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Author: Julie Somerville
Title: Food Fight
Type of Work: short story
Source: CMv2 #2, 3, 4

© Copyright 2003 Julie Somerville

There was a mound of delicious looking food staring her in the face. Her nose was delighted at the wonderful scent of cakes and pies. Her eyes skimmed over rows and rows of fatty, calorie-ridden foods. Sophie Williams was setting up a buffet for an anniversary party. Her catering business had supplied the spread for the mayor’s 25th wedding anniversary. She had to force herself not to sample the food. Sophie had always had a strong attraction to food. She ate when she was angry, bored, depressed and of course, hungry. Her love of food was obvious to everyone who saw her. At 5’6 and 150 lbs., Sophie’s love affair with food was blindingly obvious. She had always gained weight easily, and found dropping weight to be the biggest struggle in her life. Sophie’s self esteem had taken a nose dive, starting in middle school and intensifying during high school and college. Kids could be cruel, but so could adults, in Sophie’s experience. Now that she was an adult herself, people no longer made cruel comments, but the looks they gave her revealed their disdain for overweight people. This was especially true of overweight women. Sophie couldn’t help noticing that society seemed to accept overweight men easier than overweight women.

“Ms. Williams, the food is simply delightful,” Mayor Edwin beamed as he walked over to Sophie, his wife on his arm. “Edith and I really appreciate all the trouble you went through for us. We just wanted to say thank you.”

“You’re very welcome sir,” Sophie said. “It was an honor to cater your party. Congratulations on your 25th wedding anniversary. You two make a beautiful couple.”

“Thank you dear. That is very kind of you,” said Edith. “Why don’t you help yourself to some of this wonderful food?”

“Oh, I’m not hungry. I couldn’t eat a bite,” said Sophie. The truth was, she was dying to serve herself a huge plate of food. But she knew that would not agree with her diet. Sophie was determined to drop at least 10-20 lbs. as soon as possible.

The next day, Sophie was in her kitchen preparing for a wedding reception. She ran her catering business, Sophie’s Sweets & More, from her home. She had 8 people employed full time and two part time employees. Her employees knew she struggled with her weight. To their credit, they were very supportive of her and never once criticized her weight problem. She appreciated them for that. Sophie’s employees were hard working, loyal, and decent people.

“Hey, Sophie, how many dozen eclairs do we need for the Jones’s wedding?” said Wendy, one of Sophie’s employees.

“Three dozen,” said Sophie.

“Ok. Another dozen eclairs and we’ll be ready to go,” said Wendy.

After completing the eclairs, Sophie and her staff loaded the food into the catering truck. They had a short drive to the hotel where the reception was to be held.

Sophie, Wendy,and the rest of the staff carried the platters of food and deserts into the reception room.

“ Ok. Wendy, set up the eclairs in the corner of the room. Donna, put the chicken and dumplings along the wall. Christine, the wedding cake goes on the other side of the room,” said Sophie.

As Sophie was arranging platters of food on the various tables, she caught a glimpse of a heavy -set man out of the corner of her eye. He seemed to be approaching her. She knew that he was not part of her catering staff and wondered what he was doing in the reception room.

“Excuse me, mam?” said the man, “Are you Sophie Williams?”

“Yes I am. What can I do for you?” said Sophie.

“My name is Willie. I’m the brother of the groom and he asked me to make sure you remembered the vegetarian platter for our mother.”

“I did remember, Willie. It’s being set up now,” said Sophie.

“Thank you very much,” said Willie. “My brother will be happy to know that.”

“ You’re welcome. Is there anything else I can do for you?” said Sophie.

“Actually, yes there is. I just have to say that I think you are a beautiful woman and I would be honored if you would allow me to take you to dinner and a movie some night,” said Willie.

Sophie blinked in surprise. Surely this man wasn’t asking her out. Yet he was looking at her with a hopeful expression on his face.

“I hope you don’t think I’m being too forward. It’s just that I’ve never seen a woman as beautiful as you are, my dear Sophie,” said Willie.

Sophie could see that Willie was genuinely interested in her. He sounded very sincere and he was an awfully polite man.

“Why, Willie, I would love to have dinner and a movie with you.”

“Here is my phone number,” Willie said, taking a business card out of the breast pocket of his suit. “Feel free to call me anytime.”

