pounds. The 402 prompted him to do the prescribed exercises, plus cut pastries from his menu for a while, sample less, drink no wine until he reached 384 when his back healed – swearing he would stay under 400, simply because that sounded more normal.
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Old 06-27-2015, 02:53 AM   #4
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6. Has your weight ever influenced your educational/professional life?

In his eyes, this question summed up his life: His education and profession had been and was everything about food and in consequence about his weight. His worst times had been those in which good food and professional opportunities had been absent. Studying hard during his senior year, all plans for his future literally blew up over night, as a broken valve in the gas pipe in his uncle’s bakery caused the entire building to explode one cold December evening. After the first shock he had thought it would be okay, his career would start off on a rough patch rebuilding everything. But bad turned to worst as they found out that Uncle Tom and Aunt Katie had been late on their insurance payments so the damage was not covered – on the contrary, neighbors were holding them liable for damages on their properties. Not able to face the situation, the sheer impossibility of starting afresh with no assets left, Uncle Tom committed suicide by eating a cake laced with pesticide. Aunt Katie, despairing over her role in the drama because she had mixed up the insurance payments, literally went crazy – screaming for hours before never again saying a word, to slowly wilt away in a mental care home.

Blow after blow seemed to crash down, leaving him totally numb. His mother was no great help, she only kept sobbing: “My poor baby, what are you going to do now?” clinging to him, clearly needing support instead of being able to give it. Liza and he broke up after 6 years because she could not handle his distress leaving the impression she feared his misfortune might be contagious.

As he returned to college after an extended winter break, all he had left of his future were the photo-copies and pictures of the bakery’s archive with all the recipes, photographs, price-lists, etc. – which he had fortunately meticulously assembled over Thanksgiving because he wanted to write his B.A. thesis on comparing marketing options for SME’s with large food chains. The original archive had all vanished into smoke and dust since Uncle Tom had unwisely kept it in his office with no further copies as a safeguard.

Throughout the rest of senior winter, he buried himself in studying, simply because it was the only thing to do – even though he was clueless as to what exactly he was studying for; he had lost the goal and direction in his life.
Shortly after Easter, he got a demanding call from Warren Langdon: “Christopher my boy, my secretary tells me you refuse to return her calls. I’m in town tomorrow. You’re coming to dinner with me at 7 at the ‘Langdon Residency’. We need to talk.”

“Thank you sir, that’s very kind, I can’t come, I need to study. I don’t want to burden you.”

“No back talk! You’re coming tomorrow evening – or else I’ll have the county sheriff come get you.”

Sighing, he had given in, dressing the next evening in a suit and tie which must have fit him 50 pounds ago, since the entire crisis had cut his appetite, making him drop to a still tubby, but much reduced 240 pounds, high-lighted by the loosely hanging clothes. Warren greeted him with compassion written all over his face. “My poor boy, I cannot tell you how sorry I am for your loss. Your uncle was an excellent baker, a good business partner to me and a fine man.”

“Thank you sir.”

“Let’s have a bite to eat before we talk, choose what you would like from the menu.” Christopher ordered and listlessly picked at his food. “Why are you not eating? From my memory you have such a healthy appetite, were a much chubbier and naturally happier boy. I know you’ve been dealt a very rough deal, but you need to look ahead. What’s wrong?”

“Ummm…. broccoli with basil is not really a good combination, and the tomato sauce kills the salmon…,” he had mumbled, to say something, making Warren laugh: “That sounds a lot more like you again Christopher! Tell me, what are you doing after graduation?”

There it was - the most dreadful question of all. Swallowing hard, he managed a very choked whisper, fearing he was going to lose his bearings any second, “I guess I’ll apply for some jobs. “

“ No, you’re not.”

“Pardon sir … I mean, why not?”

“Because you already have a job after graduation – and I dare say it is a career track position.”

“I can’t really follow sir.”

“Well, even before the accident in the bakery, I was thinking of offering you a position; get you to do something else before starting with your uncle. You have such a knack for the hotel and food business – so I would like to enlist your talents for the ‘Langdon’ group.” Warren smiled at him encouragingly. “I have a three year trainee program planned for you. In the first year you’ll come to our mother ship at the ‘Langdon Imperial Residency’, learn the essentials of our hotel business. You’ll spend your second year abroad; we can still determine exactly where. And you’ll spend your third year here at the ‘Langdon Residency’ as deputy director, to prepare you for the director’s job who will then retire. You start September 1st. What do you say? Deal?”

Never remembering whether he had managed to adequately thank Warren for what he felt was literally saving his life, he had shown his gratitude from the first day through hard work, dedication and true enthusiasm for the job. He found out that he was not only good at the culinary aspects of the hotel business, but also at the facility management, event planning and he enjoyed dealing with many different people as guests.

‘Chubbier and happier’ – Warren’s words often rang in his head back then, somehow establishing a connect in his mind, that being well-fed, chubby had something to do with him being happy. Next to learning everything about running a hotel, he spent his evenings in the ‘Imperial Residency’s’ kitchen, trying out new dishes, re-vamping their outdated menu, working on improving quality – feeling best when he sat down with the kitchen staff at the end of their shift, drinking a glass of wine, eating a bite or two and comparing notes. It was not long before soft flesh started spilling over his waist-band again, as the numbness in his insides faded to be replaced by warm satiation and an open mind for new ideas. After his year abroad in partner hotels in Paris, St. Moritz and Singapore, he spent his year as a deputy at the ‘Langdon Residency’ becoming thoroughly familiar with the house and making long lists of what to do differently, quickly realizing Warren had given him the job because the hotel badly needed a turn around. Before starting as director, he got Warren’s okay and budget for necessary investments. His predecessor, after a major row, had early on left the restaurant and kitchen to him, so he had already implemented many changes, picked new staff and started his first season with a completely revised menu and program.

Long forgotten was his senior year fasting as he hit 350 pounds after his first holiday season as director, which had been an enormous success with alternating theme menus espousing Christmas food traditions from different countries. Looking down at the scale over his round belly, feeling the flesh roles on his sides and pinching his double chin, he realized with an uncomfortable jolt that he was, well … fat.

Despite this not honestly troubling him - good food was paramount for him professionally as well as personally and he had come to appreciate the sensation of a full tummy - he was aware that being fat was commonly seen as bad, it had become more difficult to find clothes and low numbers on the scale were the ruling positive fetish. So he’d have to watch it a bit, try to eat a little less - but there were more important projects immediately at hand, like negotiating their take-over of the old city convention building adjacent to the hotel, remodeling it into an extension with more conference facilities. Or his dream of reviving the family bakery, finding out there was an old one for sale in the vicinity – and he might be able to win over Warren to become partner or give him a loan.

Sincerely enjoying his work, its challenges, the many interesting things and people he got to deal with, he lost track of his weight until the 402 pound back wrenching incident. Losing 18 pounds during his therapy convinced him he was now back on the right path, he’d be more careful this time – and wrote a proposal to Warren with the idea of selling their best small kitchen confections off in a deli. In addition, an interesting opportunity had materialized for him: His sweet old landlady had died at 96 decreeing in her will that he could buy the apartment at a rock bottom price if he committed to not selling it off for at least fifteen years.

These developments along with Warren loaning him the money for the bakery soon had him busier than ever, falling into bed late exhausted but satisfied with the level of progress he could see in so many fields. Two days before ‘Maynard’s – New French Boulangerie’ was to open, he slipped into one of his favorite shirts, startled at how it pinched his upper arms. As he tried to button it, there was a full hand wide gap between the two sides that could not meet over a belly which looked like the XL version of a medicine ball. With unease he remembered that he had worn this shirt as he had been weighed at 402 pounds – it not fitting anymore told him he had gained quite a bit past that mark again. Lifting his belly, soft, heavy and warm in his hands, he surveyed the small puff at its upper curve, testifying to his abundant breakfast. The bakery had delivered some of their trial run productions for him to examine, and he had done some extensive sampling. On the kitchen counter there was still a cinnamon bun and a brioche; with a greedy smirk, he settled back at the table and ate both; the cinnamon bun with plum preserve, the brioche with strawberry jam, both according to Aunt Katie’s recipes. The taste in his mouth reminded him so much of his aunt and uncle; he had to close his eyes not to be overcome with emotion. He chewed and swallowed with full cheeks in concentration, rubbing the big ball belly in his lap with his free hand. All of it felt and tasted so good, now that things were finally getting back to where they were supposed to be, who cared about a slightly inflated belly? It was shapely enough, sitting there big and round – he could deal with it some other time. For now he’d go buy himself several new shirts and a good suit to drape nicely around its large protuberance for the grand opening.

The grand opening was as wonderful, packed and successful as he had envisioned it in hopeful daydreams – it looked like they would get more orders for in-house deliveries than they could handle. Warren had come, blushing bashfully as he explained in his opening speech how much the Maynard bakery owed him. So had his mother, shaking her head in wonderment saying over and over, patting his belly: “You really are my big baby now – I can’t believe you resurrected our bakery.”

Coming home that evening, stuffed as never before since he had spent the entire day snacking, sampling, eating with customers, his belly was taught as a blown up balloon, no longer jiggling but swaying majestically with his movements. As he gingerly rubbed over it, electricity shot through him; his stretched skin ultra-sensitive to any touch. Savoring the pulsing arousal, he took Namée’s special massage oil to bed, rubbing and kneading his belly, pleasuring himself until he fell into deep sleep.

After these events, he dropped even his very sporadic concerns about whether he was gaining weight or getting fatter. Instead he developed an indulgent complacency regarding his belly’s needs, demands, appetites and expansion – catering to them as far as possible, feeling content when it swayed proudly in front of him or wickedly tickled, when it was squeezed into a slightly tight spot. Best was when it rested full, warm and very heavy in his lap sitting at his desk, working on improvements for guests, researching new recipes or simply munching on his favorite pastries from what finally was his own bakery, never mind Warren still being his partner, counting it’s mounting profits. Watching everything expanding and improving around him, it seemed the natural course of events, so it had not fully hit him until yesterday that putting on another 100 pounds to the incriminated number of 525 might not have been the best idea.

7. Has your weight ever influenced your relationship(s)?

A question he had never thought about – maybe because it hadn’t applied in recent years. Since he and Liza had broken up, he had shied away from relationships – first because he had been too wrapped up in overcoming his own problems, then too busy and preoccupied with interesting projects. And now – well from what he knew as common knowledge, women were not necessarily interested in 525 pound men, were they? So he’d postpone the question until he had lost some weight. Liza might have teased him a bit about his weight, but they had broken up because of the overload of family crisis that had hit him. She had been too young and inexperienced, had felt overburdened dealing with all the problems, he couldn’t blame her. Finding some of his answers already too long, he simply typed ‘No, not really’.

8. Do you ever feel guilty after eating?

What a bizarre question – why would anybody feel guilty after eating? Oh, maybe for eating junk food, that would make sense. Since he never ate junk food, he shook his head and typed NO.

9. Do you feel your weight makes it impossible for you to do things you would like or need to do?

Impossible things at 525 pounds? Where to start? He definitely could not go bungee jumping, learning to ski or surf was probably also out of the question; he was even doubtful whether he could still ride a bicycle. That along with not being able to use most gym equipment was a bit annoying sometimes, but not really significant. Not finding anything he sincerely regretted he decided again on: ‘No, not really’.

10. Have you made any lifestyle changes because of your weight?

This question left him uncertain – what exactly was she trying to find out? His lifestyle had not changed as he had gotten heavier, but he had made sure to adapt all necessities to accommodate his ballooning frame. In fact, it had been a particularly cherished part of indulging his swelling bulk to anticipate which changes might be needed next to keep it comfortable. Shortly after the discovery he was well over 400 pounds, he decided to upgrade to buying two seats when flying – easy since the hotel had several airline partner contracts. He disliked squeezing his pampered fat roles into too tight seats for hours, also ordering a handsomely padded seat-belt extension to take along, better than some cold metal digging into his soft tummy. In remodeling his apartment, he made the spaces in the new built-in professional kitchen extra wide and had his bathroom fitted with a reinforced toilette as well as a walk-in shower with a brick-built seat on which he could settle his outsized rear without trepidation. Much of his furniture was reinforced, at home as well as in the office. Having a fair share of his clothing custom made, marveling that he suddenly also needed to order XL clothes hangers for the tents which claimed to be his shirts or banning shoe laces from his life as far as possible.

As far as getting around was concerned, he was aware that he led a charmed life. Whenever he traveled, he stayed in partner hotels that catered to any of his known or even unknown needs. Going out in town, people knew him and always made sure he had the best seating arrangements possible. When visiting restaurants or so, the chefs were mostly keen on talking to him, maybe get a stint in his ‘visiting chef’ program at the hotel so he could ask for the moon if he wanted to. In the hotel, his staff went out of its way to make sure that everything ran smoothly for him, he was never confronted with potentially embarrassing situations and of course there was Namée who was almost militant in attending to his physical comfort.
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Old 06-27-2015, 02:58 AM   #5
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11. Have you ever been bullied, harassed, made fun of, verbally or physically abused because of your weight? Or have you received pressure from peers, friends, family because of your weight?

He wanted to write, “No, not really” again – only Liza harmlessly teasing him into a diet so many years ago coming to mind. Sure he received some gentle ribbing with an occasional belly pat, lately also some more concerned questions as he had gotten so huge, but all in all people were friendly, respectful and accepting of him and his bulk.

In a flash it resurfaced - the one remark that had truly hurt him, so badly he tried hard to repress it. Yet it probably was the real reason why he was sitting here with this questionnaire. It was only weeks ago, the aftermath of a day he would otherwise consider as perfect – in hindsight it might have been one of his biggest mistakes.

Warren had come for a day of events with several of their major partners and guests – it was the festive December holiday season, the time of year in which life in general centers around good food. The ‘Langdon Residency’ was fully booked, he could have sold off twice as many tickets to most of their events and in this cheery, successful spirit he had admittedly gotten into the mode of indulging his tummy even more than usual. When Warren arrived, they met for breakfast at 9:30, he eating his way through the buffet, taking notes on possible improvements while they discussed business until 11:00. Paul came at 11:30 with the cooking samples for tonight’s gala dinner, where Warren declined to try more than a bite and he finished all, suggesting several major changes in ingredients and presentation to Paul’s frustration. Afterwards he was nicely full, absentmindedly giving his puffed belly pats as he presented Warren some remodeling on the park side he wanted to do. At 1:00 they went together to the Christmas luncheon their best airline partner had scheduled to greet the guests, naturally being invited to stay.

“You’re not seriously going to have a five course luncheon now, are you? You’ve been eating non-stop all morning!” Warren looked at him strictly.

“We can’t say no, they’re among our best customers. Anyway, I think the menu Claire and I assembled is really interesting, you have to try it!”

Returning to his office at three, he was deliciously stuffed, his belly much more distended than normal at this time of day, the waistband of his pants cutting into him painfully. Settling at his desk, he asked Warren apologetically: “You don’t mind if I loosen up a little do you? You were right, that was a bit too much lunch for me today,” rubbing his sore gut after unhooking the waistband and pulling out the shirt.

“If you have to. I warned you, Christopher, you really have to cut back on your eating!”

An hour later, as they were still working on distributing conference bookings between the four hotels, Claire came in with tea and a nice tray. “I thought maybe it would be a nice idea for Mr. Langdon to see and sample the Christmas cookies we are putting into the give-away bags tonight.”

Warren had politely taken two small pieces with his tea, while Christopher had subconsciously let his pudgy fingers wander over the table to the tray in short regular intervals, taking a piece, putting it into his mouth, relishing the sensation of sweetness and spice, his chewing sending cozy quivers through his plump jowls and the pleasant discomfort of his belly fat slowly digging into the table. Suddenly he felt a sharp slap on his fingers, the cookie was taken away and Warren got up removing the tray, setting it outside the door. Christopher stared at him in shock, before he relented: “Sorry, you’re right, that was too much. I can’t resist, these are my uncle’s best recipes, they remind me….”

“Don’t get me wrong my boy, but do you really think your uncle would be proud of you if he saw you today?”

“I don’t want to sound too self-satisfied, but I think he would. That I work for you in this position; that with your help I managed to get the bakery started again, it’s…”

“That’s not what I mean – and you know it. Would he be proud if he saw that giant gut on you, that you are hundreds of pounds overweight? Sure your uncle had a well-fleshed baker’s build, but he was slender in comparison to you. How much do you weigh, any ideas?”

He blushed crimson, never had experienced Warren angry at him – and this line of questioning was indeed uncomfortable. “Ummm, well, I guess it’s a bit over 400 pounds,” relieved there was no instant way to verify this claim and tried to make amends. “Yeah, you’re right, I’ve gotten very heavy. Uncle Tom probably would be pretty shocked. I promise I’ll cut back on what I’m eating, not let Claire bring me cookies anymore.”

Warren had nodded with a small sad smile: “I mean well for you my boy, I hope you believe me.”

Getting ready for the evening banquet, his discomfort heightened as he noticed there was no chance of him fastening his waistband again; it had been tight before and with his belly expanded after today’s feasting, the case was lost. This meant he would have to wear a different suit, his pants lower under his belly with suspenders and a more voluminous shirt over it – a look which really show-cased his mega stomach, a sub-par solution given Warren’s criticism.

As the cocktail before the gala banquet already got him many compliments, Warren did not say anything more and the champagne’s bubbles buoyed his mood again all qualms had evaporated by the soup course. The rest of the evening passed in a rosy haze, the 7 course menu with fine wines was excellent even by his standards. He derived an almost erotic satisfaction from feeling the delicacies first melt in his mouth, then further swell the outsized white-shirted orb resting before him to finally hear the guests praise and give him so many new bookings and requests, he could almost not keep up with writing them down on his little note pad.

At the end of the dinner, he was deliriously full, delightfully tipsy and struggled to get up as the now gargantuan expanse of his gut with its weight threatened to throw him off balance. Paul, who had come to accept the kudos for the kitchen team, caught his arm and helped him up, grinning: “A little too good this evening, even for you, eh?”

“You and your team seriously out did yourselves, excellent work! My warmest thanks to all of you; this has been an outstanding evening and a fabulous advertisement, bringing in more business. It’ll most likely increase all of yours end of the year bonus.” Patting his outlandishly inflated belly with both hands grinning sheepishly, he added: “Do you know those little cartoon-like characters in the old French cookbooks? Those men who have so absolutely gigantic bellies that they push them around on small wheel-barrows? That’s how I feel right now. Anybody happen to have a wheel-barrow I can role this big one around in?”

Out of the corner of his eye, he had caught Warren’s seemingly disgusted expression, heading off to the bar since he had stuck more to drinking than eating throughout the evening. Since it was too late and he seriously too stuffed to make the effort to go home, he rolled his way back to his office suite, puffing deeply in contentment. Undressing, the over stretched skin of his gut itched agreeably, so he took massage oil and started applying it, scratching energetically, before shifting to a true massage. It released the pressure on his overloaded stomach, while the moving heavy flesh intensified that in his groin until he let out a low moan of excitement, rolling over on the bed, finishing the job off with a guttural grunt. Hadn’t he recently read the term ‘food orgasm’ somewhere? This is what they must be talking about, fantastic, he mused, quickly dropping off to sleep.

Going down to meet Warren for breakfast the next morning, he found him ready to leave. “Warren, I hope you slept well? Shall we not have breakfast before you head off?”

“Breakfast? After last night’s dinner the last thing I need is breakfast! You don’t need it either!”

“How about just a nice cappuccino then?” getting the impression Warren looked a bit hung over.

“No, I really got to leave now. I can’t stand the thought of spending another day here, watching you stuff yourself like a prize hog the whole time, until that super-fat gut of yours maybe explodes!”

In this moment he couldn’t breathe, it hurt so bad. He had no sense of how long he stood there, only that sometime he managed to mutter: “Have a safe trip then,” before he turned and walked away. Somehow he got back to his office, sank down at his desk and sat there, Warren’s cruel words ringing in his ears, a stinging emotional pain clawing through his insides. The first straight thought he had was – if this was the way Warren really saw him and his work, how could he stay on here as director? Would there be a way to pay him off as partner in the bakery without having to shut it down again? Was he stuck now in the same dilemma as he had been at the end of college, having to give up his life’s dream – only this time self-inflicted because he had gained hundreds of pounds?

Anger and resentment soon joined pain and desperation: His fat was mainly occupational hazard, after all Warren got a lot of positive publicity out of his management of the kitchen and bakery. While his ‘Residency’ was in all gourmet guides and had won a number of rankings, Warren’s ‘Imperial Residency’ had flunked all of the latest ratings! And he certainly was no hog, but a highly educated culinary professional!

It was already past noon as his stomach rumbled hungrily and the phone rang with the caller id of Warren’s cell. Not wanting to see or talk to anyone, he turned off his cell phone, took two bananas for the road and walked home. Fretting all day, he was ravenous and started to bake in the evening, fixing a dark chocolate and a mango-yoghurt gateau until three in the morning, eating half of each as consolation. He was woken by his private phone the next morning – Warren again, he did not answer. Instead he called the front desk saying he was working from home and to only call in emergencies. Now he was in the mind-set that he’d show Warren who was the better hotel manager and started writing exposés energetically, trying to eat sensibly with fruit and two turkey sandwiches.

In the afternoon, Namée called reminding him of their session which he ineffectually tried to cancel. She let him know in no uncertain terms he needed his swim and massage, so he better be there. Afterwards, he was relieved he had obeyed her as usual. Her infallible instinct deriving something was massively wrong, Namée had first made him swim for 20 minutes longer and then extended his massage to a full 60 minutes with warm oil, working the magic of making all his many flesh roles feel tender as well as vibrant, restoring much of his energy. Going freshly dressed to get a sensible three-course dinner in the restaurant he actually pitied Warren that he had no real appreciation for the pleasures of culinary excellence and the comforts a resulting abundant body could bring.

Sitting at his desk the next morning, he deleted all messages from Warren and started to catch up on yesterday’s files, as the front desk called: “Christopher, Mr. Langdon for you on line 3.”

“Sorry Tricia, please tell him I’m busy. I’ll call back later,” not wanting to speak to him before he had talked to his bank about the potential of a loan for buying back the bakery.

Sorry Christopher, he insists to be put through. Or get you to take it here at the front desk.”

“Okay, I’ll take it then,” immediately hearing Warren’s voice as he pressed the button: “Thank God, I’ve been trying to reach you for two days now! Are you okay, my boy? Is everything alright?

“Everything is fine sir, thank you,” he answered stiffly. “If you have no pressing matters, I would ask to postpone our talk since I am pretty busy.”

Christopher, you know I’m calling to apologize sincerely to you – that cannot wait any longer. What I said on leaving was unforgivable – and I want to let you know how very sorry I am.” A silence followed since he was unable to speak; Warren’s apology only caused his cutting remarks with the awful hurt they created to run through his mind again, looking down at his overflowing stomach. “Christopher, are you still there, did you hear my apology?

“Yes sir, thank you sir, I accept your apology.”

Doesn’t really sound like it, I know how you sound when you’re insincere.” Warren sighed heavily at the other end of the line. “As I said, I know what I said was absolutely unforgivable; worse it was also unfair and not true. All I can say in my defense is I didn’t mean it. It burst out because I was hung-over, had slept poorly. And because I’m simply very worried about you and your health.

“It’s okay, really. Let’s forget about it.”

I can tell you haven’t even considered forgetting it. Now spit it out, what would you like to tell me, which shit can you give me? Get it off your chest; I don’t want anything to stand between us.”

“Well … it’s just .. what you said showed me that you might no longer see me and my work as I do. That’s not a good foundation for working together.” He swallowed very hard, fighting back a small choke. “Maybe it’s better if I leave the ‘Langdon Residency’ – I’m working on a way to buy off your shares in the bakery, if you let me.”

A groan came over the line. “That’s how I feared you would react. I can understand it. My reaction probably would be no different. My remark was totally out of line. No matter what you think now, I still see you as the best executive I have, whose dedication and talents I honestly admire. Above all, whose well-being is personally very important to me. Can I please ask you to forgive and hopefully over time forget this awful faux-pas? Let us continue working together as well as we always have?

Having known Warren for so long, all he had done for him, he knew the apology was heartfelt and he had to accept it and move on. “Yes Warren, thank you, for your apology. Let’s really forget about it.”

Okay my boy, I’m a little bit relieved -but still very worried. So promise me one thing – do make a New Year’s Resolution to limit yourself to three courses in the future, yes? We can talk about everything else when I come next time.”

And the next time he had come had been yesterday, with Wershowitz and the diet plan, he sighed heavily as his stomach growled. He knew Warren truly had the best intentions and meant well for him, but that didn’t make it any easier. What he was asking was no less than coercing him to decide between the two essentials in his life: Good food and his work at the hotel.

Despite having the bakery again, it was not the same without Uncle Tom – it was no longer family, just an, albeit very good, business. The hotel had turned into his home, his family, his haven, his stage, his baby …. he simply could no longer see himself without being able to amble through the park every morning to take good care of it, make it even better, make sure the people working and staying there were as content with it as he was. Still more, the idea of getting the opportunity to turn the other ‘Langdon’ houses into the same truly modern first class quality hotels made his fingers itch in anticipation and his brain start whirring excitedly with ideas. But if he wanted that, he would have to forsake, or at least massively reduce his love for food.

Food on the other hand was the second focal point in his existence – his best friend, soulmate, almost lover given the semi-erotic satisfaction he could get out of eating. It was his inspiration, consolation, favorite toy, continuous challenge, the last existing link to his family traditions and by now probably also claim to fame. He couldn’t see himself without working with food every day, trying new ideas, finding success with physical satiation. True, maybe he was exaggerating, on a diet he still would be allowed to eat – but it would be all about control, restriction, denial not about creativity, pleasure and fulfillment.

Patting his big, soft, empty, hungry, growling tummy soothingly, every shred of his emotional self rejecting the diet project, his rational brain reminded him there probably was some truth in what Warren had told him. No matter how comfortable he currently was with it, 525 pounds was objectively too heavy – and if he went on as he had, if he did gain another 100 pounds, would he then still be able to do the job? Simple decency and gratitude obliged him to at least try not to disappoint Warren – difficult as it might seem to him, so he finished by typing ….

12. Which reasons do you have for losing weight now? Which are your goals?

Found out I weigh 525 pounds – that is too much. Need to lose about 200 pounds to be able to make next career developments.
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Old 06-27-2015, 03:00 AM   #6
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steps … that is how far it was from his apartment to the hotel – or at least what the odd little step counter said he was wearing by Wershowitz’s order for a week to test his activity level; official goal was 4000 steps a day. Considering that his walk to and from the hotel was already 3432 steps – how was he supposed to get through the day with only 568 more steps? Who came up with these absurd ideas in diet programs?

“Good morning Christopher, good to see you again,” Tricia greeted him with an unreadable smile. “I’ll call Claire right away; have her bring your breakfast up to your office.”

She was on the phone again before he could respond, handing him a pack of papers over the counter. He wondered what that was all about – everybody knew he either had breakfast at home or here at the buffet, doing his first daily check in the restaurant. As he turned to go in that direction, Tricia waved him back: “Christopher, everything is waiting in your office, you can really go up now. Mr. Langdon has made all arrangements.”

Bewildered, he did as told, arriving at his office door together with Claire, who with a shy, apologetic smile set a breakfast tray with a pink grapefruit, a banana and his favorite dark bread with baked ham and lettuce on it before him. “Good morning, I hope this is an okay start for your day.”

Then it struck him: “Claire … you didn’t tell anybody about my diet in the past two days I wasn’t here – did you? You promised you wouldn’t!”

Claire shook her head forcefully, her dark blue eyes full of compassion, pointing at a sheet of pink paper on his desk with Warren’s signature. It was yesterday’s meeting invitation for all heads of unit of the hotel, confidentially, on how to support him with his diet. He groaned and buried his face in his hands. How humiliating – everybody knew that he had gotten so fat that the hotel corporation CEO in person had put him on a diet! Asking them to help, as if he didn’t trust him to manage it on his own! Great – how was he ever going to be able to exercise authority over his employees now?

“I’m so sorry Christopher, I tried everything to convince Mr. Langdon and this doctor not to do it, that you’d hate it, that it’d be better for you to do it yourself, but they wouldn’t listen to me! “

He looked up at her, seeing her distressed expression, and put his large padded hand over her small one resting on the table. “Thank you so much Claire, you’re such a help for me. It’s not your fault, I know. Did you go to the meeting? What did everybody say?”

“Everybody was really nice, understanding and supportive, came up with very constructive ideas, you know. We all like working here for you, you’re a good boss,” she gently squeezed the dimples in the flesh on his hand with her free one. “Like Namée already handed in your new schedule with her - 12 instead of 6 sessions a month now; it’s on the yellow sheet under the pink one.”

“That’s very nice – but no one here will see me as the boss now anymore, only as the super fat guy who has been put on a diet and needs an entire hotel to watch it for him,” he sounded bitter.

“That’s not true! We all like and respect you just the way you are –because you’re a good, competent boss who knows what he is doing!” she blushed, nervously pushing her blond hair behind her ears.

“Claire, you being really sweet – what can I say? Thank you for everything – starting with this breakfast here, it looks just fine.” He had to think of some way to truly thank Claire, also give her the chance to show her talents more than as Paul’s sous-chef.

“The nutritionist Dr. Wershowitz booked for you is coming at 2 p.m. – do you want me to come to? All information about her is in that envelope. Shall I bring your lunch then at 12:30?”

“I’ll look into everything and let you know then. 12:30 sounds perfect.”

Struggling with coming to terms with the mortifying fact that the hotel staff had been enlisted to help him with his diet, his mood went further downhill as he got an overview of what Warren had been up to the past two days he had taken over the office. Not only had he signed a contract with a tour operator Christopher had black-listed for not meeting financial obligations, but he had also given into Paul’s whining and increased his budget by 7%. As he wanted to go down check on the menu suggestions for the next days – no more sampling, he was aware of that – Paul and Claire came up instead, armed with the suggestions, recipes and a small bowl of Greek yoghurt for him, to appease his stomach, as Claire shyly put it.

The discussion with Paul was more than annoying: He was smugly self-satisfied that Warren had agreed to his ideas and seemed to believe he would have the upper hand now that Christopher was officially not allowed to sample, correct and re-cook his menu suggestions. He knew Paul was an excellent chef, with outstanding technical skills and very creative – but he needed to be reined in since he was blind to customer demand and lacked common business sense.

Lunch – a small omelet and salad with fresh mushrooms - was served at his desk and he took the time to look through the file of this nutritionist, Stephanie Weymouth was her name. She seemed to have some diverse experience, was trained in food science and had been to culinary school in Boston and Switzerland. Most recently she had run a so-called ‘holistic’ program for teenagers with eating disorders – fabulous, so Warren and Wershowitz had chosen some sort of baby-sitter for him, probably to do all sorts of silly diet motivation gimmicks.

Bringing his lunch tray back down to the restaurant, Claire looked at him in concern: “Christopher, you needn’t have come; I would’ve picked it up later.”

“It’s okay Claire; I have to take a few things down to the front desk anyway.”

At the front desk, Tricia was flustered too. “Christopher, you should’ve called me, I would’ve brought you everything. You don’t have to come all the way down here. That’s too much….”

“Tricia, I’m on a diet, not ill! I can walk; it’s actually good for me! Dieting is not any easier if I’m cooped up in my office all day. Or are you afraid I’m going to bite one of our guests because I’m so famished?” Tricia blushed, stammered and shook her head.

Back in his office he started on the tedious task of checking inventory lists as there was a knock on his door and a young woman entered. She was a very curvy, decidedly pear-shaped brunette with nice high breasts, accentuated by fitted black jeans, a black velvet jacket and a soft rose&black low cut t-shirt. “Good afternoon, I’m Stephanie Weymouth. Dr. Wershowitz sent me for your diet program.”

“You’re the nutritionist? I thought you were supposed to be thin for that job!” it blurted out of him, unthinking, since from his perspective she had to be about 50 pounds heavier than he would expect from somebody with that job description.

“Yes, I am a nutritionist, an academically qualified one as such. My own size is mostly seen as helpful and reassuring by my patients because I know firsthand that keeping your weight in check requires hard work and healthy choices.” She had flushed slightly with an indeterminable glint in her eyes as she surveyed him before she set down her bag, bent over and took some papers out.

At the sight of her very shapely, broad cushioned back side, his mouth went dry and to his disbelief he felt his manhood stir eagerly under his belly. If he had farmer’s market pumpkins as a rear, she had two of the most beautiful Halloween children’s pumpkins as backside he had ever seen. Dazed he tried to make up for his gaffe: “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean … I’m about the last person who can call anybody else fat….”

Her raised eyebrows told him this was no better … as he realized what he had said probably was even worse. “Cut Ms. Weymouth, I’m so sorry… could you maybe please go out the door, knock again and then we’ll start over? I’ve talked myself into a hopeless situation.”

Letting out a small laugh, she walked back out, showing off her spectacular backside again, rounding over Rubenesque thighs and came back in after a knock. “Good afternoon, I’m Stephanie Weymouth. Dr. Wershowitz sent me for your diet program.”

“Thank you for coming Ms. Weymouth. I’m Christopher Maynard, director of this hotel, 525 pound impolite idiot and your patient, client, whatever.”

“That does sound a lot better. Nice to meet you – is it okay if we stick to Christopher and Stephanie?” she had a bit naughty, tinkling laugh.

“Why of course. Sorry for my initial reaction – don’t know what I was thinking, I guess …”

“No, it’s okay. I get that reaction regularly. Nevertheless, I do think I have comparative advantages in my job over the born size 0 nutritionist. I know what it’s like to diet, to fight the daily fight between healthy choices and the sheer pleasures of good food,” she winked at him, eyeing his belly mass, making his face grow hot. For a second he thought of sitting up, trying to suck it in and cover it up – but who was he fooling? She knew how much he weighed, and every part of his body was encased in countless inches of excess flab, so one or two less in the belly made no difference.

“Now thank you for sending me back the questionnaire so promptly, you gave a few very interesting and unusual answers,” Stephanie continued with a smile. She had plump, slightly puckered lips in a heart shaped face, wide brown doe eyes and glossy dark brown hair over her shoulders, which swept across her high round breasts with some movements. “There are a few more things we should talk about before we get into the details of your program. As you know from my profile, I believe in not only putting together a balanced meal plan for you, but setting it in context of exercise and other personal activities. So far, Dr. Wershowitz has put down a standard plan for you – and from these notes, a certain Claire, your sous-chef here is taking care of it, is that correct?”
He nodded, having a hard time concentrating on her questions.

“The goals you wrote down are long term as well as ambitious – 200 pounds in 2 years in an awful lot and a relatively long time period. Especially since, given your weight, you have rather limited diet experience, time as well as weight wise. Don’t you think it might be a good idea to maybe come up with a smaller, more short- to mid term goal – let’s say 6 months?”

“Limited experience?” His brain was preoccupied with two of the most basic needs, hunger and sexual desire; it didn’t have the capacity left to try to unravel diet gibberish.

“What I mean is, most people in your weight category have or claim to have dieted much more frequently and over longer periods of time than you do. So you are either very inexperienced in the field – or particularly honest.” There it was again, that cute little wink which made him forget the awful issues she was talking about, just see those puckered lips and round breasts. “So my question is – don’t you want to maybe give yourself a goal for the next six months first?”

All he could think of was that Warren had said 2 years and 200 pounds, so he shook his head.

“Okay, if you say so, are convinced. Next step is to look at your regular diet, meaning what you have been eating so far. Normally that’s done with a so-called food journal monitoring your intake over a few weeks. But Dr. Wershowitz said to start right away, so we’ll sort of re-enact that – and please be as honest as you were in the questionnaire, if possible. May I use your white-board over there?”

As she got up again, swaying those luscious wide hips, flaunting her big round booty his mind went completely blank, the discomfort from his sexual arousal heightened and he nodded again. What was wrong with him – he couldn’t remember having reacted so strongly to a woman in ages? In addition, she was talking about something he hated and she probably wasn’t even conventionally attractive! She reminded him of … it took a while to surface in his mind … of the beautiful abundant colorful female ‘Nana’ statues by the French artist Niki de St.Phalle; she had the same lovely exaggerated feminine proportions! In Lyon, he had done an incredibly silly but very fun course once on art and patisserie, copying paintings and sculptures from renowned artists in chocolate, caramel, sugar confectionary or whatever. He had made oddities like the Mona-Lisa engraved in chocolate medallions or Niki de St.Phalle statuettes in Marzipan … oh he’d love to make a life-size Stephanie ‘Nana’ statue and bite into one of her bulging ass cheeks. Above all, he looked at the rings on her fingers, she was married. Brilliant, he was lusting after a married, chubby diet talker while starving to death …

“Christopher – are you listening?” He shook himself to focus again, re-shifting his bulk, but the discomfort remained, looking at her in questioning. “Let’s get started on putting together what and how you eat on a normal day. What about breakfast – you have breakfast, don’t you?”

“Yes, I always have breakfast. Depending on time, mood, appointments either here at the hotel breakfast buffet or at home.”

“Okay – what do you normally eat for breakfast?”

“Again, that depends: how hungry I am on waking up, how much time I have, what was for dinner the night before, if I want to try a new recipe. Always something fresh, sometimes fried a different style of eggs about twice a week. I like inventing new cereal combinations, but also good breads with cold cuts or cheeses and fruit, in the winter something warm like oatmeal or rice pudding.” Talking about food made his stomach grumble loudly.

Stephanie nodded, wrote some of what he had said down on the board. “Then what’s next – lunch?”

“Well before lunch, about 11:00/11:30 we always have our restaurant and deli planning session – we often sample something, try out new recipes, and the like.”

“Instead of lunch?”

“No, before lunch. This monster here needed a lot of work and ingredients to get to this size.” He couldn’t help smirking bashfully at her, sticking out his belly and patting it fondly and energetically, till it jiggled visibly. “Then there’s lunch which I either have at the buffet, testing quality and presentation – or in case I have a lunch meeting, that would be the 3-course business lunch. In the afternoon I have tea around 4:00, always with pastries, ice cream, fruit, cookies, etc. Then dinner in the evening, mostly at home to try out new recipes, or cook an all time favorite if I’m stressed. Or otherwise here in the hotel, and sometimes I go out to do some competition monitoring.”

“So you normally have five meals a day?”

“Yeah, I guess you can call them meals – none of them qualifies as a snack.” Looking at what Stephanie had written down, he suddenly remembered Warren witnessing him eating like this on a particularly indulgent day - no wonder he had thought he was a hog! From his point of view, it had been normal-plus, but he could see how an outsider might perceive it. What was Stephanie thinking?

“Regarding the number of meals you split your daily ration into, that’s something I’m open about – different things work for different people. If I diet, for instance, I stick to two meals a day with plenty of time for them. I know some people, who need like 5 meals, even if they’re only bigger snacks. My advice would be to try to reduce your intake to 3 meals a day, also to keep the overall amounts and calories in mind. You’re a food professional, so I don’t have to start with the basics – like you need more than a micro-wave and a freezer in your kitchen or that vegetables are eatable. But I’d ask you to focus a bit on calories in your meals – something we all normally prefer to blend out,” she smiled indulgently at him.

