Disease? That's not a disease...
Anyhoo, the kid was hummmming and hawwwiinnng around the kitchen and I could sense a question coming my way. I raced through my list of things I am not prepared to talk about with a fourteen- almost fifteen- year old and came up with pretty much nothing except for anal sex.
Eventually she plonked herself on a work top near the bowl of chocolate icing I was about to pop into the fridge.
'Uh huh.' I said.
'Do you think I'm fat?'
I find that, despite being delicate little things with feelings and mood swings and all sorts of hormonal shit going on, teenagers do not appreciate being lied to. On the other hand, read the middle of that sentence again.
I looked at her carefully. She is tall, has long hair-which she has sort of dyed a strange marmalade colour this week- fairly clear skin, and good teeth. Like a lot to younger teenagers she has a bit of puppy fat, she is probably about ten pounds over weight. But then she tends to sit about a lot, being too cool for walking and stuff. And she slouches, if she stood up straight she...oh Jesus, that was close, I almost channelled my mother there for a second.
So, did I think she was fat?
'No sweetie, I don't.'
She actually beamed at me. And for a single moment she was the most beautiful creature on the planet, bar none.
'Why do you ask?'
'Some girls in my class sorta said I was fat.'
'Bitches,' I said, 'ignore them.'
She shrugged. 'One of them was taken into hospital this week. They think she's got anorexia.'
'Yeah, her and this other girl, they were really thin, but then they found a pro-ana site-
She told me, a pro-ana site is a site where kids can log on and talk about how cool it is to be anorexic. There is also a pro-mia site for bulimics.
Jesus fucking wept.
I listend for a while, or at least until my patience ran out.
'Look honey.' I said, when I got a word in edge ways. 'I don't care, let the silly bitches stay in hospitel being force fed, let them waste away to nothing, I don't care.'
'Huuuuuhhhm... oh my God, you really don't care?' She said, surprised more that shocked.
'Nope' I said, adding coconut milk to the wok. 'There are plenty of kids dying the world over because they simply can't get access to food, these silly cows are killing themselves because they can but they don't want it.'
'But it's a... disease!' She said, pronouncing 'disease' with such hushed reverence I started to laugh.
'PC crap. Cancer is a disease,' I said savagely, pouring the basmati rice into the boiling salted water. 'As far as I am concerned anorexia is a life style choice, same as alcoholism, drug abuse, obesity and any other bullshit outcome from poor decision making. People don't want to hear that because people don't want to be responsible for anything, it's always someone else's fault or it's a disease or whatever, they want peple to think 'ohhhh poor thing, it's not their fault'. Well bollocks to that, I'm not buying what they're selling.'
Well naturally the kid flapped around a bit, offering me the soundbites she had heard while I snorted and raised the odd eyebrow.
'Everyone keeps saying how sorry they feel for them,' she said softly, 'so did I, but really... I don't get it, what's so great about vomiting?'
'Or shitting until your arse bleeds.' I said, adding three spoons of sugar to the cream I was about to whip.
'Bleaugh!' she said horrified. 'Is that true?'
'Or growing fur all over your body to keep warm.' I added. 'Or watching your hair fall out in clumps while your teeth rot from the bile in your stomach. Ohh yeah, sounds great, sounds totally cool.'
I passed her the wooden spoon.
She licked an inch of chocolate from it, her expression thoughtful.
'You really think it's stupid?'
'I sure do.'
'Me too.' she said and gave me that smile again.