Sophie watched his retreating back as he walked away. He was not a tall man, 5’7, maybe 5’8. He looked as if he weighed about 200 lbs. He had a receding hairline and a bald spot was starting to form on the top of his head. Sophie found his beer belly and full face to be attractive. Unlike most women, Sophie wasn’t attracted to handsome, thin men. Every handsome man Sophie had dated had turned out to be a real jerk. And whenever she dated a thin man, she felt as if he was scrutinizing every bite of food she put in her mouth. Sophie had definitely decided that big men were more her type.

"Ms. Williams?” said Donna. “Ms. Williams? Hello?”

Sophie had been so preoccupied with thoughts of Willie that she didn’t notice Donna standing there at first.

“Yes Donna?” asked Sophie.

“Are you okay? You looked like you were off in another world.”

“I’m sorry Donna. I was thinking about the handsome man that just asked me out,” Sophie said.

“Um, Ms. Williams? There’s no one here but us. Who are you talking about?”

“Oh, the brother of the groom. His name is Willie and he just asked me out a few minutes ago. He had to get back to his brother and the wedding though.”

“Are you going to go out with him?” asked Donna, curiously.

“Why, yes I am. He gave me his phone number and I intend to call him. He offered to take me to dinner and a movie and I accepted.”

“That was nice of him. But don’t you usually avoid dating clients?”

“Well, normally yes. But Willie is not our client. His brother and his brother’s soon-to-be wife are my clients. Besides, Willie is such a polite, sweet man that I couldn’t say no to him,” explained Sophie.

“Well, good luck on your date,” said Donna. “I hope he is as nice as he sounds. You deserve a good man.”

“Thank you Donna,” said Sophie. “We really should get going now. The reception is starting soon and I’m too nervous to stick around and see what people think of the food. Let’s pack up and go.”

The next day, Sophie decided to give Willie a call. She hoped that he still wanted to go out with her, because she was very interested in going out with him. She took his business card out of her pocketbook and dialed the number. She waited in anticipation while the phone rang. Finally someone picked up.

“Hello?” said Willie.

“Willie, It’s Sophie Williams. I catered your brother’s wedding yesterday,” she said, afraid he had forgotten about her.

“Sophie, it’s so good to hear from you. I was hoping you would call.”

“So, can we set up a time and place for dinner and a movie?” asked Sophie.

“Of course we can, Sophie. I will take you wherever you want to eat. You can pick the movie too,” said Willie.

“That’s so nice of you Willie. I was thinking we could eat at the new Italian restaurant on Longwood Street.”

“I would be honored and delighted to escort you there. What movie would you like to see after dinner?”

“Oh, Willie, feel free to pick the movie. I’m not picky. I like most movies.”

“Do you like classics? The theatre on Pinemore Avenue is playing Casablanca every night this week.”

“That sounds wonderful. Casablanca is one of my favorite movies.”

“Mine too. When would you like to see it?”

“Let’s see. The rest of my nights this week are booked with catering jobs. But my calendar is open for Friday night, if that is convenient for you.”

“Friday night is perfect,” said Willie. I’ll reserve a table for Friday at 7pm. Afterwards, it’s off to Casablanca.”

“That sounds wonderful, Willie. I’m really looking forward to our date,” said Sophie.

“I am looking forward to it to. Shall I pick you up around 6:30pm?” asked Willie.

“6:30 is good for me,” Sophie said. She gave Willie directions to her house and they said goodnight.

As Sophie was getting ready for bed that night, she thought about her upcoming date with Willie. She was looking at herself in the full length mirror on the back of her bathroom door. She decided to weigh herself, hoping she had lost some weight since the last time she got on the scale. Sophie stepped on the scale and waited. When she looked down she couldn’t believe her eyes. According to her scale, she had gained five pounds since the last time she weighed herself. The scale said 155lbs and Sophie was hoping that she was seeing the number incorrectly. So she got off the scale and stepped back on it. Much to her disappointment, it still read 155 lbs. Sophie got off the scale and put on her pajamas. She crawled into bed and put a pillow over her head. She couldn’t believe she had gained more weight. Her diet didn’t seem to be going very well. Sophie decided right then and there that she would lose at least five pounds before her date with Willie. She had all week to do it, so if she was careful about what she ate, she was hoping she’d manage to lose the five extra pounds by Friday night.