“Sure, in theory, I know how to do that.”

“Dr. Wershowitz gave me a standardized plan for you I’m not fully convinced of. He ignored how heavy and active you are, meaning you do need more energy just to maintain your weight. So we should develop something more personalized for you. If I may give you some homework – why don’t you write up ‘diet versions’ of your 10 favorite recipes for me? Then we can discuss them next time .. and move on from there. Is that okay for you?”

Despite expecting the diet to be difficult, he was deeply disturbed how awful it turned out to be in reality. Since he had indulged his appetite with few restrictions over the past years, simply cutting back to three meals a day was hard. Yet it was not only constant hunger – gnawing, biting, grumbling, even aching hunger – bothering him, there were more levels on which he keenly felt the absence of the exquisite, plentiful food he was accustomed to. Not only his stomach was used to being nicely full most of the day, his entire body had adapted to the sensation: The warm fullness, the light puff distending his belly, forcing him to push it forward with a lightly rolling gait, sticking out round and proud or resting expansively in his lap giving him a feeling of comfort, reassurance and strength. Now it seemed just very heavy, a bit ungainly, more like hanging sad and hungry in front of him.

Missing was the emotional satisfaction the taste and texture of good food gave him … plus he quickly was also fighting basic boredom. Cooking, baking, eating, sampling, researching, inventing or revising recipes had taken up a major, most enjoyable portion of his work as well as leisure time. Now when he came home from the hotel, he was at a loss of what to do. Researching und re-writing recipes was no fun if you could not try them out. He had re-organized his cook book collection as well as his electronic recipe archive twice in three weeks. To have something else to do, he had started playing around with the architect’s remodeling software, coming up with no less than four more alternatives – to the already proposed three – for the hotel’s park side, driving the builders crazy. He stayed long hours in the hotel, even though it was low season, annoying his heads of units because he meddled into their business in such detail. The pool and gym team carefully but seriously told him he could not lock himself up in there to hang out in the pool or Jacuzzi endlessly because hotel guests and regulars were starting to complain about extended closing hours.

Had he so far always gone to bed physically, mentally and emotionally satiated to sleep like a log, waking up refreshed and full of energy, now hunger and frustration kept him awake, to later sleep fitfully before being roused by his alarm clock, feeling groggy and only howling hunger moving him to get up. All this left him grumpy, irritable and moody, which he to his own embarrassment let out on almost anybody who got in his way. The fact that much of his staff responded to his behavior with gentle understanding oddly did not make things easier – he hated being perceived and treated like the irascible dieter who needed to be humored, instead of the nice, big, competent boss.

Part of his frustration seamlessly parlayed into his dealings with Stephanie: He anticipated their meetings with a weird mixture of resentment and eagerness. On the one hand he hated talking about all diet issues. He didn’t want to think about the endless months, years he still had to live with this diet or discuss the boring diet recipes, which seemed to all consist of the same list of rather limited ingredients. Most of the exercises, questions and recommendations that supposedly supported him in dieting only left him feeling ridiculous or as if nobody was taking him seriously.

On the other hand, he for some inexplicable reason totally had the hots for Stephanie, her very pronounced curves and spectacular backside. Sure, she was rather cute with those big brown eyes, plump, puckered lips and nice cleavage – but he started to think he was mainly so aroused because her juicy plumpness visually promised the quenching of the painful hunger he was currently suffering from. If he was realistic though, she was rather nice and helpful – so he tried hard to come across during their sessions as a normal, competent, easy-going guy, only to fail miserably most of the time. Either the issues she talked about irritated him to sooner or later snap or whine at her like a spoiled child, or some movement, shift, sway of her hyper-feminine body triggered such unbearable feelings of lust in him that he could no longer concentrate on what she was saying or he was supposed to do so he repeatedly made a fool of himself.

After the first two weeks of his diet Stephanie said on coming in: “Now today we have to face the dreaded contraption to see how you’re doing.”

“Which dreaded contraption?”

“Well – the scale. We have to weigh you to keep track of your progress.”

“Yeah – dreaded contraption fits. How often do we have to do that?”

“Normally once a week, at least every two weeks. So where do you have the scale?”

“We need to go down. If it’s necessary, let’s get it over with.”

As they reached the basement level, Stephanie turned left towards the gym and pool. “No, over here,” he unlocked the door on the right towards the laundry and other facilities in the basement, heading directly towards the rear delivery entrance. Arriving there, he looked around to then pull out the small manual fork lifter scale.

“What’s that?” Stephanie’s eyes went wide.

“Um… that’s the mobile scale we used last time, only Wershowitz had had brought up to my office. It carries up to one ton, so we’re fine.”

“You can’t use that, that’s awful … how could he, how cruel, I’m so sorry,” she couldn’t stop stammering and apologizing, taking his hand and trying to pull him away.

“Wait a minute, calm down, it’s no problem, it worked alright last time. This is the easiest here, better than the huge laundry scale. And the regular ones in the gym only carry up to 300 pounds – no idea if I’ll ever fit on one of those again.”

“No, this is impossible, it’s degrading, no wonder it’s difficult for you to find the right attitude towards this diet, you poor thing,” her voice was almost choked.

“Stephanie, I appreciate you’re so considerate, but it’s no big deal, I hate getting on any scale – no matter which scale it is. Running a hotel, you constantly have to improvise – like there’s a snow storm and you’re suddenly double booked, have to set up beds in the gym. Or somebody screwed up the reservation for a wedding reception and you have to decorate extra tables out of nothing with bed sheets, flowers from the front desk and ivy we stole in the park. Something like this is normal for me. I’ll take off only my shoes though, not undress as far as I did last time, okay?”

She nodded with a small sniff and then mumbled: “520” looking at the scale.

“Aha – is that good or bad?”

“Five pounds less in two weeks is normal for your size to start out with.” As he plopped down heavily on the elevated ramp step to try to pull his shoes back on in sitting, difficult with the fat tires of his chest and gut in the way, she quickly went down on her knees and slipped his feet back into the shoes, her eyes wet with tears as he noted in surprise.

Maybe the fact that Stephanie’s behavior was almost as inconsistent as his made things so difficult, yet admittedly interesting. Most of the time, she was cool, professional and therapeutically motivating, which surprisingly annoyed him more than anything, because he hated being treated like a patient and found much of the ‘diet talk’ borderline ridiculous. Sometimes he noticed she could barely keep her patience with his mood swings, almost as if she’d like to give him a telling off with a slap like a misbehaving teenager.

Now and then she got into a flirtatious, lively mood, turning him on so badly he had to physically restrain himself from grabbing her into his arms. Obvious was she maintained an extreme physical distance, never even touching him when showing him exercises or the like. In one incident when she was showing balance and breathing exercises, she happened to grab into his love handle to steady him, immediately pulling back her hand as if bitten and shuddering visibly. This had hurt him more than he liked to admit, thinking her behavior was not only unprofessional, but also unjustified. She had enough padding herself to know how it felt like - namely very nice, warm, soft, palpably pleasant.
Then again she had moments like now, when she was incredibly caring, considerate and compassionate often over such trifles he had difficulty in understanding their significance. What more, Claire treated Stephanie quite frostily and could not mask her dislike – making the air tense when both of them happened to be together in his office.
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Old 06-27-2015, 03:01 AM   #7
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A particularly awful day came at the end of his fourth diet week: It had been trying with a big conference by an incompetent team of organizers, so the hotel staff had to do constant emergency fire-fighting to make things run halfway smoothly. Before lunch he had had a major argument with Paul that it was a complete business insanity to plan a $75 engagement dinner with ingredient costs per person coming up to $55. He had slept poorly because he was so hungry.

Now his stomach was grumbling achingly as first Stephanie came for their next session, and then a little later Claire with his lunch – a wrap with chicken breast, arugula, grilled tomato and zucchini.

“Shit - not another chicken breast! If I eat any more of these, I’ll start clucking around!” he fumed as he saw the plate. “And it also looks like the smallest one you could find, how am I supposed to survive on that? But from the looks of it, big breasts are not your thing!” looking at her flat chest scathingly.
Claire’s eyes filled, as she barely murmured: “Bon appétit” in reflex before she quickly left the room. Seeing her tears, instant shame overcame him: His remark had been unbelievably stupid and in rotten taste–Stephanie’s eyebrows reaching her hair line didn’t improve matters. “What?”

“Why don’t you eat first before we discuss the next steps,” her voice was cool and smooth.

Claire’s tears and the uncomfortable knowledge he had behaved like an absolute asshole in front of the two women he currently cared most for had dented his appetite and he slowly chewed his way through the wrap, knowing he’d regret it if he didn’t at least eat up the measly portion. Finishing, he sighed to Stephanie: “Look, what I just said to Claire was dreadful – you don’t need to tell me. I don’t think I’ve ever said anything so … whatever … to a woman before. I don’t normally go about treating everybody like shit. I can’t understand what’s wrong with me – maybe I’m suffering from diet induced brain damage or something. I’ll honestly apologize to Claire, think of a really good way of making it up. I know she’s the last one here to deserve such treatment.”

“Fine-that’s a good idea,” her eyes were warm and seemed understanding. “Still – what we’re doing here is not working. Deep down you resent this diet … and you let it out on Claire, as if she was the evil one denying you the food you love out of pure malice. The problem with this set up is you’re not personally taking responsibility for your diet. Dr. Wershowitz seems to have had the idea it’d be good to keep you out of the kitchen and away from food. That’s an approach I generally don’t believe in – and currently seeing how you’re doing confirms this. You know how to cook; you’ll only be able to really change your eating habits if you are fully in charge of them.”

“You’re right, I miss cooking and baking a lot. Never thought that would lead to such outbursts.”

“Well, it normally doesn’t. But it’s a problem you also have in diet clinics - patients take on only a surrogate responsibility for their lives and wonder why things go wrong when they’re back in the real world. So-starting tomorrow, I want you to cook your own food again – now diet style. Have breakfast and dinner at home, bring lunch to the office.”

“Sounds like a worthwhile idea – maybe I’ll be more focused then. Can you give me those plans and lists of ingredients so I can go shopping?”

“I have a different plan. Tomorrow is Saturday, would it be okay if I came to your place, take a look at what you have in your kitchen and we work out together, what you need to buy, go shopping? That might make the shift more productive. Or do you mind showing your kitchen?”

“ Absolutely not. I like my kitchen, my apartment. But it’s Saturday, what about your weekend, your..?”

“No, that’s fine, no plans this weekend. So, I’ll be there tomorrow morning, 9:30 for breakfast.”

“What do I need to do?”

“Have coffee ready – I’ll bring everything else!”

The next morning he was ready at 9:05 and nervous as he would be on a first date. In the evening, he had made his apartment gleam, although this was unnecessary since Uncle Tom and Aunt Katie’s teachings and the years in the hotel had made him internalize keeping everything pristine as part of the business. On the upside, he noticed that his favorite black jeans did fit normally again, no more excessive overhang, and he paired them with a nice black, white and red Vichy plaid shirt. But if this was supposed to be diet success, he moodily thought, it was a small reward for four miserable weeks – it would’ve been easier to buy a new pair of larger jeans.

His overall size still was huge as he noticed in the mirror, greeting Stephanie on coming in. Yet next to her, he did not look as monstrously fat as he did next to petite Claire – her own statuesque abundance, excitingly shapely in black jeans and a laced blouse in black with red and white embroidery was a better balance to his bulk. Watching her round buttocks move rhythmically as he followed her into the kitchen his jeans did all of a sudden feel very constricting again.

“Weekend breakfast goody for you – you have a waffle maker, don’t you?”

“Of course I do!”

“That’s what I thought. So- my personal development – healthy but tasty: Whole-wheat buttermilk waffles with grated apple and cinnamon-sugar. How does that sound?”

“Fantastic! Just what I need this morning! Thank you!” he beamed at her.

“Thank you!” the response was a bit pointed.

“Why do you thank me?”

“For the first true smile you’ve ever given me!” her grin was sweet with a wicked edge, making him feel his cheeks redden.
“It probably good you have so much experience working with problem teens – so you know how to handle guys like me, who behave like a hungry bear running amok all the time. I’m sorry; I’m not normally such a jerk. This diet brings out the worst in me.”

“Don’t worry, you’re doing fine – except for the hungry bear part,” she gave him another of those winks. “A strict diet is an extreme situation, people respond differently to a total lifestyle change – that sometimes is a bit like puberty all over. So the teen experience does help. Will you please put out the waffle maker and then peel and grate these apples?”

Watching her make the batter and bake the waffles, he couldn’t resist positioning himself behind her so that the full round curve of his belly half rested on her seductive backside, forcing him to hold his breath so turned on was he. His stomach ruined the moment since it growled demandingly and Stephanie turned around, looked at him with the saddest expression possible, muttering: “Go sit down, I’ll bring your waffles in a minute.”

While eating they made small-talk about the waffle recipe and as he had hungrily finished his three waffles, she with a sly grin pushed over her third on his plate: “A very small indulgence,” strictly shaking her head as he wanted to protest. Gratefully, he devoured the fourth waffle to lean back, rub the curve of his belly which for the first time in weeks had a small puff again, making him sigh in contentment. “That was wonderful, thank you.”

“It’s more than the plan prescribes, but relaxing a little once a week helps a lot. Let’s check on which staples you have in the kitchen, before we discuss next week’s plan and what we need to buy.”

Going food shopping with Stephanie in the sunshine, debating what exactly to buy, ogling her cleavage when she bent over, his tummy half-way soothed made his Saturday better than he had thought possible. When only bread was left on the list, he suggested shyly: “As you might guess, I only eat our own bread. I can call to have it delivered. But … well … I’d like to show you the bakery. Would you mind if we called a cab to drive over, pick up the bread and I’ll show you around a bit?”

“Why yes, that’s a great idea! I haven’t been behind the scenes of a big bakery in ages. But why call a cab? We can take my car, if yours isn’t here.”

“Ummm … I don’t have a car. I well … it was old and rusty from college and I sort of out-grew it too,” he was a touch embarrassed. “Now if I need to drive I can take one of the hotel rental cars… they’ve two models which are perfect for me.”

“Okay, we’ll take my car then, it’s parked right around the corner from your house.”

“No… really … a cab is bigger … I don’t want to break ….,” he rarely felt so uneasy.

“Don’t worry, you’ll be fine,” Stephanie reassured him, opening the door of one of these smaller city SUVs. Working his bulk in, he was surprised the seat was comfortable enough, pushed far back and even had a seat-belt extension that fit around his circumference perfectly. Breathing an audible sigh of relief, folding his hands in relaxation over the big mound in his lap, he noticed from the side she was somehow agitated, taking deep gulping breaths and closing her eyes.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine… maybe open the window, get more fresh air…” she turned the ignition and headed off, concentrating on the traffic, avoiding looking at him, leaving him to revel in the warm sensation of one of his thick sides roles squishing into her plump, cushioned thighs.

Once in the bakery, Stephanie was less tense and followed his explanations with what seemed to be increasing amusement. He knew he was getting carried away, but he was so proud of everything they had accomplished, of the history of their recipes, that he went into lengthy details. At the end they picked up a small loaf of rye bread and two sunflower seed whole-wheat roles and he asked: “May I invite you to a pastry, my latest creation, lime-meringue tartlets? Who knows, maybe they’re the last pastry I’ve ever created,” defeatism overcoming him.

“Hey, you’re on a diet not on death row, don’t exaggerate! But you know what I say about snacking – so I’ll be happy to take a lime-meringue tartlet along if you are so kind to offer it, to have it tomorrow for Sunday dessert. Why don’t we have another coffee out on the terrace? You’ve done a beautiful job on making it look very inviting,” making him smile again.
He had made sure to buy comfortable, sturdy outdoors furniture for the terrace, yet he did settle on a two-seater knowing his flesh could spread more comfortably around him than being tightly stacked in one of the single chairs. Sitting there in the sun, with a coffee, feasting his eyes on Stephanie’s curves, he thought that life would be perfect now if he could have a fresh rye role with Emmentaler or a country baguette with Brie and then a sweet pastry- unaware that he stifled a sigh.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing really, just thinking of what I’d normally like to eat … very stupid thoughts….”

“That’s not unusual – it’s common with any addiction, to have thoughts circle around your ‘substance’ - and food is the most difficult of all. If you’re hooked on something else – cocaine, alcohol, cigarettes – those are things you can really live without and avoid quite well in daily life. It’s different with eating issues and food – no matter what; you still have to eat to live. And food is always around you, you cannot well ignore its existence.”

“You think I’m an addict?” he stared at her crestfallen, making her in turn look at him searchingly over the rim of her sunglasses. “You mean to tell me, at your size, it never occurred to you that food might be like a drug for you, that your relationship with it is not altogether normal and healthy?”

“I’ve never thought of that. Addicts are sick, or bad people, or both – is that what I am?” he stared helplessly at his pudgy fingers laced over his belly.

“Christopher, look at me,” Stephanie said as gently as never before, “you’re completely misunderstanding what I’m trying to make you realize. It’s not about moral judgment.” She placed her hands over his on his belly, rubbing them a bit, sending warm electric shock waves through its flesh masses. “All I’m saying is you have a more intense relationship with good food than is the physical, mental, emotional and in your case also professional norm. That’s neither sick nor bad; it’s a fact of your life. And I think it’ll make this diet easier for you if you understand that, think of ways of how to deal with it, okay?”

He nodded, mainly reassured by her warm touch on his stomach. “What do you think I should do about it?”

“That’s actually a very difficult question. What we’re trying right now, get you back into personal responsible contact with food by doing your own diet cooking is an attempt. You’re an unusual, challenging case.”

“Why am I challenging?”

“Because almost none of the normal patterns you find with many people in your weight class apply. Mostly it’s about making the classic obvious lifestyle changes: No more fast food, cooking fresh meals from scratch, often regaining a basic activity level, finding interests outside of media consumption at home, intensifying social contacts. You eat only freshly cooked and baked high quality food, you’re very active for your size, you’re around people all day and your life is focused on your personal and professional interests. Only drawback is – one of the latter is unfortunately food. Re-aligning that is much more difficult than making clear cut big changes.”

“So you think I’m hopeless?”

“No, of course you’re not hopeless! You have two major assets: One, you’re really strong and healthy. Second – you have a wonderfully intact self-image. Don’t let anybody take that from you – like people with Wershowitz’s attitude. ” This probably was the thing he loved most about Stephanie apart from her mouth-watering curves – the off-handed critical comments about Wershowitz. “Now, shall we drive back; put the groceries into the fridge?”

During the drive, he observed Stephanie doing odd breathing exercises again and as they reached his front door, her stomach let out a plaintive growl. “Sounds like your stomach doesn’t agree with giving your third waffle to me – or refusing the lime-meringue tartlet. Why don’t you come along and we’ll fix two portions of that diet Salade Nicoise for lunch?”

She looked at him uncertainly, clearly debating what to do and then said: “Okay, why not?”

Watching Stephanie take off her rings – clearly a double-laced wedding band and an antique ruby and diamond engagement ring – to wash her hands before starting to help prepare the salad ingredients sent a resounding pang of jealousy through him. If he was the lucky guy who had given her those rings, he could now pin her to the counter with the mass of his belly, grab deeply into those sensational butt cheeks and start devouring her, beginning with her cute plump puckered lips.

“You really have a very nice apartment. I especially envy you this professional kitchen,” her remark made him crash back into reality.
“Thank you – when I had it remodeled after being able to buy the place, I wanted to do it right. Naturally the kitchen was my priority. But more in general - it’s one thing the hotel property management got me interested in – turning a bit into a hobby: architecture and interior design.”

“Your girlfriend sure is lucky – few guys come with such a stylish yet comfortable apartment.”

“Ummm …. I don’t have a girlfriend,” he semi-stuttered, aware it cost him some effort to admit this.

“Oh, then I somehow misunderstood your answer in your questionnaire. I thought you had one …. sorry, this is getting too personal. It’s difficult with these diet programs, to draw the right lines because some aspects do go deep. Sorry.” She didn’t look at him but continued to cut beans.

“No, it’s no problem – it’s not a major issue for me. I’ve just been too busy the past years, other things like the bakery were more important …. and now ….”

“And now what?” It seemed Stephanie’s curiosity had gotten the better of her.

“Well …. I guess right now … well I know there’re women who don’t mind my fat … and of course most women like a fit guy, who diets … but the market for super fat grumpy, frustrated dieters is probably pretty limited …”

She looked at him in doubtful surprise, her head cocked to the side with a small laugh. “Oh that. I couldn’t see you as being convincingly insecure about your weight, it holding you back from anything. You radiate physical confidence - women like that, no matter at which size. “ She gave his belly a playful slap, touching it for the first time voluntarily, making him almost swallow his tongue, a hot jolt running down into his groin. “Some women might even overlook the grumpy dieter part - Claire for instance would move here in a wink if you finally responded to her.”


“Oh come on, you know Claire is mad about you … would do anything for you if you let her.”

He shook his head incredulously. “Claire? I never realized she might be interested in me – I always thought she was just being an excellent employee. And I’m her boss … she’s so tiny ….”

Stephanie laughed. “Well – now you have something to think about. Believe me – it’s true. She’s overprotective, clearly loathes me for doing this program with you. I’m surprised you haven’t noticed it yourself. Maybe that’s something you should think more about in general – yourself and your needs as a man. You seem to have spent the last years working hard, developing professionally, reviving your family bakery … use this diet as a break from that, to concentrate on yourself, your personal development, your needs as a man.”

He was dumbfounded: There she was standing in his kitchen, routinely mixing tuna fish in the salad, her round breasts hovering appetizingly over the bowl, off handedly stating Claire was in love with him and he needed to think about his needs as a man. Hell, the only needs as a man he had right now were how to wrap himself around her … And all that after she had confronted him with the charming fact that he was a food addict, something he still had to come to terms with…

To not sound too stupid, he made an effort to respond casually: “You sure have given me more than enough food for thought for one weekend.”
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Old 06-27-2015, 03:02 AM   #8
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things for Claire lay in front of him on his desk as he was waiting for her to come up to his office after her absence of almost two weeks.

Stephanie’s comments had indeed made him turn them over and again in his mind much longer than one Sunday, with Claire conveniently taking her excessive overtime days off to then catch a very bad cold making it impossible for her to work in the kitchen for hygiene reasons, so he could think a bit more in depth about how to apologize to her and which other intentions he might have.

Since he was sorely looking for meaningful things to do, he in this context decided to use the time to organize his private pictures, which in contrast to his recipes were a mess. Looking at those of Liza and him as he sorted them chronologically, it was unsettling how painful it still was to see pictures with Uncle Tom and the old bakery. If it hadn’t been for that broken valve, he’d be running the bakery today, with some probability married to Liza, maybe even with kids – possibly weighing those 200 pounds less. Liza breaking up with him in the moment when he would have needed her support most, in combination with the role model of Uncle Tom’s and Aunt Katie’s happy marriage literally blowing up on him had implanted a deep skepticism regarding relationships in him making him subconsciously dodge the issue ever since.

Early on in his professional life he had observed that hotels worked a particular magic with their guests, luring them to take a break from their everyday lives, pursue small escapades from regular norms, making them much more susceptible to temptations of all kinds. This started with middle-aged paunchy businessmen taking fifth helpings at the buffet, sighing in relief that they were away from their wives’ constant diet nagging for a few days. Or young fathers who spent all night with beer cans in front of the TV watching football and porn in peace and quiet. Or exhausted working moms unwinding in Namée’s spa for hours before indulging themselves in sorely missed solitude with pastry trays and popcorn novels. Or regular guys and girls trapped in tight-laced jobs really rocking it in the bar all night. Or closeted fetishists from all walks who let out their dark side away from the scrutiny of their normal environment. He and the hotel staff often got highly entertaining, bemusing but sometimes also shocking insights into the depths of human nature.

Sleeping in a hotel bed clearly strongly increased the propensity of both sexes to look for interesting, exciting short term mating – and being a young hotel director he had gotten his fair share of offers, regardless of his size. Yet he had one more decisive asset, as he early on realized, that attracted females: his fields of expertise and interest. Most women half swooned in delight at the chance of spending an evening in the company of a guy who was willing to and knowledgeable in talking about food, cooking, baking, traveling and since he worked in the hotel also about event planning, visiting celebrities, interior design and home remodeling. Several asked him incredulously a few times if he was a closeted gay. This advantage, in combination with his professional status and the special properties of hotel beds often made winning over a woman so easy, it wasn’t even fun anymore.

He had been careful not to be too promiscuous, for one to not set a negative example for the hotel staff, but also because his fondness for true one night stands was limited, he preferred a certain amount of familiarity and common ground in sexual interaction. Not looking for anything serious, he had conveniently stuck to a few longer term affairs with regular hotel guests, or “the director’s special microwave dishes”, as Tricia once had feistily put it, believing he was out of earshot. Two of them had been most memorable for him.

One had been Ingrid, a cool, tall, blonde Swedish-American photographer, who had first started staying at the hotel during some of her photo-shoots in town. Since this had been in his early days in the ‘Langdon Residency’, he had enlisted her to do the photos for their new marketing materials and she in turn had asked him to teach her how to cook properly. Based on these joint interests, they had become intimate and carried on an affair for several years until she had married her longer term partner – a withdrawn chemistry professor she’d known since college – and had two children. Ingrid had taken many pictures of him, some of them even nude ones from the bedroom – and now they documented very nicely how he had gotten fatter and fatter from year to year. Looking at them he could trace when which fat role on his back had appeared, how his upper arms turned into juicy hams, how his belly had inflated and changed shape in growing bigger and hanging further down as well as how his facial features had gotten rounder, softer and in the process also friendlier, he thought.

This was especially striking in one picture which showed him with their local congressman, a sinewy type, who looked decidedly mean next to his over 400 pound smirking contentment despite putting on his best politician smile. But maybe his visible satisfaction only depicted the smug knowledge that he had just rolled out of bed with the cute, curvy little blonde congressman’s wife, Mary Helen, standing next to him in the picture.

If his affair with Ingrid had been based on common interests and unspoken mutual understanding, the one with Mary Helen had only taken place because she had overwhelmed him and worn down his reluctance. The congressman was fixated on his career and - having grown up as a chubby kid and student - had then converted to hard body-dom with the unpleasant fanaticism of the typical renegade. Mary Helen was far from fat herself, only had the highly attractive plumpness an extra 20-25 pounds give the female figure in all the right places – but this was enough for her husband and three equally skinny, diet fanatic children to constantly admonish her to lose weight, to think of their public image and refuse her excellent cooking.

Their affair had started out as late-night bar talks about cooking and baking after political events, with him at first being nice to her because she was the congressman’s wife and his office booked their event facilities often enough. But soon he started looking forward to their talks for her own sake, for she was genuinely entertaining, enthusiastic, self-deprecating and a gifted baker herself, telling him hilarious stories from behind the scenes of the political arena.

One evening she suggested they bake together in the kitchen instead of drinking wine at the bar – and he took her to their small preparatory kitchen where he taught her to make a real Viennese Sachertorte as she moved in very close, unabashedly showing strong physical interest. He was half flattered, half horrified – fearing the political implications the discovery of an affair with a congressman’s wife might have for him and the Langdon hotels. Despite these reservations, he continued their ‘bake ins’ as she called them when she was in town, partly for business political reasons, partly because he had great fun with her. After weeks of berating himself for running a risky line, one night when they had made various flavors of Marzipan petit fours with her teasing him unbearably physically, he couldn’t resist any longer and set her up on the low kneading board to have vigorous, greedy intercourse with her.

Probably nobody ever really found out about the affair, because they were very careful. He officially closed the small downstairs prep kitchen keeping the key only for himself, personally doing all the cleaning and shopping for their meetings. He gave Mary Helen the key to the old, no longer in use emergency stairwell which did not have video surveillance so she could come to his office unseen. Sometimes they met in his apartment with her coming through the rear courtyard. The fear of discovery added to the naughty pleasure of their affair, but Mary Helen was so starved for personal interest and physical affection, her loving enthusiasm was warmly rewarding for him in itself.

She loved his cooking, baking, his shameless appetite and disregard for diet concerns which formed such a contrast to the ruling mindset in her marriage. Under the shower after an extensive lunch romp one day, she lathered and outlined his medicine ball belly – it must have been around his back wrenching incident – with her small hands: “Honey, you’re getting real big, do you know that?”

“Is that a problem for you?” a bolt of true fear shot through him.

“For heaven’s sake no! I’ve got congressional skin&bones at home, don’t need any more of that! I adore your big middle pillow, with all the good food that makes it so pillow-y. Don’t you dare lose it! Let’s dry up so I can snuggle a little on your darling belly before I have to dress and leave.”

Their affair ended rather abruptly only a few weeks after the re-opening of the bakery because the Congressman had been pro- or demoted to US ambassador in Argentina, taking Mary Helen und the children with him to Buenos Aires.

In the complacent year following the re-opening of the bakery, the oral pleasures it offered constituted his main love affair so his girth underwent a significant growth spurt – after all he had his favorite family breads, rolls, cookies, cakes and pastries at his daily abundant disposal again, along with the wonderful incentive of helping develop new ones to market. The increase in his bulk had been so notable, that he felt it physically, it’s added weight, the more pronounced rolling and wobbling of his flesh, the sheer volume around him, how there literally seemed to be a layer of padding pushing itself between him and any contact with the real world. In the way back of his mind, this had temporarily led to a few rare doubts whether he might be getting too fat for a fulfilling love life and that women could be put off by his size.

These doubts had gotten a little louder as he had had to order two new suits on short notice before his annual visit to the Parisian “Salon du chocolat”, staying as always at the Hotel Louis Le Grand where he had done his trainee internship abroad. On arrival he was already pretty uncomfortable after a sleepless night on the plane in too tight casual clothing, because he had not had the time to upgrade this part of his wardrobe. His only still fitting flannel shirt was tightly stretched over his huge belly and massive love handles, heavy swags of flesh hanging over the cutting waist band of his jeans which were straining in the seams over his rear and thighs. Heaving himself out of the taxi, he was unduly shocked to notice he could no longer enter via the narrow historic revolving doors. His belly and backside were squeezed tightly against the glass panes in the door’s sections, but a thick role of fat on his side refused to fit in to go through. Merde – I’m outgrowing France! Why is everything here sized for tiny Frenchmen? Don’t they know they live off big tourists?

Nora Djenardi, the head front desk and reservations manager, immediately came out and opened the side door, ushering him in with the sweetest smile of welcome he had ever received from her as she cheek kissed him in greeting, pressing herself firmly into his belly flab to reach up. He was stunned, because even though he had known Nora since his internship, she had always been the coolest, most aloof Frenchwoman he had ever met. He had only talked shop with her, a bare minimum of small talk and never anything personal. Now she quickly had his luggage waved in; got his key before he could say or do anything and guided him to the elevator, gently patting the plump flesh fold in the nook of his elbow. On the way up, she touched him at least a dozen times, leaning against his belly, reaching around him brushing along the fat tires of his love handles, slipping the registration form into his breast pocket squeezing his fleshy chest, leaving him pleasantly bewildered.

After a good long sleep, he had ordered room service for breakfast the next morning, since the hotel was fully booked and he preferred peace and quiet with his coffee. There was a knock on the door as he was watching the cooking section on the French morning show, introducing a new duck recipe à la Gascognarde. “Moment”, he called out, looking down at his bulging belly no longer well covered by his travel bathrobe, which he had also outgrown.
Before he could think of getting presentable, the door opened and Nora pushed in the breakfast tray, giving him a glowing dark eyed look.

“Bonjour,” she poured him a coffee, took a croissant, broke off a piece and spread something on it: “Medlar and cognac raisin preserve – my aunt’s recipe from Algeria, you have to taste it.” He dutifully bit into it, his stomach grumbling in anticipation as the smell of food and coffee tickled its nerves. Nora leaned over and gave it a warm energetic rub, making all the soft flesh wobble agreeably. She continued in pantomime, handing him pieces to eat and fondling his fat, seemingly unable to keep her hands to herself, mesmerized in exploring the expanse and texture of his body. Her caresses sent warm tingles through him, making him lean back, slide open his bath robe, push out his belly even more so she had easier access to the full glory of his bulk. His skin had grown more and more sensitive to touch as it had stretched further and further to accommodate the swelling fat upholstering his frame, so at his current size with Nora’s teasing fingers, it was excruciatingly stimulating. After she pushed a piece of camembert baguette to his mouth, he took her hand to put it on a big round cushion of a man boob which she massaged and pinched expertly, forcing him to stifle a low moan of pleasure.

As she squeezed a tender fat fold on the inside of one of his thighs, over a thick muscle, his arousal transformed into a painfully hard erection making him inhale sharply, his excitement mounting as she moved back up grazing the extra-sensitive skin on the underside of his belly.

Eagerly he pulled her into his gut, quickly unbuttoning the fitted button-down dark red dress she was conveniently wearing to reveal shapely breasts and elegantly sweeping hips in black lace, making him grunt appreciatively and start sucking her nipples, sliding his hand between silky soft thighs. Nora slowly grabbed her way down along his bulging side roles, kneeling between his knees, digging her hands in deep where his fat was thickest and heaviest, in his lap, where belly and thigh flesh competed for limited space, pressing tightly on his throbbing manhood. Kissing and biting into his belly, she massaged flesh and erection in perfect rhythm driving him crazy until he was panting and shaking, his entire body dissolving in jiggles.

Not able to stand it any longer, he pulled her up onto the bed next to him and rolled himself over her to kiss her passionately, completely forgetting how heavy he was, parting her legs with his belly engulfing her lap. A deep moan from her brought him back to his senses: “Pardon Nora, I’m so heavy, I got carried away, did I hurt you?” She shook her head violently, pulled him down on her fully, kissing him hungrily while rolling his belly’s masses and nimbly grinding her hips under him. As he raised himself to enter her, he had a shock moment as he noticed this was no longer possible in this position, his gut had turned into a massive obstacle. Utter panic hit him, he knew there were solutions to this problem, but he was unable to form a single coherent thought, breathing heavily. Nora looked down briefly, seemed to understand the situation because she covered his face in tender kisses, kneading his belly murmuring: “Le traversin, s’il te plait.” Mechanically doing as told, he still was fighting helpless panic as Nora quickly folded the bulky pillow role to slide it under her rear, forcing him to raise himself too half on his knees as she with ease guided him inside her hot tightness, holding herself in position by digging her heels into his huge buttocks, expertly pushing up against him, making his gut jiggle in timing. The momentary panic instantly faded into the sensation of primal pleasure, intensifying rapidly. At this angle, he could push himself in deeper, yet more measured, using the strength in his thighs while letting the waves of his belly crest ponderously over Nora’s lap, bringing her to push it more down onto her. Soon all around him was moving flesh in one form or the other, and sharp stings of physical bliss he sought to extend as long as possible, hearing Nora’s moans she muffled with the bed sheet as she convulsed around him until he couldn’t bear it any longer, letting lose a climax that sent seismic tremors through every last ounce of his bulk.

Laying on his back, trying to get enough air into his lungs in deep puffs, he savored the sense of intense fulfillment. Looking at Nora, who pressed herself into his sweaty body, with her free hand pawing his continuously quivering belly flab, and was positively glowing; he gave her a sheepish smile and a kiss. If not only he could derive such profound satisfaction from the sensuality of his over-abundant body, but also evoke and share these feelings in and with a woman, especially one normally as cool and contained as Nora, then the size of his belly could not possibly be of real concern. He had no idea where her sudden motivation came from, but if she was so easily turned on by his burgeoning flesh, he was going to be the last one to protest.

With a sigh, she rose, gave him a quick fierce kiss and a belly pummel: “Finish your breakfast while I make myself presentable again.” Coming out of the bathroom sleek, distanced and professional as ever, she took the breakfast cart back out with her. He took another brief shower to freshen up and kept grabbing and fondling his flab in narcissistic delight while dressing, even doing a few dance steps in front of the mirror to watch it bouncy merrily. In leaving to go to the “Salon du chocolat’, he proudly pushed his belly ahead of himself like a trophy, giving it occasional, ridiculously self-satisfied pats, relishing its rolling weight as a sign of successful saturated physicality. The rest of his week in Paris passed in a golden rainbow blur of aphrodisiac quality chocolate, exquisite food and memorable sex, with the logic consequence that he could no longer squeeze into his too tight jeans for the flight back, leading to peels of merriment from Nora, who in vain tried to help him button them.

Nevertheless, this experience boosted his physical confidence to new heights and he indulgently let another probably good fifty pounds more inflate his body. The last time he had seen Nora had been in Paris for a wine auction shortly before this diet, at what he now knew was his heaviest at 525 pounds. He had arrived in rather extreme discomfort: The row with Warren over his weight had been mentally chipping away at his assurance, the flight with delays had been 22 hours, he was aching all over with swollen feet, was dirty, hungry, tired and felt like a gigantic pile of shit. Nora had pounced on his monster gut joyously, groping him lovingly all over, until he shook his head wearily although his ego was in dire need of positive physical attention: “Sorry Nora, I can’t, I’m totally wiped out….”

“Pauvre chouchou, I know, such a long awful flight over, let me take care of you….”

In his room, she nimbly undressed him and took him to the shower were she gave him an intense massage with a hammam sponge, before she rubbed him with tangy body oil taking as much care as Namée to attend to his every role and fold. Sitting him down for a wonderful four course dinner with a great bottle of Brouilly, she put his feet in a basin with cool water and some soothing pine stuff while she unpacked his suitcase, smothering any protests with a kiss and a pressurized chest rub. As he was nicely full and much more relaxed, he wanted to pull her in his arms, but she put him to bed instead even though it was only nine o’clock, petting and fondling him until he fell asleep.

The next morning he woke up well rested and incredibly horny, priapically smothering Nora in an embrace as she came for a bout of spectacular pre-breakfast sex. Sitting on the bed with his breakfast tray afterwards, looking at the enormous globe of wobbly flesh in his lap, the fat mounds of man boobs lapping down on it, he couldn’t help asking uncertainly: “Nora, do you think I’m too fat?“

She stared at him incredulously, bursting into laughter: “Quelle question! Of course you’re too fat, you’re hyper-fat, even your earlobes are fat…,” she playfully bit into one, “it’s totally adorable on you, mon chouchou.” Seeing his shocked expression, she kissed him deeply and tenderly, asking carefully: “What’s really your question?”

They had never talked much about their affair or themselves, it had always been a mute, reciprocal attraction based on the magnetic appeal of his fat on Nora, so he was insecure where to start. “Well, we’ve known each other for ages … and, you know … you never showed any interest in me until I got super fat like this. Why?”

“You always were pretty fat and très chouette, I would’ve liked to eat you up right back when you first came here for your internship.” Nora blushed with a deep breath. “But I’m married, you even know my husband … and well, I tried to be a good, loyal wife, not give in to my physical interests. When you came that day, too big to fit through the revolving door, so much flesh hanging out, your belly swaying, it did sort of ‘click’ in me. I could no longer stop myself, I needed to touch you, feel how all this fat feels … and you let me,” she looked up at him, her eyes full of warmth and longing.

