He looked like an old Sea Captain with his bright, white beard (trimmed very neatly) and weathered face – like leather. I imagined he’d just stepped off a boat.
I was standing at the bar waiting for Alun’s favourite barmaid Sharna to come out and see me. I awkwardly balanced the gift basket I’d made her along with the small posy of flowers under my arm and trying to avoid the Sea Captain’s scrutiny but finding myself staring back, trying to work out his story.
He spoke “What are you up to, hey?” it was a friendly question and his eyebrows rose with curiosity as he asked. I found myself smiling.
“Just waiting to give Sharna these” and I lifted the basket and flowers towards him.
“Well. That’s very nice of you” He remarked and nodded at the gifts.
“They’re from Alun, too” I admitted, not wanting to get all the credit for something that was essentially Alun’s idea and he’d paid for most of it. I merely purchased it and put it together with a “sorry you’re leaving” card.
“Alun?” The Sea Captain inquired.
“He comes here a lot. Sharna is his favourite barmaid?” I offered.
“Alun” he repeated, looking as if he was mentally searching for an image to fit the name. The old guy next to him shifted about in his seat, seeming to also be wanting to mentally locate Alun when he Sea Captain smiled “Oh the uhh…”
“He’s a Welsh guy” I smiled, warmed at even the thought of Alun; picturing him easily pulling up a barstool and talking to the very men trying to remember him.
“He’s the um…the Nurse guy!” Sea Captain was pleased to have remembered him
I smiled again. That was him.
The Sea Captain said “I know him, yeah”
“I’m his wife” I smiled and nodded, my way of introducing myself.
“Oh I see” he assessed me further, as if he was mentally trying to picture Alun with me.
Instantly, I felt ashamed. I wouldn’t be able to picture handsome, friendly, talented Alun with someone like me, either. I get why you’re struggling, Mr Sea Captain.
“He has your picture on his phone, that’s where I’ve seen you before” the Sea Captain pointed at me. He looked closely at me and I could see the cogs turning in his head, making the comparison between my heavily filtered selfie from about 5 years ago where I was a lot thinner to the monstrosity stood before him now.
I’m surprised he made the link between the photo of a caramel goddess on Alun’s phone and the obese, warped version of that girl in front of him, to be honest.
Oh the shame.
I was suddenly aware of how wide I am. How fat. How my two large chins wobble when I speak. How my stomach is so big that it curls over my lower waist like a huge apron. How my arms jiggle and my butt is both large – too large – and yet hopelessly shapeless as well. What used to be curves are now MOUNDS.
I felt so ashamed to be me. I felt so embarrassed for Alun. Why did I say I was his wife? The moment of pride I felt when connecting myself to the glorious being that is my husband had now turned to deep sadness. Alun deserves so much better.
The Sea Captain was still looking at me. I wondered if he was deciding to buy Alun a pint next time to cheer him up for having such a great disappointment as a wife when I’d had so much potential in the photo he’d seen.
I feel so ugly.
This is because I’m addicted to highly sugary, salty, fatty food. I eat it in large quantities ALL THE TIME and I wonder why my clothes don’t fit – as if it’s a mystery.
They don’t fit because you’re a fat pig, JD. You know it…and so does the Captain.
All I can think is poor Alun.