She was sleeping peacefully when a loud, annoying buzzing sound found its way into her dream. In the dream, she was out with Willie. They were enjoying a lovely meal when all of a sudden a loud noise interrupted the peacefulness of the meal. At that moment, Sophie opened her eyes and realized with a jolt that the annoying buzzing sound was her alarm clock. She reached over and hit the snooze button. Then she rolled over and buried her face in a pillow. She was so depressed about her weight that she didn’t even want to get out of bed. The though of a full day of work ahead of her made her want to just go back to sleep for the rest of the day. Sophie grudgingly dragged herself out of bed and dressed. She went into her kitchen and put a piece of bread in the toaster. She decided that, all week long, all she would have for breakfast would be a piece of toast and a cup of coffee. Lunch was going to be a Slimfast shake because Sophie wouldn’t allow herself to eat for lunch. As she looked around in her refrigerator, the one she used for catering, she realized that she needed to go to the grocery store and replenish her food supplies. She thought briefly about sending one of her assistants to the grocery store, but she decided that she should be the one to do the shopping. Sophie finished her breakfast and headed to the grocery store.

Two days later, Sophie was brushing her teeth when her eyes landed on her bathroom scale. It was  calling to her, tempting her to step on it and anxiously await the results. She finished brushing her teeth and washing up, then stepped onto the scale. It read 152 pounds. She had lost three pounds. Sophie was happy. She knew that if she kept up her diet she could lose some more weight before her big date with Willie.  Even though he was overweight also, Sophie wanted to lose weight, hoping that she would be more attractive to Willie if she weren’t quite as big. And even if he was attracted to all 152 pounds of her, she wanted to lose some weight for herself. Sophie knew that the more weight she lost, the more attractive she would feel.

Sophie’s thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of her catering staff. They had a lot of work ahead of them to be ready for a scheduled event that night. As her staff filed into the kitchen, Sophie gave them instructions on what to start preparing. After everyone had begun work, Sophie buzzed around the room like a mother hen, inspecting everything her staff was preparing. The smell of the food was so overwhelming that Sophie was forced to leave the room. Sometimes she wondered why she did this to herself. Being a caterer watching your weight is a very difficult thing to do. After Sophie’s last large amount of weight gain, she considered giving up her catering business. But the truth was, she had taken over this business, which had previously belonged to her mother. Sophie’s mother was not overweight and had not had a problem resisting the food that she was preparing. Even though Sophie knew that catering would make losing weight even harder, she couldn’t imagine herself doing anything else. When no one on her staff was looking, Sophie quickly entered the kitchen and grabbed a chocolate éclair. Sophie knew she shouldn’t eat it, but she just couldn’t help herself. Sometimes she was drawn to food for reasons she didn’t even understand. She ran back into the other room and sat down. She told herself she would only eat half of the éclair. That would be enough to satisfy her sweet tooth but not enough to have a bad effect on her diet. As Sophie bit into the creamy éclair, she instantly felt guilty for eating what she knew was unhealthy, to say the least. Unfortunately, hunger overpowered guilt and Sophie wound up eating the whole éclair. She promised herself she would have a very light dinner, to make up for cheating on her diet. At the end of the day, after her staff had gone home for the night, Sophie began to think about preparing dinner. As she looked around for something to eat, she briefly considered skipping dinner. Her doctor had told her that she shouldn’t skip meals, just eat smaller ones. That was easier said than done for Sophie. She got so carried away with food, and with preparing meals. She guessed it was the caterer in her that insisted on preparing very large meals. Unfortunately, Sophie would often prepare large meals and had no one to help her eat them. Sophie couldn’t help thinking that, if someone else lived with her, she wouldn’t be eating quite so much. Food had become a substitute for companionship in Sophie’s life. For a minute, she wistfully thought about Willie, thought about how nice it would be to eat with him every day and share a bed with him every night. She knew she was getting carried away with herself. For goodness sakes, she had just met Willie! They hadn’t even gone out yet. Sophie silently scolded herself for letting her imagination run away with her. She was a 40 year old woman and here she was, fantasizing like some love- sick teenager. She told herself to snap out of it. Sophie looked down and realized with horror what she had done. She had been so lost in thought that she hadn’t realized she had just eaten an entire ham all by herself. Sophie was horrified and ashamed of herself. Now she would never manage to lose weight before her big date with Willie. Sophie thought about canceling the date, but she didn’t want to dissapoint Willie. He seemed like a very nice man and she would feel very bad if she hurt him.

Sophie woke up on Friday morning feeling anxious. Tonight was her date with Willie. After she had showered, she stepped onto the dreaded scale. Sophie closed her eyes and prepared herself for the bad news she knew was coming. She opened her eyes and looked down. Much to her dismay, the scale read 160 lbs. Sophie was disappointed in herself. She had wanted to look nice for Willie. Now, not only had she not lost any weight, she had gained weight since the last time Willie saw her. Sophie only hoped Willie wouldn’t be disappointed in her when he picked her up tonight. She got dressed and headed downstairs to welcome her staff and throw herself into her work.

