Tropic Thunder Thighs

November 22, 2008

Well, I’ve already had my first slip-up last night. Is this a speed record for falling off the wagon?

For her birthday, my friend Michele chose to have dinner at the Hawaiian Tropic Zone in the city. She thought we were going to a fun luau-themed restaurant. Instead, we got a Hawaiian Hooters.

As soon as I entered the club, I was greeted by a barely dressed woman sporting a tiny sarong, an even tinier bikini top and ginormous boobs that were even larger than mine! She led me to the bar area to wait for the rest of the girls (I’m almost always early to things; it’s that “Gotta make deadline” mentality that comes with being a journalist) and I realized that other than our “Hawaiian” hostesses, I was pretty much the only woman in that area. Even though it was boiling hot inside, I instinctively wrapped my winter coat around me in a sorry attempt to hide my bulging flesh. I could almost read the thoughts of the guys who were milling around: “Hey, Fatty, move it, will ya? You’re blocking out our eye candy!”

Finally, Michele and the rest of the “girls” showed up. Upon seeing the waitresses, Michele quickly realized this wasn’t exactly the theme she’d imagined when she’d picked the restaurant. Still, because it was warm inside and we were hungry, we decided to make the best of it and enjoy dinner. Plus, the waitresses seemed nice, and not at all perplexed that a group of girls were at this place.

As we arranged ourselves at the table, I surveyed my friends. I’m, wihtout a doubt, the largest out of all of them, but to their credit, they’ve never treated me like the “fat one.” In fact, most of these ladies I’ve known since college and they’ve seen me through all my different weights and sizes — and yet, that’s never been an issue for them. During the periods where i’ve lost a lot of pounds, like my latest stint a couple years back, they’re the first to compliment me, so I know they notice. But they’ve never made me feel self conscious about any weight gains, which I greatly appreciate.

I looked over the menu and the choices didn’t seem too bad: the fixed price menu included a grilled chicken dish that came with vegetables, and a choice of soup or salad. I chose the chicken and the sweet potato broccoli soup;

Unfortunately the service in this place was slow. Reeallllly sloooow. This was mainly because the waitresses were so busy. Between taking orders and serving people, they’d take to the stage and do dance numbers or ” beauty contests.” So by the time we were served just the bread, I was about ready to eat my hand off. Though I’d vowed to skip the bread, I devoured a piece.

Finally my soup came and it was delicious — light and tasty with huge pieces of fresh broccoli. However, instead of serving it with crackers, they paired it with cheesy breadsticks. I took a bite, which was a big mistake. Oh my God, they were so good–just dripping with mozarella cheese. I ate them as well as the soup.

By the time the actual main course came, I was feeling pretty full, and did a better job of controlling myself. I removed the skin from the chicken and only ate half; I also got a nice serving of veggies with the dish. Iinstead of ordering diet soda or alcohol, I had water.

As I ate, I observed how my skinny friends eat to see if I can get any tips from them. Adrienne ordered the sauce for her pasta on the side. Ellen halved her chicken and prepared to take the rest home at the start of the meal. Marianna ordered a very plain piece of salmon.

Then there was Teri. We always tease Teri about her habit of not eating. Oh, she eats plenty, but often she’ll literally hold a bite up to her mouth about to swallow it, but gets so caught up in talking she forgets to actually put the food in. She’s certainly not starving — it’s just that food isn’t a priority for her the way it is for me. After years of watching her do this, I asked her about it. “How do you do that?” I said. “How can you have food right in front of your face like that and not shovel it in?”

“Oh, she shovels it in when it’s chips or chocolate,” Marianna cracked.

“Seriously, how can you do that?” I repeated.

She shrugged. “I guess it’s because I was talking and the conversation was interesting,” she explained. “When I’m eating by myself, I just eat, but I don’t get to see all of you that often, so I like to catch up.”

Huh. She raised a good point. Often when we go out, I’ll be busy with my dinner while the rest of my friends are engaged in a conversation. Maybe it’s about time I also start making our get-togethers less about the food and more about seeing everyone else.

I decided to try this tactic during dessert. Once was saw it, though, the conversation turned to the food itself. In honor of Michele’s birthday, they gave us a free chocolate fondue. We were also given individual bowls of sorbet that were adorned with “lady fingers” — and by that, I mean cookies cut into the shape of a scantily-clad woman with big boobs. No, I am not kidding.

“See, I’m eating this without waiting,” Teri said digging into the fondue. “I just wait for when something is really good.”

Everyone around me was enjoying the feast. It was hard to resist. I gave in and dipped some fruit into the chocolate sauce, then had one bite-sized brownie piece. Not great, but much better than I would’ve done otherwise.

Like I said, this journey is all about me learning moderation. And so, I’m not going to beat myself up over having a nice night out with my friends. I need to live my life. I just need to learn how to keep living it as a happy and healthy person.