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Paul Coates -- Confidential File, February 11, 1959

February 11, 2009 |  2:00 pm


Somebody Does Love a Fat Man

Paul_coates For years, the Fat Man had ignored those ads that flashed intermittently on his TV screen. The ones that told him to get rid of that ugly excess by exercising in beautiful gymnasiums for just a few minutes a day.

The ones that promised him that he'd end up the envy of all the guys in the block. And the idol of all the girls.

The Fat Man's lack of interest was reasonable. Even though he was 15, maybe 20 pounds overweight, he had it made.

His wife loved him, just the way he was. So did his kids. He had a good job, a nice home, and respect from everyone who knew him.

After all, he wasn't THAT fat. There are very few men in their 40s who don't have at least a little paunch, anyway.

1959_0211_mirror_cover But last month, he was laid off the job he'd held for years. A bit choosily, he began searching for a new one -- for the right spot.

This week, he found it. He was told that he'd been accepted. There was only the routine of the physical.

Then, yesterday afternoon, he paid a final visit to his prospective employer and got the bad news. "The doc says you're not a good health risk," he was told. "Too fat. Seventeen pounds of extra baggage."

The Fat Man couldn't believe it. He walked to his car in stupor. Squeezing behind the wheel, he headed home.

Suddenly, one of the beautiful gyms loomed before him. It was on a street he'd traveled a thousand times before, but before he'd never particularly noticed it.

The Fat Man nosed his car to the curb, parked and stepped out.

"I'm interested," he told the man at the desk. "I've got to lose weight. Seventeen pounds. How long will it take?"

1959_0211_darnell The next 15 minutes of conversation doesn't need repeating. It was the usual salesman-customer give-and-take routine.

Fat Man wanted a short course. The instructor pitched for a special lifetime course. Fat man said it was too expensive. Instructor said it's cheaper in the long run. Terms are easy, too.

Finally, the Fat Man turned thumbs down. "No," he said. "I can't see it for $300 or $400. Why, when I was a kid, we used to get all the same things you've got here for a $15 annual YMCA membership."

He turned to walk out, when the instructor touched his shoulder.

"Wait a minute," the instructor asked. "Before you go, I'd like you to meet another member of our staff."

Some New Atmosphere

The "other member" was the picture of health-plus. She was the kind of a woman that no man in his right mind would look at only once.

1959_0211_abby "We'd just love for you to join," she told the Fat Man. "I'd like to sell you the course as a friend."

"A friend?" the Fat Man asked, his face reddening.

The pair sat down, and as the conversation progressed, he was gripped with a crazy, wild idea. He placed his hand on her knee. She did nothing. Just smiled.

"I like you, too," she purred, "but I've got a big, strong boyfriend.

"Of course," she added, "if you sign the contract, I'm sure we can figure a way to get together without him finding out."

"Why," pleaded the Fat Man, "can't we get together before I sign?"

The girl's eyes were wide with innocence. "Don't you trust me?"

The Fat Man couldn't restrain himself any longer. He burst out laughing, got up, walked out, drove home, kissed his wife, and- shaking a finger in her face -- admonished:

"No potatoes for me tonight. Is that clear?"