“So all this isn’t disgusting?” he slapped his gut making it wobble. “Don’t I look like … well…?”

“You look like a deliceuse mountain of flesh,” she expertly caressed his side roles, lusty goose-bumps running down his spine. “You wear it so well, so much shape, tout ronde, strong, carry it with such pride and confidence … that makes it très sexy… not only to me.” Before he had halfway digested what she had said, she pushed him on his back and spread herself over him, kissing him and using his belly as a sort of bouncy castle, something she loved starting another intense round of make out. She succeeded once more in alleviating his fears, letting the body delights of good food, sex and later wine take over, restoring peace and confidence in the heavy girth enwrapping him.

Ever since Warren’s stinging criticism, he had wondered what Uncle Tom would really think if he saw of him now. He was pretty sure he would have been able to convey why he was so fat and the deeper meaning food had for him, make him understand. His uncomfortable doubt though was that he would not be able to explain his love life with its many married women, something Uncle Tom would massively disapprove of. Before this had never honestly occurred to him, since he had not been the one to actively pursue a married woman, it wasn’t adultery in his mind, that question was between husband and wife, he was just the third party. Wasn’t he currently proving that he was a decent guy by virtuously keeping his hands and interests to himself with Stephanie? In the case of Mary Helen he had even thought that if she had a husband who was continuously going on about his commitment to his voters – well then maybe it was his duty as a voter to compensate the congressman’s lack of loving commitment to his wife! With Nora it had been a bit different: He had accidently met Monsieur Djenardi in the hotel once, a very nice, mild mannered man who obviously worshipped his wife. He was probably 20 years her senior, extremely short and slight – the contrast to his own bulk being downright absurd, giving him a flash of understanding what Nora saw in him and seemed to miss in her marriage. Still, the meeting left a residue of guilt in him that surfaced every time he has happily fornicating with Madame Djenardi.
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Old 06-27-2015, 03:03 AM   #9
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So maybe now was the time to give up on his expansive, independent love life and start thinking about a decent relationship, using this diet not only to shrink his body, but also to focus his personal life.
Maybe Stephanie was right, maybe Claire was a good candidate, actually interested in him. She was by far his favorite employee; she was so competent, sweet and loyal, he always had to be careful to not too obviously favor her in front of the others. With Paul being the difficult chef he was, he often intervened on her behalf to make sure he didn’t exploit her too much. The past weeks during his diet she had been incredibly caring and tried to help in every way and he still cringed with remorse when he thought about his words at their last meeting.

The upside of his remorse and Stephanie’s teasing about Claire as well as her new program of having him cook his own diet food was that he had something to do again; a project to focus on that to a certain degree took his mind off the diet and his perpetual hunger.

Even if it was only rather boring diet food, with a limited list of allowed ingredients, that all needed to be precisely weighed and measured, their calories and fat content counted out, at least he now could spend an hour or two in the kitchen again, being at least a bit creative in preparing his meals. Not to mention the bite or two extra he sometimes did get while cooking, sinful as it might be.

After he had not been able to come up with any really good idea of how to apologize to Claire in line with promoting her, it was ironically Namée during one of his massage sessions who initiated the perfect solution. She had realized instantly that he was completely incapable of denying her anything while she was kneading and stroking his skin, flesh and muscles into a sort of relaxed pre-Nirvana, so whenever she had issues to address, she did this during one of his massages.

“Mr. Christopher, our spa is excellent for body care, isn’t it?”

“Excellent is an understatement Namée, you know that. It’s fabulous beyond words.”

“But we are not complete, we could be even better,” she artfully loosened his thigh muscles under their thick fat folds.

“So what in your opinion is missing?”

“It be better if we can do full beauty program, with hair and cosmetics.”

“Well… we have a hair salon in the hotel. Up front in the old convention center part – together with the other shops, souvenirs, deli and bakery.”

“You know that hair salon no good, Mr. Christopher. Jacquelyn and Pam good hair dressers, but Ms. Ada… you don’t go there yourself! Has she paid all her rents?”

It seemed Namée was on to something, because indeed the hair salon had been falling behind on rent payments and Ada had talked about rent reductions with his accountant a few times. By now Namée was very gently massaging his upper arms and chest, rendering him completely submissive. “Why don’t you get straight to the point Namée? What’s your suggestion? What would you like to do with the hair salon?”

“It better to have the hair salon down here. We can remodel the back resting room – nobody use it anyway, everybody want to lie by the pool,” Namée now loosened his neck muscles, stealing his last bit of potential resistance. “We can build in door from the park for visitors from outside - so they will have possibility to keep good customers.”

“So you think I should offer this new hair salon to Jacquelyn and Pam? What shall we do with the salon up in the passage way? I do not want any deserted store front there – or constantly changing tenants – and it’s a pretty big space.”

“Why not make bakery or deli larger? They too small – people often stand in line on the street – like during war.”

After his massage ended and the short rest period, he couldn’t resist going up immediately to look at their stores and the hair salon – which indeed was empty except for one customer being serviced by Pam. Surveying it, suddenly cute bistro tables with burgundy iron-wrought legs and wicker-chairs appeared before his inner eye, tables set with old-fashioned wine carafes and little steaming stone-ware dishes – a deli bistro would be the perfect extension to the deli and bakery! Why hadn’t he thought about that earlier? And Claire could be chef for deli and bistro – receive the long overdue promotion and her own small queen-dom to reign over! That was the perfect solution.

The following six days were probably the best since the begin of his diet: His days were filled with talks with their accountant, Ada, Namée, the architects, calls to Warren – who groaned hearing he wanted to open up what sounded like another restaurant – and then the minimal pleasure of cooking his own diet food again, he sometimes forgot he was hungry.
Even his interaction with Stephanie seemed easier than before: somehow her coming to his apartment and their cooking together had relieved the tension between then, enabled them to behave in a more relaxed, professional mode around each other. She still aroused pangs of lust in him now and then – particularly as the season was warming and she appeared in a flowing light dress, which played around her curves and once in the evening chill even showed some nipple action, driving him wild – but all in all he found it less difficult to see her simply as his nice nutritionist and altogether well-meaning diet counselor.

Still, he felt the need to fill her in precisely on his Claire project, get her approval for it, since she had been the one to push him in that direction. So he took her down to the hair salon with the newest architect's design and explained the deli bistro plans to her. “That’s a great idea; and I really like the design for the bistro – but is that your way of fully apologizing to Claire for how you treated her?”

Not being able to overhear the critical undertone in her question, he stammered: “Why yes … isn’t it good enough? …. It’s not only nice … new career opportunity … being her own chef….”

“Christopher, as far as your role as Claire’s boss goes, your idea is perfect. You clearly show you’ve put a lot of thought into it and mean very well,” Stephanie reasoned. “But you insulted and hurt her mainly as a woman and as a friend, not as your employee. Okay, you’ve taken care of the boss part – but it will be much more convincing if you also apologize as man Christopher to woman Claire – if you get what I mean.”

An uncomfortable guilty blush crept over his cheeks, because he saw the truth in her words. “Like what can I do… something like flowers or perfume when she comes back?”

“That would definitely be a good start – but since you’ve known each other for some time, maybe something more personal, or even something you can do together…”

Looking down at the three things for Claire on his desk – an elegant flower bouquet, her entry pass for the charity Alicia Keyes unplugged concert in the convention center where he’d decided to take her along as well as the plans and designs for the bistro – he felt he was all set, but still nervous as a school boy being called to the principal as he waited for her to come to his office on her first day back in the hotel.

As the kitchen sent word she was on her way up and the hungry growl and nervous churn in his stomach intensified. “Come in,” he called as there was a knock on the door and Claire stepped in, her arms folded protectively around her, looking even smaller and paler than he remembered her, maybe because she had been ill. She remained standing in front of his desk. “Please have a seat,” watching as she literally disappeared in the big visitor chair, like Goldilocks in Mama Bear’s bed.

“Claire, the last time you were here, bringing me my lunch, I behaved like an absolute asshole. I said unforgivable things – but hope you can accept my sincere apology. The only lame excuse I have was that I was beside myself from hunger and diet frustration ,” he tried to look openly at her, but she avoided his eye as he stretched out the flower bouquet, beautiful with pink roses and lilies-of-the-valley.

“Thank you,” she muttered, taking the flowers and awkwardly holding them in her lap like a shield.

“Now, how about leaving the past behind us and looking at the future. While you were sick, I did some thinking …”

“Christopher, don’t torture me. Get it over with. Be fair enough to give me the bad news straight away!” Claire’s chin quivered a bit and she clearly was fighting tears.

“Claire, I don’t know why, but you honestly got something wrong! I have nothing I would consider bad news for you….”

“I understand perfectly well! Everybody in the kitchen told me on arriving I’m no longer allowed to cook your diet meals for you! So tell me directly if you want to fire me!”

“Fire you? Who’s talking about firing you? I want to promote you! Would you please do me the favor and really listen to me!”

“But then why am I no longer allowed to cook your diet meals for you?” her voice was much meeker.

“Because I’m doing that myself now. You did a great job … but you saw how poorly I handled it, how awful I was to you. So Stephanie suggested….”

“Oh, of course, if Stephanie suggested it …. who cares if Dr. Wershowitz told me to do it …..”

“Since when are you a fan of Wershowitz’s? I always had the impression you disliked him as much as I do. Or is it that you just think Stephanie is even worse?” He couldn’t help grinning as she blushed scarlet. “Claire – you did a fabulous job in diet cooking for me. It’s just – I couldn’t handle eating so little and not being in the kitchen at all anymore so well. I simply missed cooking like crazy. Stephanie noticed that and changed the plan, so now I prepare and cook my own diet stuff. It’s working a bit better, too. I’m still awfully hungry but no longer totally frustrated. Can you understand that I just plain feel better when I can cook?”

“Yeah, I can understand that. I’d miss not cooking too. Sorry – I misunderstood.”

“Okay – so now let’s get to my surprise, our new project together. I think it’s a much better one than doing diet cooking …” as he unrolled the designs for the deli bistro, explaining his idea to her. “So my real question today for you is – do you want to be chef of the deli and deli bistro to 100% your own responsibility, no longer working under Paul?”

Claire had listened to him with mounting excitement, a few ‘ouuhs’ and ‘aahhs’ – her eyes starting to shine as she shook her head in slight disbelief: “Are you really serious? I’ll be chef of the deli with bistro, no cuisine chef above me?”

“Absolutely! You deserve it for all the great work you’ve been doing! I know how much of the smooth running in our kitchen is due to your planning and oversight. Also – with the diet cooking for me, you showed you’re excellent with small, quick bistro dishes, very creative and make the most of simple ingredients. How about going downstairs and looking at everything sur place?”

Lumbering down the hallway next to a by now pink cheeked and glowing Claire, clasping her flowers tight, he was once again struck by how tiny she was. She was maybe 20% of his size and where he did one step it felt like she did three. The contrast was even stronger down in the old preparatory kitchen were many fond memories of Mary Helen lingered. She had also been a blond on the petite side, and he had been a good 100 pounds lighter then – still he had never seen the size difference as inhibiting. Claire could be an inch or two shorter than Mary Helen, and so slim she was probably 40-50 pounds less. To him she seemed like a dainty little bird, his main impulse was to wrap her in cotton wool and set her into a nest as she beamed at him in clear adoration.
“Christopher, this is such a wonderful, wonderful plan! I love it! We’ll make this the best bistro in the US! I promise! How can I thank you?”
Impulsively she tried to hug him, backing off with a beet red blush. “Sorry, I forgot”

“No, it’s okay, you can’t reach around me anyway,” he teased lightly reciprocating the hug. “I’m happy you like the idea. So – grand opening in a little less than two months – when Alicia Keys is hear for the charity concert? You get to do the deli catering and come with me to the concert and after-show party?” He dangled the special pass in front of her eyes which almost popped, as she now really tried to hug him, snuggling very closely into his soft belly.

“You’re so right; this is a so much better project for us together than a diet….”
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Old 06-27-2015, 03:08 AM   #10
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Calories per serving, I can’t even take a bite of that,” he grunted unhappily as the tantalizing smells of the spinach-salmon lasagna made his stomach growl in anticipation.

“Well, that’s only if you eat the whole, pretty big portion! It’s not that rich – it’s fresh salmon, a light Béchamel with milk not cream and very little cheese since that doesn’t compliment the fish that well as you always say. After all, it’s supposed to be a light, filling, healthy lunch dish. Please taste only one forkful, I want your opinion on the sauce seasoning – and it won’t harm your diet,” Claire seductively held a steaming fork full under his nose. With the appetizing morsel directly in front of his mouth, he couldn’t resist, so he let her slip it in, letting out a delighted: “Mmmmh..,” as the creamy sauce ran over his tongue, blending perfectly with the fresh spinach and tenderly cooked salmon.

“I made the Béchamel with less nutmeg, estragon instead of laurel and a touch of lemon, while I added spring onions and a tiny bit of garlic to the spinach,” Claire held another fork full to his lips.

“Perfect choice,” before pressing his lips tightly together, shaking his head and moving as quickly out of the kitchen as his bulk in the narrow space permitted; through the passage way and to the back into the park. Passersby stared at his enormous circumference with the tent like chef apron wrapped around it, but he ignored them to gulp in air a few times before he sank down on a bench, burying his face in his hands.

The deli bistro project with Claire was turning out to be a very mixed blessing. On the upside, it gave him something to seriously focus on professionally and stopped him from brooding over the diet and his hunger all the time. It was fun to see how the dour old hair salon was turning into a chic bistro and Claire’s boundless delight in planning everything from the color of the candles to the ingredients of the desserts. Observing her closely for only a few days in working together, he had to admit that Stephanie had been right – Claire did seem to have a major crush on him. She clearly was thrilled to have a joint project almost exclusively for the two of them, where she could work directly with him for long hours with his attention focused on her. Given that the diet was currently wrecking havoc with his self-esteem and sense of physical well-being, her adoration and coddling were a comfort he soon actively sought out because they at least half-way restored his belief in himself as a man.

His preoccupation with Claire and the bistro also simplified his sessions with Stephanie because he could concentrate on the diet parts and found it easier to ignore the physical attraction she had, even though he was vaguely aware that Claire in contrast never provoked any notable sexual reactions in him. Stephanie had him currently do all sorts of strengthening and mobility exercises, which kept him very busy along with the preparation of the diet plans on top of all the extra work before the opening of the bistro – busy enough to instantly fall asleep again when he went to bed.

On the downside, the bistro’s menu development was pure torture since he was not allowed to taste and sample as he would like so constantly being around all the divine aromas was often difficult to bear. Like right now, he knew that if he had stayed only one second longer, his resistance would have completely broken down and he would not only have shoveled in all of the spinach-salmon lasagna, but also eaten up everything else in sight.

What he had not anticipated was Paul’s reaction to his promoting Claire: He had always been aware how much of the perfect functioning of the hotel’s gourmet kitchen was due to Claire’s oversight and keeping Paul on track, but he had not suspected Paul to have become so dependent on her that the kitchen almost instantly lost ground without her. Although this confirmed that promoting her had been the right move because her talents deserved it – he had thus run into a serious new problem at a point in time when he least needed it as he himself was incapable of fully helping out in getting the kitchen back to normal due to his diet.

Paul had thrown a major tantrum when he had told him about Claire’s new position and called in sick out of protest for the next four days, making her fill in for him. Christopher had had to seriously threaten Paul with firing him and round out forbidden Claire to work anymore in the main kitchen, otherwise she would probably have physically broken down under the dual strain by now. Quickly finding out that Paul on his own simply was not up to running the kitchen with the required number of seats in the accustomed quality, he found one of his ‘visiting chef’ participants who was currently between two jobs and willing to second to Paul without too much fuss, but this was only a short-term solution – he would need to deal with that as soon as the bistro was open and running.

Shaking his head, his stomach grumbled painfully with hunger as he saw Claire approaching with a large steaming mug in her hand. “Christopher, I’m so sorry. I was so thoughtless to tempt you with the lasagna, please forgive me. Here – some fresh lemongrass-ginger tea to calm your stomach.”

“Thanks a lot Claire; that really is great tea to help cut my appetite. I’m sorry I bolted off, by now I should be better at controlling myself in the presence of excellent food – I’m simply hopeless ...” He tried to move over a bit on the narrow bench. “Have a seat in case I left enough space,” knowing this would definitely prompt her to squeeze her miniscule self next to him, pressing her lithe body against his bulging roles, leaning her blond head on his thick shoulder, giving him a little bit of the body comfort and attention he craved so badly right now.

After they had agreed on the basic menu offers for the deli bistro, as well as which themes to do during the next months, there remained the task of assembling a small wine and beer list two weeks before the opening of the bistro. He had never been a big drinker, never into bar drinking for the sake of drinking, but clearly enjoyed good wine with food, experimenting with different combinations, or sometimes also a fresh beer with some dishes.

After by now months on his diet, completely cutting all alcohol, he was starting to wonder if he might also have addictive tendencies in that field. A nice glass of wine with a good meal, the taste of wine and food, enhancing and refining each other – he missed it like crazy. Despite knowing he wasn’t allowed to drink, Claire had begged him to help her with the selection for the bistro, shyly suggesting he could just taste the wine and then spit it out as some professional testers did.

So here he was, down in the remodeled bistro kitchen with Claire, sitting on his broad stool , rolling wine over his taste-buds before spitting it into a pitcher, the procedure letting his mood deteriorate by the second. In contrast, Claire was drinking small sips of the wine, growing more rosy cheeked and animated with every one.

As he spit out another excellent Languedoc rosé with a sigh of frustration, he turned to catch a long look of Claire’s he couldn’t fully read, as she stepped next to him, carefully putting her hand on his thick upper arm. “Christopher, may I ask you something?”

“Ummm … I guess so … why ask if you can ask?”

“It’s only … so … well …. why are you torturing yourself with this diet?”

“What?” Many ugly, snarky remarks bubbled up in him, but looking into her dark blue eyes, he saw only loving concern, so he suppressed them to mutter: “I really don’t want to talk about it.”

But Claire had had enough wine to forget her inhibitions when talking to her boss: “You’re so unhappy and frustrated with this diet, it’s so hard to see you like this. It used to be such fun watching you develop new menus, testing them, enjoying your creativity and appetite … and now….”

“Now what?”

“You’ve tried so hard to be supportive and enthusiastic about setting up this bistro – but it’s so painful how you aren’t allowed to eat, how your tummy growls pitifully …. and you’re putting yourself through all this just to help me….”

“Claire, don’t exaggerate. I really like working with you. And I firmly believe this deli bistro is a great business addition.” he put a comforting arm around her, making her immediately lean into his belly. “Yeah … I miss real tasting a lot. But developing a menu here with you is still a million times better than sitting in my office and only thinking of this f***ing diet!”

“Poor Christopher, then why are you doing it? You’re a little on the big side, okay …,” she gingerly patted his belly, blushing beet red, “but it suits you…”

Letting out a false laugh, he snorted: “I’m not just a bit big, I’m huge! I’m over 500 pounds, Claire! Is that enough explanation for this diet?”

“Hmm … that’s a lot… but you’re tall and active. There’s no reason for you to chastise yourself like this….”

“Claire, you’re being real considerate, but by any objective standard, I’ve let myself get far too fat,” he wearily shook his head, hoping to somehow put an end to this dreadful discussion. “Warren is worried I might soon get too fat for this job, hence him insisting on the diet. He might be right … and I owe him for giving me this great job, helping me get the family bakery back up and running. So I have to try and make this diet work. Can we please talk about something else now?” he gave her a pleading glance.

“Of course, I understand … which wines shall we put on our list?” she rubbed the side of his belly affectionately.
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Old 06-27-2015, 03:09 AM   #11
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Dr. Wershowitz read out, making him sigh and get off the shiny new medical scale Stephanie had insisted on getting for him that carried up to 750 pounds to sit down to put his shoes back on.

“Well, that’s not bad is it? You’ve made it back under 500, Christopher, that’s good,” Warren smiled encouragingly at him. “It’s showing, you look well … smaller than you did almost four months ago.”

“I’m still huge, not much has changed. I only look smaller because my clothes are a bit big,” he grumbled, feeling intensely uncomfortable being weighed in front of Warren, Wershowitz and Stephanie, swallowing several darker deprecating comments.

“A loss of 28 pounds in 15 weeks is a not excessive, but certainly long term sustainable reduction. We can discuss whether we should make to try to speed things up a bit…” Wershowitz started.

“From my observations, Christopher has now found a very good mode for himself, I would advise against experiments right now,” Stephanie said firmly, while Warren gave him a slap on the back: “So keep up the good work my boy, I’m sure you’re already feeling much better.”

“I’m doing okay sir, thank you,” knowing he could never explain to Warren how lousy this diet was making him feel, despite noticing that it was a bit easier to bend over to pull on his shoes again, adding quickly to change the subject: “Warren, I’d like to take you downstairs so we can look at how we’ve developed the deli bistro and what a great job Claire will be doing with it.”

As he later came back to his office to eat his meager lunch, having left Warren with Claire for a more interesting and diverse meal, Stephanie was packing her things after what seemed to be an argument with Wershowitz, for she was shaking her head muttering to herself.

“Oh, good you’re still here Stephanie – I have something, I didn’t want to give you while the others …. well, I think you know there are people whose company I enjoy more than Wershowitz’s,” he gave her a crooked grin and an envelope, pulling up his trousers with his left hand to keep them from slipping further down.

“Warren’s observation was correct; I think you can start pulling some smaller sizes out of the back of your closet,” her smile seemed flirtatious.

“Which smaller sizes? I know I need a new hole punched in this belt, and I might take my suits to the tailor to have them held in a little. Or maybe even buy a new one for the 4th July reception.”

“Are you seriously trying to tell me you don’t own a closet full of clothing you’ve outgrown?”

“No, why should I? Who needs things that don’t fit?”

Stephanie looked at him open mouthed shaking her head. “Everybody, literally everybody I know, no matter how big or small they are, has clothes in their closet that have gotten too tight or small. They all keep them, hoping some day they’ll lose those 2, 20 or 120 pounds to fit back into some piece of clothing. And you don’t have any? Always gave clothes you outgrew away immediately?”

“Umm, I only saved one suit I’ve outgrown, the one I bought for the reopening of the bakery, for sentimental reasons, I guess. Everything else I gave away, mostly to Odile’s family, they have a lot of really big guys.”

“You sure are unusual. But in reverse it means you never seriously considered losing weight before, fitting back into smaller sizes again, did you?”

“No probably I didn’t. I think I sort of got into the habit of seeing myself as a soufflé, the bigger and fluffier it got, the better. Somewhere down the line I overlooked that the physics of a good soufflé aren’t supposed to apply to the human body,” he cringed at how beyond absurd this sounded.

“Ouuh, I can totally see you as a very tasty, fluffy soufflé! Who wouldn’t want to have a big spoon full?” thankfully Stephanie giggled and winked at him, to add more somberly: “This does make it easier for me to understand why you’re giving yourself such a hard time. Now what’s this – this isn’t an invitation … oh my god, I’ve heard such great things about your 4th July party here….!”

“You’ve been so patient and helpful, so this is …ehh… a small thank you. I don’t know if you already have plans …but it’s a plus one, so you can bring …” the word ‘husband’ refused to come over his lips.

“No, it’s wonderful, thank you! I’d love to come, it’s my first 4th July here, so that’s a special way to celebrate….” making him decide to buy himself a new suit for the occasion.

Surveying himself in the mirror in his office suite, he grimaced in frustration. Despite the nice new light-weight dark-grey summer suit and the loss of now 30 pounds he felt as fat and unattractive as he never had before. The prospect of meeting Stephanie’s husband made his nerves go hay-wire and sticking to his diet even more difficult. Even though he was trying hard to establish whether a romantic relationship with Claire was an honest option for him, his unrequited crush on Stephanie had resurfaced in the summer heat as she always came in to his eyes unbearably revealing outfits, setting off her bountiful curves to perfection.

This went hand in hand with after weeks of starving himself, he had caved in before the temptations of his bakery’s pastries a few times – making the disagreeable discovery of finally understanding the significance of the question on feeling guilty after eating. Not wanting to have baking ingredients with their constant seduction in the house, he had decided to buy what he craved. Since Warren had committed the hotel as well as the bakery staff to watch his diet, he could no longer go the bakery store or the sales boutique in the hotel without being eyed suspiciously or questioned. Instead he took a cab across town to a small deli which sold their products, where nobody knew him personally and paid in cash. After the initial delicious pleasure of satisfying his cravings, he felt like a total loser each time for ruining his diet efforts, swearing to himself he wouldn’t give into temptation again.

Today, in the eye of facing Stephanie’s husband in a few hours time, he had succumbed to the aching physical and emotional need in his insides, driven over to buy four tartlets, two of his all time favorites – caramel and lemon – as well as two 4th July specials blueberry-raspberry with vanilla cream and black&black chocolate&cherries, greedily munching them down before going back to the hotel. Since this indulgence couldn’t sooth his inner hunger and he feared he would demolish the entire delicious holiday buffet, he took a triple dose of the appetite suppressant he had gotten a prescription for from Wershowitz behind Stephanie’s back. His stomach rebelled a bit, leaving him queasy, yet assured him he could make it through the evening without giving into the urge of eating even more.

Waiting in the lobby of their convention section, his heart was pounding in his throat and he was uncomfortably short of breath as he greeted all the guests with the team, taking time to talk more in depth to those he knew personally. He had been doing the honors for quite some time before he spotted Stephanie in the crowd, next to her a regular looking guy, with dark brown hair, slightly chubby in a too tight suit, a little like a college boy. The guy said something to her, making her smile and nod enthusiastically, adding to his gloom.

As they reached him, he smiled hard at Stephanie: “It’s great you came, I hope you’re enjoying yourself,” before turning to her husband: “Christopher Maynard, director of this hotel, currently Stephanie’s most hopeless case – nice to meet you Mr. Weymouth.”

“Oh no, sorry- not Weymouth, I’m Jason Stanberry, Steph’s brother. Thank you for letting her bring me along, this looks like a great party – I’ve heard wonders about the live acts, the buffet and the prizes in your charity lottery.”

“It’s a true pleasure to have you here, Jason.” It was absurd how wide his grin was getting with relief as he shook Jason’s hand and eyed Stephanie, who looked sexy, elegant, summery in an off the shoulder corset top showing off a lot of cleavage and a floaty gypsy style skirt, which was not that great in his opinion, because it camouflaged the full-fledged curves of her hips and backside all too well. Feeling light-hearted with the specter of Stephanie’s husband not materializing, he chatted a bit with both of them, answered Jason’s many questions, before Tricia appeared and clearly needed him for something.

“Sorry, this is a working event for me, I have to be going. Stephanie – would you be interested in a first class view of the fire-works?” The question was out before he had thought about it, especially as he saw Tricia lightly roll her eyes.

“Why yes! I love fireworks, do anything for the best view. Where shall we meet?”

“10:30 at the front desk!” As she turned and walked away, he observed in appreciation that he had been wrong about the skirt: Its filmy material did perfect justice to the regular movement of her lovely round buttocks under it by letting them stand out alternately in swaying hypnotically.

Waiting later on at the front desk, he was disturbed by the optimism flooding him ever since he had gotten around meeting Stephanie’s husband. It was ridiculous how elated he was simply by the postponement of this problem – a little brother did not present a true challenge. Yet he was secretly pleased to see that Stephanie came alone at 10:30, smiling happily and relating to him in detail all the discoveries she had made at the party, and how Jason was chatting up a young visitor from Chile. “Where are we going? Do you need to see to something in your office first?”

“We’re going to the most exclusive venue for watching the fireworks this hotel currently has to offer – the balcony of my office,” he grinned at her sheepishly. “It’s the only one we do not rent out at horrendous prices for viewing.”

“Well lucky me …. who’d have thought it’s such a privilege to visit your office?” Her words made him sigh, despite her playful smirk.

“Yeah, I’m sorry – I know I haven’t always been on my most mature behavior during our sessions. Can you maybe take this at an attempt in making up?”

“You don’t have anything to make up for. You’re doing just fine- I understand how difficult it is for you, especially since you’re surrounded by all this great food every day. Oouuh – you even have pink champagne…. how classy!” she viewed the small arrangement he had set up on the balcony. “But why is there only one glass?”

“You’re not seriously asking me that? You know alcohol is off limits in my diet!”

“Christopher – this is the wrong time to do any nutritionist talk, I know,” she sighed a little, gently resting her hand on his arm, making his hair stand on end. “You should work on finding a balance between diet and indulgence. From what you told me, your life in the past years was all about indulgence. Now you punish yourself with it being all about strict dieting. The truth lies somewhere in the middle, as with most things in life.” He lowered his gaze, acutely embarrassed, fearing she’d somehow detect the four illegal tartlets he’d wolfed down this afternoon in his eyes, prompting her to lightly rub his arm. “Learn to determine good occasions to indulge yourself a little – champagne on 4th July clearly is one.”

“Do you think so?” he muttered.

“Positively. Go get a second glass for yourself. Drinking champagne alone is no fun.”

Clinking glasses, she smiled warmly at him: “Happy Independence Day! Thank you for inviting me to the lovely party and this spectacular view – the light installation in the park is beautiful.”

After months of completely abstaining from drinking, he could feel the first three sips of champagne making him light-headed so he allowed himself to stand much closer to Stephanie than he normally would. So close that her perfume and the soft, indefinable, alluring scent of her naked skin mingled with the tangy alcoholic whiff of the champagne and the summer night smells of watered plants, barbecue and a touch of sulfur as some first firecrackers were set off. The evening was hot and humid, he could feel the sweat start to run down his back, gather under his thick man boobs to trickle over his belly, the collar of his shirt getting very constricting and his cheeks flush.

Stephanie did him the favor of talking non-stop about the wonderful scenery, how much she loved the champagne, things she had discovered at the party, leaving him only to murmur in assent or answer questions in a few simple words. As her glass was empty, she held it up with a pleading bat of her wide brown eyes and after he re-filled hers, she took the bottle and poured more into his glass: “It’s so warm tonight, and you’re all dressed up in suit and tie. No wonder you’re hot. Loosen up, take off your tie and coat, you’ll be much more comfortable.”

“Is it really okay with you?” seeing her nod reassuringly, he took off his coat, undid his collar with a sigh of relief, rolled up his sleeves and took a long draught of champagne to then pour them both more. “Thanks, that’s much better.”

It wasn’t, though- the hot constricting feeling in his throat wouldn’t go away, almost making breathing difficult. As the long roll of drums announced the fireworks, Stephanie moved a step closer to lean over the balcony’s balustrade at the farthest point, resting on her forearms, her back in an elegant curve, making her spectacular buttocks stick out provocatively. A breeze caught up her skirt’s light material, making it swirl around her legs, giving peeks of her shapely bulging thighs as they widened leading up to their promising pinnacle. Suddenly the constricting hotness was no longer in his throat, but burning hard in his trousers making him inhale several times to try to contain his arousal.
He didn’t know what to do, the warm darkness, Stephanie’s physical closeness, the soft sweetness she radiated, the dizziness of the champagne – he should leave, put his head under cold water, but he stayed rooted, staring at the back of her neck, where it merged into the perfect roundness of her shoulder. He wanted to touch her so bad, feel her plump forms – but he knew he’d never be able to restrain himself if he put only one finger on her bare skin.

Yet he couldn’t resist resting the full heavy curve of his belly on her backside, his arms out at an odd angle to keep his balance and make sure he didn’t touch her. A small curl, loosened by the wind slipped out of her up do, teasing down to her naked shoulder; mesmerized he watched it, drawing him magnetically until he bent over to kiss it, the silky smoothness of her skin soft under his lips. The little bit of flesh at the nape of her neck was so tender, there was nothing else to do but to kiss, suck, nibble, carefully bite into it – as if to fill the rampant hunger churning through him. He had no idea how long he stood there like that, his bulk against Stephanie, who did not respond except arching her back further so it was easier for him to reach her neck and shoulder, eating away on her, holding his breath with his heart pounding like crazy – it might have been 30 seconds or 10 minutes.

Suddenly loud applause broke loose as the fireworks ended and Stephanie turned around, looking him deep in the eye, with one finger stroking over his fleshy cheek: “You sure have an oral fixation, don’t you?” she whispered, her finger ending under his lips, so he on autopilot bit into it, sucking greedily.

With a shy, knowing smile, she pulled away. “Thank you for a lovely evening and a wonderful view of the fireworks. Good night, see you next week,” walking out briskly.

Dazed, he stood there, trying to breathe purposefully to somehow get back into normal mode as he suddenly felt violently sick and barely just made it into the bath room. Spending the rest of the night on the bathroom floor, his head splitting, his stomach massively protesting against the combination of no food, strong appetite suppressant and half a bottle of pink champagne, he wondered how he ever was going to be able to face Stephanie again.
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Old 06-27-2015, 03:10 AM   #12
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“712 RSVPs already for the opening of the bistro,” Claire was bouncing on the balls of her feet in excitement. “When do we have to do the cut off, turn down people?”

By now it had been four days since he had sent an apology, revised an unknown quantity of times, to Stephanie and still had no answer. Along with the painstakingly written card, he had sent her three bottles of his favorite champagne, cava and prosecco, humbling himself in apologizing profusely and fearing her reaction. Stephanie had e-mailed him unexpectedly right the next morning to excuse herself for the days to come, setting up an e-mail to do counseling program, because her grandmother had fallen at a 4th July picnic and broken her shoulder. This timely excuse left him suspicious as to how angry she might really be at him, even though he couldn’t quite believe she would come up with such a wild story to avoid him. Nevertheless, this left him brooding so he was startled as Claire addressed him again.

“Christopher, did you hear my question? 712 RSVPs already, with how many do we have to cut off?”

“Sorry Claire got a bit of a headache today. 712 … hmmm … I would say 900 max…, and then we’ll need to use the bistro itself for the buffet spread and set up tables in the passage way and the convention center foyer ….”

“I know you don’t believe in them …. you’re just so food conservative sometimes. But can’t we do a ‘flying buffet’?” Claire tilted her head with a pleading smile.

“As you said – I don’t like them. One of those life-style food gimmicks that doesn’t do justice to good food. A traditional buffet with guests ladling around in the dishes is already bad enough for excellent food, can ruin texture and presentation.”

“Jeez … you really are a food puritan!” she giggled. “But we want to have a chic lifestyle deli bistro – don’t we? Can’t we have an exception for the opening? We could show off many more of our nice small dishes that way … it’s better for publicity!”

Knowing how much it meant to her, he gave in: “Okay – we can do the cold dishes and desserts as a flying buffet. But hot dishes on a traditional buffet – is that a fair compromise?” having Claire hug him enthusiastically.

Coming home, he was hugely relieved to have a lively e-mail from Stephanie, complete with some pictures of her grandmother, a plump old lady with her shoulder in a sling, toasting him with a champagne flute and hugging and kissing the bottle of cava he had sent. “Even though you have nothing to apologize for, your sparkling wine selection was more than welcome – as you can see, your cava has a new biggest fan! :-)” before giving him some exercise links, two new dinner recipes and the task to develop a meal plan for a special vegetable diet day.

In their ensuing e-mail correspondence, he made several more attempts to apologize and explain, only to have Stephanie ignore them. As she came for the first session the following week, she was her usual friendly, professional self, bringing him some homemade apricot preserve from her grandmother. “She loved the cava, said it was her favorite sparkling wine ever. So as a small compensation – here’s a glass of her special apricot preserve. It’s the very old-fashioned kind, plain boiled down fruit with spices, no sugar added – so it’s okay with your diet plan, you can have a little with yoghurt, for instance.”

“Thank you so much, that’s very kind of your grandmother,” he muttered, finding it impossible to look Stephanie in the eye, remembering how he had last nibbled on her bare neck. “I can’t tell you how sorry I am… don’t know how to explain…” but Stephanie cut him off:
“That just was your 11th apology for something that did not need an apology in the first place – and the last one I’m willing to take. It was hot, it was humid, you had too much champagne on an empty stomach … I should’ve known better than to give you a second glass,” before breaking into a sly grin. “Also …nice to know I seem to taste good, especially coming from someone with your level of expertise…,” making him blush furiously and unable to look at her at all, instead staring on the big curve of his vast stomach.

“Now, we unfortunately have to also face the scale again … we’re running some days late anyway. Are you ready?”

“Hmmmhmmh,” he nodded slowly as they went over to his ensuite bathroom where he slipped out of his shoes, stepped on the scales to hear his poundage make the mechanics whirr labouredly.

“Okay, 491…,” Stephanie read out quietly, taking a note.

“F***, only 1 pound less in two weeks…,” he grunted in disappointment, shame rising in him, remembering several pastry sessions in the past weeks – and it seemed his compensation of skipping meals hadn’t balanced that out. Putting his shoes back on, he felt like a total loser, less than ever not being able to look at Stephanie.

“That’s okay, Christopher, that’s completely normal.” Stephanie seemed to sense how he was feeling. “Don’t berate yourself…. weight loss is not a linear process, it has its ups and downs. Give your body time to adjust – your weight reduction has been significant so far, now it might need to take it a bit slower.”

“It’s going slow enough as it is… shouldn’t we reduce my intake further?”

“No … I don’t think so. 2500 calories for your weight and activity level is not much at all – you’d be starving yourself if you eat less … and I think it’d make things even more difficult for you. You’re doing just fine – give yourself more credit and keep your patience.”

Going down to Claire in the bistro for the final preparations for next day’s grand opening; he found her doing trial arrangements for the ‘flying buffet’ and had to smile in spite of himself. “Those are great looking arrangements on those small paper shells – I’m glad I gave in to your ‘flying buffet’ idea.”

“Wow … that’s real praise … if you say you like something you’re actually against! I want everything to be perfect… and right now, things are looking fabulous!” Claire was radiant as she linked arms with him, fondling the flesh role in the nook of his elbow. “I want to ask you one big favor for tomorrow. I know it’s difficult, it’s not fair …. but it would make the big day just perfect for me..”

“Anything you want … if it’s possible for me to fulfill…”

“Please lay off your diet for tomorrow evening … eat normally … be your normal, happy self, indulge your appetite for one night. It would make the occasion perfect for me to have the real you there, not the poor frustrated diet version of Christopher… please, could you do that?” she pleaded shyly.

“Claire, it can’t possibly be that important whether I eat or not….,” her wish upset him strongly, especially after the depressing weigh in with Stephanie. “I can’t fulfill that wish … I’m not losing enough weight as it is … sorry, that’s impossible!” He couldn’t stand talking about the issue another second and turn to leave. “You’re all set here, so see you tomorrow. Double-check the bread order with the bakery …. order some more of the bread sticks, just in case.”