“Morning everybody,” Sophie called out, as her staff entered her kitchen.

“Morning Sophie,” everyone said.

“So, tonight’s the night, isn’t it?Your big date with Willie.” said Donna.

“Yes it is. I’m so nervous. What if he doesn’t like me?”

“Don’t worry about that Sophie. Everyone likes you. You’re too sweet to dislike,” said Christine.

“Thanks. I probably shouldn’t be so nervous. Willie seemed like a charming man when I met him.”

“You’re gonna knock him dead,” said Kelly, as she prepared a tray of hors d’ouvres.

“You all are so supportive of me. I appreciate you all so much,” said Sophie.

“We feel the same way about you,” said Wendy.

The rest of Sophie’s workday flew by and before she knew it, it was 5:00. She sent her staff home for the day and headed upstairs. After a long, relaxing shower, Sophie stood in front of her closet, deciding what to wear. She would have liked to have worn something that would make her look a little thinner. But after thinking about it extensively, Sophie had decided that Willie liked her the way she was. At least, she hoped he did. Sophie finally chose a flattering, dark blue pants suit. Along with a crisp, white blouse and a silk scarf, Sophie thought she looked nice. She hoped Willie would agree with her.

Sophie heard her doorbell ring, and glided down the steps to her front door. When she opened the door, Willie was standing on her porch wearing black dress slacks and a blue shirt with a blue and black striped tie.

“Sophie, you look wonderful tonight. May I escort you to my car?”

“That would be lovely. And you look very handsome tonight.”

Sophie held Willie’s hand and he walked her to his black Lincoln-Town car. She slipped into the passeneger seat and breathed in the smell of leather. Willie’s car was as charming as he was. While he drove to the restaurant, he and Sophie discussed everything they could think of. Sophie confessed to him that she was struggling with her weight and that she had failed to lose the pounds she had so desperately wanted to.

“But, Sophie, why?” Willie asked, after Sophie told him. “You are beautiful just the way you are.”

“Thank you Willie. It’s nice to hear you say that. I’m glad you feel that way,” Sophie said as she and Willie exited his car and headed for the restaurant.

When they were seated with their food, Sophie studied Willie as he dug into a huge bowl of delicious smelling spaghetti. She was very attracted to his looks and personality. It had been a long time since she had met such a wonderful man. Sophie looked down at her small plate of pasta salad. She only hoped that eating it wouldn’t cause her to gain even more weight. Sometimes Sophie felt like she gained weight after each meal she ate. She looked over at Willie, who, despite the fact that he was bigger than she was, had no reservations about eating as much food as he did. In that instant, Sophie decided to be like Willie. She would no longer feel guilty about eating the kinds of food she enjoyed. She resolved to relax and enjoy herself at mealtimes. When the waiter came to clear their table, he asked if they were interested in dessert.

“What do you say, Sophie? Would you like to indulge in some dessert? asked Willie.

“Why, yes I would,” Sophie said, after only hesitating for a second to think about it. “Dessert sounds very nice.”

The waiter brought them two dessert menus and they decided to try the delicious looking strawberry shortcake. When their order arrived, they lingered over the sweet smell of strawberries and the oh-so-creamy Kool Whip. After dessert, Willie paid the bill and they headed to the movie theatre.

Three hours later, Sophie and Willie walked hand in hand out of the movie theatre.

“Casablanca is such a wonderful movie. I swear, it gets more romantic every time I see it,” said Sophie.

“I agree. It’s one of the great, classic movies. I like a woman who appreciates the finer things in life.”

Wille drove Sophie back to her house and escorted her to her front door.

“I had a wonderful time tonight,” said Sophie. “Thank you for a wonderful evening.”

“It was my pleasure. You are an intelligent, sweet woman. I would like to see you again, if you don’t mind.”

“Oh, Willie, I would love that. Call me to set up another date.”

“Any ideas what you would enjoy doing on our next date?”

Sophie thought about it for a minute. Remembering her resolution to enjoy food without guilt helped her decide exactly what she wanted.

“How about a nice Chinese restaurant?” she said. “I’m always up for trying new food.”

“Sounds like a good date to me. Goodnight Sophie.”

Willie kissed Sophie with a passion she didn’t know he had in him. As she watched him hop in his car and drive away, she realized, for maybe the first time in her life, that she did not need food to make her happy.