The obese woman began getting up from the recliner in which she spent most of her days. Ten years ago, she purchased the recliner from a furniture retailer. It was expensive, a top of the line model with all of the latest features that one would expect from the brand. The recliner was to serve as the centerpiece of the living room in her new apartment.
The recliner had exceeded expectations, becoming both the centerpiece of the obese woman’s living room as well as the center of her life. Its state of the art support system bore her burgeoning bulk in a semi-recumbent position with the sort of efficient resignation that one finds among union workers who have considerable seniority. Even as her three feral cats ravaged the fabric on its armrests and her ample posterior more or less melted the seat cushion, the recliner continued to perform its assigned function.
After leaving her recliner, the obese woman toddled the ten feet that separated the kitchen from the living room. She moved with the unsteadiness of an old salt who was no longer in possession of his land legs. Her own legs were padded with herniated subcutaneous fat that gave them an orange peel or cottage cheese-like appearance. She wore the same pair of loose Russell Athletic mesh shorts every day and was no longer able to reach down to disinfect her nether regions, relying instead on a spritz of Febreze to do the trick.
Each step drew her closer to the table where she had stacked several 24-packs of soda–“cubes,” in her parlance–and an enormous Tupperware container filled with Cheetos and Lay’s potato chips. Much as she called the cases of soda “cubes,” the obese woman described the Tupperware container as a “tub.” Her act of eating from the tub, undertaken throughout the day, was known as “tub time.” All of the items on the table were delivered by a grocery service, since the obese woman had been on disability for years and no longer had a valid driver’s license.
Not that the obese woman had any desire for intercourse with the wider world. Her hopes and dreams, if she had ever had any, were now hidden behind her shrewd, porcine eyes. She operated in the same autonomic way that her cats did. Like their owner, these cats were overweight and suffered from diabetes. Twice each day, the obese woman administered their insulin shots. She had become inured to this condition, regarding its onset as a necessary stage in the lives of all humans and animals.
The obese woman never stopped watching television, not even for a minute. There were televisions in the kitchen and living room, and neither was ever turned off. Programs and advertisements streamed into the apartment, although the content of the broadcasts mattered little to the obese woman. It seemed like these stories emanated from an entirely different universe, one where at least some people weren’t obese and everyone employed an array of futuristic devices. The obese woman had never used a cellular phone, computer, microwave, pager, halogen bulb, copying machine, or VCR.
The shades were always drawn in the obese woman’s apartment, insulating her from the passage of the seasons, the weather, and other quotidian details. She had abandoned her circadian rhythms, sleeping and waking as the mood struck her. Her cats, no longer crepuscular in their own cycles, deigned to arise from their slumbers only for welcome injections of food and insulin.
As the obese woman engaged in a spirited round of “tub time,” her breathing grew heavy and ragged. Her dentures ground the Cheetos into an orange, gummy mass. She opened her mouth and poured some soda on top of that, then gargled the acrid mixture as if it was Listerine. Although she had forgotten why she enjoyed this, it seemed quite regular and apposite, for various reasons.