Observing Claire across the busy deli bistro on opening night from a certain distance, it was clear she had outdone herself in an effort to look as sexy and appealing as possible. The midnight blue sheath brought out her eyes and showcased her slim figure, which everybody complimented her on. Around her chest though, it was gathered in many folds and ruffles, clearly aiming at creating the illusion of cleavage, probably for his benefit, making him guiltily remember his tasteless remarks. As much as he tried, Stephanie’s ‘Nana’ statue curves or Nora’s ripe D-cups kept appearing before his inner eye whenever he studied Claire’s petite figurine, it only evoking strong protective instincts in him. He smiled and nodded over to her, saluting her with his water glass as he caught her glance.

As he returned from showing guests where they could buy some of the deli-products being served, he overheard Claire talking to her friend, an equally skinny brunette with an exaggerated hairstyle. “Claire … I can’t believe it – your boss must be the fattest human being I’ve ever seen outside of television. How can you stand working for such a blob? I mean … you can’t actually overlook him….”

“Shut up Sammy, that’s not nice …. Christopher is a great boss and a real nice guy. He gave me this promotion, this wonderful professional opportunity …. helped me so much in setting everything up..”

“Don’t tell me that fricking whale maybe even has the hots for you? You’ve probably been way too kind again, treated him as if he were actually normal …. not like the blubber-monster he is! Why he’d squash you if he only accidentally bumped into you….”

“One more word Sammy and I’ll call security to have you kicked out!” Claire’s voice was angrier than he had never heard it. “Why are you ruining this great evening for me? What’s your problem? He’s my boss not yours – and he’s the best boss I’ve ever had! That’s what counts – not his size!”

“Then why’re you all dressed up like to want to impress some guy? Who is he? Is he here?”

“Sammy, sometimes I wonder whether you’re not only my best, but also my most stupid friend!” Claire sounded exasperated. “You’re a marketing expert right? I’m the new chef of this new deli-bistro. The little I know about self-marketing is that you should look your best for the opening night of you first chef position, right?”

“Sorry Claire sweetie … you’re right. Don’t get upset…. you do look great. And every paper will hopefully write you’re the cutest chef in town…” Sammy seemed to try and make amends.

But he had heard enough. Coming from a visible airhead like Sammy, her snide comments didn’t really hurt him – it was more like after stepping into some stinking mess: One of disgust and the wish to get rid of the unpleasant contact as soon as possible. Yet it made him ask himself whether he might have been blind and deaf the past years, or how else he could have been so oblivious to the many nasty comments about his size that certainly had been voiced, or how he could have shrugged them off as harmless teasing. They couldn’t possibly have gotten more frequent now that he was actually dieting, could they? Or was it that the diet so far was not so much making him thinner, but simply more thin-skinned, that general fat rejection registered with him, now that he had been made overtly aware of the fact that he was super fat.

This train of thought did nothing to improve his mood, downing glasses of water amidst the munching and drinking crowd with whom he had to chat and smile nicely not only increased his disgust but made the corners of his mouth ache from the forced crinkle.

Suddenly a cloud of exotic, expensive perfume engulfed him and a big smooch was planted on his cheek: “Hi Christopher, so good to see you again!” It was Cara, one of Ingrid’s favorite models, in killer high heels almost as tall as he was but as professionally prescribed of anorexic slimness, her long blonde hair probably the heaviest part of her.

“Hi Cara, I didn’t know you were coming – great to have you with us again!” the ache in his cheeks subsided as his smile turned genuine, because Cara always was a welcome, appreciative guest.

“I’m not booked for a photo-shoot here until Monday, but when I got the invite for the opening tonight, I decided to come early. Your food events are one of the few occasions a year I allow myself to eat what I feel like.”

“What an honor! Let me show you the best offerings to try this evening.” He guided her over to the small reserved corner seat next to what was to become the reception desk, grateful to let his body plop down heavily on the small bench while Cara gracefully settled on the burgundy wicker chair. Waving some of the servers, he placed several small plates in front of her, arranged in a certain order and then started to explain them.

“Wait, why don’t we eat them together, then you can explain as we move on.”

“No, you eat, I…,” he felt himself redden as he muttered. “I’m … um …. on a … umm … diet…”

“You’re on a diet?” Cara looked like the most convincing advertisement for pure disbelief. “Why? Since when? How? You didn’t have any serious health problems because of your weight, did you?” her disbelief changing into concern.

“No, health is just fine …. simply forced to realize that I’m way too heavy,” he sighed. “Can’t we talk about something else … it’s not exactly my favorite subject, I’m less than brilliant at it ….”

“Shit … I can imagine how awful it is for you! Welcome to my world – the world of perpetual dieting, constant food guilt and weight loss single-mindedness,” she warmly squeezed his hand, seeing his skeptical glance. “I know all about dieting, believe me. I’m not naturally this thin – this is the result of a 360 days a year diet.”

“Yeah, but you’re good and successful at it. It’s turning me into a total loser ….”

“Oh, I know all too well how that feels. The problem with diets and losing weight is that it’s never quite enough, there are always those pounds, ounces that still need to go away, that need to be airbrushed, the shape that could be tighter…. it’s a truly an eternal battle.” Cara greedily spooned a second stuffed champignon into her mouth. “That’s why I love coming here; it’s a short respite, like a visit to a different world. What counts about food here is flavor, preparation and quality – for once it’s not calories, carbs or cholesterol. You were so good at conveying the pleasure of plain enjoying fine food, of how good it makes one feel to be seriously well fed. I always admired and envied how matter-of-factly and confidently you handled your size – sort of as the logic and positive consequence of excellent eating… it’s a true shame the real dieting world has caught up with you.”

“You can’t be serious … I mean you’re a successful model … with my size, I must seem like … like a huge whale to you.”

“As I said, you’ve always inhabited a different, wonderful, tasty world for me here,” Cara dabbed more bread into the sauce, wiping her plate clean. “In my business, you’re fat with a BMI of 19 … so you’re in some different, by our standards non-measurable category, like from another planet. Mmmh, this sauce for the duck is pure bliss … what is it?”

“Plum preserve, duck fond, port and caramelized onions. And thanks for letting me know that you see me as a total freak,” his voice fading off into an embarrassed murmur.

“Fabulous – even if it means not eating for three days after this dinner for me.” Cara moved around to perch herself elegantly on the narrow ledge his expanse left on the bench, put her hand on his shoulder to carefully rub the flesh role at the back of his neck. “Christopher, you’re not a freak – you know you’re my favorite hotel director. The diet talk and pressure is already getting to you, isn’t it?”

Mortified he nodded and looked the other way, while she continued to stroke his back. “Don’t let them ruin your feeling of self-worth! You’re a great guy, as a chef, as a hotel director … and from what I know from Ingrid, also as a man…,” she gave him a devilish grin making him blush until he felt feverish. “How … why… I never…,” he grunted feeling humiliated.

“Hey, no need to get upset – you honestly only got the best reviews,” her smile turn warm, tousling his hair. “Don’t worry, Ingrid isn’t the kiss&tell type. She and I are true friends, my little sister now works as her assistant – so we’re on a real personal girl talk basis. And since I also know and like you … yeah we exchanged some insights.”

“You don’t need to try and make me feel better Cara. I know I’ve gotten far too fat, how everybody sees my appearance with some sort of contempt …. that I have to do something about it….,” this was slowly but surely turning into a nightmarish evening.

“Christopher don’t ever let how other people see you be your compass for judging yourself! You’ve avoided that so far, whatever you do, make sure it stays that way.” She wrapped her long graceful fingers over his plump hand. “I’ll be honest with you, since I really like you. In the past years I’ve been a bit worried about you because you’ve put on so much weight, if I may say so…”

“See, I told you so … you think …”

“No, you don’t know what I think, please listen to me,” her voice was insistent. “Despite my job, I’m not a diet or thinness fanatic. I see the damage diets can cause on a daily basis … don’t need any of that with people I see as my friends, like you. But there is such a thing as too much weight … and I fear you’ve gotten to that point for a while. So a healthy, sensible diet is good for you, if you do it as a meaningful, careful lifestyle change - not get into the dangerous radical stuff, ruin your health and, or self-esteem. Do you believe me?”
Unconvinced he nodded.“So – are you doing this on your own – or is it medically supervised? With doctor? Diet counseling?”

“Doctor and diet counseling… I’m trying hard to be a good boy…,” he grimaced.

“No too radical measures, 3 decent meals a day, no pills or such?”

He shook his head; guiltily aware that the no pills currently was not 100% true. “My nutritionist has me do diet versions of my favorite recipes, cook and eat those. I think she sees it as you do…”

“Sounds good…,” Cara yawned. “Sorry, I’m totally jet-lagged, just got in from Singapore this morning. Could you organize me a dessert and then I’ll head off across town to the ‘Club Star Lodges’….”

“Why aren’t you staying here in our house?”

“Unfortunately, you’re not only my favorite hotel director, but too many others too,” she put on a mock pout. “The ‘Langdon Residency’ is completely booked out…”

“Wait, I’ll go see if I can work something out…,” waving to one of the servers to order the dessert selection and starting to haul himself up.

“No, stay here … I’m too tired to move my stuff tonight – but I’d be grateful if you could get me a room here as of tomorrow.” Cara brandished her dessert spoon. “Now where should I start?”

After Cara had finished her dessert, he accompanied her out through the passage way to the limousine he had ordered to see her off. On getting in, she turned and pulled him in a tight hug, her arms around his neck: “What we talked about Christopher, with your diet – please take really good care of yourself! Don’t let yourself be pressured, don’t overdo it – 10% weight loss in a year is a lot, let your body stabilize then …,”

“Please Cara, I don’t…”

“I’m serious, be careful. I’ve seen people die from the consequences of over- and mis-dieting – that comes with the business. So be healthy about it – and stay yourself! And keep this place the haven of good food it has always been! Good night!” she planted a smooch on his lips this time.

“Good night Cara, sleep well! See you tomorrow; I’ll get you a room here!”

Heading back to the bistro, he saw Claire standing in the passage way, staring at him, her expression one of abject disappointment. But he wasn’t capable of saying something nice to her, so he vaguely nodded to her: “Claire, I think we should start seeing the guests off, it’s getting late.”

Ushering people out, seeing them off in the warm humid night air, bumping into chairs, tables, people in the tightly packed space, feeling the sweat collect in his roles of blubber and run down his back or belly, he felt more monstrously fat that he could remember. The heavy jiggling and rolling of his excess flesh suddenly irritated him, the sway of his huge belly was burdensome and he mentally pored over how he could have ever let himself get so fat and delude himself into being comfortable with it. As the last guests left, he stood in front of Claire, breathing heavily and faint with hunger.

“You’re not feeling well, are you?” she asked in a very small voice, looking even more dejected than she had a while ago; leaving him conscience-stricken since he realized that his bout of self-loathing was probably ruining her special evening almost as successfully as Sammy had already done.

“It’s okay, just hot, hungry and tired. I’m sorry, I’m not in good shape tonight – you were right, I probably would be in a better mood if I had hit the buffet…,” he sighed, knowing he had to say something really nice to her to salvage what was left of the evening. “You look great tonight – I hope you got at least half as many compliments about your looks, your work in preparing the deli bistro and your excellent food as I did,” putting on his nicest smile.

Blushing a bit, Claire stepped next to him, stroking the lapel of his suit with the back of her hand. But he was so uncomfortable in his big sweaty body he for once couldn’t bear her touch. She was even standing too close; he wanted to push her out of his personal space which needed a mile around him right now. “Come on, I’ll take you home in the limo service, you’re so tired, you shouldn’t drive anymore,” taking her protectively by the elbow and in the move slightly steering her away from him.

As the chauffeur opened the door, he helped her into the back and himself sprawled next to the driver in the front, knowing he couldn’t stand her leaning into his ungainly bulk right now and using the excuse that they only had a seat belt extension for the front seat. Too uncomfortable with himself, he had the chauffeur accompany Claire to the door while he stayed seated, simply kissing her hands in reverence through the car window, her disappointed look haunting him as she lightly waved good-bye from the door step.
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Old 06-27-2015, 03:10 AM   #13
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17 …. come on, just three more to 20, then you’ve made it!” Stephanie encouraged him as they were trying some simplified sit ups, still immensely difficult with the only slightly reduced flesh masses of his belly in the way.

Despite her always being particularly careful and considerate when coaching him for the exercise parts of his diet program, he hated it when he was lying there like now in front of her, a sweaty, breathless, wheezing mountain of flab, feeling as hopeless and unappealing as possible. With a few grunts he did manage to get to 20, sensing a burning ache in what might be stomach muscles buried somewhere under several feet of fat before collapsing on his back panting, his t-shirt drenched and clinging to his every bulge.

“Good job! I’m always incredibly impressed how strong and mobile you are – and you’re getting better and better! I’ve clients who are less than half your size and who can’t do a trifle of what you’re up to mobility and stamina-wise. Now catch your breath – here’s some water.”

Stephanie’s words and motivating smile didn’t do anything for him – especially since he’d much rather show her his stamina freshly showered in a more intimate setting than the gym floor. Rolling over and lumbering up over his knees, he was flushed and uncomfortable as he downed his water asking: “What’s next?”

“Well, I know you’re an avid swimmer – and I found some new pieces of special water exercise equipment I’d really like to try out. Somehow I thought you’d be a good candidate – and we’ve got the hotel pool here - would you mind doing a trial run for me?”

“Yeah, sure … why not?” he answered before thinking it through. He was a good, practiced swimmer and this was a chance to further convince Stephanie of his physical abilities, for whatever purpose that might be good. On the other hand, this meant fully exposing almost his entire gigantic jiggly body to her unprotected in broad daylight – something he did not currently feel up to.

“Great – thanks a lot, I think you’ll enjoy that a lot more than the sit ups,” she winked at him. “I’ll run and get those new exercise devices – I left them in the car.”

“Good, that’ll give me the opportunity to shower and swim a few laps to relax first. I’ll lock the pool, please ring at the spa – Namée will let you in.”

He had already swum a good 10 laps as Stephanie came back, towing a huge bag of oddly shaped, neon bright objects and flotation devices. “Okay – this is the selection. Could you maybe come out to look at them, so we can choose what to start out with?”

Shame and unease overtaking him, he swallowed hard, clambered out of the pool, pushed back his shoulders, sucked in his gut – not that it had much effect – and positioned himself with well planted apart legs to try to add the illusion of broadness and power to the display of all of his fat. Staring at his body, Stephanie bit her under lip hard with a look of such anguish and distress in her eyes that something in him snapped – a sharp jolt of pain and humiliation ran through him, his cheeks flamed as he grabbed his bathrobe, fumbled into it snarling at her: “I know I’m no Adonis! But you must’ve seen more super fat people like me before! Can’t you at least be professional about it and look away – not show your disgust so openly? It doesn’t really help my diet motivation – or do you believe in the shaming approach after all?”

Stephanie continued staring open-mouthed, half-whispering: “I’m not ….” before she broke into sobs and ran off. Hurt and embarrassment resounding through him, he stayed behind until he heard her hammering against the pool door to get out. Going over with the key in hand, he was shocked to see her huddled on the wet floor sobbing uncontrollably. It was impossible to open the door since she was blocking it, so he carefully said: “I’m sorry, I didn’t want to insult you …. it’s just ….. you looked so ….” making her cry even harder so she started gasping to get enough breath.

Her extreme reaction left him confused and helpless. His response to her stare hadn’t been nice – but had it actually been so far out of line? In addition he was irritated that her disgusted look had hurt him so badly; next to Warren’s insult, it was emotionally the worst situation he had ever been in with regards to his weight. Before this diet, he had felt confident enough in his expansive body to not mind showing it on the beach or in the bedroom. He had at worst gotten some good-natured teasing in response, sometimes even genuine appreciation for his ample flesh. Most recently with Nora, he had actually relished drawing attention to any additional expansion since his last visit or even returning to the hotel pushing an overstuffed, massively distended belly ahead of himself to have her fondle it in awe and delight in her ecstasy when he rolled it over her ponderously. With this diet, his self-perception was rapidly falling in line with the general one of his size: He was way too fat, all his excess flesh was repulsive, he was losing weight way too slowly … and as long as he was this big, all he could do was hide from view at best possible. This process was leaving him miserable and - as he just noticed – increasingly vulnerable.

“Stephanie, please calm down … I’m real sorry … I overreacted … it’s not as easy for me as it used to be…. Can you maybe get up, the floor is wet…?” he tried again to get her to react, with no success. Unsure what to do, he bent down to pull her to her feet, in which he succeeded only to notice she was literally shaking with sobs and could hardly stand. Not knowing whether it was right, but seeing no other option, he placed his arm around her to steady her. To his disbelief, she used the chance to fling herself into his bulk, digging her hands deep between his thick side roles, while incessantly bawling her eyes out. “It’s okay, shhh … it’ll be okay,” he lightly patted her back, standing there helplessly.

Clueless what to do, he steered her over to the poolside bench, sat down on it, letting her settle against him as she intensified her kneading and clawing of his flesh, rubbing her face against his fat chest. Thoroughly bewildered by now, he thought that he normally would honestly enjoy Stephanie exploring his bulk, her touch instantly bringing back the feeling of sensual contentment his abundant body had always filled him with. But her desperate sobbing was alarming so he was too agitated to take advantage of the situation since he could not extract any meaningful response from her. After a good twenty minutes – he checked the pool clock – her sobs quieted to small hiccups and she mumbled: “My phone… call Jason….”

Reaching over to her handbag, he groped for the phone to pull it out and hand it to her, only for her to start sobbing again. He checked her contact list, instantly found Jason’s number and pressed it. “Jason – hi this is Christopher Maynard from the ‘Langdon Residency’. Stephanie is here, she is not doing well, I think she needs you…,” as she took the phone from him, sobbing into it: “Jason please, come pick me up, real quick, please…..,” pushing the phone back into his hand, prompting him to give Jason directions of how to find them.

A mere thirty minutes later Jason was there, looking very worried as he wrapped his arms around his sister, who buried her face in his neck with renewed sobs. “What happened?”

With a guilty blush he in brief words related what had happened, owning up to his angry remarks, trying to apologize, but Jason shook his head: “That’s not the problem. It’s not what you said … it’s how you look in swim shorts….”

“Well … she must’ve more or less known what I look like. After all I’m her weight loss patient, she should be used to it ….,” he responded defensively, indignant that Jason too dared harp on his fat.

“No… you can’t understand what it means for her …. I’m sorry. Don’t take it personally… it’s not your fault. I can’t explain though …. Steph’ll have to do that herself when she feels up to it.”

Shaking his head after they had left, he turned to see Namée waving him over: “Mr. Christopher, you need relaxing massage bad now. Go swim for thirty minutes, then come over to me!”

“Wow Namée …. how do you always know what I need? Or is good old eavesdropping the answer this time? But you’re so dam right … I need it more than ever!”
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Old 06-27-2015, 03:11 AM   #14
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847- 316 9573

read the caller id – as he opened the message, it was from Stephanie: “Cannot say how sorry I am – please forgive my behavior. I’ll try to explain as soon as possible.” – not really answering any of his questions. In the last three days since the incident at the pool, he had been beside himself: worried, agitated and a bit humiliated, searching for a good response. After Jason’s words, he had written her a short e-mail hoping she felt better soon and to contact him again when she was able to. Her response now answered nothing, including how they would continue with his program.

That was all the communication he received from her, so he simply went on with what they had established as his current diet program before he had a regular check-up with Wershowitz the beginning of the following week.

Entering Wershowitz’s practice, he realized it was the first time he went to see him on his own, without Stephanie as moral and practical support since the initial check-up with Warren, increasing the unpleasant cold sting in the pit of his stomach. Yet he had to grin involuntarily as he was greeted by one of Wershowitz’s assistants, who was so fat-phobic it was plain comic. Everything about her strongly resembled the cartoon character of a bimbo: an emaciated body with full lips and breasts which had ‘fake’ screaming all over them, long elaborately designed finger nails, a fluffed up blonde hairstyle with visible extensions, a Mickey-Mouse voice and the pretentious – possibly also fake – first name LaBella. At his first visit he had instantly noticed she had a physical rejection of fat as exaggerated as many other things about her – and he couldn’t help provoking her by flaunting his flab and bringing her in contact with it as much as possible.

“Lovely to see you again LaBella! How are you?” he warmly squeezed her hand, taking it between his well padded ones, inwardly grinning at her shivers and attempt to worm her hand out from his.

“Fine, thank you,” she barely opened her lips, and if they weren’t puffed up to much, they would have formed a thin line of disdain.

“So, I’m back – slowly getting smaller,” he stuck out his still enormous belly as far as possible, lightly slapping it so it wobbled nicely.

“Ummm …. smaller?” LaBella sputtered a bit.

“Well, relatively smaller compared to when I first came here,” he gave her a pout, putting a hurt whine in his voice. “Don’t you think so?”

Her expression went off track, she gulped for air, frantically trying to swallow what she really thought and stay professional: “No …. well I mean, yes … oh no, somehow ….”

“Shall we go over to the small treatment room to check on my progress?”

“Why don’t you wait here until Sandra comes?” LaBella blurted, trying to get rid of a task she dreaded – and as he knew from experience, was no good at.

“But you always do it so nicely … and I don’t have much time, I need to be back in the hotel for a meeting soon,” he wheedled.

“Oh alright, follow me…” she took off as fast as her stilettos would carry her to put as much distance between him and her as quickly as possible.

In contrast, he took his time, kept his belly sticking out making it sway ponderously and added a notable waddle to his walk so his love handles also undulated more heavily than usual, inwardly smirking at her horrified look. The only empty treatment room was indeed small, with a lineup of equipment along one wall and only a narrow aisle to go through. Since LaBella unthinking had already gone in, he had to squeeze by her to get to the treatment couch to settle down on, murmuring in pseudo embarrassment as his flesh brushed her hip making her shudder: “So sorry LaBella – but you know I’m still too big for that chair, need to sit on the couch…..”

Flustered, she thumbed through the file and finally asked: “Shall I take your blood pressure?”

“Yeah … even though with you around the reading won’t be too accurate,” he tried to make his expression as naïve as possible. “Probably many of your male patients have the problem…”

Reflexively, LaBella gave him a coy smile and ran her hand through her hair, twirling an extension, only to have her features derail again as he took off his shirt, showing his cascade of roles and bulges camouflaged only by his t-shirt. With distended fingers and pursed lips she tried to fit the Velcro of the cuff around his bulging upper arm without touching his flesh, a maneuver which was destined to fail and had her nervously rubbing her hands.

Letting her fiddle helplessly for several minutes, amusing himself with watching her try not to touch him, the blood pressure gauge falling to the floor several times, he finally released her from the task by suggesting harmlessly: “If my upper arm is still too fat, which of course is awful …. why don’t you put it on my forearm, just below the elbow? I think that’s been done before…”

In her third attempt, LaBella did get the device fitted on his forearm and then read: “150/90” – which was higher than he remembered, but his confidence in the accuracy of her reading was limited. “Now how about my blood test? Dr. Wershowitz said last time he wanted it to be tested regularly….”

Blanching under her heavy make-up, LaBella fluttered with an artificial smile: “Shouldn’t we wait for Dr. Wershowitz?”

“I don’t have much time… and you do such a great job, are so gentle, it doesn’t hurt so much, you know, since my arm is so big….,” he gave her a puppy dog look, barely suppressing a wicked grin on seeing how she lapped up this outright lie, because her poking his arm was not only unskilled, but also unpleasant. With a sigh, she set to work, tying off his arm, amusing him with her fumbling and hysterical little responses to any contact with his thick padding, making it as difficult for her as he could by relaxing and letting his flesh bulge freely.

LaBella was still struggling to draw his blood about 20 minutes later, giving his arm fat hesitant prods to find the vein as Wershowitz with his other assistant Sandra came in. Sandra was in every respect LaBella’s opposite: calm, professional, competent, understated in appearance. Surveying the situation, she waved LaBella aside, pulled on gloves and set the syringe instantly – admittedly with his help, for he now did cooperatively strain his muscles fully for her to easily hit the vein.

Wershowitz’s appearance and disapproving mien made his teasing mood with LaBella vanish in a flash, the tense discomfort returning. Looking at the file he asked: “We still need to weigh you today, Mr. Maynard, correct?”

“Yes…,” he muttered dully, bending over to pull off his shoes and then get on the large scale.

“486” Sandra took a note in the file.

“Mr. Maynard, I don’t know how to put it, but do you have the feeling you’re meeting your commitment to Mr. Langdon?”

“Well … yeah … I’m trying very hard. It’s a slow process, but I am losing the weight. It’s almost 40 pounds by now ….,” a wave of minor nausea wallowing up in him.

“I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but during our last weighing at the hotel with Mr. Langdon, I could notice he was severely disappointed in you.”

“Warren was disappointed?”

“Yes, he had clearly expected you to have made more progress, also visible progress by now,” Wershowitz gave his gut a stern look. “And I’m disappointed too. According to my graphs, you should have lost about 50 pounds by now … even better 55. You’re not trying hard enough.”

“But… I’m honestly trying … I follow the diet plans from Stephanie as best I can…,” he cringed at how defensive he sounded.

“Oh yes, Mrs. Weymouth’s plan… where is she by the way?”

“She’s currently on leave … I had mentioned that to you. She’ll be back as soon as possible.” Sandra injected with a pronounced undertone.

“Ahh, yes, yes … I remember, completely understandable … of course she can’t now…,” Wershowitz nodded. “I know you appreciate Mrs. Weymouth’s work, the support she’s giving you. But don’t you think you should be a man about this? Be tougher on yourself? Try harder to lose weight faster, meet your commitment to Mr. Langdon?”

He stared at Wershowitz helplessly, the nausea intensifying itself, shrugging, unable to respond.

“Mrs. Weymouth’s, hmm, softer approach might be good for people who are not as morbidly obese as you are, who need to lose less weight. You need to put more effort on cutting your intake, exercising more so you have a more significant reduction of your weight. Can you do that?”

Once again he was at a loss of what to say: Wershowitz had effectively hit his sore point that he indeed felt like he was only inadequately fulfilling his promise to Warren with his weight loss at a snail’s pace. On the other hand, he was already miserably hungry as it was – how could he get by eating even less? Staring down at the incredible reservoir of fat forming his gut, he once more had trouble fathoming there had been a time when he had cherished the sense of its weight in his lap, the physical and emotional satisfaction it had given him. Now it was the constant memorial to his losing battle, leaving him with the unpleasant afterthought that he must have somehow been benighted in his super-sized comfort. At a loss for words, he shrugged, not looking at Wershowitz.

“Why don’t we try something different while Mrs. Weymouth is on leave – to get you really back in the mode of seriously tackling those hundreds of pounds,” Wershowitz clapped him on the back, handing him some papers. “For the next five days you’ll stay on a liquid diet with these protein shakes here …. moving on to a more reduced plan with 1800 calories from there instead of 2500. Normally I would prescribe only 1400 – but that might be a little hard given your size and activity level. Will you try that? I’ll also give you some prescriptions along to help control your intake ……”

With a sinking heart, he nodded wearily, accepting the prescription.
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Old 06-27-2015, 03:14 AM   #15
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“9? We’re only 9th in your new ranking? But we tied in 1st place last year!” He thought something was wrong with the phone line – or his headache was making him hear things.

I’m sorry Christopher, but no. 9 on the list of best hotel restaurants in the US is pretty good for you this year – the ratings of some of our testers went as low as 25th,” Ed Romario’s sigh, editor-in-chief of ‘Gourmet Traveller’, came through the long distance line. “I’m calling you personally because I highly respect your work – and have always enjoyed our meetings at the ‘Langdon Residency’. Normally you would have just read it in the new edition.”

“Thanks a lot for telling me ahead of time Ed; that is very fair of you. How did the ‘Langdon Imperial Residency’ do?”

Frankly, we didn’t even list them anymore. Will you do me the favor and inform Warren Langdon?

“Guess I owe you that one. Sure, I’ll tell him … along with my failure….”

Christopher … being number 9 nationwide is not exactly a failure,” Ed reasoned. “But what’s going wrong in your kitchen? Is it only that Claire is no longer there? When I checked it out myself, yeah Paul still offered a brilliant fish course … but the other dishes were subpar. And service was pretty chaotic. What’s the problem? You always kept everything under such perfect control the past years … the improvements and standard were impressive…

“Yeah, I’ve let things get out of hand a bit … haven’t supervised everything myself anymore…. busy with other things….,” he muttered, thinking to himself – like starving and being totally miserable. But he kept it to himself, thinking his diet was too pathetic an excuse. “I’ll try my best to get things back on track, talk to Paul, check on the kitchen. Thank you for letting me know Ed. More luck and better work next time…”

Don’t be so disappointed Christopher – I have other, still top secret news to cheer you up. If you promise you won’t say a word until it’s official in the next edition…

“It’s okay Ed, I’ll get over it – and you know I keep everything confidential that needs to be…”

Well, your new deli-bistro is shortlisted for best new bistro/café of the year, final decision is end of the month. Claire is doing an impressive job with quality and service. It’s good you saw her talents and promoted her – it wasn’t fair all those years than Paul received the laurels for her work.

“That is good news – thanks so much Ed. I promise everything here will be the best again next time you come.”

Despite the positive news about the bistro, Ed’s phone call made his already depressed spirits droop further. He was now on the 4th day of Wershowitz’s liquid diet and feeling positively ill: The hunger pangs of his stomach literally hurt, his headache was perpetual, and he was so exhausted he not only started to take a nap in the afternoon in his office suite, but had to sit on a bench in the park and rest three times on his walk home in the evening. The five protein shakes a day he was supposed to drink had the most revolting taste and consistency that had ever entered his body – he had to clamp his nose while pouring them down to numb his taste buds so he didn’t immediately spit it out again as he had done the first few times he had tried to drink it. As disgusting as they were, they gave him the modicum of energy he needed to keep going – skipping them had made him feel even worse. So he poured them down defiantly, before either having a very strong espresso afterwards or brushing his teeth to get the awful taste out of his mouth.

Right now his head was splitting again and he’d have to take some more aspirin before he took a nap, otherwise he could forget continuing with his work. Just as he had thrown in the pills, there was a knock, the door opened and Claire walked in, smiling with a stack of papers. “Wonderful news and some new ideas from our deli bistro,” she beamed. Since she had adopted the habit of getting very close to him while they had worked together, she came around his desk, spreading proof sheets out before him perching herself of the armrest of his chair, leaning fully against him.

“Look, we get the headliner story of the weekend supplement of our paper – with lots of pictures, some testimonials from happy guests … and if you agree, two signature recipes to increase interest …. or for our fans to re-cook at home. What do you think? Can I have your okay for that?”

Claire’s light warmth leaning against him, her small elbow digging into the thick padding of his shoulder, looking at the proof sheets together in a flash made him, after weeks of searching, finally able to pin-point the nature of his affection for her: She reminded him of Jana; Liza’s little sister and how he had felt for her. The familiarity, the closeness, the affection, the urge to protect her from harm, to be her big, strong, loving and caring brother, in turn being adored and coddled by her.

Liza’s extensive, tight-knit lively family initially had been one of her main attractions for him. Her mother was Aunt Katie’s second cousin, so they had met at his aunt and uncle’s house – who had actively fostered their puppy love. As the only child far and wide in his family, his mother’s only boy, his grandparent’s only grandchild - due to Uncle Tom’s barren marriage and the fact that his other two uncles had been killed in Vietnam before he was even born – he had taken the role of heir apparent to all the family’s hopes and dreams with the privileges it brought for granted. As anti-thesis to always being the center of attention of all the adults in his life, he had envied his peers who had siblings and cousins galore and who could sort of blend in to the bigger picture of a large family.

With two older brothers and two younger sisters – and an exact number of cousins he couldn’t even remember – Liza’s family had been the perfect match for this secret desire of his. They all had taken him in warmly, and he had had an especially close friendship with Jana, her youngest sister and ten years his junior. He had helped with her home work, picked her up from ballet or flute class with his car or let her play help-out in the bakery, having fun with her, enjoying the unfamiliar role as big brother and basking in her unconditional hero-worship. Jana had always sat on the armrest of their family room sofa like Claire was now, leaning over him when they were doing French language exercises together - she for school, he for culinary classes - later cuddling his growing middle playfully or monitoring his diet for him after Liza had put him on it.

Liza breaking up with him had shocked and aggrieved Jana almost as much as it had him. During the rough weeks following the explosion, she and her mother had been much more of a moral and practical support than Liza had been – and he had been exceedingly grateful for it. After the break up, he had only gone back to their house twice, even though they had insisted he would always be more than welcome. It had been too awkward a situation with an icy Liza and father, who had welcomed him as heir to a well-established local business, but clearly thought him unworthy of his eldest daughter as a prospect-less college senior, so he had left the whole family behind him. Jana, then thirteen, had made the trip to his college to visit him, tell him she loved him no matter what happened and ask him to wait for her to turn sixteen. But he had shaken his head, saying he was too much of a bringer of bad luck, she deserved better. The idea of burdening a trusting child like Jana, as such he saw her, with his problems seemed so totally irresponsible, he didn’t consider keeping up the contact with her for one second, as much as her affection meant to him.

Claire being so petite and caring brought back all these memories and emotions for him, making him realize that his admittedly strong feelings for her were those of filial affection, not of adult attraction.
“Isn’t this a great article? The journalist spent a whole day with me last week with a photographer, and now sent the proof to me to make sure there are no mistakes in the recipes,” she gushed, pointing at two cute pictures of her in the kitchen and one serving the journalist.

“The idea with the recipes is good, go ahead with it. Good job also of turning that journalist’s head – look at that picture, he’s clearly totally smitten by you,” he teased, his stomach letting out a loud growl combined with an aching pang, which automatically made him clutch his currently very flabby, since it was so empty, upper belly.

“That sounds awful – you didn’t skip your lunch, did you? Shall I make you something small?”

“No, I’m fine ….,” clutching his belly tighter as it let out another growl.

“Christopher, look at me…,” Claire’s voice was soft, but her eyes full of concern at he looked up while she had put her small hand on the one he was clutching his belly with. “What’s going on here with your diet? You’re clearly not doing well … and I don’t mean to snoop, but sitting here I can see a whole line up of pills in your desk drawer and a can of one of these awful diet drink things in your trash. Have you started a more radical d…”

“Yes, you are snooping and that’s none of your business! I don’t want to talk about it, leave me be!”

“Fine, I meant well, I wasn’t snooping since all this evidence is out in the open. I’ll leave you alone then, have a nice day!” In a huff Claire got up, scooping her papers and turning to go, but he held her back by taking her arm.

“I’m so sorry Claire, I didn’t mean it. You’re right, I feel lousy. It’s a new stage of the diet Wershowitz prescribed and it’s going awfully. But I don’t want to talk about it – yet I want you to stay. Can you please stay and we talk about something else? Please?”

Anger and worry fighting in her expression, Claire nodded and wanted to sit in his visitor chair on the other side of his desk, but he preferred having her physically by his side right now, so he gestured to his armrest again with a pleading look, making her blush, smile and settle there again.

“In contrast to your great upcoming publicity, I got some pretty bad media news…,” he related the essentials of his conversation with Ed Romario to her, leaving out the details on the bistro.

“No. 9 only? Ouuh, that’s awful, down 8 ranks …. Uggh. What are you going to do?”

“Good question – that’s something I’d like to talk to you about. We need to find a true replacement for you in the kitchen, someone from whom Paul will accept kitchen management decisions or who is able to run part of the operations on his or her own. He’s so difficult – I can’t admire enough how you always kept him on track. Then again – who couldn’t be nice and cooperative with someone as sweet and competent as you are? Unfortunately, they don’t grow you on trees, do they?” he gave her a twisted smile, making her blush and take his thick hand between her small ones.

“Well – until you’ve found a replacement, I’d be happy to work evenings again in the main restaurant kitchen …”

“No, Claire, strict no. You’re working 1.5 jobs in the deli bistro as it is anyway – I have to make sure in my responsibility as your boss that you don’t overwork yourself even more!”

“I honestly wouldn’t mind …I’m fine … I could…”

“No. N –O, no! If it weren’t for this f***cking diet I’d do it myself. I could kick myself in the ass that I don’t have the discipline and will-power to control myself around good food…. but I can give up on the diet right away if I started working in the kitchen,” he sighed. “These days, Paul doesn’t take anything I say seriously anymore because he knows I can’t come and double-check, revise menus or re-cook recipes….”

“Poor Christopher, that’s all not true. You’re such a hard-working disciplined guy …. Wershowitz’s awful diet is no measure for character judgment. Paul knows he couldn’t have a better boss than you…,” Claire took his head in his hands, starting to gently stroke his cheek. Comforted by her touch, he vaguely realized that he had let her get too close, was leading her on by allowing her to touch him like this. As his stomach let out another protesting, painful growl he asked: “Could you maybe please make me that special fresh ginger tee of yours to calm my stomach – that always helped so much. And then we can talk about which solutions for the kitchen problem we can come up with.”

“I’ll do anything you want me to …. starting with that simple tea task….”
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Old 06-27-2015, 03:17 AM   #16
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8 Teams in 4 weeks, two always competing with each other – that was the solution he had come up with together with Claire, short-listing the top 12 cuisine teams he wanted to try to engage, knowing there would be some cancellations. After having mailed the suggestion to Warren, he was waiting for the response, with the knowledge he would then have to give him the less than thrilling news about their recent crash in culinary rankings.

Christopher, what on earth is this cook-a-thon you wrote me about? Isn’t there anyway to stop you from constantly thinking about food and eating?” Warren’s very irritated voice came over the phone as soon as he had picked up the receiver. “Your and our kitchens are fine, we don’t need any new staff or star chefs or whatever….”

“Oh yeah, our kitchens are doing fine? We just crashed 8 ranks with ‘Gourmet Traveller’ …. and you’re not even listed anymore!” Instead of making a convincing pitch for his project, Warren’s initial question made all his frustration, resentment and hunger grumpiness boil over. “In my humble professional opinion that is pretty much a disaster for any hotel that claims to be truly first class – and has something to do with me no longer being allowed to think enough about food and eating. You never put enough thought into it for your restaurant in the first place!”

What? Who say’s we’re not listed anymore? Which rank are you on now?

“Sorry Warren, you caught me wrong-footed, I didn’t mean to let my frustration out on you. Ed Romario called…,” he tried to return to professional mode, relating the essentials of his phone conversation. “The deli bistro is a huge success – but we badly need a replacement for Claire in the main kitchen, someone who can ground Paul. I can’t fill in because of the diet – you said it yourself you didn’t want me any closer to food than necessary. So I came up with this idea of a competition, bring in new guests and publicity as well as having a sort of in-house fair to hire new talent. Also use the opportunity to find some fresh blood for the ‘Imperial Residency’. Under those auspices … how do you see my suggestion now?”

Hmmmph, I guess the idea is not that bad then. But why can’t you manage Paul like you used to? You can’t blame everything on the long overdue diet! I expected more from you – go ahead with your diet while maintaining your high professional standard in the hotel. Don’t tell me you can’t handle both ….

