sample chapter 2

Denver, Colorado

My dad, Father Atticus, was a boxer. Nerds, if you’ve ever lived with a boxer or wrestler, you know that weight is at the forefront of every thought. There are few things more important for these guys than the number on the scale. Boxers are notorious binge dieters and eaters, and my dad was a champ at binge eating and dieting. He was always on a diet. Atkins, Weight Watchers, Pritikin, Scarsdale. You name it, he’d been on it. Quick brag: he was also the first man in the world to knock down George Foreman in a sparring match, or at least that’s how the family legend goes. (Foreman quickly got up and knocked my dad out cold.)

Atticus was an amateur boxer, but he was a professional lawyer. I grew up thinking about A) how much I weighed at different times of every day (primarily before meals and after shits), and B) how I would defend myself on the witness stand in a court of law.

Atticus was always a heavyweight—literally; he weighed well over 200 lbs the majority of his adult life. He loved to run. In fact, he ran a marathon to celebrate his 40th birthday—his gift to himself, as he put it. He loved to play football, he loved to box, and he loved to eat.

Father Atticus used to take me fishing, to rodeos, and—every January—to the Stock Show in Denver. I loved going to the Stock Show and seeing all the animals. The pigs were so cute and playful, and the cows were peaceful and lovely; I was fascinated by their huge tongues and long eyelashes. I wanted to hug them all.

Dad would carry me around on his shoulders while we ate popcorn and corndogs, despite the overwhelming smell of terrified animals and their feces. I felt like the happiest kid in the world. It never once occurred to me that the corndogs we ate were comprised of those playful pigs I thought were so cute, just as it never occurred to me that the animals at the Stock Show were there to go to slaughter. Such a horrific thought didn’t cross my child’s mind for one split second. I just thought the 4-H kids really wanted to show off their beautiful pet pigs! Which they did, but in a “Joo find my daughter beautiful? Great! She’s yours for fifty bucks” kind of way.
Unlike my dad, Mom Priscilla was able to eat whatever she wanted and never gain an ounce. Somewhere, there’s a picture of her with cornrows wearing a bikini around her 40th birthday. Her stomach is concave, y’all. The woman’s never done a sit-up in her life! Back in the day, it was like, move over, Bo Derek. Atticus might have resented this a little bit. When I was an angsty teen, I liked to joke that I inherited my mother’s slow wit and my father’s slow metabolism. But that was just rude. My mother is actually quite witty.

It was a challenge finding my way with Father Atticus and Mom Priscilla. Not to mention the magazines littering our home with promises of weight loss and great sex, both of which required keeping your mouth shut and doing what you were told. As a tween virgin, I didn’t want sex—but I knew it was my duty as a female to look like the type of person a cis male would want to have sex with. I went on my first diet at age 10.


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