The other day was insanely hot. Naturally, this meant I had to remove most of my clothing the second I got home. It then seemed appropriate to make some tea while chilling half-naked in my kitchen. As I stood, zoned out watching the kettle steam (mad therapeutic, try it), my sister walked past and slapped my love handle. The sticky slap sound lingered in the air like a gunshot. I felt my entire upper body wobble slightly at the impact. She laughed, said bye nonchalantly and walked out of the house with my self-esteem. To add salt to the wound, she called me and said “Hey, love handley dandley,” before telling me I needed to go to the gym.

When I finally finished thinking of ways to get her back (“little doggies, go poop on her pillow”/”mom, that skinny bitch called me fat, let’s poison the Nutella”) I got my shit together and ordered McDonalds, because I might as well go with the fat theme of the night. For clarification purposes, I know I am not fat. Thanks to GQ I know I am skinny-fat, and weighing 75-80kg at six foot one, does not an obese person make. I did however have a fat moment way back when a broken leg caused me to balloon up to 160kg. “It’s just baby weight,” they said. “You’ll lose it really easily,” they said. I didn’t. It took about two years and ever since I have had a muffin top.

The problem is I love food. I fucking love hamburgers and fries. I love a plate full of steaming pasta with white sauce and fun little surprises like parmesan cheese. I have made grilled cheese sandwiches an art form (add a little butter and salt for some added punch – and transfats) and nothing takes the edge off your day like pizza at 2 AM. I have never met a sauce or condiment I didn’t like. I need at least three different kinds of chocolate at a time and a bag of chips is great as a savoury palette cleanser in between. I fucking love food. Except for fish. And bamia.

Understanding that food will eventually turn into fat, I have been on a diet for about a decade. I have done the Dukan diet, the Atkins diet, the cabbage soup diet, week long detoxes that require only eating things ‘from the earth’ and had enough salad to make me seize up when I see lettuce. But I will always end my diet with a cupcake, because who doesn’t deserve that after starving themselves for 5 hours? If missing cheese wasn’t enough, you also have to deal with fucking mutherfuckers that are all suddenly nutrition experts despite the fact that we’re talking about diets because they’re ordering pizza. They will tell you how the dressing on that salad is the equivalent of a burger. They will tell you how the crouton is a carb. They will tell you what they did back in 1992 and how it worked amazingly for them (how many calories does not saying “you’re still pretty fat, shut up” burn?). This is an endless conversation, because everyone in Egypt is on/has been on a fucking diet. Everyone has been to a nutritionist. Everyone in my life, aside from my love-handle-slapping sister, obsesses about their diet and weight, what they ate, how they ate it, how much they enjoyed themselves and then how much they hate themselves.  

These same mutherfuckers also tell me, “Work out, Hassan. All you need to do is tone.” Well I would. Only I would rather do anything than spend two hours in the gym. Egyptian gyms are hell. Hell. It’s the people, not the gyms (although all those TVs and machines with resistance and numbers and weights really make me dizzy) that make me want to kill myself. The forma fuckers grunting and staring at themselves in the mirror while lifting 150kg. And they’re always wearing Adidas flip flops, walking around the gym showing off inflated pecs and tiny penises. Then the bitches with their love handles slightly spilling out of their Juicy Couture, high ponytail + visor combos and full make up will pick the treadmill next to you, walk at 4 for 20 minutes while they talk on the phone before going to hang out at the juice bar. I will be gasping for air, doing my best not to collapse and trying not to yell at her for existing. I don’t do that  partly because it’d be really bedan of me, but mostly because that would be a great excuse for the beefcake to beat me up and defend her honour. I wouldn’t even have a chance because he just lifted literally like 5 of me and could probably hurl me across the gym. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Also, at the end of the day I would much rather be watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills going to Pilates than endure any sort of physical activity myself. Also, I cannot bring myself to pay exorbitant amounts for memberships to essentially torture myself. Pay 5,000 LE to be annoyed for an entire year? I’m not that fat.

So I’ll just have to love my love handles; I would love to love myself, it’s just these squishy parts make it really fucking hard. It isn’t so much about the actual physical body, more about what that body represents. It all comes down to control. People focus so much on their weight because if you can control your appetite/exercise/binging/purging , you can control your life. If I can just stop myself being weighed down with pizza and burgers and wake up at 5 AM, eat seven almonds and then run 6 miles all before I even get to work, I’ll finally be able to take control of my whole life. Imagine all the things I could do if I wasn’t always thinking of food? If you were just surviving on the bare minimum of 6 raspberries and lemon water and wearing whatever the fuck you wanted. Imagine what I would do with that time?

Then it’s like fuck that, YOLO. That chicken pané looks so good. I’m going to eat 50. That was amazing. Honestly, let’s be real, you still look good (so delusional). YOLO doesn’t mean eating everything, remember, nothing tastes as good skinny feels. But pizza does. Order pizza! Eat pizza. Happy. Sad. Asleep. Awake and hungry again, always so fucking hungry. Probably not even for food. What the fuck does being full feel like?

Originally published on CairoScene.