“It takes time to adjust, to re-align our regular procedures in the restaurant. Paul did worse than I expected with losing Claire and myself as supervision. I’m perfectly capable of running a hotel and dieting. How do you intend to proceed with the ‘Imperial Residency’s’ restaurant?”

After hanging up with Warren, he let his head drop on his desk with a groan of frustration – fabulous, now Warren not only saw him as a diet failure, but also as a professional loser. If things continued in this vein, at the end of the two years he might have lost everything: Not enough weight to meet his commitment to Warren, but too many of his professional credentials to be convincing in the job.

The bleep of his cell phone interrupted his train of thought, especially on seeing Stephanie’s caller id. Opening the message, he was stunned to see the picture of a very round younger man, the type with a soft face, blue eyes, boyish hair and the good looks of a hugely overgrown baby. The next picture showed this man, now seated, a massive gut stretching a rather tight polo shirt confirming he was a real heavy weight; not as fat as he was, but surely around 400 pounds. The last picture featured the man with a shy smile, holding a beaming Stephanie in a pale pink dress in his arms, followed by the text: “My husband Timmy – killed in a work accident 13 months ago. Trying to explain.”

Staring at the pictures and text, it took a while for his mind to get back into motion. Having sometimes in the past months fanaticized of Stephanie divorcing her husband, giving him a chance with her, the news that she actually was a widow left him shaken, his main feelings those of guilt, pity and awe. Now he understood her reaction at the pool in a flash – the last supersized man she had seen in swimming shorts might have been her husband, so he probably unintentionally triggered sad memories. Several of her other quirks appeared in a different light – coming with her brother to 4th July, her contradictory reactions when he got physically too close, always wearing black, which he had simply seen as a fashion statement, or her odd double wedding band. Remembering how long it had taken him to get over the death of Uncle Tom and it’s circumstances, he had an inkling of how extremely difficult her life must now be for her – being so young a widow was extremely unusual, and then working with overweight men who must constantly remind her of her deceased husband.

After he had gotten over the initial shock, he mulled around what to do before writing her a short text: “Cannot say how sorry I am for your loss. Would fully understand if you do not want to continue with my program. Let me know if there is anything I can do.”

Two days later he got a response: “Thank you. Our next appointment is Monday, 3:00 pm” – making him go to the bakery right after office hours to talk to Jerome, their chef patissier.

“Jerome, can you do me a big favor?”

“Hey Christopher- good to see you again over here. We honestly miss you,” Jerome, lean as a plank with slender nervous fingers did not look much like patisserie at all. But his build belied his talents: he had chocolate in his blood so to say, being the product of NATO love with a US army father and a Belgian chocolaterie mother, who had met during his lengthy posting in Mons. “How’s it going? You’re clearly getting smaller… so I should say congratulations, yes?” eyeing Christopher’s middle with a well-practiced sense of proportion.

“Totally shitty ... thanks anyway. If at all, I’m shrinking in ultra-hyper-slow-motion,” he grimaced. “Nevertheless I need to … well have the occasion … I’d like to develop a new gateau for someone … well as apology, thank you, whatever. I want to make it myself but …,” he swallowed twice hard and took a deep breath, “I don’t trust myself with sticking to my diet while around baking ingredients. And I’m at bit out of practice by now. Would you join me in the development, play diet police so I don’t taste too much, please?”

It had taken some effort to ask, but Jerome showed only friendly understanding: “I’m happy to get the chance to work with you again. Since you really know our trade, you’re more than a boss – we truly miss you coming in to work on new things with the team. I don’t even want to think what the holiday season will be like without your input and expertise…,” reminding him how dreadfully long a way he still had to go with his diet. “Let me know when you want to do it, which ingredients I should get and then we’ll set to work. It’ll be so good to have you back for a change.”

Now the artful product of his and Jerome’s efforts stood waiting for Stephanie before him on his desk, in a stylish transparent case, looking every bit as mouth-wateringly lovely as he had hoped. Nervously he checked the clock every few minutes until there was a knock on the door at 3:04 p.m. and Stephanie entered. She looked paler and also thinner, her luscious curves no longer filled out her clothes, the pants in loose folds over her less well padded, shapely thighs.
“Hi,” she said with a shy smile, shaking his hand.

“Hi Stephanie, I’m really happy to see you. I hope you’re fine again,” he took three deep breaths before he could go on. “I’d honestly like to apologize – I don’t think I was on my most considerate behavior last time we met … I didn’t want to ….” – making her interrupt him with a wave of her hand.

“Christopher absolutely no need for apologies. You did nothing, you couldn’t know. I was highly unprofessional, complete lack of judgment, thought I was already up to handling it again.”

“Hmmm, well, still …. I wanted to do something for you. It’s my way of .. well…. I created this gateau especially for you…, hope you’ll like it … tastes good.” he felt himself blush and stammer, gesturing to the case with the gateau showing a stylized rose made of raspberries arranged on white chocolate shavings as petals: “It’s white chocolate Marc de Champagne truffle with raspberries and a dark chocolate short crust pastry. And I swear I didn’t ruin my diet for it, Jerome supervised me very well.”

“It’s beautiful … and it looks literally too good to eat … it’s like destroying a work of art…,” now Stephanie blushed raspberry pink. “You shouldn’t have … it’s more like I owe you something….”

“It was a true pleasure for me. Would you like to try a piece now …. or take it home with you?”

“I would like to try a tiny piece now … and ask you to please share one with me. It won’t ruin your diet …. and we’ll do a few more exercises later on to compensate-okay? It feels more right to have it together – a small occasion to indulge….”

“Do you think so?” he asked very doubtfully, but seeing her energetic nod, he took out 2 plates and dessert forks as well as a sharp knife and let her cut the gateau. The first bite on his tongue was pure sinful bliss – he hadn’t lost his touch after all. The sweet cream with the rich alcohol taste, the velvety white chocolate, the tanginess of the raspberries, the bit or crunch of the short crust … despite being a new combination, it tasted like coming home.

“Mmmmhhh,” Stephanie moaned. “You created this just for me?” seeing him nod, she took another forkful: “So yummy, one of the best I’ve ever tasted …. you really have baking in your genes.”

As much as he tried to extend the pleasure, take little bites, his small piece was gone way too quickly. Looking at his empty plate, scratched as clean as possible and then at the barely cut gateau, he had a cake craving attack so bad he had to close his eyes. If he had been on his own, he would have demolished the entire gateau in maybe 10 minutes – but in Stephanie’s presence he had to find a way to restrain himself. Yet it caused him physical pain: His stomach cramped in anticipation, he salivated profusely, felt the hinge of his tongue furl itself making him almost gag in greed, his mind went blank with the single compulsive thought of putting something in his mouth and he noticed with shock his hands were trembling. After taking a long drought of tea, he hid them under the table.

“So, so good. It’s in every sense of the word very sweet of you to make this for me … even though I don’t deserve it …. let you down in the past weeks, how can I try to explain …, I had a bad nervous relapse, like right after Timmy’s death … ” she went from gushing to sighing in half a sentence.

“Stephanie … you don’t need to tell me anything. I honestly understand those are very painful, personal matters …..”

“No, I want to tell you …. let you understand why it wasn’t too unrealistic and irresponsible to take you on as a client so shortly after Timmy’s death,” her voice was barely more than a choked whisper, but she got a grip on herself. “Being about the same age and very heavy is all the two of you have or had in common. That’s why after reading your questionnaire, seeing you were so different, I thought I could handle it … maybe even do some meaningful work….”

“Ummmm …. sure….,” he responded to show some reaction, not comprehending what she meant and pre-occupied with smothering his cravings.

Somehow she must have read his blank look. “I’ll try to explain. You didn’t gain weight until you were a grown up, then mainly because of your professional circumstances – and until this diet, you were pretty comfortable with yourself and your eating habits. Timmy was the exact opposite – he grew up fat, with all the teasing, bullying, ruined self-esteem and other psychological damage that go with it. He was the boy then man in my life ever since we met in my sand-box. Seeing his suffering was one of the reasons I specialized in nutrition, hoping I could help him out of the vicious circle of eating, weight gain, guilt and dieting.
But nothing really worked – he struggled with self-hatred all the time. I could never get him to see what a wonderful man he was not only to me, and that we could have a great life together. It actually got worse as I moved ahead professionally. I‘ve never been bothered by the fact I’m not stick thin – as you observed during our first meeting,” she gave him a sly grin making him blush furiously, his food cravings briefly replaced by a pang of lust. “I come from a family with a robust build, I’m fine with my size and staying fit just the way I am.”

After gulping down some water, she went on: “Timmy was a sweet, caring guy – and as you can see in the pictures, objectively good looking. But he was obsessed with the idea that he was an embarrassment to me. I had just started working here in the city; had to commute 30 miles into town … and he took on a job 60 miles in the opposite direction, to make sure our professional and social circles never collided. No matter what I said, there was nothing I could do about it – in the end, he only came along to family events where everybody knew him.
The accident probably happened because he was running late after the long commute …. the fork of a fork lifter hit him in rounding the corner in the warehouse ….,” her voice quavered, tears welling up in her eyes. “The bitter irony was he had been dieting strictly before the accident, had lost around 50 pounds getting down to 350 …. and the injury of his kidneys from the impact of the fork might not have been lethal if he had still had that extra inch or so of padding…,” tears now streaming over her face, making him silently push over some tissues.
“I’m sorry; you probably think I should be able to control myself after over a year by now ….everybody says get on with your life…..”

“No, I know how awful it is, how long it takes to get over losing someone who is such an important part of your life, who dies young and of an unnatural death. I still can’t look at pictures of myself together with Uncle Tom very well ….”

“How come …. I didn’t know…” she looked at him in questioning.

“Yeah, I strongly abbreviated that part of my story in answering your questionnaire. Uncle Tom was like a father to me … he committed suicide a few weeks after the explosion in our bakery. It probably was not until the re-opening of the bakery, some 7 years later, that something like the final closure of that drama came about for me - so I can relate to what you’re going through….”

“I’m so sorry to hear that …. but then you can understand what I feel like a lot better….,” she swallowed very hard several times before she inhaled sharply and went on: “The day at the pool, when I saw you in swimming shorts … your build reminded me so much of Timmy, confronting me with how much I miss him, just having him around me. And when you were all hurt and angry because of how I looked at you … it was a terrible déjà vu- he always interpreted all looks as negative or disgusted, too …”

“I’m awfully sorry … I overreacted totally that day … it’s my fault…. I didn’t mean to, couldn’t know…”

“No, of course you couldn’t,” Stephanie wiped her eyes and looked at him searchingly. “But your reaction worries me. You seemed so confident about your size. I never expected such a misinterpretation of my look from you. Is everything really going well with your diet? Are you comfortable with the program?”

Yeah .. everything is fine … still terribly hungry … but I guess that does with the deal…”

“How did your last check-up with Wershowitz go – I haven’t seen the file yet.”

“Fine, they’re just nicer when you’re around … he’s not exactly my favorite person,” he grimaced.

“How do you feel about the weight you’ve lost so far? Is there anything we need to talk about?”

“Okay … it’s a bit over 40 pounds now … nothing worth writing home about….”

“That’s a very good job you’ve done so far …. you should be more positive about it, give yourself more credit.” He shrugged, rearranging some pens on the table, not looking at her. “Christopher – are you really at ease with your weight loss?”

Unable to raise his eyes, he nodded for convenience’s sake. “Somehow, I’m not convinced; you never struck me as someone who isn’t able to verbalize his feelings. Lately I’ve gotten the impression that you are struggling more and more with typical diet frustration: Weight loss slower and harder than expected, negative reactions to your size harming your self-image. That is a like a u-turn from the beginning of our program: Then I sometimes had the feeling you actually resented the diet, that you secretly mourned every pound that melted off your big belly, like it was losing a bit of your identity.”

In half shock he looked up, it was as if Stephanie had managed to x-ray the hidden recesses of his brain, uttering insights he only rarely admitted to himself in their full extent. What must she think of him- that he was some deluded fat ass? Had she shared any of this with Wershowitz – maybe that being the reason why he had pressured him into a stricter diet?

“I’m honestly trying to be positive about it,” he finally mumbled, attempting to close the topic. “It’s tougher than I thought …. I’m not very good at this, eating and gaining is a lot easier than not eating and losing weight. I’m working on developing a more realistic perspective on my size.”

“I’m relieved to hear that. Remember, you can talk to me about any problems you have with the diet – I’m there to help as best I can. After all, I have almost a lifetime of experience with male diet frustration…,” there was a touch of bitterness in her voice.

“Sure … thanks a lot.”

“But I’m still worried you might be overdoing it, putting yourself under too much physical and psychological stress by wanting to change too much too fast. I have a suggestion regarding your program which I think would be a good intermediate step to make you feel more comfortable with yourself again, let your body adapt and get longer term stable results,” she eyed him intensely.

“Well, yeah … if you think so…”

“My suggestion is to now reduce your weight by 50 pounds. Then we let you stabilize, take a break in your diet, find an eating and exercise mode that lets you maintain the weight for a few months before moving on with more of a diet program to further reduce your weight. What do you think?”
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Old 06-27-2015, 03:43 AM   #17
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“10 more minutes everybody, then I would like to have the menus presented by the six candidates I had named before!”

Eying the final round of the 6 closest contenders for the sous-chef position, how they were giving the final touches to their menus, mumbling to themselves of how to explain their recipe selection, it was the seventh potential candidate who caught his attention. The young chef, Marcus Billings was his name, was staring at Claire with besotted eyes, his round apple cheeks bright pink. He had shown himself as a conscientious worker who knew how to come up with interesting and tasty combinations of ingredients, but seemed all in all too shy, quiet and a bit too slow to handle the task of keeping Paul in check. And to his surprise he had been the only seriously fat candidate; Christopher estimated him to be a good 300 pounds at about 5’10/5’11 in height. All others looked like they spent their free time at the gym or only cooked and never ate themselves.

“Marcus Billings, why don’t you join in as candidate, introduce us to the meal you would cook?” he addressed him on impulse. Marcus blushed even brighter red and looked up and down uncertainly a few times before asking doubtfully:

“You really want me to present my menu suggestion too, sir?”

“I think that was the essence of my suggestion!” annoyed by so much shyness.

“Maybe he can’t present it because he ate it all up?”
The color on Marcus’ cheeks now neared purple as Jake, Jay or whatever the pretty boy chef’s name was let out this barb with a smirk making Christopher state smoothly: “Aha. I had not deemed it necessary to explicitly mention that the ability to work respectfully with your colleagues is an essential criterion for joining any of our kitchen teams.”

Now it was pretty boy chef’s turn to go dark red and look at him uneasily. Too bad, he had been very talented, but he would not take anyone on board who could not be trusted to do his part in ensuring a positive dynamic in the team.

Before the final round of interviews with the four remaining contenders, he had a session with Stephanie. As she entered, he tried to give her his nicest, most sincere smile but somehow it turned out very forced. Ever since finding out she was a widow, his interactions with her had actually turned more complicated, not easier as he would have expected. In his former day dreams of Stephanie divorcing her presumed husband, they always ended with them getting together and having great fun and sex. The fact that she was his nutritionist hadn’t seemed like anything that could possibly be an obstacle for personal relations – now it suddenly did appear as such, there seemed to be an illicit element to it. Also he was surprised to notice that somehow her being a widow made him more squeamish than if she might have been divorced or married and willing to go astray. It was ludicrous, but the idea of cheating on a dead man raised qualms in him he had never had in any other constellation.

All these mixed emotions came on top of his continuously deteriorating physical and emotional sense of being: He simply no longer felt like his former fat, cocky self who had something to offer to any woman who was only remotely interested and willing to give it a try. Reviewing his earlier banters with Stephanie, he was convinced he would be able to interest her – especially since she clearly had no problem with fat guys. But now he could barely look her in the eye – also feeling guilty for not being honest with her that he was following Wershowitz’s prescriptions as best he could and not her more relaxed - and undeniably more sensible - plans.

“How are you doing, Christopher?” Stephanie looked him searchingly, her brow slightly furrowed. “Are you feeling fine? Is there anything we need to talk about?”

“No, no… I’m okay…, everything is .. well … I guess normal… as it is now…”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, sure, I’m doing okay.”

“Well then, you know today is one of these days when we do need to check on your progress, weigh you, take your blood pressure and such.”

“Okay, let’s get it over with!” In his ensuite bathroom he clambered on the scale with read “472”, causing a small surge of pleasant excitement – this was more than he had lost previously. Maybe Wershowitz was right and he really needed to be tougher on himself, not matter how awful it felt. Looking down, his gut did indeed no longer seem as mountainous as it once had. Glancing in the mirror the sense of accomplishment vanished in a flash: All he saw still was nothing less than a hugely fat guy in boxers and t-shirt. With a small sigh he started dressing again.

“Oh wow …. that’s significantly less than last time! 15 pounds in four weeks!” Stephanie exclaimed. “How did you do that? Have you been skipping meals?”

He felt himself blush furiously, reflexively shaking his head. “Nah … I guess… hmmh … probably …. well … probably I finally managed to stick to your diet plan. Not be a bad boy and eat pastries in secret anymore,” giving her a guilty look which was heartfelt.

“Still – even taking that into account that was a lot of weight in a very short time now. This means you’ve lost 10% of your starting weight by now. Have you thought about my suggestion of taking a small break from your diet? Trying to stabilize at let’s say 470 pounds for three months before continuing with your weight loss program? Let your body adapt to the rather significant change?”

Not looking at her, he shook his head. “I can’t. My job, my professional future … all of it depends on losing the weight.”

In the meantime she had put the cuff on his arm to take his blood pressure, actually checking a second time with a pronounced frown: “160/110 – that’s way too high! And your resting heart rate is 88 – also too high! What’s wrong Christopher? Are you somehow sick? Do you have any other illness which might be causing this? It’s totally abnormal – blood pressure and heart rate should go down with so much weight loss in so short a time span! What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know. I feel so – so … am tired a lot … thought it was the diet…,” he didn’t dare mention his constantly aching stomach, or the various prescription pills from Wershowitz he had been taking to increase the effectiveness of his diet.

“Well, you should definitely get a full blood test again with Wershowitz. And I need the complete file from him – somehow this is just the statistics sheet,” she looked very worried by now thumbing through the papers. “Please Christopher think of my suggestion of doing a stabilizing phase – your body clearly needs to recuperate from the stress which every significant weight change brings with it!” Seeing him shrug and shake his head, she went on: “It’s not directly my business, but I do think Mr. Langdon would understand. Would it be helpful if maybe I talked to him? He can’t possibly ….”

“No, absolutely not! I’m okay … I’ll get a check up and see that things get back on track!”

“Nothing is more important than your health. This job…”

“Really Stephanie – you’re being very kind, but I can handle it. Everything is under control – I’ve made a professional commitment – and I’ll meet it.”

For reasons he could not explain, he had left his interview with Marcus Billings about his potential as sous-chef to the last one of all candidates. Very obviously as nervous as can be, small beads of perspiration on his upper lip, his dark eyes behind small round glasses blinking hectically, Marcus entered. His brand new snow white cook jacket was clearly a bit too big, presumably in an effort to make him appear slimmer than he was.

“So, Marcus, it’s been interesting to see you work. Where do you personally see your strengths? What do you intend to contribute to the team in the Langdon Residency’s kitchen?”

“Hmmm…,” Marcus took a deep breath and blushed, to then say surprisingly steadily: “My strong points as a sous-chef clearly are that I’m good at giving even simple ingredients an innovative touch in new combinations and seasonings. I’ve also worked hard on high quality but not extravagant fish dishes, which I think in these times of economic crisis are more appropriate and appreciated by customers than ostentatious luxury. And I know how to plan well, know how to stay within even a limited budget or finding ways to minimize costs,” – exhaling audibly at the end, creating the impression that he must have prepared his answers meticulously.

“So you would like to work at the Langdon Residency, even under a chef as – I presume you must have noticed this – as high maintenance as Paul?”

“Yes sir. I’m positive I can handle the situation and offer a valuable contribution to the team. It also fits in with my long term career goals of working in a first class kitchen as sous-chef, to prepare myself for becoming chef one day on the same of even more superior level.”

Another well rehearsed answer, Christopher thought. Looking at the young chef’s overtly earnest round face, all pink with stress and how he was trying to sit so his belly didn’t surge forward, he felt obliged out of a feeling of kinship to give him a chance, even though he wasn’t convinced it would work with Paul: “So … you can see yourself working here … and you really like Claire, our little blonde deli-chef, don’t you?”

All color drained from his face as Marcus gasped in shock, blubbering: “Why no … not … certainly not …. never ….impossible…,” before looking up at him briefly in shock.

“Well, there’s nothing wrong with liking Claire. She’s a wonderful person in every respect. I just noticed how you looked at her… more than obvious. So you’re not only looking for a job, but also for a cute little girlfriend?” he couldn’t help teasing.

Marcus by now looked mortified and his features had reverted to an intense shade of beet red. “Really sir … I’d never… impossible … unthinkable…. “ not getting any more coherent.

“There’s nothing wrong with having a crush on Claire – she is crush-worthy and deserves a nice guy,” warming to his theme. “You can get to know her when you work here, talk to her , ask her out…”

At this, Marcus abruptly got up: “I’m sorry sir, I’m applying for a job here, not to be insulted… if you will please exc…”

“Sit back down, calm down. I’m not insulting you. I’m offering you not only a great professional opportunity, but an advantageous personal happiness package to go with it. We big guys need to stick together, don’t we? So when you start here, go right away to introduce yourself personally to Claire, ask to volunteer….”

“I think I would like to end this interview now,” Marcus rose again, stepping out from the chair.

“But why? You want the job here, don’t you?”

“Yes, at least I thought I did….” uncertainty in his voice, stepping from one foot to the other.

“And I did observe correctly that Claire is your type, or not?” Swallowing hard, looking under himself, Marcus finally showed an almost imperceptible nod.

“So what’s the problem? I’m offering you no less than a personal and professional dream combo. Who else is going to offer you that?”

“Ummm …. It’s, well , I can’t talk to Claire.” His voice was barely a whisper. “I’m not the type of guy who is appealing. I’ve been ridiculed enough. I’d really like the job – but … yeah .. I couldn’t… not if this is known, really can’t .. , ”he turned to leave.

“Oh of course you can! Sit back down!” He felt he was losing his patience with Marcus’ insecurity. “Claire likes us big guys, believe me. And she’s the most caring, helpful person I know, she’ll love assisting you in getting settled and comfortable here. Now what you need to do..”

“I can go on a diet too sir, if that’s what’s required . Well … I was told that you .., um … I’m not good at it, but I can make a serious effort to lose…”

“For chrissake , I’m your boss-to-be. Will you finally let me finish my sentence and simply take my advice, follow it? And my dieting by the way is none of your business and has nothing to do with this!” raising his voice. Marcus gulped to then nod, sit back down and say quietly: “Yes sir. I’ll do my best, sir.”

“Okay. And this is well-intentioned advice from personal experience: Buy these insoles and medical socks for your feet. That’ll help a lot with standing all day at your weight – I know what I’m talking about,” scribbling down a few references and pushing them over the table. “On this sheet here are all the exercises you should do for your back to keep it strong to balance your gut. Go to Namée, get a weekly back & leg massage, she offers it at a discount for hotel staff – tell her I sent you. And have a nice introductory coffee with Claire within the first three days you’re here – I’ll check on that. Don’t disappoint me!”
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Old 06-27-2015, 03:43 AM   #18
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11 lifts on the laundry weight pulley – and already his arms were aching, his breathing was labored and sweat was starting to pour. Shit – this was only his third round of lifts, and so far he had done only a set of 15 instead of 20 each. Puffing, he let the handle go and hung his head. To keep his back in shape, he had always done at least 12 sets of 20 lifts 4 times a week, right now the best he could get himself to do was 10 sets of 15 lifts twice a week – and even that left him exhausted.

Maybe it would be easier to just swim a little more before he went for his massage with Namée, rubbing the minor ache in the small of his back while briefly showering. Swimming did prove slightly more relaxing, but after only ten short laps he was tired and settled in the bubble massage tub on the side to relax, half dosing off until Namée called him.

Almost as soon as he had settled comfortably on the massage stool, he drifted back into half-sleep only to wake up with a loud yelp as Namée firmly grabbed into his back. “Ouch!”

“Mr. Christopher, your back no good right now. You must do your exercises, swim more.”

“I did my exercises today with the laundry weight, just went swimming.”

“You must swim - only sitting in bubble bath no good. Diet no help if you not do your exercises.” Namée chided him, not letting herself be fooled.

“Okay, you’re right, I’ve been better about doing my exercises. I promise I’ll try harder next week.”

But instead of walking home through the park afterwards, he gave into comfort and fatigue to call a cab to take him home. Slowly heaving his way up the stairs to his apartment, gasping for breath and stopping on each landing, he morosely shook his head. Wasn’t it common knowledge that if you got lighter, exercise was easier and more motivating? So far his almost 60 pounds less seemed to leave him only weak kneed, and the accelerated heart rate now frequently pounding in his throat was disagreeable and unsettling. Once he had gotten the hang of it after his back injury, increasing his level of activity and doing his regular exercise program before the diet had become a rewarding routine despite his substantially increasing bulk. The full program of walking, weight lifting, swimming and Namée’s massage followed by a wonderful 5 course dinner had always left him in a state of blissful physical satisfaction, in itself creating a major incentive to seek out this sense of well being regularly.

As he progressed with the diet, his energy level and stamina in contrast seemed to be deteriorating. He no longer felt as powerful, despite having to haul around less weight. Stephanie had done some sort of fitness test with him the other day, continuously shaking her head and furrowing her brow at his vital stats and sending him to Wershowitz for a full check-up. Wershowitz had only given his test results a quick look along with the abbreviated ‘lose more weight’ lecture before prescribing a plethora of new pills, some for his blood pressure and whatever else. Maybe his problem was that exercising no longer was followed by the reward of a filling, delicious meal to fondly anticipate for recharging his personal batteries. All there would be on his plate tonight was appetite suppressant, some pills, 5 ounces of plain white fish baked in paper with fresh vegetables and a disgusting protein shake. Hopefully things would get better when he got back under 450 pounds, that being lighter and having more energy would finally really kick in. He only needed more patience, should maybe replace another meal with some more diet shakes tomorrow. The thought alone made his stomach seemingly disagree for it growled with a painful sting.


“Marcus, please stay another minute,” his young sous-chef blushed more and gave him a tired nod at the end of an indeed tedious session for planning next week’s menus with Paul. After only 10 days on the job, it was obvious Marcus was struggling: Paul had barely let him get a word in during the entire meeting, which had ended in a rather loud argument over menu theme and price between Paul and Christopher.

“So – how do you like working in the Langdon Residency’s kitchen so far?”

“Ehhh, well … I guess I’m doing okay. It takes some time to adapt to a new team and situation.” Marcus looked down and fiddled with a button on his cook jacket before meeting his eye openly: “And I still need to figure out how to best manage Paul. He’s quite a bit of work, but you had mentioned that, so I’m prepared.”

Honesty was a strong point of his, Christopher thought. “You saw for yourself in my discussion with him that he’s not very susceptible to common sense. And he always tries to worm his way out of agreements if you don’t put them down in writing, make him sign off all lists and menus so you have something to nail him down on. All further advice you can get from Claire – she really knows how to keep him in line. So, when is your meeting with her?”

“Well … she said maybe tomorrow, for coffee, after the lunch run in the bistro, before my evening shift starts…”

“You received only a ‘maybe for coffee tomorrow’ on asking Claire for advice with managing Paul? How did you screw that up? Asking Claire for help or advice normally gets you an instant overload of attention and support!”
Seeing Marcus’ blush deepen and look under himself, he derived that he must certainly have gone about asking Claire in the most awkward manner possible.

“I’ll go tomorrow, I’ll talk to her.” He squared his jaw visibly. “A specialty of mine at one of my last stints was relishes to got grilled meat and vegetables. I’ve prepared the three best ones to show her, maybe she can use them in the deli … so she knows I’m not a total loser …,” the last words faded into an embarrassed mutter.

“Sounds like a good idea. Be nice, be open, be professional, but also personable … then everything’ll work out with Claire.”


‘Frustagnation’ – this artificial concept word he had read in some brainy essay came to his mind as he tried to concentrate on planning the autumn season at the Langdon Residency, listlessly thumbing through a few papers. His life seemed to be going nowhere – nothing he was currently trying to achieve seemed to be making any meaningful progress.

Normally this was his favorite part of the year, developing new events, menus and offers for the extended holiday season with its many parties, receptions and festivities, delighting in happy guests and ever increasing profit margins, both vocal testimonials to his business competence. With the diet, he no longer could develop and test cook new menus. Attending functions was also no more fun since he was only a by-stander and couldn’t eat or drink with the others. If that wasn’t bad enough, it almost always brought him in the uncomfortable situation of having to explain why he wasn’t eating - meaning telling legions more people about his diet than he cared to. Worst of all were their reactions: Most people stared at his gut in disbelief, showing they did not yet see any successful weight loss to then put on fake smiles and utter stilted phrases of encouragement. Or others came with endless advice on all types of absurd diet measures or exercise, or retold their own diet struggles until he often was barely polite in trying to get away. These instances were especially uncomfortable now since he felt he was backsliding in his attempt to lose weight faster again, couldn’t bring himself to do diet shake days as often as he thought necessary.

As Tricia came in with the reservation preview, he hoped that this would let him be more focused, maybe give him a fresh inspiration on what to do for holiday season.

“How’s the pre-booking going?” he asked as she hung the schedule spread sheets on his white board.

“Down 9% from last year,” she wrinkled her nose. “That’s still a lot better than all competitors here … or the average in most of the top ten destinations. But it’s the first year our figures have ever gone down – we’ve always run against the trend.”

“Shit, well given the economy, that’s not that big of a surprise,” forcing himself to an optimistic assessment he didn’t feel – and judging by Tricia’s critical look, she didn’t believe. “What about the two big receptions from LatCos, with the introducing French and Italian cooking we always did the week before Halloween? I don’t see them on the schedule – but I remember you showing me the offers? What happened?”

“What happened? You wanted to talk to them!”

“Ummm … about what? The price? The menu?”

“No, about you doing the introduction!” Tricia shook her head. “They said they not interested if you don’t host the evenings in person. You said you’d call them – convince them of Paul’s capabilities or do it again yourself after all. Although you said you didn’t feel like it. Didn’t you call them?”

“Shit, shit, shit … that was what I forgot!” he groaned, unable to put up any pretenses in front of Tricia, who looked at him with a very worried and puzzled expression. “I’ll do it right away, after this meeting; maybe I can still salvage the deal.”

“The receptions would be in only two weeks, they probably will have found another solution.” Sometimes Tricia’s dry way of speaking uncomfortable truths really annoyed him.

Of course she was right; LatCos had already come up with a different event – and only agreed to do one introduction to French cooking event after Halloween at a massive discount. Looking at the figures afterward, he could kick himself in his fat ass. If he didn’t want Warren to notice the massive loss, he’d probably have to pay up for it from his own account. Where was he going to find the inspiration to come up with something new, exciting and marketable in this over all gloom?

To have a distraction, maybe get a little comfort, he decided to go down to Claire in the deli to get a pot of her new, wonderful fresh ginger-orange tea.

Claire’s smile on seeing him indeed was uplifting. “Christopher how great to see you down here again! What can I do for you?”

“A pot of the new orange-ginger tea, please?”

“Right away. Anything else? Like one of our new light fruit jellies with vanilla yoghurt topping? The nice seasonal one with pears, grapes, plums in red wine? You look like you badly need a little bit of sweet cheer.”

His stomach grumbled eagerly as the dessert’s image appeared before his inner eye, but he shook his head. “Be nice Claire, don’t tempt me! Just the tea please.”

As Claire brought his tea and leaned over the counter to pour it, enumerating recent developments in the bistro, he saw Marcus pass by outside and throw him a hurt, angry and jealous look on seeing him contently chatting with Claire. Another project of his that wasn’t getting anywhere.

Marcus had obviously been evading one-on-one situations with him – and Claire had given him a non-response when he tried to address the issue of the kitchen and Marcus, as if she wasn’t even really aware who he was. Maybe he had been wrong; that Claire didn’t like big guys in general, just happened to have a boss crush on him, overlooking his size. But he had an idea of how to find out, also rid himself of an obligation he did not feel like.

“Claire, can you show me what you’ve planned for the movie premiere coming week? Buffet options and such? I haven’t asked you about it because it’s your gig, didn’t want to interfere. But I can’t resist, I’m just really curios.”

“You know I always love to discuss such things with you – you’re not interfering!” She quickly got out a folder, showed him the menu, lay outs for presentation and the like, leaning against him. She had done an excellent job – since it was a science-fiction movie – in coming up a spacey decoration and fun little ‘extra-terrestrial’ style tidbits.

“Sure looks spacey – great way of picking up on the movie genre. Question: Would you like to go to the premiere itself? See Mr. Sexiest-Man-Alive himself? You can have everything prepared beforehand; just come when they start serving, your team here is good enough. I have two tickets…”

“Oh I’d love to go with you,” she beamed and squeezed herself against him, making him realize he had started the issue from the wrong angle.

“No, not go with me. The deli bistro is hosting the event, so you’re the chef – you should go. It’s none of my business, really. They just sent the tickets to my office out of habit. We need to make sure to give you a higher public profile as the responsible chef.”

“Oh … yeah, that sounds reasonable,” disappointment was written all over her face. “But I don’t like going to such events all alone, I feel out of place… can’t we go together anyway?”

“It should be your event, you're the main person of interest. Why don’t you take a friend? You can take anybody you want – it’s a simple plus one. Like your friend who was here for the opening..?”

“You mean Sammy? Nah, that’s not such a good idea … she goes too crazy at such events … and she’s not in town anyway…”

“As I said, you can take anybody. Why don’t you take Marcus?”


“Yeah, Marcus Billings, Paul’s new sous-chef.”

“Oh him, why should I take him?” Claire’s look was quite irritated.

“Because he’s new here, he has the difficult job with Paul, he seems lonely … I think he needs some support to make him feel at home, make his job easier.” he appealed to her better instincts.

“Do you think he’d like that? He’s been down here to ask me about my experiences with Paul – but he’s beyond shy. I don’t think he’d go if I ask him..,” she looked doubtful.

“He’s a guy Claire, we guys are not good at asking for and accepting help when we need it.” So Marcus had not gotten his act together, how much more help did he think he could get? This was his last interference on Marcus’ behalf; he swore to himself. If he didn’t take this chance, then the case was hopeless. “Ask him to come with you, as new sous-chef, get to meet some people, help him integrate. You’re so good at that.”

“Oh alright, if you insist. I’ll ask him if he’ll come along to the premiere.”
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Old 06-27-2015, 03:44 AM   #19
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31 October – Halloween. Normally a fun, entertaining day at the hotel – but this year its evil spirits had ambushed him unexpectedly early in the morning. Zipping his costume in front of the mirror the nightmarish appointment with Wershowitz and Warren kept replaying in his head, making him shudder with dread.

It had been disquieting that Warren was there as he came into Wershowitz’s office after having been weighed and examined by Sandra, the reading showing ‘466’ – not as much a loss as he hoped but better than he had feared.

“Christopher my boy, how are you … very slowly getting smaller, if I see correctly?”

“I’m fine, thank you sir. Slowly … but surely getting there.” Since he only had coffee in his empty stomach so far it was already churning, now the sensation turned downright painful as cold unease regarding the possible significance of Warren’s presence sank in.

“Okay Mr. Maynard – I see you’ve lost a bit more weight.” Wershowitz scanned his current test results and shuffled through some papers. “Hammmph … I can see you are trying. But don’t you think it’s time to look into a better, more permanent probably even easier for you to handle solution?”

“Easier and more permanent solution?” he was clueless as to what Wershowitz might mean.

“Well Mr. Maynard, certainly … given how super morbidly obese you are and your current situation – you must have considered the option of bariatric surgery as a good and realistic one for yourself?”

“Bariatric surgery? What kind of surgery is that exactly?” the dread in his insides mounting.

Wershowitz raised his eyebrows and said in a drawn out voice, as if talking to someone hard of hearing: “Bariatric surgery is colloquially also referred to as weight loss surgery. It’s the standard procedure by now for people who are as overweight as you are, the only long-term sustainable way to keep your weight at a half-way acceptable level. At over 500 pounds your weight was too high to do it unless in cases of medical emergency. But now, since you have reduced your weight a bit, it’s feasible … and definitely an excellent, medically advisable solution for you.”

Weight loss surgery? He was dumbfounded; shock, fear, anger and helplessness running through him. How could he have not seen this coming? From the beginning, Wershowitz and Warren had only wanted him to lose enough weight to have surgery – and he had been too naïve, trusting and plain stupid not to realize it. “Ummmh …. but why? Isn’t that only for severe health issues?”

“By now I hoped you had understood Mr. Maynard, that being as extremely overweight as you are is per se a health issue. If I look at how your blood pressure and heart rate are developing in spite of the diet…”

“Before this diet, my heart rate and blood pressure always were fine … I don’t know what’s wrong…”

“Well – over time such co-morbidities automatically develop with patients who are as morbidly obese as you are. Therefore gastric bypass surgery is the only feasible solution to prevent further damage to your health because of your weight. I’ve already talked to Dr. Wright; he is the best bariatric surgeon we have here. He’ll perform a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass on you.”

“What exactly does that mean?”

“Well, in gastric bypass surgery a small stomach pouch is created with a stapler device, and then connected to the distal small intestine. The upper part of the small intestine is then reattached in a Y-shaped configuration,” Wershowitz explained.

“You mean my stomach will be cut up?” reflexively he crossed his arms protectively over his belly mound.

“Your stomach will be reduced to the size of a small pouch with the goal of strongly restricting your food intake…,” the rest of what Wershowitz explained droned passed his ears, the only thought running through his mind was the painful image of his stomach being cut into shreds and which consequences this might have. “But I won’t be able to work if I can’t eat, taste things….”

“Well admittedly there’ve been some cases of chefs who had to change profession after bariatric surgery…”

“Christopher, that has nothing to do with your job!” Warren interjected. “We want to make sure you can live a long term healthy life - surgery is the best way to ensure that. You’re not a baker, chef or pati… – whatever! You’re an executive, you should look the part! You’ll be an even better hotel director at a normal weight, with that monster gut no longer in the way. “

“But I’m losing the weight, yeah slowly…. I’m trying as hard as I can.”

“I can see you’re trying, but it’s not working as it should. It’s probably impossible at your weight anyway. You’re just giving yourself and others a hard time,” Warren gave him what he must think to be a motivating smile. “You have an appointment with Dr. Wright on the 20th to discuss all details. Then the pre-op exam on December 29th, and the surgery on January 3rd – so you’ll be up and about again when the season kicks in with Valentine’s Day. Stick to your diet until then … and you’ll see how easy everything will be, how quickly you’ll lose the weight…”

Staring at Warren shell-shocked, feeling betrayed as never before, he stood up and blurted: “No!”

“No … what do you mean no? It’s the very best solution for you my boy!”

