Friday, July 3, 2015

Domino (The World's Worst Fat Camp)

I'm taking part in Chuck Wendig's flash fiction challenge this week (I'm a challenge virgin!).


So here I am at the world’s worst fat camp for adults. Hey, that’s what the title of the Craigslist ad said: “World’s Worst Fat Camp For Adults Welcomes You.” Even the name, Domino, is far from ideal. Sure, one way to look at it is that once the first few pounds come off, you’re so motivated that you knock the rest off in a dance of dominos. But for reals? The name must be based on Domino’s pizza. Pizza that, I don’t mind telling you, ranks low on my list. I’ll get Little Caesar’s, Papa John’s or Pizza Hut first. My absolute favorite is a little gem of a place down the street from my apartment. Never mind, I’m digressing. Back to the Craigslist post. It said:

At Domino, we don’t care if you lose weight. We don’t care if you eat well. Bring all the junk food you want. WE DON’T CARE. We just want your money, but we are realistic. You’re not going to pay a lot of Franklins for a shitty fat camp. Come on over for $500 a month. You’ll have a roommate and nutritional meals paid for, should you want them, and exercise equipment, yadda yadda. It’s actually so nice here that we limit guest stays to no more than four months per year to avoid people moving in (caveat: you can’t leave for the month unless you check out. No commuting to work, anything like that.) No reservations needed. Come anytime, check in, and enjoy your stay.

P.S. For the world’s worst fat camp, we end up with decent results. Our female guests lose an average of six pounds per month, and our male guests 10. The weight tends to stay off.

Domino stands only an hour’s drive from my place, and as for work, I’m a 43-year-old, 250-pound lesbian stuck as a dead-end security guard with other fatties. We’d do anything for doughnuts. No one would want my job, the crap night shift work. I’d leave and have no problem getting the job back. My next-door neighbor would care for my cats.

I read the ad yesterday, and here I am today, creeping my car between stately, wrought-iron gates. Lush green lawns slope down, and behind them looms a mansion that reminds me of Flowers in the Attic. I navigate to the parking lot and cut the engine. There are about 15 other vehicles, mostly a respectable mix. Thoughts attack me—am I stupid for letting that Craigslist ad intrigue me? For being here? What kind of crazy reverse psychology do those people use?

I’m desperate, yes.  I have tried everything. Atkins, Weight Watchers, good old-fashioned calorie counting, exercise, portion control, liquid diets, South Beach, you name it.

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
This pitiful fatty
Is red and blue in the face from trying everything.

(I should avoid poetry.)

I haul my West-Virginia-sized ass out of the car and huff and puff up the stairs of the mansion. I don’t mean just the exterior front steps. You see, on the first floor, a sign reads: CHECK IN ON THE THIRD FLOOR. Eleven a.m. No one’s around. No elevators, either.

On the third floor, my heart attack decides not to attack when I see a desk—albeit unattended—with a sign reading: WELCOME! I walk to the desk and glance down. Damned if the paper on it doesn’t read: WE LIED. RECEPTIONIST IN THE LOBBY. TAKE A LEFT AS YOU GO DOWN THE STAIRS, AND LOOK FOR THE THIRD OFFICE (DOOR IS GREEN).

Well, shit. George Z. Motherfucker. I hate this place already, but part of me kind of loves it. I slog down the stairs, and finally find the office. The woman behind the desk is blond, svelte, beautiful.  She’s munching on a Snickers bar (world’s worst fat camp indeed), and my stomach rumbles.

I knock. “Excuse me?” I call.

She glances up and beams. Her name tag reads: WENDY. Is it a requirement that everyone here must be named after a restaurant? “Come in!” she sings. “Have a seat.”

I sit, and she nibbles the candy. Flutters her eyelids in ecstasy. “This stuff is so good,” she purrs. “Oh, where are my manners? Would you like a snack?” She pulls out a bowl filled with regular-sized bars of Snickers, Mr. Goodbar, Reese’s, Baby Ruth and others. Many others.

My mouth waters, but I shake my head. “No, thank you.”

“Okay, then!” she chirrups. “Let me see if I can find the papers…” She goes through the desk drawers; there’s no computer in sight. “I’m new,” she confesses a moment later. “Started yesterday.”

“Am I your first check-in?”

“Second. Ah, here we are!” She retrieves a few sheets of paper and glances apologetically.  “Before we do anything further with the paperwork, you need to pay. Oh! But you can absolutely get a tour of the house and a program overview before you pay. Would you like that?”

I quit my job (although I could get it back with no problem), and I am here. I am committed. I plan to stay, no matter what. “No,” I say. “Let’s move on.”

A row of straight, pearly teeth. “Excellent! I’m psyched! Are you?”

“Sure,” I grunt noncommittally.

“What’s your name?” she asks, poising her pen over the top sheet of paper. “Oh! I’m Wendy.”

“I noticed. My name is Adena Martin. A-d-e-n-a.”

“Date of birth?”

I tell her, and the next few questions progress in that vein. “Excellent,” she says. “I’m going to be your counselor, by the way.”


“I’m going to be your counselor.” She giggles. “Far out, huh? We’re like, soulmates. I can already tell. Do you feel the energy? The dude I checked in yesterday, I’m his counselor too, but don’t worry, I can, like, handle lots of people. I multi-task.”

“What are your other qualifications? Degrees?”

Wendy shrugs. “I don’t know. They said I didn’t need any.”

I paste on a smile. The next month at the world’s worst fat camp promises to be different, that is for sure.

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