So my mother visited me today with her meillure amie (best friend) Oh la la. Oh la la is from France and is tres, tres, tres francais. My mother adores all things french and in fact taught the language and culture for more than 30 years. ‘oweverrrr, when around Oh la la, ma mere becomes le biggest snob dans la monde. Like most french, Oh la la is very conscious of her figure, and having leeved een aux Etats Unis for a few years has gained weight, so, naturalment, the conversation turned to weight and fat Americans.
“I tell Jean Remy ‘ees Cosette ‘as gained ze pounzz becauz I leeve en America now-uh,” Oh la la says with a shrug. “Even after I ‘ad ma bebe Patrice-Claude I stayed tres mince, eh? But leeving en America? Je suis gross, maintainant.” I smiled, poised to say, honestly that I think she looks fabu and is certainly still tres belle, and then my mother… ohh my mother says to me, “Well, you certainly ballooned up when you had your babies, and you still haven’t lost the weight.” To which I replied, “Thank you Mom.” I tried to steer the conversation toward something more pleasant, like the effects of radiation poisioning, child pornography, self-amputation, ANYTHING but how fat I am. “Well, it’s true,” she said. “You’ve just gotten so big lately.” Oh la la, of course, like any self-respecting french woman, waited patiently, quietly, her french eyes sparkling, to see what would ‘appen next.
What happened next was that unlike my parking lot persona, I quietly said, “Thank you,” again, and then got up to “rescue” my baby from some non-existent danger.
I’m not sure why my mother did that. My suspicion is that she is embarrassed by my weight and wanted to make it clear to her friend that she knows her daughter’s fat and she doesn’t approve. It isn’t her fault her kid has been overweight for 37 years. Or, perhaps it was because Oh la la shared with us the fact that her daughter Patrice-Claude chose not to go to university and is now struggling to make ends meet in a dead-end job and my mother was conveying, “all kids find ways to embarrass and disappoint their mothers. Look, my college educated daughter is fat! Your daughter might be struggling financially, but at least she’s thin.” Perhaps she was being… kind?
But ouch, huh?