“No means I won’t go into any surgery I know almost nothing about. I’d have appreciated it if you had talked to me about it before going ahead to schedule the surgery for me,” he spoke as calmly as he was able to, raising himself to his full height, looking down on them. “Before I take such a major step, I need to research it more for myself, find out if it really is the best solution. Dr. Wershowitz, please e-mail me all the information about the surgery you have, I’ll look into it and then let you know my decision. Now if you’ll please excuse me, Halloween is a busy day at the hotel.”

Hurt and dazed, he had somehow gotten back down on the street where he had stood leaning against a lantern post until an elderly lady kindly asked him whether he was okay or if she should call a doctor. After that he had managed to hail a cab to take him home, since he wasn’t able to face anybody. Thankfully he had already delegated the regular Halloween sweets making and tasting for the staff’s and guest’s children – normally a high-light of the year – to Claire and Jerome. Only Tricia’s serial phone calls over the afternoon had forced him to find the energy to go to the party tonight, since a few of their best business partners were attending with groups. He couldn’t let things slide anymore than he had already done, so he dragged himself back to the hotel.

Here he was now in his office ensuite, staring at himself dressed up as Henry VIIIth. Originally he had chosen the costume – even grown the beard to go with it the past three weeks - because he thought it was supposed to be the last year he’d have the necessary girth to be convincing. Now he acknowledged that its true symbolism was more that he wanted to have someone beheaded, at best Wershowitz, or maybe also Warren.

Greeting guests, doing small and business talk in walking around, nothing very much registered with him as the hours slowly dripped by. Vaguely he noticed Marcus had indeed taken his hint – after finding out Claire was dressing up as a snowflake – to get a snowman costume. Now in the later semi-drunken evening he saw her sitting on his lap, playfully fondling his fuzzy belly and feeding him pumpkin pie. Marcus radiated a rosy, well-fed inebriation and held her very possessively on his knee.

Seeing the pie, his stomach gurgled with a painful sting. After not eating all day because he was so upset, he had had a bad attack of hunger induced food craving. Instead of getting a sensible, filling meal or a diet drink with more appetite suppressant, he had wolfed down no less than 20 mini-quiches with 5 glasses of Halloween punch, leaving him a bit dizzy and queasy as if he had eaten lead. Suddenly he heard a “Meow” from behind and his shoulder was pawed intensely. Turning he saw a coyly smiling, but very obviously extremely tipsy Stephanie in a cat costume. “Meow… are you really big bad King Henry VIII? Is your Majesty maybe looking for wife number eight, nine or ten?” – pawing his belly aggressively sending electric shock waves into his nether parts.

“My next wife, the next queen would actually be number seven,” he retorted rather pompously taking the opportunity to slide his arm around her waist, since she was moving in so fast herself.

“You’re the biggest and baddest English king there ever was, aren’t you?” she slurred, jouncing his belly, sending jiggles through his whole torso, letting a bit of warm relaxation run through him.

“So posteriority says, I am told,” finding the stage tone kind of fun. “But I am known to never harm innocent little kittens,” he playfully let his hand slide over the full curve of her hip, the warmth cursing through him increasing. God, she felt so good, that soft, yet firmly marbled flesh wrapped in the velvety material of her skin-tight black cat suit was wonderful to grab. The entire outfit was nothing but an über-cute turn-on: The stretchy suit accentuating every curve, with white lace stockings and gloves as paws as well as a white lace bib that showed off more than half her breasts. The chance to fondle Stephanie in wet dream inducing attire was a secret wish of months come true so he encircled his arms more firmly around her, bending down to slightly nuzzle her neck, his hands exploring her delicious plumpness. “Actually, I’m a king who has a great fondness for cute cats,” he murmured into her ear, registering too late how cheesy this sounded.

“Good to hear since me likes a big cuddly king,” she thankfully giggled, grabbing two glasses of punch from a passing waiter, holding one under his nose. He shook his head. “It’s Halloween, one glass is a must,” she urged, half downing hers.

“I’ve already had my Halloween indulgence, more than I’m willing to admit.”

“Oh … well … then, more for me,” she set one glass she had emptied aside and started on the second, pulling him along up towards the stage where the band was playing. They listened to the music for a while, Stephanie drinking more punch and groping him, while he took his time in feeling up her shapely flesh. As the music ended, in the general applause, she reached up to give him an eager, pretty wet and pushy kiss, clutching hard into his belly to steady herself.

“Aggh…,” he couldn’t smother the moan of pain because her grip on his stomach really hurt.

“Oops … did I bite you?” Stephanie tried in vain to stop giggling.

“No, I’m fine,” flinching, he pulled her hands off and held her more tightly by the buttocks, so she couldn’t grab into his belly anymore. “I’m not only here as the King of England, but also as hotel director – so I need to keep my public persona in mind. Let’s continue this in privacy…”

He steered her through a side exit and up a few stairs to the service elevator. For a brief instant, he thought of taking her to his office suite, but reconsidered to prefer neutral territory by choosing the one empty junior suite the hotel still had that night, using his master key.

“Waaah… there’s no pink champagne tonight,” she wailed in disappointment on entering to worm herself out of his embrace, stumble across the room and collapse of the XL king-size bed, her round buttocks bouncing. “Cme … cme ‘ere! Bed is too … too big for little me alone…,” she lolled around.

No sooner had he settled next to her, that she was on him again, kissing him eagerly, every now and then making him wince with pain as her elbow dug into his belly flab. This reality of making out with Stephanie was quite a let down from his fantasies – it was too pushy, reeked of Halloween punch, above all actually made him nauseous and much less aroused than just watching her hips sway across the lobby normally did. What the hell was wrong? Maybe he should try a different approach, using his bulk to slow things down.

So he turned and pinned her flat on her back with the weight of his gut, moving in for a slow hungry kiss, kneading one plump breast through the thin lace bib. She responded warmly, letting his tension ease slightly as he engulfed her with hands, lips and bulk.

Raising himself a little to stroke her cheek before resuming his kiss, her hands were all over his belly again jiggling it and tugging at the doublet style top of his costume: “Take … off, take this off, I wanna…mmmh, so much …. feels…”

In a flash, the last time he had been semi-naked in front of her resurfaced - along with it the feeling of unease and insecurity, whether this romp was such a good idea. As much as he had the hots for Stephanie, somehow they couldn’t get their act together: Last time he was drunk – now she was drunk and he was nauseous. But as she slipped her hand under his costume and firmly, pleasurably massaged his belly flesh, lightly moaning to herself – maybe this was his chance after all. “How can we take this sexy little fur off? I’m clueless….,” he let his hands wander searchingly over her body, not finding any opening.

“Zipper in the side and back…” she twisted, her elbow once more hitting his stomach, making him choke back a yelp of pain.
“W’about your majesty’s jacket?” she tugged at his collar ruffle.

“Simple submerged zipper down the front,” mumbling, he had located her two zippers to open them and then was able to wrench the suit down to her waist, finally being able to run his hands and lips over her creamy naked skin, hungrily sucking soft breasts with bullet hard puckered nipples, burying his face in her yielding bit of tummy flesh.

Oblivious that Stephanie had in the meantime succeeded to unzip his costume top and pull out his t-shirt, to paw his bare belly flab, letting out a groan: “Wow-wee…incredible … you’re huge … so much fat… and it’s so so heavy …mmh … it’s squashing me….”

Freezing with mortification, he pulled back to look down on giggling Stephanie who was mock boxing his stomach. He didn’t know what hurt more in this moment, her punches in his aching stomach or the words that made him feel like a hopeless blob. Even though she must be used to big guys, it looked like he was too fat for her after all. Her husband had been big, yet he still probably was 80-100 pounds heavier. So he’d have to try to camouflage that at best possible. Swallowing hard, he shifted and tried to make her access to his gut more difficult by bending far over to kiss her again.

Deterring her was more of a chore than expected, for she managed to undo his pants and sneak her hand in his boxers, to hiccup: “Oops, my mistake … thought you’re interested. Lil’ Christopher here sure isn’t…,” her giggles merging into a wide yawn.

For a minute, he was at a loss for a response. In all their maneuvering, he had overlooked that he was only slightly aroused, not as hard as he had expected from kissing and cuddling Stephanie as he pleased. More embarrassed than he ever could remember, he pulled her hands off, covered himself again and heaved his body to the other side, away from her reach. To save the situation, he’d try to please her orally and manually and maybe move on from there.

With a deep breath, he carefully started to rub her between her spectacularly juicy thighs, only to hear a small snore, as Stephanie had flopped over and fallen asleep. With a low groan – half of despair, half of relief – he shook himself, got up, fastened his cloths again, covered Stephanie with a blanket and quietly left the suite.

From his office, he arranged for a breakfast with lots of coffee and alka-seltzer to be delivered to her suite the next morning. For his aching stomach, he fixed a hot water bottle from the first aid supply closet and collapsed on his bed.
Exhausted though he was, he couldn’t fall asleep - nausea and humiliation kept him awake. What the f*** was wrong with him? For months he had had to spend so much energy on smothering his lusting after Stephanie – and now that he got the chance, he literally couldn’t get it up. Was he getting older? Was he too fat for sex? No – that couldn’t be - he’d been about the same weight when he had gotten together with Nora, later even heavier, and things had been just splendid. Was reduced libido a side effect of dieting? All those diet manuals claimed the opposite. His sexual appetite had always been as easily triggered and healthy as his regular appetite, but now? Did it have something to do with his meeting with Warren and Wershowitz on weight loss surgery? Because he was so upset? He still had to deal with that … and didn’t even want to start thinking about it! What must Stephanie think of him? Why had she made a pass, even though she seemed to think he was too fat for her? Despite knowing the details, had she underestimated his size? After this disaster – how could he continue the diet program with her as his nutritionist? Or simply just look her in the eye during their next session?
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Old 06-27-2015, 03:50 AM   #20
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3, 2, 1 ….

3, 2, 1 …., count backwards, now you’re sound asleep …. won’t feel anything …,” Wershowitz’s head with a shower cap loomed over him, letting out an evil chuckle. Only he wasn’t asleep, with horror he could observe LaBella lazily using a small skimming knife to clean her finger nails while Sandra was professionally whetting a boning knife. What were they up to? He wanted to ask, protest, only to become aware that he couldn’t move or speak or make himself noticed in any other way.

Wershowitz adjusted a bright lamp to brandish a huge long butcher knife over his belly mound. “18 inches stainless steel – specially ordered. We’ll need it to cut through this mountain of fat – otherwise we’ll never dig our way down to the stomach.” A searing pain cut through him as Wershowitz stuck the knife in his stomach, hot liquid pouring out over him. “Give me the big soup ladle so I can dig myself through this lard… unbelievable …. he has no blood; it’s all turned into butter! It’s long overdue we’re operating on him.”

He tried to move, to cry, but he was paralyzed, each jab of Wershowitz's with knife or soup ladle hurting more.

“There we go; we’ve finally excavated a tunnel through the fat to his stomach. So Mr. Langdon, I’m ready to make the cut – how much shall I take away?” Warren’s head also in a shower cap appeared in his field of vision.
“Oh, take it all away. He’s had enough to eat for life, he doesn’t need it anymore

With a start that lifted him half off the bed he woke up, breathing hard, drenched in sweat and with cramping pain in his stomach. Groggily he turned on his bedside lamp and squinted until he could see clearly: To his immense relief the bed was clean, there was no blood; his stomach was just damp with perspiration. He shook himself – how could he have believed such a ridiculous nightmare that it left him in true panic? Yet the ache in his stomach was real, he tried to turn on his side, to settle his stomach but the pain only increased.

Hauling himself to his feet, he stumbled to the bathroom, washed before putting on a fresh t-shirt and boxers. Nauseous as he was, he tried to relieve his stomach, but coughing and wrenching brought no results except more intense cramps. Although the pain left him with no appetite, he nevertheless was very hungry and the pain in his stomach felt like a burning hole that could be calmed by filling it.

So he went to the kitchen and in small sips drank a glass of water which didn’t help, but also did no harm. The strong urge remained to have something warm to fill him. Suddenly he remembered the most soothing dish he had ever eaten – his Swiss guest mother had made it during his apprenticeship there, after he had gotten seriously drunk for the first time in his life at the local wine festival. He had had a horrible hangover with a majorly upset stomach – and she had made him a cream of oat soup which had not only been delicious, but also worked wonders in making him get well again quickly.

Since he had all ingredients in the house – oats, bouquet garni vegetables and vegetable stock – he’d make a pot, even it was 2:34 in the morning; right now he’d do anything to feel better. Cutting and stir frying the vegetables already calmed him – and as the soup was ready, he slowly spooned down the fresh steaming tasty liquid, its creaminess running into his stomach, slowly taking away the cramping pain, leaving only a minor ache. After he had finished the small pot, his stomach was pleasantly warm and full enough to make him drowsy again, so he went back to bed where he fell into tired, dreamless sleep cradling his sore belly.

The issue of weight loss surgery haunted him not only in his sleep, but also during his waking hours. Wershowitz had mailed him the information from the surgeon he had selected, which was full of success stories of patients they had operated on – the vast majority significantly smaller than he was. To try to get a better overview, he also did some extensive search on the internet, to make two main findings. One was the confusing diversity of possible forms and methods of bariatric surgery which had even more different names to further complicate matters: Biliopancreatic diversion, sleeve gastrectomy, vertical banded gastroplasty, gastric placation, endoluminal sleeve, duodenal switch, etc. etc.

It must be difficult for doctors to figure out which one was the best, let alone for a lay person. The second was the high rate of complications connected to the surgery, which even the surgery enthusiastic sites shamefully admitted somewhere well hidden – for some procedures it went up to as high as 40 % of all patients that had some sort of complication within the first year after surgery. Most of these were blamed on the patient’s weight, but still….- it shocked him that such high complication rates were shrugged off as normal. Imagine he cooked a dinner and 40% of the guests got ill within a week – the restaurant would be shut down in no time!

Looking into weight loss surgery patient’s responses on self-help websites and groups he also noticed that the assessment of their life after surgery was not as cheerleading positive as the medical centers portrayed it. Most claimed that their life was easier with less weight, but many named complications or still many problems in keeping the weight off. What he found extremely troubling was that he could find almost no data on the surgery’s long term effects. Nobody could tell him how his health would develop say 30 years from now. Only the blanket assumption was reiterated that the weight loss from surgery must per se lead to a healthier life. Highly disturbing was also, that Wershowitz had chosen one of the most invasive methods of surgery for him – with the highest weight loss, but also the highest complication rates and side effects.

Staring down at his big, extra soft belly pillow in his lap – others may not see it, but it was considerably smaller than a year ago, no longer had the aura of bulging confidence. What would it be like if it was gone again? He tried to remember how it had been when he was thin, or at least a lot thinner than now, with only a spare tire. Looking back, all he could recollect was that he had always been comfortable with his body, as long as he was well fed – be it with 155, 275 or 525 pounds. His regular vacation visits to his grandparents and aunt and uncle’s at the family bakery had early on introduced him to the delights of quality home-made food – and having a tummy well filled with it had immediately turned into his greatest pleasure, at all weights. No matter which surgery procedure he looked at, they all stated that this pleasure would definitely be taken from him for life. Alone the recommended diet of two weeks of artificial jello after surgery made him shudder with dread. How was anybody supposed to learn about eating quality natural healthy food after being subjected to that?

On the other hand, what would his life look like if he didn’t lose the weight, with or without surgery? Reading all about co-morbidities, increased mortality rates, diabetes, heart attack, liver failure, etc. as allegedly coercive consequences of being as ‘super morbidly obese’ as he was, also increased his unease. Maybe all the blood pressure problems, stomachs aches, exhaustion he was currently having were the onset of all these medical conditions? And what about his professional future? What would Warren say or do if he didn’t lose the weight? Would he be fired? What about the bakery? Would he have to leave the hotel, which was his home? The idea of being able to run all the Langdon Hotels on his own one day was so thrilling – he was willing to do almost everything to make this dream come true. Warren had truly been like a father or uncle to him; didn’t he owe him this extra effort, which might actually be for his own personal and professional best? Or was it more that Warren was trying to bully him, form him into the mold he thought best for the image of the Langdon Hotels, no matter which preferences and interests he himself had?

Yet was this professional success worth sacrificing his physical integrity with unknown long term effects? And saying farewell to the delights of excellent food, the big love of his life -the one that had never let him down so far? Confused and uncertain, there currently seemed to be far too many question marks in his life – and many thoughts he did not dare think all the way through to their end, which then returned to haunt him in his sleep.

Sighing he clicked off the internet and tried to carry on with the booking overview and requests, as the main door to his office opened and Claire slipped into the little glass-walled anteroom with a folder to put into his mailbox. Through the open main door, he caught a brief glimpse of Marcus’s broad frame before Claire very quickly slammed the wooden door shut on seeing him to give a small wave. “Christopher, I didn’t expect you to still be here. I just wanted to drop off my suggestions for the culinary theme weeks I’d like to do at the deli bistro in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Why don’t you go home? You look so tired, you’re working too much.”

“Nah, I’m okay. Still need to finish these papers, can’t really concentrate on numbers this evening. What are you up to tonight?” he felt a pang of jealousy on thinking she might spend it with Marcus.

“Oh, nothing much. Maybe a bit of shopping on the way home – watch at movie then.”

“Well, why don’t you explain your menu ideas to me right now, I can read through the details later?” Inwardly, he cursed himself: What kind of a jerk was he turning into? He’d done everything to bring Claire and Marcus together – and now as it seemed to be working, he had nothing better to do than detain her from a date because he wanted all her attention? How schizo was that?

“Ummm, don’t you want to read through them first, whether they make any sense?”

“No, you can explain them so well… or are you in a hurry to go shopping?”

“Oh, no, no, no!” she blushed, squirmed and started, remaining standing. “Okay, let’s start with the week after Thanksgiving – here I have a slightly provocative idea: Vegetarian week!”

“Vegetarian after Thanksgiving? During holiday food season? As a kind of diet?” he heard the disgust in his voice.

“Yes, I’m convinced it’s a good idea. We have many women guests for lunch – and I know plenty are literally fed up with carnivore cuisine after overindulging on it over Thanksgiving. We won’t do diet cuisine, more creative vegetarian winter comfort food – like risotto with roast chestnuts, little baked Chinese cabbage rolls with mushroom stuffing, grilled pumpkin with blue cheese and the like.”

Her suggestions appeared before his inner eye, making his mouth water and his stomach growl, so he shifted his weight in his chair, his gut rolling heavily to the other side and a bolt of pain shooting through his middle that took his breath away: “Ouch!” Where did that come from? He had had his small diet dinner, along with two extra bananas to calm his stomach, so it should be fine.

“Christopher, what’s wrong? Do you want me to fix you a tea?” looking up, he saw that all irritation had vanished from Claire’s expression to be replaced by concern and what resembled pity.

“No, I’m fine – just accidentally bit my tongue,” he sure didn’t want to ruin Claire’s and Marcus’ evening because she pitied him, how lame would that be?
“But you’ve successfully sold me your post Thanksgiving vegetarian theme – those dishes sound delicious and should be a welcome respite from turkey mania. Now go enjoy your shopping, good night.”

“Are you sure?”

“Positive. I’ll look through your other suggestions and give you some feed-back soon. Have a nice evening,” trying to sound as sincere as possible.

One of the many thoughts he never managed to think all the way to the bitter end was how he was going to face Stephanie again, after their disastrous attempt at intimacy on Halloween. All morning of the day of their next appointment he was extremely apprehensive. Around noon though, Wershowitz’s office mailed him the surgery registration forms, asking him to fill them out and return them the next day, leaving him preoccupied since he had to research quite a number of terms online to understand everything in the forms.

Brooding, he overlooked how time passed and was startled by a knock on the door and Stephanie entering. “Hi Christopher, how are you today?”

Her question sounded solemn and serious, not like a polite phrase. It matched her attire which indeed looked like she was going to attend a funeral: a fitted black dress with high black boots, her hair pulled back in a bun and very little make up. The outfit did full justice to her curves, but it radiated strictness, not sexiness.

“Yeah, I’m doing okay, thanks,” he muttered looking at her only fleetingly.

“I would like to sincerely apologize to you for my behavior on Halloween,” her voice was quiet but firm. “Please forgive me if I did anything inappropriate, hurt or embarrassed you in any way – my memory regarding my exact actions is a bit sketchy,” showing him a shadow of a crooked grin. “It was the first Halloween party in my life I’ve ever been to on my own without Timmy.
Somehow I lost it, had way too much to drink. So I kindly ask you to excuse any possible transgressions of mine.”

“It’s okay, don’t worry, you did nothing wrong. I wasn’t on my best behavior either. Let’s just forget about it, okay?”

“Thank you. Again, I’m really sorry, that shouldn’t have happened – you were so nice to invite me to the party.” She took a deep breath. “There’s something else we need to talk about….”

“Stephanie, what’s your opinion on weight loss surgery?” This came out without thinking, maybe because it had been the foremost thought on his mind for days, and he had no one he dared talk to about it.

“Weight loss surgery? Why that? Why now?”

“Wershowitz and Warren Langdon scheduled some for me in January… a so-called Roux-en-Y gastric bypass….,” his voice faded to a mumble, already regretting that he had asked.

“Hmmmh … now I do understand some things I read in your file a little better. Tell me first – how do you feel about the idea? It’s your body, your health, your life.”

Staring at his desk, it took him a long time to answer: “I don’t know, it’s so definite, … what will be in 30 years? It’s well …. I guess I’m scared, can’t imagine my stomach cut to shreds…”. To his dismay, his voice sounded like that of a frightened child. Stephanie must have heard it too, for her features softened and she reached over the desk to reassuringly rub his hand.

“I can understand you’re afraid, it’s a very major procedure – and one of the draw backs is that we know very little about the long term effects.” As he looked at her in questioning, she continued: “As you might guess, I do have a professional as well as a personal opinion. I’ve worked with clients preparing for weight loss surgery and with some who’ve had it during their rehab phase to develop new, adapted eating habits. And it frequently was an issue between Timmy and me; whether he should have it or not. There certainly are medical conditions were it is advisable or even necessary to have it done to help improve or prevent further damage to a patient’s health. But I am skeptical regarding the current trend to perform weight loss surgery as a standard ‘cure’ for obesity. Complication rates are high – and we indeed know next to nothing about the impact on patient’s health after decades. Most people consider medicine to be objective natural science – but it isn’t, in many aspects it’s more like social science. Surgery has fads and fashions, believe it or not. 30 years ago, it was considered a standard advisable procedure to do a hysterectomy on ever other women when entering menopause. 15 years ago even minor back injuries were operated on, often with literally crippling side-effects. Today, both forms of surgery are applied much more restrictively only with severe medical findings. From my observations, bariatric is the current it-surgery of the day – I wonder how it will be assessed in 20 years time.”

“So you don’t think I should have it done?”

“As I said, this is a very personal decision you have to make for yourself.”

“But I’m asking for your advice; I’d be grateful for an honest opinion.”

“There are decisions nobody can make for you, you have to wholeheartedly…,” before she broke off, shook her head and it bubbled out: “No I don’t think you should have it done. You’re the classic case I’m talking about – you’re very overweight but have no medical conditions. Given your weight, a sensible reduction is a good idea – but that can be done slowly, carefully with a balanced diet and a decent level of activity. You’ve shown you can do it – so why have surgery? But that’s what I don’t get about you anyway! Why do you let yourself be pressured into crazy dieting or even surgery by Wershowitz and Langdon? Yeah … it’s unfortunately getting more and more common that companies pressure their employees to lose weight, laced with all sorts of sticks and carrots. People, who have dependents, are older, not as well educated, whatever – they often have to comply to save their job. But in your case…. sorry I’ve already said way too much…”

“If I don’t lose the weight …. I think I’ll lose my job here…,” it sounded as uncertain as he felt.

“And? So what! From what I’ve heard all other three first class hotels in town would hire you tomorrow if they had the chance! You have the bakery! You don’t need this job, at least not at the price of it making you sick and miserable!” She took a deep breath, shook her head again and then continued in a softer voice: “I’m sorry, that’s really none of my business. But it plays into what I wanted to talk to you about. Wershowitz finally sent me your complete file – you’re not following my diet plan anymore.”

Hot shame bloomed in his cheeks and he only briefly looked her in the eye to see anger, disappointment and weariness, not knowing what to say. After a leaden break, she asked: “Your file shows your accelerated weight loss is due to you taking quite a range of pills like diuretics, appetite suppressants and the like – which probably explains your blood pressure increase. Given you’ve also been doing fasting weeks with only liquid diet shakes you should have lost even more weight. So I assume you’ve been compensating your restricted intake by binging in secret at least semi-regularly. Could you please explain to me why you continue to have sessions with me even though you’re no longer following my plan?”

His face must be so red by now it felt as if it might burst from mortification. He had never been caught red-handed cheating or lying before, especially not from someone he cared for or regarding a major issue. The sensation was so disagreeable; he had no words. “Christopher, you owe me an explanation. If you weren’t satisfied with the results of my diet plan for you, have clandestinely started following Wershowitz’s recommendations – why are you still seeing me?”

After what must have been an eon of silence, he succeeded in articulating a weak attempt at explaining his confusion: “You help me so much … I feel … well… somehow you understand…”

“I can’t really help you if you’re not honest with me. Either follow my plan or we both develop a new plan for you together. Why did you convert to Wershowitz’s radical plan? Your weight loss initially was progressing well, it was healthy and balanced. Why didn’t you speak to me about this?”

“Wershowitz and Warren, well … no time …,” he shrugged helplessly.

“That’s what I don’t get – why you believe to be in such a hurry? In losing weight, hurry only gets you into trouble. You were young, fat, healthy, active, confident – you had the very best prerequisites to slowly, sustainably lower your weight to a more normal level. Why do you let yourself be pressured so much – until you’re almost cracking under it? As for surgery - have you ever thought about the emotional consequences? Many food limitations? No more big belly? For heaven’s sake, Wershowitz is just a doctor – and Langdon your boss, no more!”

Stephanie looked at him expectantly, but he could only shake his head again. He couldn’t tell anybody about his deal with Warren, it sounded too crazy, made him look too greedy. How was he supposed to make her understand that Warren was more than a boss – you can let your boss down, but can you disappoint your father, who has always supported you in every possible way, when he asks you to do one minor thing for him? Especially if that minor thing has all the good arguments on its side. And the hotel was not any old job … it was his family…
But something in Stephanie’s blunt analysis had hit home, expressed a few inconvenient truths he did not want to hear or think about now. Since there was no way of explaining all this to her, he frantically decided to cling to the positive aspects in what she had said.

“I’m very sorry; I should’ve been open with you, talked to you about it. I don’t know why … all this diet stuff gets to me. I apologize. Can’t we develop a new plan together, start over? I promise I’ll stick to it them, talk to you about everything.”

Sighing, she shook her head. “No, that’s not going to work.”

“Please Stephanie, let’s at least try it. I promise I’ll work harder on it, be honest with you…”

“Sorry Christopher, the answer is no. It’s not just that I don’t trust your honesty any more. There’re two more reasons: We’ve gotten unprofessionally close on occasion, which was also my fault. That destabilizes a good working base if an issue is so personal. I should never have let that happen. But even more: Nobody can help you with your diet until you finally decide what you want. Do you really want to lose weight? Why do you want to lose it? Do you want to slowly get down to a mid-range weight in a natural healthy way? Do you want to crash diet? Do you want to have weight loss surgery? How important is this job to you? How much pressure will you let yourself be put under from your boss?”

“But I need you - I need your help,” he could have swallowed his tongue for letting this slip instantly.

“I’m the wrong person to try to help you with all that. I’m sorry; I don’t see any way of continuing to work with you. I’ll inform Wershowitz of my resignation – maybe he’ll find someone else for you. Good-bye … and good luck with whatever you do.”

The three days following Stephanie’s resignation passed in a total fog. His brain was clouded with question marks und disconcerting thoughts, making it almost impossible to go about his normal work. He had tried to contact her again by phone and e-mail, yet only half-heartedly because her words had hit a nerve with him, one which stung badly enough for him to want to leave it be. After her leaving, he had lumbered home via the grocery store to then bake no less than five different cakes – from the family heirloom cheese cake to an elaborate new cranberry dark chocolate chip black and white layer gateaux.
Baking had not lost its comforting qualities for him, and after the first piece of every cake with a pot of fresh white tea, he leaned back rubbed his stomach which burned a bit feeling more at ease than he had expected. Instead of cherishing the feeling to go to bed, the thought of how many calories he had just consumed and that this was ruining his diet somehow wormed its way back into his mind, making him groan in frustration and think: What the heck – only to tackle a second round of cake. And a third, and a fourth, now gasping for breath because he was so full and his stomach truly hurt.

The last bite of the fourth piece of chocolate tarte struggled to go down – before he barely made it to the sink to relieve himself of the first load. From there he staggered to the bathroom to vomit until tears came – shame for binging and biting pain in his stomach competing for the role of root cause. The next two days all he could stomach was tea, bananas and cream of oat soup – if he tried to take any of Wershowitz’s pills, they immediately came back out. Was this the revenge of his stomach for many years of overeating? True – he normally had never stuffed himself so silly like he had with the cakes, only eaten continuously over the day or filled himself to the brim with a balanced multi-course meal. In the end that might lead to the same consequences…

Between being sick to the stomach and regretting losing Stephanie, he forgot about the surgery registration until Warren called: “Christopher my boy, how are you doing?

“I’m fine, thank you. Busy time of the year. Sorry I’m running late on the updates for our Thanksgiving specials – I’ll mail them to you shortly.”

Yeah, please do that. There’s something else you’ve forgotten to mail – what about your registration forms for the surgery?

His heart sunk with a fearful jolt. “Ummh … I’m still researching that … am not quite ready.”

Not quite ready? Everything is perfectly prepared for you … you just need to sign the papers. Have the surgery, and then we’ll have a new you within months. Don’t worry so much about it; you’ll be so much better. Why not get the help you need to lose those masses of weight?

“I’m trying. But it’s a major, irreversible surgery – it’ll change my life and body forever. I need more time to think about that – they say a six month diet preparatory period is necessary….”

Well, you’ve already done that. And you’ve lost a little bit of weight, so that should be enough of a preparatory period…,”

“I’m down to 461 pounds. That’s 65 pounds in 10 months. I’ve read that if you lose this steadily on a normal diet you don’t need the surgery, should continue with the diet …”

Christopher, the diet was a good way to start – now’s the time to look at a permanent solution for your weight problem. Surgery is the method of choice – everybody your size or even less overweight people have it these days. Sign the papers and mail them to Wershowitz.

“Sir, I really would appreciate some more time to look into it and get used to the thought. The Roux-en-Y surgery is severely invasive, has many possible complications…”

You’re a big strong guy, you can handle it. Don’t put up such a fuss.”

He could tell Warren was losing his patience, yet found it impossible to give in just yet, also after Stephanie’s warnings.
“Still sir, it’ll change everything for me – life, work, body. I need some more time, more expertise on the possible consequences, how I can handle them…”

Warren snorted in exasperation: “Listening to you Christopher, I sometimes get the impression you don’t really want to do anything serious about your weight, that you actually like being super fat, stuffing and rolling that monster gut around …..!
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Old 06-27-2015, 03:51 AM   #21
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“1/2 a flight of stairs and you’re already out of breath, resting? I can’t believe it!” Odile hauled herself up the dim stairwell, breathing hard, her massive breasts and belly bouncing in time, her wide hips swaying ponderously. She had caught him sitting on the top step at the landing between the basement and ground floor of the hotel on his way back to the office after checking on a problem with the heating. “What’s wrong with you boss?” she put a motherly hand on his shoulder.

“Nothing,” he grumbled. “What are you doing here?”

“Well, you’re the one who got me started on this thing that climbing stairs is good for us super heavy weights. And it’s actually working – Dr. Preston is impressed by my progress,” she grinned at him fondly, before her expression returned to concern. “But you’re going downhill fast! You could always climb the 3 flights up to the restaurant without stopping! What’s wrong boss? Is it this awful diet of your’s everybody is worrying about?”

“My diet is none of your business! I’m a bit tired, have a cold. And how are you supposed to call me?”

“Your diet is our business – if we see our one and only, favorite boss sick and miserable! When did you last see Dr. Preston?”

“Odile – let it rest! I’m fine, I’m seeing a doctor regularly. Come on, let’s go up together.” Under her critical gaze he half pulled, half heaved himself up, unable to fully smother the groan as his back ached.

“I’m serious boss, you need to take better care of yourself. Go see a real good doctor after the holidays, not some nutty diet shrink!”

Only three more days, he thought, he only needed to survive three more days – then the holiday season was over. Two days to Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Then his mother would come for Christmas, a cherished, but mixed blessing.
In his subjective feeling, the past weeks had oscillated between bad, awful and disastrous – even though he had to concede that things could have gone worse. The major stroke of luck had been that his would-be bariatric surgeon had extremely conveniently broken his leg skiing, giving him a temporary reprieve from having to definitely decide on the issue – with all consequences, one way or the other. Wershowitz and Warren had initially pushed for having another surgeon operate on him – but they were caught in their own trap because their main argument to lure him had been that Dr. Wright was the best expert for the job.
His initial appointment with Wright after Thanksgiving had been a most ambivalent experience: On one hand, he was much less negative and judgmental than Wershowitz, praising his weight loss and suggesting he reduce some of the pills he was taking. On the other hand, he treated him like some piece of low quality meat, poking into his flab, running all sorts of highly disagreeable and invasive tests as well as drawing odd lines on his naked stomach with a felt marker and bruising him by trying out various large clamps, clucking he would need to order some bigger ones.

Walking out of the clinic, he felt so low and disheartened, like a grade C pork chop on its way to be fed to the dogs, he didn’t even care that he almost ran into a bus. The icy water which gushed into his shoes brought him halfway back to his senses – and the only instant remedy he could think of to unwind a bit was one of Namée’s warm oil massages. Too late he thought off the odd embarrassing marks on his belly which he tried to scrub off with little success. Canceling Namée again was no option, for she took one look at him through the window in the men’s changing room and had her husband physically bring him out to her.

Settling on the massage stool, he kept his belly covered, hoping he could somehow hide the marks and skip the front part of the massage. Namée took even more care on his back than usual, was gentler and more soothing, and for once had no critical comments about not having exercised his back enough. Nicely rested, he wanted to leave, but Namée with a firm hand led him to the bench. She didn’t say anything as she saw his belly, but her normally impassive face showed sincere compassion. To mask his embarrassment, he squeezed his eyes tightly shut and did not say a word. Only blinking quickly, he saw she mixed several liquids and with some cotton wool very carefully rubbed his belly till the skin was clean again before she did an exquisite massage, making his anxiety melt away, only a few sharp hungry stinging growls of his empty stomach keeping him half awake.

He must have dropped off in the end, because she lightly shook his shoulder to bring him back to the present. “I can’t thank you enough Namée, that was great.”

“I did my best Mr. Christopher, come over here to rest,” leading him over to the resting area, where a tray loaded with food awaited him. “You sit and eat. Miss Claire made this special for you.”

“Namée, you know I’m on a diet..”

“Forget diet doctor – we take better care of you. You need good food today. This not too much, not too heavy. Now eat slowly, then you much better,” giving him a light shove to the chair. Looking at the food, he noticed it was spinach salad with mushrooms and sundried tomatoes, a steaming baked pasta casserole, the Maghreb style fruit salad with dried apricots, apples and pistachios, a piece of plum strudel with vanilla sauce as well as a small carafe of red wine and a pot of tea. Taking in the tray, he was all choked up: It was the perfect assortment of some of his favorites, well combined, on the light and healthy side, no diet food, but sensible, not too rich fare, put together with much consideration. All in all irresistible on a shitty day like this – reminding him how much he missed Claire’s coddling.

“It’s wonderful Namée – it’s really what I need now. Thank you … and thank Claire,” he muttered softly, sitting down and taking a small bite of pasta. Unobserved, he would have gobbled it down, but Namée sent her sister Linda to do is hands during his meal so he ate slowly, deliberately, appreciating every bite and ending with the pleasing sensation of simply being well and satisfyingly fed.

On his way home he wanted to check by the deli bistro to thank Claire, but she was already gone. Over the past few weeks, he got the impression that she was avoiding him as much as he had previously over time realized that she had sought out getting close to him. This hurt and puzzled him a little, feeling as miserable as he currently was, Claire’s positive attention would have been a welcome consolation. From the few fleeting observations he could make, he had the suspicion that Claire and Marcus had gotten a lot closer – but for some reason wanted to keep this fact under wraps. Once in the dusk he had observed them leaving the hotel together through the park, holding hands and Claire snuggling against Marcus. This had sent sharp ray of jealousy through him, making him shake his head over his own folly. He had hired Marcus with the explicit intention of bringing him together with Claire- and now he was jealous? Of what? He wasn’t interested in Claire romantically.

Marcus had obviously settled in by now and was thriving; every time he saw him he seemed rosier, rounder, more confident. Yet he shrugged off all questions regarding Claire with a shake of his head and a small smirk, waving it off as a passing fancy. In the restaurant, he had subtly succeeded in re-aligning the kitchen management, taking over the coordination, planning and supplies, as well as responsibility for all entrées and side dishes himself, giving Paul the freedom to concentrate on the meat and fish dishes with their sauces, his true field of expertise. This let the crazy busy holiday season pass much better than Christopher had expected. Business wasn’t as booming as it had been last year, partly for economic reasons – partly because several larger parties cancelled when they found out that he wasn’t personally doing the hosting of the events.

Knowing he could physically and emotionally never pull through as many dinner events as he usually did, he had limited himself to those that brought in the most revenue or were long term partners that were particularly important to him personally. To reduce the uncomfortable scrutiny and questioning, he had developed a system of white lies to dodge discussing his diet and get around eating with the guests: Either he said he was recovering from a stomach bug, or had another dinner that evening or moved from table to table talking with people so nobody noticed he wasn’t eating.

Food and eating – what once had been the pleasurable center of his life now had turned into a daily physical and emotional source of continuous distress. Whatever he currently did, it seemed wrong. He tried hard to stick to Wershowitz’s diet plan, hoping he could show them all, who were so critical of him – Warren, Wershowitz, Stephanie – that he could handle a meaningful weight loss on his own. But taking the pills or doing liquid diet fasting days was getting more and more impossible, since his stomach rebelled against them – on occasion even making him so sick he had to stick to tea, dry toast and bananas for days afterwards. At least urge to binge eat or gobble pastries on the side was something he no longer had to fight after the night of Stephanie resigning – that experience had been too painful and he for the first time in his life found sweets rather unpalatable.
As Christmas approached he even found it hard to follow the normal diet food plan because his stomach was so sore – digesting the salads and protein seemed too tasking. What was able to sooth his stomach were larger amounts of warm cooked comfort foods like the cream of oat or potato soup, chicken broth, risotto or mashed potatoes in all mild versions. Having a big pot of one of these dishes like a baby before going to bed was the only way to find decent sleep these days.

