Maybe I should have married
the Fat Girl; she would
warn me beforehand,
and we could order
a pizza or some Chinese
and wait for the apocalypse.

But no, I had to marry
the Beauty Queen, the star
of the senior play,
the most-likely-to
of all time, including

Glossy yearbook pages
seal in a me
whose smile is forced,
whose clothes don't fit,
who needs a hairstyle,
a good dose of the reality
that forges personality,
that single-minded confidence
we give one word:  ADULT.

Now I can eat alone,
not because I have to
but because I know
how to cook for myself
and clean up the mess.

As I write this
I'm wiping the table with my free hand,
making the smooth surface shine.

Why make promises
with all their uncertainties
when so many Fat Ladies
lounge on local barstools,
fill their plates at salad bars,
bump your cart at the A&P?

Their songs are slow and sad,
Bessie Smith in perfect form,
and their words are my pain
played full volume on the radio
in rush hour traffic.

When the Fat Lady sings,
what I thought was my life
becomes someone else's
night time entertainment,
a weekly docu-drama

developed for consumption
by eighth-grade educated
nine-to-fivers scraping
the remains of TV dinners
from aluminum trays
because they're easier to clear away.

Jeff Kersh