This version of a diet of course did not get him the results he wanted: He managed to get as far down as 451 pounds one day, but then hovered around 454, unable the break the 450 mark. Although the comfort food he made had to stay on the light side – one evening he tried the full mashed potato recipe with a lot of olive oil and butter, only to spend another night in his bathroom – the amounts he ingested to calm the cramping of his stomach probably were too much for a diet. Even though he had lost quite some weight since last Christmas, his body felt much more burdensome, uncooperative and unappealing than it had a year ago. Some part of it was perpetually aching and he had less energy than he ever could remember. Getting up in the morning, he wasted vast amounts of time sitting on the bedside, rubbing some sore body part and trying to motivate himself to get going. Holding his splitting head, he contemplated whose medical assessment was more correct: Was Stephanie right that his body was protesting against a too strict diet? Or Wershowitz – who insisted these were the to be expected so-called co-morbidities from all the years of being super morbidly obese, his body’s revenge against the excess weight?

“My baby, why are you in mourning?”

“Mourning?” Over Christmas dinner his mother’s question caught him unawares, even though it matched the depressing line of thought he had just been pursuing. They always spent the holidays together; in the past he had mostly cooked a special Christmas dinner for her, or had the deluxe 7 course one at the hotel restaurant – or in some years had visited Warren at the ‘Langdon Imperial Residency’ with him cooking there. This year he decided on the deli bistro’s Christmas buffet because this gave him the chance to assemble a nice menu for her while limiting himself to his diet plan. It had been Claire’s idea to open the deli bistro on Christmas with a buffet option targeted especially at young singles or people without family to have an excellent holiday meal free of the burdensome trimmings of family expectations. Looking around, it clearly was a success – the bistro was packed to the last seat. Claire –whizzing around in a cute red dress with a lace apron over it – said they had to turn down double the requests for reservations.

“Yes mourning my baby. You look so sad – and then your beard…”

“My beard?” he rubbed across the thick hair on his chin, wondering which odd reasoning she might come up with now. Ever since elementary school, he was convinced that he knew more about the real world and it’s workings than his mother. Personality and rearing had turned her into a woman who completely lived in her own universe of art galleries, museums, archives and historic collections, making the ivory tower almost look like a down to earth establishment. Her points of reference and ways of approaching things were often so out of this world they left him puzzled how she ever managed her life. Academically, professionally she was successful and acclaimed as the curator of the largest private collection of ancient glass in the country with at least two dozen special public exhibitions with catalogues to her name. Maybe it was the innocence and obvious well-meaning in her attitude with that helpless look in her wide light brown eyes – so similar to his own, yet so different, since they were set in a slim, pale oval framed by light, fluffy auburn ringlets; not rosy fat cheeks and thick black waves – which let people help her along, treat her kindly even when exasperating over her other worldliness. This matched his own relationship with her: He loved her dearly, not only because she was his mother and only family he still had, but because he knew she loved him unconditionally, would do anything she was capable of for him and had always supported him in any way possible. But her oddities sometimes did try his patience.

“You’ve never had a beard before. You know the ancient Roman portraits busts, don’t you? It’s only after emperor Hadrian that they are depicted with beards. And he wore his to advertise he was in mourning for his Greek lover Antinous.”

So this was just another esoteric art historical discussion – he was used to those for as long as he could think. His mother had taken him to many museums and exhibitions, shown and explained pieces of art to him, sometimes even let him touch and hold the artefacts. Uncle Tom had done the same with his baked goods – which he had enjoyed even more since he was occasionally allowed to taste them. Both approaches hat instilled deep interest and respect in him for craftsmanship of any type and a lively curiosity for observing things being made. It had also muddled his system of hierarchies a bit: he was almost an adult before he fully grasped the difference between an artist and an artisan – to then decide that the difference didn’t matter all that much, they were both people with a great talent to make wonderful objects, though of varying use and durability.

“Gigi, I’m not in mourning. It’s a leftover from my Halloween costume, it’s convenient, it’s a different look for a change..,” he tried to brush the issue off, even though it was not strictly true. He had kept the beard also because it did camouflage his full cheeks and double chin a bit – sort of an attempt at visualizing some diet success.

“Looking at you, all I can see is the full iconography of a man in mourning,” she studied him as if looking at a painting through narrowed eyes. “It’s not only the beard – your hair is longer, your clothes are baggy and don’t fit well – all symbolize mourning in many cultural contexts. And you’re not eating, also a sign of sorrow. What’s wrong my baby?”

Inwardly he groaned – another unwelcome diet discussion. He had least of all expected to have one forced on him by his mother: He had mentioned to her he was on a diet to get no significant response, so he had assumed ‘diets’ were one of the many practical issues in life she was unaware of. “I’m eating less because I’m on a diet – I told you about that, Warren suggested it.”

“Diet? Why should you be on a diet? You’re not ill, are you?” her eyes widened in alarm.

“No, I’m fine. Even you must have noticed how very fat I’ve gotten. That’s why I’m on a diet.”

“Why yes – you convey the image of the larger than life figures in the line of the Colossus or a Golem – but that’s just how you are my baby, you’re my big baby. Art history appreciates this genre as a rare and unusual expression…”

Unnerved that he was stuck in weight talk again, he tried to cut her off. “Gigi, I weighed 525 pounds – is that enough explanation for this diet?”

“525 pounds? But that’s impossible! The scale only goes to 250 pounds! Nobody can … you must’ve … that can’t be …. did you breakdown…?” Her shocked bewilderment couldn’t help but amuse him slightly. As much as he hated the issue - it was telling how something as publicly omnipresent as the general diet and weight obsession had never registered with her.

“That’s just the regular bathroom scales you can buy everywhere Gigi – they weigh up to 250 or max 300 pounds. I own a scale that weighs up to 750 pounds. I’ve weighed more than 250 pounds since way back during my apprenticeship in the bakery,” he saw his mother gulp as he said this, his own throat also a little constricted. “For a man my height 250 pounds actually isn’t very much. But I’m too heavy now and I’m trying to reduce that, okay? Warren thought this diet would be a good idea. I’m fine with it.”

Skeptically, she continued shaking her head. “I don’t know my baby… 525 pounds, can a body carry that? You always seemed so well, happy, big and strong and healthy, successful … In times when you didn’t eat, terrible things happened! That can’t be good for you…. like when you didn’t eat in junior high, you had appendicitis. Then… when you weren’t eating the bakery ….,” her voice choked and tears welled up in her eyes.
Tightening his jaw to keep a lid on his own emotions, he took both her hands and squeezed them soothingly. The accident in the bakery and Uncle Tom’s death had been a horrible blow for him – but for his mother it must have been worse. She had been the carefree, petted baby in a happy family; the only girl raised shielded and spoiled by doting parents and three older brothers. They had been groomed for responsibility in the family bakery business – while she had been encouraged to pursue her interests and artful fancies. The death of her two older brothers in Vietnam had already been a heavy blow, probably breaking the hearts of both her parents, making them die earlier than to be expected. Uncle Tom’s suicide after the end of the bakery had then been truly traumatic - letting him occasionally speculate whether his mother didn’t purposefully retreat further and further into her own world of art, since the real world had so brutally disappointed her.

“I’m really doing okay, just need to lose some weight. Please don’t worry, I’ll be okay,” he murmured; uncomfortable with the fact that they were having this discussion in public, cringing with horror at his sudden impulse to actually tell her all the things that were troubling him. And he cursed himself for not having had the good sense to make the extra effort to shave the beard off and have his suit tailored down to fit. Then he would have looked like his normal self, she would never have noticed the missing 70 pounds, sparing him this discussion. Struggling to lose the weight faster, trying to get below 450 pounds, he had originally hoped to fit back into the suit from the bakery opening by Christmas, which of course hadn’t happened. The last new outfit he had bought had been around 480 pounds – and since then he couldn’t bring himself to deal positively with his appearance, it all seemed so futile. So he had stuck to wearing too big suits and shirts held together by a belt. One more on the long list of things that had been easier during his expansive periods – regularly upsizing his wardrobe, ensuring it fit well around the increasing measurements of his girth, making it nicely presentable, feeling comfortable not only in his skin but also in his clothing had been a likeable and more rewarding past time.

“A very merry Christmas, Eugenie – I’m so happy you and Christopher are spending it here with us at the deli bistro,” Claire had the perfect timing to interrupt them, cheek kissing his mother in greeting and placing a beautifully arranged dessert platter in front of her.

“Claire dear, how lovely to see you! Christopher insisted on coming here, he said it was new and you’re doing a wonderful job. And it’s indeed so well done – I really like that you chose the classical Raphael cherubs as holiday decoration, they go beautifully with the bistro’s general theme.”

“Why thank you. It’s such a pleasure for me to do the work here, really be in charge … I can’t thank Christopher enough for giving me this fantastic opportunity.”

“He’s a good boy, my Christopher, isn’t he?”

“Yes, he is Eugenie. More than a good boy,” Claire fondly patted his shoulder, making him wish he could hide under the table like he had done as a five year-old when he was fed up with getting too much attention from the grown-ups.

“But Claire dear, I’m worried about him – he doesn’t look well, don’t you think? He’s so pale, his clothes all sag, that beard, and when he picked me up at the airport, I swear he had the same skin tone he had as a little boy right after a week of stomach flu. And he’s not eating … I’m so worried..”

“Gigi, please …,” he moaned, looking at Claire imploringly whose festive smile changed into a conflicted expression, biting her under lip before she quietly responded: “We’re worried here to. We think he’s being too hard on himself with this diet, is overdoing it.” making him want to fire her on the spot for this perceived disloyalty, even though he heard the true concern in her voice.

“See, it’s not just some crazy idea of mine, my baby – Claire says the same!”

“Claire – do you happen to have a very small dessert for me? You know it’s allowed today on a holiday.” He stressed this to make her leave and attend to her business.

“Why yes – I have two things prepared for you so you can chose. Seeing you didn’t eat the salad, probably the lime-rosemary sorbet will be too sour for you, or not? As an alternative I prepared a pear poached in red wine with yoghurt ice cream – how would that be?”

“Sounds good, thank you for putting so much thought into it,” inwardly frowning at the fact that Claire seemed to have noticed his current stomach issues, because after only a bite of salad the vinegar in the dressing had set his stomach on fire. So he had stuck to the turkey breast with a few Brussels sprouts, and even they seemed difficult to digest. To steer his mother’s thoughts in another direction, he explained the dessert platter to her at length before Claire came back with his pear.

“Claire dear, I’m relieved you’re looking after my Christopher here a bit. He was always so good at looking after himself, even as a little boy – but now, I don’t know… I think he needs a sweet, caring girlfriend like you. Do you have a boyfriend?”

Now it was Claire’s turn to blush the color of her dress and look very uncomfortable. That was one trait of his mother’s that baffled him over and over again – as unworldly and clueless of many real life things as she was, she had undeniable people smarts. He didn’t know why, maybe because she was oblivious to much of reality’s window dressing that she saw some things clearer than others did. After a few minor incidents with teachers in school, this had first struck him with Liza, whom his mother had detested, saying the whole family with the exception of Jana was selfish and superficial. Then it had been one of the running jokes in the family that she of all people kept telling Aunt Katie she was unstructured and couldn’t get her priorities right – until the catastrophe with the insurance payments happened. And she had always been a big fan of Warren’s, thanking him profusely for all he had done for them every time she saw him, stating no father could have done more.

“Gigi, it’s not fair to be so inquisitive with Claire. Her love life is her business. I can very well take care of myself, thank you – and Claire has been helping with my diet where she can. Why don’t we drink to happy holidays?” raising his glass because as much as he was interested in getting an answer from Claire to his mother’s question, he wanted to spare her the embarrassment.

“Yes, happy holidays! But please … I want to see you really happy again my baby. You can talk to Warren about this diet thing, you know you can. Please promise me you’ll take good care of yourself, that you’ll eat again …”
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Old 06-27-2015, 03:53 AM   #22
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1, 2, 3 …..

1, 2, 3 …. now move his left leg, lift his head and try to raise his upper body … but as soon as there was only a minor bend in his spine, spasms of blinding pain raced through him, making any further movement impossible, letting his face drop back down on the mattress.
It was the dull, grey, cold first Monday in January – what a way to start a new year. He had already had trouble getting up to go to the bathroom and shower, but as he sat down to pull on his socks, the first lightning bolt of pain hit him - and the next thing he knew was he was half lying on the bed, half kneeling on the floor, face down and couldn’t move anymore. He couldn’t reach his cell phone, nor his land line …. what was he going to do? And who could help him?

Over the course of the morning, he tried several times to get up – only to be struck down again by pain. He heard his phone ring several times, he heard his cell ring even more often, but he couldn’t get to either one. As the clock struck noon, he started wondering how long he might have to stay in this position before anybody came looking for him. It was a normal Monday, nothing special; nobody in the hotel would miss him. His cleaning lady who had a key would not come back until Thursday afternoon …. would he survive that long lying here like this, helpless as a fat beetle on its back? Not only his back ached, but also his knees, his stomach churned and ached, his head …. Immobilized as he was, there was nothing he could do but wait.

Despite the pain, he must have dropped off to sleep sometime, because towards two, his door bell rang loudly several times. “I’m here, I’m here – can’t get up, call help!” he yelled desperately, doubting though that anybody would hear him over 3 floors with closed doors and windows. After a few minutes, he heard light steps on the stairs, for the first time in hours. Then a knock on his apartment door: “Christopher - are you there?”

Claire! Thank God – it was Claire! But how could she reach him? And how was her tiny self supposed to help move his huge body? “I’m here Claire, can’t get up! Something with my back – call help…”

But she was already in his bedroom, her hands on his shoulders, trying to help him: “Oh my god … Christopher … what happened? Your back? Let me try to help you….” yet couldn’t help him raise his heavy body one bit.

“Thank you for coming,” awash with relief. “How did you get in?”

“Tricia has your key in the safe, right? All of us in the hotel were so worried when we couldn’t reach you! Yeah, and since you haven’t been well lately – I thought it’s better to come check on you….. Now we need help!”

Which humiliating things exactly happened during the next hour defied his memory, but Claire organized the hotel’s movers, his orthopedic surgeon, dashing Dr. Kalamidis, and the motherly hotel physician, Dr. Preston. They all congregated around his bed as he had been settled on it, lying on his back like a dying tortoise with his legs propped up on an instable pile of pillows and blankets.

“Well, well …. Christopher … what are you doing? Have you forgotten your back exercises? You did such a good job in healing and strengthening your back… and from what I can see, you haven’t gotten significantly heavier since your last check-up… you should be fine… now let’s see…” Dr. Kalamidis had given him another shot to ease the pain and now was trying to move his legs.

He couldn’t formulate the words, but Claire started shyly: “Dr. Kalamidis, it might be the wrong thing for me to say …. but … but … Christopher has been on a diet most of the past year. He wasn’t feeling well lately. Namée, our masseuse, said she thought his back was not very good most recently….”

“Why thank you Claire, that’s very important information indeed…. How much weight have you lost Christopher?”

Everybody staring at him, he wished the earth would finally do him the favor to open up and swallow him – but probably he was too big a bite to chew.
“Christopher, about how many pounds have you lost?”

“About 70 .., “ he finally managed to whisper, glad that the pain killer shot succeeded in numbing some part of him.

“Well, to really find out what’s wrong with your back, we need to do an MRI … so we’ll have to figure out a way to get you to a hospital…… Not so easy….”

‘Hospital’ was the only word that registered with him: The image of Wershowitz and Dr. Wright brandishing knives and giant metal clamps instantly arising, making him reflexively wail before he could stop it: “No hospital, please no hospital – I can’t go to any hospital now….” with the tears starting to pour.

“Shhh Christopher , everything’ll be okay, don’t worry, they’ll help you in the hospital, we’ll find a good way to get you there safe and sound…,” his hand was taken and soothingly squeezed and rubbed by Claire, who sat down next to him on the bedside.

“No hospital, please no hospital – I can’t go to any hospital now…. I don’t want to be cut up! No hospital, promise no hospital….” He blubbered the sentences over and over; panic constricting his windpipe, making him start to hyperventilate.

“It’s okay, Christopher, everything is okay….,” Claire held a glass of water to his lips. “Drink this, take this pill, then we can talk about the options. We’re here to help you … don’t worry…”

All he could continue doing was to whimper: “No hospital, please no hospital – no surgery – please…” until he felt new panic rise as a massive wave of nausea hit him. “The bowl, please the bowl…, hurry please the bowl,” as Claire just in time held it under his chin for the water and pill to come out again in painful cramps. Panting and softly crying helplessly afterwards, he just lay there.

“Dr. Preston – I know I shouldn’t say this. But I’ve noticed he’s been having stomach troubles for quite some time. He saw a diet doctor, has been taking a lot of diet pills from what I know ….he really hasn’t been himself.”

“Ms. Lipinski – it’s the right thing to tell me all you know so we can help him. Thank you and all your colleagues for being so observant and caring so much. It’s very important information. I was wondering why I never saw him the entire year for the regular health checkups of the kitchen staff.” Dr. Preston put on her glasses and took a few notes. “Mr. Mayard – I gave you some strong medication to calm down and relax. It looks like your stomach can’t take it though. So I’ll give you something similar as a shot now …. There’ll be a little sting ….”
He felt it in his upper arm and within minutes he was drifting off into exhausted sleep.

As he returned to consciousness, it was dusky outside and the first thing he became aware of was Dr. Preston talking to Claire and Dr. Kalamidis, his eyes still half closed.

“Ms. Lipinski, thank you for making the effort to get the current version of his medical file from his nutritionist. This helps very much in assessing the situation. I hope it wasn’t too much trouble.”

“No, not really. I only wasn’t aware that she had resigned weeks ago. And her reaction to my request on hearing what happened was … well … odd.”

“Odd? In which way odd?”

“She reacted … yeah almost like Christopher did – semi-panicked and in tears. I couldn’t get anymore straight information out of her, just the file.”

“Indeed odd. But that’s all we need. So Dr. Kalamidis – do you think the therapy for his back can be done here?”

“If we hire a nursing service to help him the first week or so, have the physiotherapist come here … then have him go back to swimming and weight training in the hotel as soon as he can walk – yeah, it can be done. We wouldn’t do anything differently in hospital – definitely not operate on him. Not only is the risk too high with his weight – you can get the same or even better results with physiotherapy and back exercises for this type of injury – and he’s shown in the past he can do it. What about the gastritis you presume he has?”

“I had the best small mobile ultra-sound we have brought here to confirm the diagnosis – but I’m pretty convinced it’s correct. Doing all tests, getting the therapy going with some days of IV medication would probably be better. Given the situation here – with no elevator and his weight, we’d have to get the fire department to take him on a lift through the balcony. That would definitely be a traumatic experience for him, would most likely make his recovery more difficult. I’m willing to spare him that, and … oh, Mr. Maynard you’ve woken up, how are you feeling?”

“Could be better…,” he managed to say, since his back still hurt, his legs were numb from the odd pile of cushions, and his stomach ached with hunger.

“Now before Ms. Lipinski gives you your dinner, Dr. Kalamidis and I need to do some tests with you to confirm our diagnosis. Dr. Kalamidis, you go first here,”
Dr. Preston motioned Claire to leave, who quickly turned and went.

Kalamidis then tested his reflexes, had him do some stretching exercises, turn over on the side, some of them causing bolts of pain to shoot through him bad enough to make his eyes water.

“Okay, you’ve slipped a disc in your back, but it’s not completely dislocated, from what I can tell – you haven’t been doing exercises to keep your back muscles strong enough. With serious physiotherapy we should be able to undo the damage. I’ll see you get a special orthopedic cushion for your back and legs – and oh, do you still have that support belt I prescribed last time?”

Glumly he nodded: “It won’t fit anymore,” remembering he still was 50 pounds heavier than with his last back incident. “I thought in losing the weight my back would get better..,” he shook his head.

“Such back injuries have less to do with the actual weight you carry – more with how rapid the weight change is. It might even be more frequent when losing weight – too many people crash diet and overlook the body needs time to adapt. So suddenly carrying much less weight, your spine’s statics change too – you need to exercise more to keep your back stable. You’ll get that fixed again – don’t worry. I’ll have our physiotherapist get your support belt extended to fit your new measurements. You should’ve seen me on starting this diet, then we would’ve avoided this….”

This perspective on his weight loss left him completely at a loss, especially since Dr. Preston took his hand to check his pulse: “Mr. Mayard, I can simply add on to what Dr. Kalamidis just said – why didn’t you come see me if you wanted to lose weight? We always had a good doctor-patient rapport, didn’t we? With all the other health checks I do for the restaurant and the hotel….,” she looked at him in questioning.

Since she didn’t continue but waited for an answer he managed to mumble, not looking at her: “It wasn’t a question of trust … it was just … just everything was set up for me with Wershowitz… and then … weight loss was so slow… I don’t know…”

“Well, it does look like you did quite a number of things that might lead to weight loss but not to good health. But that unfortunately has gotten pretty common. Now let’s take a closer look at how your stomach is doing … this is going to be cold now.., “ as she squirted some cold gel on his bare belly to then do the ultra sound with the odd, equally cold, hard device. “Okay, just as I thought, you have gastritis with majorly inflamed stomach lining. Most likely the side effect of having too many pills and diet medications on an almost empty stomach. Your stomach was well stretched and accustomed to regular meals with high quality, unprocessed, plentiful food. With the diet, you radically switched over to testing the resilience of your stomach’s lining with unfettered and rather aggressive purely chemical ingredients. That literally was too much for you to stomach – after all your tummy was pretty spoiled with good food, wasn’t it?”

Dr. Preston looked down at him with a friendly encouraging smile, but he could only close his eyes and shake his head. The whole examination and Drs Preston and Kalamidis diagnosis was leaving him completely bewildered. The past year all he had heard had been that he was too fat and that was bad for his health. Now he was lying there, feeling as sick as can be – only to be told his illness was caused by his diet and the attempt to lose weight …

“Okay, what are we going to do about this? First of all, I’ll take you off all medications you’ve been taking so far. You’ll only get the ones you need to let your stomach lining heal, along with a diet of mild but sufficient food. No coffee, no alcohol for at least two weeks. I’m rather optimistic getting you off all these diet pills will let your blood pressure and so one get back to normal too. You were always in such good health; despite your weight … let’s see we get you back there. Dr. Kalamidis will introduce you to his therapy and the nurse… oh, and there’s Ms. Lipinski with a wonderful stomach friendly dinner for you!”

When he later thought back to the days following his breakdown, they were encapsulated in a tight shell and buried in the most remote corner of his memory, access only through his subconscious. It was as if he had been stunned – making him regress into a state akin to infancy. He didn’t want to remember the details, especially not those of being bed ridden and the nurses have to help him with everything. He spent his days sleeping, eating his meals, reading some newspapers and doing his back exercises - everything else seemed too much for him. When Claire or one of the nurses tried to get him to talk, he could only mumble a few formulaic responses before he claimed to be tired to indeed fall asleep again almost instantly.

His entire self had transformed into one big hurting wound, physically and mentally. His mind was a tangle of confused threads – leaving only the afterthought that he had failed everything and everybody, even though he had tried so hard. Warren had expected him to diet, lose the weight and have weight loss surgery – that had not really been successful. Everybody else had urged him to be more careful dieting – even though that contradicted everything else he was told. Being sick now proved Stephanie, Claire and others right. And he had failed himself: Neither was he well-fed, fat, content and successful like he had been a year ago – nor had he gotten any closer to his goal of running the Langdon hotels one day in his own right. He only was another still hugely fat failure. But all these thoughts hurt too much to try to analyze them in depth, better finish the back exercises eat another bowl of risotto and then fall asleep again.

A minor but aching hunger pang woke him towards evening on the fourth day of his bed ridden stupor, his bedroom semi dark with light only in the hallway, to hear Claire. How good she was there, she’d certainly have his dinner. He reached for the tea cup since he was thirsty and also hungry – he had slept since lunch, no afternoon tea, no wonder his stomach was aching again.

“It’s my evening off Claire, we wanted to go out together, get his dinner ready and then we can go.” It was Marcus’ voice in a loud whisper and straining his neck, he could see his big convex body profile silhouetted against the light.

“I’m so sorry Marcus, I can’t. He needs to be looked after. He’s not well at all. I’d love to come, but later I’ll be too tired. And this is totally the wrong time to inform him we’re seeing each other.”

“Come ‘ere. You’re too tired as it is.” He saw Marcus pull Claire into his big belly, cradle her gently, kissing her hair. “This is too much for you. You’re wearing yourself out – working in the bistro and helping nurse the boss. He’s taking all your efforts and care for granted. Is he even trying to get better? He doesn’t even talk anymore. All he does is lie in bed, sleep and eat.”

“He’s also doing his back exercises – but indeed not much more. I’m so worried, don’t know what to do. I’ve never seen him like this before; he always had so much energy, was so interested in everything. Yesterday he even fell asleep eating his lunch…”

“Did you talk to Dr. Preston like you wanted to? What did she say?”

“Humph… she wasn’t sure either. She said in principal sleeping so much wasn’t bad – it’s the body’s way of getting the rest it needs to recuperate. But she’s worried too that he’s so apathetic. She says if that doesn’t improve over the weekend, then he’ll have to be hospitalized after all. Because of his gastritis, she doesn’t want to give him any other medication as pills – so medicated therapy would have to be done as IV in a hospital. Even though that’s about the last thing he’ll want.”

“Well, if he doesn’t get better this way – then he has to be hospitalized. It’s not your responsibility – this is way too much stress for you. He’s been a great boss to you and me – but there’re limits to what we can do.” He hugged her tighter, kissing her. “What about his family – they should take care of him! Why don’t you inform his mother – she was just here over Christmas, wasn’t she? Or what about Mr. Langdon as CEO, should he know?”

Claire kissed Marcus intensely before pulling back to shake her head. “His mother is the only family he has. And she’s a real sweet lady, loves him very much – but is completely useless in a situation like this. He wouldn’t want it – and if we informed her, we’d just have another patient on our hands. And Langdon also is not a good idea.”

Hearing this he felt his chest tighten almost unbearably and his cheek get wet as a tear trickled out of the corner of his eye. He felt so lonely and helpless – this was as bad as after Uncle Tom’s death. If Claire wasn’t so sweet and caring, had come to find him so quickly – he might be dead by now, died of dehydration. Nobody would’ve noticed, nobody except his mother would’ve really cared. Only a small note in the local paper about the difficulties of recovering the 450 pound dead body of a hotel director from the third floor without an elevator. Warren would’ve been deadly ashamed of him, seen all his prejudices about his weight confirmed. But Claire was right – the last thing he wanted was to be hospitalized, or have Warren or his mother find out. Alone imagining their reactions was intolerable. The only way to avoid that was to get a grip on himself again, make sure he could handle things on his own. And there was no better time than starting right now.

Stretching a bit, he turned on the bedside lamp and rummaged about with one hand to pour himself some tea.

“Christopher, you’re awake! How are you doing? Do you feel better?” Claire slipped in closing the door behind her so Marcus disappeared from view.

“Yeah, it’s okay. I’m hungry … don’t know whether that’s a good sign,” he tried a crooked grin.

“That’s something we can take care of immediately. I brought your dinner – just need to heat and serve everything in the kitchen.”

A few minutes later she came with the tray of dinner with turkey in a light cream sauce and mashed potatoes as well as a cauliflower gratin to set it in front of him. “Bon appétit.”

“Merci so much Claire. And bonne nuit for you.”

“Bonne nuit?”

“Yes good night – thank you for everything you’ve done for me. I would never have made it through this week without you. You … well … I guess you sort of saved my life.” He cringed at how small his voice sounded. “Now you need rest, you’ve worked way too hard. Sorry I was such a burden. Go have a nice evening with Marcus, have fun.”

Claire froze visibly and blushed before stammering: “Thanks … don’t worry …. I’m fine …. I’ll stay here to help you….”

“No, it’s okay. I’ll be fine. I’ll finish this great dinner - and at 9:00 the night nurse comes. He’ll help me do my exercises, get ready for the night. Go relax with Marcus – he as your boyfriend is entitled to your time and attention. See you tomorrow, if you can make it.”

“But… but … how do you … I didn’t mean … Marcus …”

“Claire, I’m neither deaf nor blind – I’ve noticed you and Marcus have gotten pretty close lately. I highly approve – he’s a good guy, was instantly smitten by you. One reason why I hired him. Thank you for dinner – now go and have a nice evening.”

Staring at him in wide eyed amazement, Claire didn’t say anything. After maybe a minute, she bent down to give him a small earnest kiss on the lips before slipping out: “Thank you, good night and get better soon.”

The next morning, he scratched together all his will power, strained all muscles and got up with the help of his nurse, for a second half panicking when his knees buckled as he put his full weight on them. But with the support belt for his back and crutches to hold some of his weight, he made it to the bathroom managed to shower and with a defiant smirk shaved off his beard again. Looking into the mirror, he was struck by the expression of round-faced hurt and helplessness staring back at him, feeling very naked and vulnerable.

But he closed his mind to these thoughts, sensing they would not get him anywhere to follow the steps of the plan he had set himself last night. Instead of staying in bed, he relocated to the broad couch in the living room with the nice view to the park – where Claire found him with his notebook computer propped against his gut answering a week’s worth of business e-mails.

“Hey, you’re up and working! So you’re feeling better?” The look of surprise and relief on her face was a reward in itself.

“It’s about time. My work ethic has gotten dangerously low. My back and stomach are ill, hopefully not my brain.”

“Be careful though, don’t overdo it. Here’s your lunch – fish soup with rice. Is that okay?”

“Everything you make for me is great Claire – I can’t thank you enough. But I don’t want to exploit you any further, you need time off. Please just have my dinner sent over from the restaurant kitchen – okay? Same goes for breakfast and lunch tomorrow….”

“Christopher, I’m totally fine coming here and preparing your meals. Don’t worry, I’m happy to help in any way possible,” she interrupted him.

“And I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. Still, you need time for yourself and Marcus. You’ve overworked yourself this past week. But I would like to ask you a favor. Can you and Marcus come over for dinner tomorrow – cook it here in my kitchen, so we can eat together? Maybe even three courses? I miss the smell of cooking so much … and it would be wonderful to have company for dinner again….”
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Old 06-27-2015, 03:53 AM   #23
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The following two weeks he embarked on the slow, uphill road to recovery – concentrating on the next day, the next steps, never making any plans beyond that or trying to think any of the issues at hand through. He feared his body’s and mind’s reaction – that he might not be able to handle it. Some days brought rapid improvements, others frustrating setbacks. The first day he went back to the hotel – and then only for a swim in the pool and Namée’s massage – was a true adventure.

Given his back injury and the size and weight of his belly, Dr. Kalamidis had advised him to go down stairs backwards, like a ladder for better balance and less strain on his back. It worked out quite well, but he realized in shocking clarity how dependant he was on being fit enough to climb the stairs to his apartment. Since getting into a car and driving was a greater hazard than walking for his back, he very slowly heaved his way through the park on crutches – to sleep for two hours in his office suite on arrival, totally exhausted. Then lunch – and another hour of sleep. Afterwards his swim and massage – before he once more slept over an hour before he walked back at a snail’s pace. Only to go to bed immediately and fall into comatose sleep until the next morning when he woke up, his stomach aching with hunger because he hadn’t eaten or drunk for so long. But after a big bowl of oat meal for breakfast, he felt as energized and positive as he hadn’t in a long time. Seeing the hotel, the many well wishes and sincere sympathy he received subconsciously boosted his morale more strongly than he had anticipated.

Not so surprising were the healing powers of regularly eating until he was satisfied and no longer hungry. Even though he was to eat very light, mainly cooked food his stomach could easily digest – at least it was served guilt free and in quantities sufficient to leave his stomach warm and full and not achingly sore. It might not have been the wide variety of foods and dishes he loved – low on fat, sugar, complex proteins and carbs – but Claire made sure to serve him several small courses again and use mild seasoning that greatly enhanced the dishes. During the diet he had been allowed only one dish per meal – now just having several smaller dishes, their flavors and textures building up on each other, following a certain script was a delight in itself. The word ‘dessert’ – even in the stomach friendly version – cast all its charms for him again. The French and Italian sure knew what they were doing with their ‘menus’ – it was so much more stimulating and satisfactory to give each course its own stage, not have everything on the plate, all jumbled together. He did miss some foods, like fresh and raw products – so the first day he was allowed to eat something as simple as baby lettuce with a mild yoghurt dressing was almost a small celebration.

Recovering from his back injury with his despite the weight loss still extremely heavy body was trying – and the thought bothered him frequently that all this was his fault because he had let himself get so fat he needed to diet strictly. On the other hand, his stomach ached every morning when he woke up because it was so empty – reminding him that this part of his illness was due to having tried too hard and in the wrong manner to reduce his weight. To add to his confused emotions, he felt best when he was lying on his back on the couch after dinner, his big belly a warm, well filled small mountain rising in front of him, his hands folded over it, discussing the next menus and special offers in the restaurant or deli bistro with Marcus or Claire, checking recipes and sometimes even tasting small samples – short moments in which the world seemed intact again.

“What do you think you’re doing there? Standing in the kitchen baking with your back! Go lie down immediately! Otherwise I’ll get in trouble with Claire!” Marcus rolled his eyes on seeing him stacking layers of a cake together.

“It’s a special thank you for you and Claire,” he indicated at the heart shaped layer cake with burnt vanilla cream and cherries, steadying his back with his hands a bit for there was a slight pinch after standing for so long. “It was the very first one I ever created – for my then girlfriend. I thought I needed to do a little something for the two of you, as a small weekend treat. And I was bored… miss baking so much,” he grinned a bit ruefully.

“Looks good; thanks a lot. But Claire’ll be real mad at both of us if you hurt your recovery by baking cakes. Lie down, here’s the support pillow for your back. Now do your exercises,” Marcus had led him over to the broad couch and settled him down, handing him the rubber expander bands. “Shall I turn the TV on, so you get some entertainment?”

“Nah, that’s boring…”

“You think TV is boring? Why?”

“Don’t know – never got the hang of it. We didn’t have a TV when I was growing up. Don’t have the patience to watch other people doing something….”

“You didn’t have a TV in growing up? Wow – that’s unusual! Why?”

“My mother believed that some electric waves from the TV were dangerous …. and that watching TV was bad for a child’s brain development. So I only got to watch TV at my uncle’s house when I was there sick – and that would be for only 2-3 days, then there were more interesting things to do again. So I guess I never developed the habit.”

“Does sound weird – Claire mentioned your mother was great, but a bit special.”

“She has her very own way of approaching life … yeah.”

“I was an awful TV junkie growing up. If my parents hadn’t stopped me, I’d have spent my days in front of the TV eating all the time.., “ Marcus blushed. “But now let me get your lunch ready – do you mind if I eat with you?”

“Not at all, good food tastes even better in company.”

After a bowl of cream of pea soup, Marcus placed a large oven baked veal and vegetable casserole in front of him, taking an equally large portion for himself. “This is a lot of food – am I really supposed to eat it all?” suddenly realizing that the diet had indeed altered his idea of portion sizing.

“Claire made it this way for us – you know she likes her men well fed.”

“Yeah, I can see that,” he gave Marcus’ bulging gut a light slap on the side, noticing how tight the junior chef’s white cooking jacket had gotten. On starting at the Langdon Residency, it had been at least a size too large, now his belly filled it well making the buttons gape and his double chin rest over the collar in a thicker role.

“Unfortunately, working here had increased instead of reduced my weight problem,” Marcus muttered unhappily turning beet red.

“Hey, that was a positive, not a critical comment,” he tried to reassure him. “You also seem to have grown in confidence, are doing a great job – you look the part of the successful chef. And it’s good to see you and Claire so happy.”

“Thanks … yeah, I guess you wouldn’t be too critical about the weight issue….” Marcus still looked embarrassed. Even though he knew from personal experience discussing one’s weight was a touchy subject, he couldn’t end the issue. Maybe it would do him good to talk to another guy about it, somebody who might understand him.

“What’s your take on weight loss surgery?” before immediately regretting the question – probably it wasn’t the best idea to discuss so intimate a matter with one of his employees after all.

After a lengthy silence, Marcus answered in a voice as if strangled: “If it had been covered by my insurance, I would’ve had it done by now.”

The answer left him dumbfounded and it took a while before he simply asked: “But why?”

“You didn’t grow up fat, did you?”

“No… I started gaining weight when I started training at the bakery. My mother is an awful cook – so I was a rather skinny kid. Come to think of it, I probably would’ve gotten fat a lot earlier if I had grown up at my uncle’s. I remember we sometimes had to buy bigger clothes when I came back from my vacations at the bakery, because my pants didn’t fit anymore. But I always outgrew or dropped it again pretty fast at home, so it never was an issue.”

“See, that’s the difference. I grew up fat. That’s probably as close as you can get to hell on earth – everybody makes fun of you, bullies you, it’s hard to make friends. What some Phys Ed teachers do in school probably borders on torture. Later it’s harder finding a job, even as a chef – you saw the other gym guys who auditioned for this position here. I never thought I’d get a chance. So I can’t tell you how grateful I am to you for having me, making working here such a good experience.”

“Would you still have the surgery done today, if someone offered it to you? What about working as a chef, that you might not be able to do it afterwards?”

“Hmmmh – I haven’t thought about that in a while. Growing up fat, struggling to start a career fat – you get to the point you’re willing to do almost anything to be normal, no longer fight against fat hate or discrimination. I was at that point, actually even looked into taking out a loan to pay for it. I was aware that I might need to switch professions afterwards – but I was willing to take the risk, it seemed that anything was better than being this fat.”

“And now? How do you feel about it now?”

“That I haven’t thought about it in months, even though I’ve put quite some poundage back on since working here, probably is a good sign.” Marcus gave his gut a shake and him a grin. “Right now I feel as okay about myself as I’ve ever felt as an adult, in every respect. Since you’re the boss, the Langdon Residency is a truly accepting work environment – it seems nobody pays any attention to how fat I am. And then there’s Claire … yeah, she only pays positive attention to my fat….” He blushed and his grin turned devilish. “That’s also something I owe you a million thanks for, kicking me in the ass to work things out with Claire. I never dared dream I’d find someone like her, who’d care for the whole package of me just the way it is….”

“As I said, it’s good to see the two of you so happy. Be good to Claire – otherwise I’ll kick you in the ass again…”

“Are you thinking about weight loss surgery yourself?” As he didn’t respond, Marcus hastily added: “Sorry for asking, that’s none of my business.”

“No, it’s okay,” he had only been stunned in relief that Claire obviously had not even dropped a hint to Marcus about his panic attack and its reasons. “Yeah, I received a plan to have it done soon …..,” he took a deep breath, “but to be honest, I’m scared as shit of the surgery – and not sure what life would look like afterwards….”

“So you’ve decided against it? Or are you going to continue with the diet as soon as your stomach heals?”

“I wish I knew what I was going to do next….”
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Old 06-27-2015, 03:55 AM   #24
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“1542 – your favorite suite Ma’am. We’re so happy to have you back here with us, Mrs. Fitzpatrick. When will the Ambassador be arriving?” Tricia showed a more than just professional smile. “The director will be down shortly to see you up in person.”

“Thank you very much, Tricia. It’s wonderful to be back. My husband should check in around 4:30.”

He heard Mary Helen’s voice before he saw her, music to his ears. Rounding the corner she was standing there, a bit more tanned, a lighter blonde than in his memory – after all it was summer in Buenos Aires – but otherwise unchanged: short, curvy, adorable.

“Mrs. Fitzpatrick, a profound pleasure to have you back as our guest,” he hid the extent of his delight by bowing with a hand-kiss.

“Director Maynard, the pleasure is mine. The Langdon Residency feels a bit like home after being away for so long. I also need to visit your bakery as soon as possible for some walnut bread and café éclairs,” she let herself be guided to the elevator, the page boy with luggage and a younger man he couldn’t place following. “Ben here is coming along to set up everything for Denis’ office.”

Diplomatically professional, Mary Helen questioned him about recent developments in the hotel until they reached the suite, where he ushered her in, and the page boy and Ben started handling luggage and equipment.

“The walnut bread, café éclairs as well as some samples of Maynard’s French Boulangerie’s newest creations will be sent up shortly. Is there anything else I can do for you and the Ambassador Mrs. Fitzpatrick?”

“Why that’s so kind! Thank you! Everything looks perfect as always, Director Maynard. I’ll let you know in case we need anything,” Mary Helen shook his hand farewell, slipping something into it.

Back in his office, he opened the small note: “Your apartment, tomorrow, 6:00 pm?!” making him whoop with glee.

The next evening had him awaiting Mary Helen in nervous anticipation, freshly showered, in nice slightly loose stylish casual shirt and jeans after a day of hectic preparations for a special five course dinner whose appetizing smells filled the apartment.

The past weeks had passed in a state of limbo – he was well enough again to go about his normal work, the day-to-day business in the hotel running smoothly again. He invested many hours to keep himself busy, make sure his work was as perfect as can be, yet couldn’t bring himself to do longer term planning or start bigger projects. His stomach and back had not fully healed yet, even though he was working conscientiously on both therapy programs, in order to go back on his diet. After Warren had badgered him about it, he had his physician and orthopedic surgeon write him an official medical bulletin insisting on the current therapy and otherwise evaded direct communication with him as well as possible. He hadn’t checked his weight anymore, but assumed he must have gained a few pounds back, though not too many since his stomach still rebelled against many rich foods or being really stuffed. Claire and Marcus kept a watchful eye on him, Namée had again worked wonders with his back – but his overall state of mind was one of cluelessness and a deep-rooted uncertainty how and whether he could to face the tasks ahead successfully.

This matched his mindset towards having Mary Helen over for the evening: On one hand, he yearned to have dinner with her, for her familiarity, warm responsiveness and the welcome respite of her naughty sense of humor. On the other hand he was terrified, after the incident with Stephanie on Halloween and being incapacitated for so long, that he simply was not going to be able to perform, fearing her disappointment or maybe even contemptuous response.

The door bell rang and he let a sweetly smiling Mary Helen in, who reached up to give him a light kiss on the lips. Leading her over to the wardrobe to take her coat he watched her delicately curved short calves prance before him in high heels, following the swish of a knee-length dark mauve skirt playing around them. Taking her coat and hanging it up, she turned to face him, her appetizing cleavage on display in a low-cut something catching his attention, beckoning him to take her in his arms.

The moment he did so, fitting his arms around her narrow waist, his hands roaming over the cushiony sizable apples representing her buttocks, bending down to burrow his face into the curve of her breasts, all doubts vanished. It was the Mary Helen he knew, her warm body felt and smelled like the soft ripe peach he had always loved: The weight of round breasts under delicate collar bones was an instant turn on, the curve of her hips, his fingers running up the plumpness of her thighs, feeling the small pin cushion of a belly she had, devouring her lips in inane hunger. His breathing turned rugged as a needy hard on throbbed in his pants, begging to be let out, his body’s only urge being to melt into her as far as possible.

“Oh honey, I missed you too,” she whispered, quickly opening his shirt buttons to grab deep into his belly, kissing him hard. Wrapping her in his bulk, he pushed her over into his bedroom, fingering under her skirt to pull her panties down, teasing his hand between her thighs, noticing with a low growl of pleasure she seemed as wet as he was excited. Famished for the animal satisfaction of mating, the feeling of flesh on flesh, of intimacy and sensual fulfillment, he backed her on the bed.

Somehow she had undone his belt so his loose pants slid off so he could continue undressing with one hand while pressing his squishy soft gut into her, greedily kissing, biting and licking any part of Mary Helen he could reach. Restraint was no longer possible as he entered her as fast as he could and then literally banged her – when reason returned this crude verb seemed like the only one fit to describe his actions – until his brain semi-unhinged in a full blown climax.

Panting and spent, he pulled Mary Helen into his side, snuggly fitting her under the quivering flab of his belly out of habit. Raising her head on her elbow, she cupped his chin: “Christopher honey, what’s wrong ? You’re as desperate as I am!”

“Sorry if I was too rough … couldn’t resist, missed you….”

“No, it was wild and wonderful – I felt truly desired again, I missed that feeling too. That’s not the point – you used to be so relaxed and playful, even with a quickie. Now I get the impression you need it bad, like making up for something – what’s wrong? You can tell me everything…”

“It’s nothing … don’t bother ….”

“Honey, we’re good friends apart from sex partners – aren’t we? You were always so patient and understanding, listening to my marital woes. I owe you … you can tell me what’s wrong…,” but he shook his head, not knowing how to explain. Lightly kneading his still more than abundant tummy, she asked: “You’re quite a bit heavier than last time … does it have something to do with that?”

At this, he let out a bitter, ugly laugh: “Heavier than last time? You have no idea … I’m 60-70 pounds lighter than my heaviest right now!”

“So was that part of the problem?” very lovingly rubbing his meaty chest.

“No, my life was great back then, like a year ago…. but now….”

“Now what dear?”

“Now it’s just….” and before he knew it, he was pouring out the whole story, leaving nothing out: His indulgent further expansion, his row with Warren over his weight, the 525 pounds and Warren’s offer, the awful months of his diet, his crush on Stephanie, his sense of failure and frustration, the pressure to have bariatric surgery, the health problems as side effects from his mis-dieting. Once he was going, he couldn’t stop – it was so liberating to unburden himself. He had so far not realized how he missed having someone to confide in with personal issues – since Uncle Tom’s death, the role of the ‘to talk to’ person in his life was vacant. Warren had been good for all aspects of his professional development, but since the diet, distrust had arisen between them. Stephanie had helped him with the diet’s mental and emotional issues, but she was gone. Claire had turned into a real good friend, but she was also his employee and busy with Marcus – that ruled her out for very personal matters. Now Mary Helen was back … a god send, because she was right, given their situation, they could trust each other with almost anything. “Now I don’t know what to do: I’ve stopped dieting. I’m eating lightly and carefully to make sure the gastritis doesn’t flare up, but enough to feel satisfied, so that’s way beyond diet portions. I’ve definitely decided against surgery; I can’t even stand the thought. I don’t want to be cut up. I want to fix my back and overall health again. But I don’t know how and what to tell Warren … and I don’t know how to continue with my life….”

“Poor honey … you’ve clearly had a worse time than I did in Buenos Aires! Dieting is a nightmare, you don’t need to tell me, especially with your big appetite” before she giggled, weighing his belly in her hands. “Sorry – but I’m trying to imagine how 70 pounds more of you would feel on me…”

“It felt sensational Mary Helen, plain f***ing fat-astic! That’s something that’s gnawing on me – nobody can understand that I was fine with 525 pounds, that I felt a lot better than I do today. Everybody thinks I’m delusional – just because I enjoy the pleasures of having a monster gut. So what – who’s business is it except mine? I lived sensibly enough for that weight – and was a lot healthier than I am now. Am I such an eyesore? Do 525 pounds make me a bad or inferior or sick person?”

“Weight is such a loaded issue these days, carries so much moral judgment,” Mary Helen sighed. “I’ve only known you as a really big handsome guy. And I absolutely love, love, loved your serene denial that your weight could be an in any way inhibiting factor. It was almost as if you celebrated your bulk, inviting others to join in on the party. I sort of regret I wasn’t around for your 525 pounds. It’s too bad the real world assessment of your weight has finally hit you.”

“So what Warren says about my weight is right – I need to lose it to be normal, fit in?”

“That’s not what I’m saying. I don’t need to tell you the verdict of all those medical statistics and their bias – you’ve probably heard more than enough about the lethal threats of morbid obesity, co-morbities, etc., etc. over the past year. For many people in your weight range, there might be something to it,” she massaged his thick thigh. “But perpetual dieting and extreme weight loss aren’t per se healthy, that’s a myth too. In my memory, you were a very heavy, but also fit, active, content man … I admired your strength, your stamina, how well you healed after your first back wrenching incident. So it’s indeed grotesque you wrenched it again because you lost weight too quickly….”

“I’m working pretty hard on getting that stabilized again. Apart from that, I don’t know… I want to be.. to feel…what if all that talk about morbid obesity is right….?” he shrugged shaking his head.

“Christopher, I can tell you only one thing from experience: The most important thing you can do to be healthy and happy is to be yourself. Always trying to meet others and society’s demands and expectations is the best way to feel bad about yourself, even get ill …. and definitely hit a personal dead end,” Mary Helen’s expression darkened. “Find a way to be yourself again, no matter at which weight, that’s my advice.”

“What dead end? What do you mean…,” her sudden sadness struck him, but his stomach growled with hunger, still with a bit of an uncomfortable burning sting, making him flinch.

“Now that dear tummy needs to be fed, can’t let it to get sore again. After all, you did get some serious exercise,” she smiled warmly. “It smells delicious here – did you cook something for me?”

“Yes – my first newly created 5 course menu after the diet, just for you. It has a bit of a potato theme, how they greatly complement other ingredients,” he beamed at her. “We’re starting out with a soup – I do that a lot now because it’s the most palatable for my stomach tissues to heal. Cream of potato with green asparagus and chervil – how does that sound?”

“Delicious! That was a true nightmare in Argentina – if it isn’t meat there, it isn’t food!”

After the soup and the Swiss chard soufflé as starter, he was arranging the smoked trout on a bit of Waldorf style potato salad for the fish course, asking: ‘I’m sorry, I’ve talked all evening about my issues and haven’t asked you why you’re here … or even how much time we have tonight? I took it as agreed you’d have time for dinner….”

“Yeah, I have more or less open end tonight. I told Denis I’m seeing an old high school friend he doesn’t know who recently moved here for girl’s night ….. and his political meeting will be endless,” she took a long draught of the Venetian Pinot gris. “We’re actually here because Denis is testing the waters for running as governor next year.”

“Running as governor … wow … why ….?”

“He’s not a good ambassador, he’s bored, he hasn’t been able to learn 3 meaningful sentences in Spanish … in contrast, I got my university entry level certificate … and that does go down poorly in a proud country like Argentina, confirms all prejudices against gringos. Domestic party politics is what he’s done all his life, what he’s best at and truly lives for.”

“Hey …. that means you’ll be my first lady … that sounds great…”

“I’d love being your first lady,” she leaned against him, playing with the heavy overhang of his belly, making his torso wobble in response, her face falling. “The question is more do I want to be everybody else’s first lady for at least four years…..?”

As she didn’t continue, he fed her a bite of trout with horse-radish cream with a kiss, caressing her carefully: “Is that what you were talking about earlier -the personal dead end?”

Returning the kiss, she gave him a sad smile: “See, that’s what I missed so much about you – that you appreciate me for me, actually focus your attention on what I say….”

Touched by the sincerity of her praise, he tried to deflect it with a humorous twist by giving her a very hot throaty kiss: “I always focus my attention completely on anything I can bite into …. that’s my problem,” resoundingly slapping his gut. “Let’s sit down again for the fish course and you tell me about your plans.”

“There’s not much to say, I don’t have any plans of my own, that’s what I came to realize when Denis starting talking seriously about the governorship. He didn’t even ask what I thought about the new public role this would mean for me, whether I wanted it. But I don’t need to tell you about the difficulties in my marriage–you know more about them than anybody else does” she shook her head.

“Mary Helen, if there is anything I can do….”

“No, it’s okay. If there’s anything to do, I have to finally do it myself. My life in the past 20 years has been nothing but an appendix of his – but that’s at least in part my own fault. This didn’t fully hit me until we were stuck together in Buenos Aires. We both come from very traditional catholic families, so finding a husband, having and taking care of his babies, supporting him in his career – I simply did what I’d been raised to do, it seemed normal and natural. And I was busy as long as the kids were little, didn’t have time to think much. As the kids got older, started their own school lives – yeah, then we met and I had you as the ‘for me only’ part in my life. How important having something to do for myself didn’t fully dawn on me until I was alone in Argentina. Can I have another sip of wine? You’re not drinking any?”

“Sure sorry, I wasn’t being very observant,” he poured her some more from the cooler. “Because of my gastritis I’m still off white wine, too much acid. I’ll have one glass of red with the main course. How else did everything go in Argentina?”

“Most recently things actually are looking good. As I said, on getting there, I hit a rough patch – all alone, nothing meaningful to do. Diplomacy these days is pretty formulaic office stuff, not too many glamorous James Bond like parties and such…,” she took another forkful of fish. “This sweet, sour and tangy combination for the trout is excellent by the way. In Buenos Aires I also literally grew out of my role as a mother. The boys preferred staying in the US, going to boarding school here – and Gerrie is Daddy’s girl through and through, only interested in sports and politics, wants to become a politician herself one day, sees me as superfluous and not presentable enough decoration,” with a note of pain in her voice.

“But you said things are pretty good right now, what happened, what did you change?”

“Well – I needed to find something to do. So I started Spanish classes at university, did some teaching fresh up courses online – you know I taught Junior High right out of college, English Lit. and Geography. After completing them I actually found a half pro-bono position, through my embassy charity projects, in a special project to help children from the slums get higher education, make the university entry level exams teaching English. I donate my salary to buying books for their library, that’s okay, that’s expected – and now I’m on a new UNESCO commission to help evaluate teaching standards in South America.

“That all sounds great – interesting and meaningful! You can be proud of yourself! “

“Yeah – that’s exactly what it is for me. And that’s the problem: If Denis comes back to run for governor, that means I have to give it all up, can’t move on with any job or career of my own, but will have to be a full-time politician’s wife again. Actually more than ever…” the hopelessness in her voice was heart-wrenching, especially since he believed Mary Helen deserved better – and others would derive more from her warmth and compassion – than subjecting herself only to Denis Fitzpatrick’s political egomania.

“It might be the wrong thing for me to say or suggest … but have you ever thought of doing your own thing – I mean many politician’s wives work these days? Or maybe even a new road without Denis?”

“Believe me, I’ve thought a lot about both options,” Mary Helen sighed and shook her head. “You’re right, many politician’s wives work. But for me it would mean starting a career parallel to his election campaign here – that would simply look as if something was wrong with our marriage, I wasn’t really supporting his candidacy. Then divorce would be the more honest, probably even less image critical option. But I’m catholic – in my family divorce still would be a big issue. And I’m not used to being and living alone at all – I married right out of college, I’ve never lived without family…”

“You’re a wonderful woman Mary Helen, in every respect. You could have anybody …well … I don’t know how to put it … if you could maybe even see us together?” he took her hand to kiss it tenderly.

“That’s very chivalrous of you. But it wouldn’t work – the two of us are at very different stages in our lives. I’m closing the family phase in my life because I started very early. You still yet have to found a family of your own … it wouldn’t be fair to take that from you. And let’s face it: Most men in a similar position as I come with a lot of baggage, divorce and such… I don’t think I have the nerve for that…”

“That means we’ll have to find a nice widower for you,” he quipped.

“Christopher, you’re impossible! Now go take care of the main course – that’s more your forte before you come up with any more silly matchmaking notions!”

Throughout the main course – a shot at lamb roast baked in a herb potato wrap, definitely worth following up on - Mary Helen stuck to being the perfect politician’s wife, entertaining him with amusing stories about their early diplomatic faux-pas in Buenos Aires. Toward the end of the course, he was laughing so hard, his belly jiggled wildly in his lap, waves of warmth and relaxation running through him making him laugh even more to prolong the pleasurable feel. Even after he stopped laughing the gratifying quivers continued for a bit, making him clutch his upper belly in surprise.

“Are you all right Christopher? Is something wrong with your stomach?”

“I’m fabulous, absolutely fabulous. I haven’t laughed so much in ages. I’d actually forgotten how wonderful it feels to laugh so hard that this huge gut jiggles like crazy. That was missing this past year … and you’ve given it back to me.” He stood up and wrapped her in his arms from behind, running his hands under the t-shirt of his she had on, its cloth folds dwarfing her. Skimming over the warm roundness of her now full stomach, cupping her ample breasts and tilting her head back to give her a passionate kiss, he murmured: “How about a little bit of a pre-dessert treat on the couch?”

Letting her sit in his lap, cushioned against his big belly pillow, he moaned in sated arousal as she explored his excessive bulk with her hands and lips, like a little girl with a too big new teddy bear. “You’re right, a monster belly is a real pleasure – I wonder why more people don’t realize that,” as she gently bounced against it. “Now can you lift it up, so I can fully slide in your lap? I feel something hot, hard and eager there….,” giving him a wicked grin and leaning over his middle expanse for a kiss.

Since Nora had always been keen on this positioning, he was well practiced in leaning back, lifting up all the heavy roles of his gut and tilting his pelvis so Mary Helen could climb on him in his lap, holding her tight so his flesh masses didn’t push her off again. Letting her have it her way, he enjoyed the sensation of slow moving sex after dinner, how his flab wobbled in waves around the harder ball of his well-filled stomach, the wonderful squishing and squeezing of all his bulk as she moved against it, quietly shooting his bolt as Mary Helen was somewhere he couldn’t reach her. As she finally collapsed against him, panting and shivering, he hugged her very tightly into his gut to softly give her many small kisses.

“Mmmmh… you okay?” she purred.

“A lovely woman, a stomach full of good food and wonderful sex – that’s as okay as it can get for me ….,” he kissed her again, swallowing the rest of his sentence tinged with bitter regret, “… and that’s what I’ve lost …. maybe forever, when I continue with this f***ing diet!” Knowing that allowing this line of thinking to take over would not only ruin Mary Helen’s evening, but also his own, he quickly switched the subject. “How about the sweet which is officially on the menu? Do you know the French dessert ‘Poires Belle Hélène’ – pears lovely Helen style? With chocolate, eau de vie and vanilla cream? I created a new gateau on that base, to celebrate your coming back. Want to try it?”

After clearing the kitchen he sat down on the couch heavily with an overindulgent third piece of pear Belle Hélène gateau, savoring each creamy, fruity, chocolaty bite rubbing the round upper puff of his distended belly resting in his lap. A sense of peace and contented fulfillment settled on him as he hadn’t known it in a long time. Returning neatly dressed from the bathroom, Mary Helen gave his bulging stomach a pat: “Somebody has a very full tummy this evening! Is poor tummy feeling fine?”

“Tummy is feeling perfect. And somebody else really feels like himself again this evening, I can’t thank you enough,” he pulled her down against him, kissing her in gratitude. “You’re right; I must find my own way of doing things again. I’ll think of a way of figuring everything out with Warren – I’ll find the guts to make it work somehow. Maybe start something different on my own. But we also need to take care of you…..”
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Old 06-27-2015, 03:57 AM   #25
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257 minutes behind the wheel – and he was pulling up in front of the ‘Langdon Imperial Residency’. 257 minutes in solitude to think everything through again for the last time before he had to face Warren, tell him of his decision how he could proceed with their cooperation. He had chosen to drive instead of flying because he didn’t want to be distracted by the hassle of security checks, masses of other people and the more. Yet he was surprised how calm and focused he was on arriving. He had expected to feel much more dread – but oddly it was more the anticipation of relief. Whichever outcome their talk might have, he at least would know how to move on with his life.

On checking in, the welcome was more than cordial formality – many former colleagues who remembered him from his trainee program were still there and greeted him with a mix of genuine friendliness and curios scrutiny; quite a number of inspecting glances were cast at his waist line. So news of his diet must have leaked – but it also made him aware that he had only been here twice during his diet year. Much less often than normal, simply because he had evaded meetings with Warren ever since he had gotten more and more critical and demanding regarding his weight loss.

Putting his luggage into his room, he went to do his back exercises and swim a few laps to relax after driving. Afterwards he dressed to go out for a late lunch since he had two good reasons not to eat in the Imperial Residency: Neither did he want to be observed while eating to satisfaction – nor did he believe that their restaurant was currently worthwhile, possibly offering reason for critical discussions with his colleagues. So instead he went to the small Chinese restaurant a college mate’s family ran which served a limited variety, but excellent quality fresh Chinese food. To be fair, he had announced his coming so he naturally received his favorite dish for lunch – 7 variations of roast duck, with different sauces, spices and vegetable sides.

With a full contented belly lightly swaying in front of him he walked the 11 blocks back to the ‘Imperial Residency’ for his 4 o’clock meeting with Warren to make sure he had a clear head on arrival. Over the past 10 days, he had planned every step of this trip with the difficult talk he needed to have with Warren meticulously, weighing all options he had and devising several strategies to not be taken by surprise – no matter what happened. In preparing this, he had taken full advantage of having Mary Helen there for over a week to talk over his plans, doubts, and ideas with her sympathetic ear and common sense, as well as to recharge his emotional batteries with sizeable doses of loving and laughing to return to a state in which he felt ready to tackle his challenges again.

To not compromise her and raise suspicion, he had even come up with a charity event to raise money for Mary Helen’s school project in Argentina – an auction of cooking classes in the hotel kitchen with a big dinner as final event, also a perfect excuse for her to come back visit soon – as explanation for them spending time together. On her last day in town, they had officially announced the project at a small press conference with Ambassador Fitzpatrick in attendance, who with his best politician shark smile told him: “Director Maynard, what a great idea – this project means so much to my wife. And it will be her perfect farewell gift to the school when we soon relocate back here to the States.”

Seeing Mary Helen’s expression of pained resignation made him want to wring Fitzpatrick’s neck because it meant that the bid for the governorship looked promising – while she was once again limited to a role she was so unhappy with and got so little out for herself.

In his preparations, he had also made sure to get a clean bill of health from Dr. Kalamidis and Dr. Preston, who both gave him a thumbs up for his progress. He couldn’t help sighing a bit when Dr. Preston weighed him at 464 pounds, but she looked at him kindly over her glasses, giving his belly a small pat: “Mr. Maynard, don’t berate yourself. All your health parameters are as good as back to normal. And to be honest – I expected you to have gained at least double that amount back in the meantime. That’s what mostly happens in cases comparable to yours at such a high weight after a strict diet. So what you’re doing right now as far as eating and exercising goes seems to do you good. Whatever you do, before you go on a diet again, please come see me, okay!”

To mirror the better physical shape he was in again, he had taken great care with his appearance: Not only had he had one of his good suits tailored down to fit his current measurements, but also had bought a nice new shirt and tie and finally let his tailor talk him into getting a waistcoat with his suit. Surveying his reflection in the mirror of the elevator, he saw what he perceived to be the convincing image of a fat, well dressed, professional and healthy looking man. In the past he had rejected the waist coat option because he thought they made him look older and fatter. Yet his tailor had convinced him and since the additional warmth was also good for his back now in winter, he had tried it – with a quite appealing result. The waistcoat added an air of authority to his appearance and worked the miracle of minimizing while enhancing the full curve of his largely protruding gut.

All these measures were like the mental equivalent of corset stays for him: They helped keep his resolve upright, steered him to look ahead and steeled his spine against the uncomfortable truths he had to confront Warren with. There never had been a discussion he dreaded so much. Business negotiations, even tough ones, had never bothered him; bargaining was something he found unproblematic. But the combination of having to admit defeat and ask for a reprieve was a grueling prospect – especially with the looming threat of a total disruption of his professional life it harbored.

“Hello Christopher, good to see you again after so long. We missed having you here. How are you doing?” Janice, Warren’s assistant of many decades smiled warmly and also shot that sharp look of assessment at his middle. Or at least he saw it as such.

“Yeah thank you. It’s nice to be back. How have you been faring here at the Imperial?”

“Oh, it’s been – how shall I put it – well quieter than in past years. The crisis you know. You’ve done better at the Residency.”

“Really, do you think so?” he was caught by surprise, since he had been unsatisfied with his own figures, blamed it on his self-frustrated slacking during his diet. “I thought our performance hasn’t been looking too hot…”

“You’re being too critical – yours is still by far the best. Warren is busy on the phone – but I guess you can go in anyway.”

“Naah… it’s okay. I’ll wait here.” He settled at the small bar table with the hotel’s presentation materials and started to thumb threw them. The restaurant’s menu interested him in particular – and what he saw confirmed the critical reviews and comments he had read lately. The selection was too broad to really be able to offer top fresh quality with everything – and in an attempt to be innovative, creative or whatever, some of the dishes sounded plain unappealing. Who would think of eating baked cod with applesauce and beet-corn-tangerine salad?

“Hello Christopher, welcome back to the mother ship! How are you …. you’re not thinking of eating already again?”

His heart sank a bit as Warren’s voice went from friendly to critical in half a sentence, so he instinctively sucked in his gut and raised himself to his full height, a good 5-6’’ more than Warren’s. “Hello Warren, it’s good to be back. I’m fine. This is purely professional interest – I read a few reviews lately about the restaurant here and wanted to get a personal impression,” following Warren over into his office.

“You do look like you’re back in good health again, my boy. That’s good. What did you want to talk to me about, Christopher?”

Taking a deep breath, he started slowly: “It’s been about a year now Warren since you came with the idea for me to diet to lose weight significantly – coupled with the extremely generous offer of afterwards becoming your partner in the hotels. I’ve never been more honored in my life – and I’ve tried as hard as I can to meet my obligations…”

“Yeah, it’s okay. I see you’ve tried. It isn’t easy at your weight. But now you’re back in good health, Dr. Wright is operating again – and everything will work out with you losing the weight as soon as you have the surgery, don’t worry.”

“That is what I need to talk to you about. I’ve definitely decided against surgery. For me it’s…”

“Against the surgery? But why? Do you want to give up on our deal? Have you gone crazy? Who would give up on a chance like that?”

“Warren, please – this isn’t easy for me. Could you maybe let me try to explain before you say anything?” He looked earnestly at Warren until he sighed and nodded: “Okay, try to explain why you’ve gone crazy.”

“I’m pretty sure I’m not crazy – I’m just very different from you.” Seeing Warren’s look of surprise as something positive he went on. “You once questioned whether I actually liked being fat. Well – I can at least whole-heartedly can say I’ve never minded being fat, I’ve always felt comfortable with myself. With one exception: The last months of this diet – I was miserable and ended up being sick.” Sensing Warren wanted to say something, he raised his hand to stop him. “Working and living with, eating good food is a quintessential part of who I am. And that is not only what I personally love doing, but is also the major qualification I have for the job I do in the hotel and restaurant.”

“Be reasonable Christopher! That has nothing to do with you having weight loss surgery. It’s the best way to get you to a normal, healthy weight – you saw the diet didn’t work.”

“As I said, I tried my best – and from what I’ve been told 70 pounds weight loss in 10 months was a decent job. Of course it was not the miraculously thin result you seem to have expected. I got so heavy over many years – significantly reducing that in a healthy manner will again take years.”
Irritation showed on Warren’s face, so he hastily went on: “Weight loss surgery would change so much for me – I don’t know if I’d be the same person afterwards. Physically definitely not – and emotionally, mentally, I don’t know. I’ll admit it, I’m afraid of such a massively invasive surgery. And what I’m even more afraid of is that very little is known about its long term effects – how my life would be like in 20 or 30 years…”

“If you don’t have the surgery done you won’t have a life in 20 or 30 years as fat as you are…,” Warren burst out. “Christopher, when will you finally understand that all this is for your very best?”

“Warren, I believe you want the best for me. You’ve never done anything but the best for me. You’ve truly been like a father for me – and I can’t tell you how grateful I am. Becoming your partner would be a dream come true – a dream I never even dared imagine.” He took another deep breath.
“You’re right, I am way too fat. All medical statistics are on your side. But I may be fat – but I was always very healthy, even Wershowitz had to acknowledge that.”

“How could you’ve been healthy? You didn’t even know how much you weighed! You just stuffed yourself silly on all your fine menus and gateaux over the years and never paid any attention to your health!”

“Warren – I don’t want to bicker with you here over numbers, that’s not the point,” he sighed. “I might not have known how much I weighed – but I got the information that I had a clean bill of health 4 times a year with the regular testing we do for the kitchen staff.”

“Which testing of the kitchen staff?”

At this point he had trouble to not roll his eyes – Warren’s lack of detailed knowledge of the restaurant aspects of his business was often unnerving in its unprofessionalism. “Our kitchen is member of the Toques-International restaurant quality certification program. One aspect is ensuring highest hygienic standards – meaning all staff must have regular health checks for infections and the like. We do this as a full health scan to make sure everybody is fine and can handle the high pressure of working in the kitchen. I introduced you to the program maybe 4 years ago. And I always had all tests done myself to have the certification to work in the kitchen if I was needed or wanted to. Dr. Preston over the years sometimes said she noticed I had gotten bigger, but as long as all my health stats were okay, she wasn’t going to say anything.”

“I didn’t know you had regular health checks done. That’s odd that a doctor wouldn’t weigh you…”

“Why should she? It’s not important for the objective of the kitchen health check at all.”

“Christopher – you said yourself you’ve seen me like a father. I’m very happy about that – because I’ve seen you as my son the past years. Hell - you’ve acted much more like one than my own son did! That’s why I want you to be my partner, have the hotels some day. I know you’ll honor the trust I place in you, make the most of the Langdon hotels. Can’t you do me the small favor and get a grip on your weight problem – for your own best sake? It’s not only for business reasons. Look at yourself – have you never realized that your weight might be the reason you’re not married, don’t have a girlfriend? Don’t you want a family of your own? A woman today doesn’t want, … and you know the physical problems there might be…”

Wildly conflicting emotions stopped him from reacting immediately. His first impulse was the sense of insult with the wish to punch Warren in the face, knowing if he put his weight behind it, that Warren might end up hospitalized. The second wave was one of relief paired with fierce gratitude for and pride in the loyalty and discretion of his staff: So not even a rumor of the ‘director’s special microwave dishes’ seemed to have reached the ‘Imperial’ and Warren. And finally he almost felt something like pity for the obvious lack of erotic imagination Warren’s question implied, letting him answer surprisingly gently: “Warren, I honestly appreciate your concern. In the past years relationships just haven’t been high on my priority list. You know for yourself that there’re times when you can’t or don’t want to deal with the issue. I mean, it’s been almost 4 years for you too since Jean passed away. Weight is not an issue from my experience – all you need is an open, positive attitude, to yourself and others, then it’ll work itself out.”

“I don’t get it,” Warren kept shaking his head. “Now I’ve got three children for whom I’ve always done everything I think a father can do – and what do I get in return? Obstinacy, obstruction, and refusal to do what’s good for them! Doesn’t any of you ever think of the future of the business, what will become of the Langdon hotels?”

“The future of the Langdon hotels is something I think about continuously. I’ve always done my very best to get good results with all work I’ve done here for you and the business.” He was taken aback by this odd personal turn of the discussion, one he had not envisioned on his list. Instinctively he sat straighter, sucked in his gut a bit and covered it with his suit coat. “But as I said – people are different and good at different things. That even goes for your own children or those you consider as such. Lea may be rotten at all the niceties that matter in the hotel business – but she’s a brilliant pediatric surgeon, you can be really proud of her, even if the hotels aren’t her thing. Yeah, and Jim-Warren, …well, … he’s at least good at being thin and spending money in style … And as for me, I’ve tried to show you through my work for you and the hotels how much I value everything you’ve done for me, compensate for your trust and support. Without being arrogant, I think I can say I’m really good at the hotel and restaurant business, am a credit to your teachings. But being thin and dieting under pressure happens to be the things I’m not good at – and I don’t think it’s all that important for our business….”

“So you want to get so fat that you can’t get out of bed one day?”

The day of his breakdown came as a flashback, how he had lain there helplessly, making him cringe and his face start to smart with the flow of hot blood. “No, I definitely do not want that. Going about my life actively is as important as good food is for me,” he sighed.
“Warren, our discussion has gotten a bit off track. I actually wanted to ask you something quite different. Can we maybe order tea, have a short break and then start over? Please?”

With an irritated shake of his head, Warren ordered the tea. Christopher drank two cups slowly, wishing he had a nice pastry with it and collected his wits for a second round: “As I was trying to explain, weight loss surgery is not an option for me to meet my commitment to you to lose weight.” Seeing Warren bristle, he interrupted himself: “Please Warren, let me finish, listen to the end before you say anything, okay?”
After Warren’s hesitant nod, he went on. “But you’re right; all medical statistics say you’re right – I’m way too fat. So losing weight, if done the right way would be good for me. What I’ve become aware of in the past year is that I’m what you call a food addict. But also that I can’t handle dieting under pressure, having to lose so much weight in such a limited time span. It makes me sick and miserable; I feel like a failure and can’t even concentrate on my work properly. You only haven’t noticed how unsatisfactory my work has been because everybody else’s was even worse because of the crisis..”

“What the hell are you trying to tell me Christopher? You know you’re too fat but can neither diet nor have weight loss surgery…. What kind of bull shit is that? I always thought you were a clever, ambitious boy?”

“Warren, I wasn’t finished. It’s complicated for me…,” he took a deep breath. “Weight loss surgery and crash dieting are no options for me, they make me sick. So meeting my commitment to you to get down to maximum 320 pounds within the next year is not going to happen. I’m very sorry about that – I hate to have to disappoint you, but I just can’t do it that way. I wouldn’t be the same person you want to have to run the hotels with you. But I have a different suggestion,” he added hastily before Warren could say anything again.
“Reducing my weight is a meaningful thing for me to do, you’re right about that. So I would like to suggest the following alternative to your proposal: I promise you that I’ll slowly, healthily in a manner I can handle diet down to 350 pounds. That was about my weight when I started full time as director at the ‘Langdon Residency’. It’ll probably take 2-3 years from now. When I reach that weight, we can talk again about me becoming your partner. Not at the extremely generous conditions you had originally mentioned, but at any others you suggest – also like me buying some shares in the hotels. I’m very sorry I couldn’t meet your expectations, but that’s all I can offer. What do you say? Would that be a compromise that you can accept?”

Unconsciously, he held his breath waiting for Warren’s response, who frowned and shook his head, crossed his arms. “Christopher, I made you one offer, either you accept that and act accordingly – or you reject it. There’s no room for bargaining here. It’s not a normal business deal. Either you have the weight loss surgery, return to a normal weight and become my partner – or you stay a super fat glutton and go your ways.”

Even though he had anticipated this blow, played it through in his mind in the scenarios he had tested, hearing it from Warren was like an ice block slamming into him. He took a few very deep breaths, feeling the weight of his stomach rise and fall before he took out his folder and opened it.

“Okay, if you’re offer is non-negotiable as to the circumstances – which is your right of course – then this means my career at the ‘Langdon Hotels’ will come to an end. I’m very sorry about that. You, the hotels are home and family to me. Giving that up …,” he swallowed hard. “But I can’t pay the price of my physical and emotional integrity. I’m so sorry …”

“Christopher, please think about it again…,”

“I can’t Warren. I’ve done nothing but think about this lately. The past months showed me which price I can pay and still be myself, be the man you want for you business… the price of bariatric surgery is too high, I wouldn’t stay myself.” He pushed some papers to Warren. “I’ve talked all this over with my bank. To have a clean cut, this is my offer for your 30 % share in Maynard’s New French Boulangerie. It’s fair, it’s a 55 % return on investment in 4 years, next to the regular loan paybacks you’ve been receiving all along.”

Warren stared at him, as if he didn’t quite understand what he was talking about.

“Then there’s our range of M&L deli products in which we both hold a 50% share – you provided the capital and the initial distribution, I took care of the business and own the copyrights of the recipes and such. My bank calculated that if you’re willing to stay on as silent share holder at 50% of the net profits, calculated as median of the past three years, then I can buy you out in 9 years. Should you not want to wait this long – here’s the offer for the immediate buy out at today’s price, taking into account the weaker economy. Let me know which option you decide on.”

“Are you serious my boy? All this because of a few pounds of fat…?” Warren shuffled through the papers, obviously not really registering their content.

“Now one more thing…,” he swallowed hard and clenched his teeth because he felt his voice quaver, looking at the table since he couldn’t look at Warren when saying this. “Here’s my note of resignation as director of the Langdon Residency. You just have to enter the date – be it today or whenever you deem adequate if you first want to find a successor.” He pushed the paper over the table to Warren along with an envelope. “In the envelope is one more thing I do not know whether you would even consider. It’s my offer for buying the ‘Langdon Residency’. It would stay part of the Langdon group, but with independent ownership and management.”

“Buy the Langdon Residency? I can’t believe it … what are you thinking..?”

“It’s an unsolicited offer. You once said I love the Langdon Residency as much as you do. That’s right – it’s my home, and I’d like to keep it. If we can’t agree on a way of doing it together – I at least don’t want to blame myself for not having tried to do it on my own.”
Feeling he was about to lose his bearings, he got up. “Those are the offers I have in this situation. Since you’re not interested in the bakery or the deli-range, letting me buy out your shares in those two should be easy for you. Please think them over and inform me of your decision. I’m ready to leave my office at the Langdon Residency any day. I’m sorry it has to end this way – and thank you for all you’ve done for me. Good-bye.”

Warren seemed almost as shaken as he was: “You honestly want to give up your life because you want to stay this fat? Not grasp the chance of a lifetime?”

“Warren, I made you an offer that I’ll lose weight to a point that I can manage without stopping to be myself. I don’t quite understand why that isn’t good enough for you, why it has to be surgery with a massive weight loss. You’ve only known me fat – why has it been bothering you so much all of a sudden in the past year? You never said much about it before that, even though I gained so much weight over the years. It’s not like you saw me at 525 pounds overnight….”

“Yeah, but … but …. people started talking that you looked like a balloon not an executive….”

“People started talking … does it matter what ‘people’ say?”

“Not just people, Jack Edwardson commented most unfavorably on your weight when he was here reviewing the hotel….” Warren turned dark red in admitting this.

“Edwardson? And? He came to us too, wrote a great review, we won his listing of best big city hotel last year! So what if he doesn’t like I’m fat … as long as he’s objective about the performance of our hotel?” He shook his head and went towards the door.

“Why are you doing this, my boy? Please think it over! Surgery is the best option for you. What are you going to do now instead? Ruin your life? Stuff yourself until you weigh a ton?”

“I doubt it. I’ve got a business to run, soon loans to day back … and my life to live … and I want it to be a good one again!”
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