As I made my way to an aisle seat for my synagogue’s services, I noticed how my suit jacket hung so far from upper thigh. How I had to keep tugging at my belt to keep the pants from becoming low riders. Hmm, I thought, need to get this taken in.

My normal anxiety of whether my shirt and jacket were too tight, or that my pants would split if I dropped my prayer book and had to bend had dissipated. It’s amazing how losing pounds can add miles to your confidence, and hopefully life.

I took my seat, waiting for services to begin. Just then, I saw a man I knew from the gym. Our children had gone to high school as well as religious school together. He came over to say hello.

“Hi Brian, happy holidays.”

“Happy holidays to you. I guess there’s no gym for us today.”

“I know… tomorrow, after we eat a lot tonight. I must tell you. You look great. Really great.”

“Thanks. I’ve been dieting, and I try to work out at least five to six times every week. Just have to keep that portion control under control.”

“I can really see the difference. You’re doing an amazing job. Keep it up. See you at the gym tomorrow.”

My suit swelled with confidence, and my butt in my seat shrunk within the confines of the seat’s dimensions. I felt celestially high on these highest of holy days. All from my high-intensity workouts and low-carbs, high-protein diet.

As he turned away, I saw his wife marching toward me. The type of person who even as she talked to you was staring down the room for someone more congregationally desirable.

“Hey, you look amazing. Like a totally different person. It’s startling, the change. I hardly recognized you.”

“Hmm, thanks.”

“How much weight have you lost?”

I pondered the question. Not because I didn’t know but because I didn’t know if she really wanted to know.

“65 pounds,” I said with waist sucked in and chest puffed out.

“65 pounds?”

She scanned me up and down like I was someone at Customs trying to hide a block of imported cheese under my belt.

“You have to be kidding. I would have guessed at least 150 pounds!”

I looked at her agape. Had I really been that fat? Had I been an impending episode on TLC? Was I one degree of separation from Dr. Oz?

Suddenly, I had a nightmarish vision of the rabbi stepping to the altar, grabbing the microphone, and like a bad, Borscht Belt stand-up comedian, calling out to the congregation…


And then the response…

“How FAT was he?”

I returned quickly to my conversation, hoping to end it with as much dignity and deflated waistline as possible.

“No, just 65 pounds. I plan to lose even more over the next couple of months. I’m almost there.”

“Well, you look great,” as she worked the room with her eyes.

Phew… conversation over. Tie straightened. Pride in place.

And then…

“Hey, I also thought you were taller than you are. You’re much shorter than I remember.”

God, grant me the strength…. Better yet, pass me a string cheese and a kettle bell.

13 thoughts on “Compliments, Excepted

  1. Jennifer Zorek-Pressman says:

    you do look amazing

    1. bprcomm0612 says:

      Thanks, Jennifer. Have to remember to order Jeffrey’s popcorn this week!

  2. Joe Wiles says:

    Probably your best blog yet. I was literally laughing out loud. By the way, you do look great.

    1. bprcomm0612 says:

      Thanks, Joe. I always find a good comment energizing. Now if I could just avoid the carbs….

  3. Bradley Kule says:

    “ congregationally desirable “ Love it! Keep writing and slimming my friend.

  4. Bryce Warden says:

    Oh my she sounds dreadful. For some reason the back handed compliments sting more than the outright insults perhaps because they come wrapped in some failed attempt at being polite? Congratulations on getting more healthy and looking better too!

    1. bprcomm0612 says:

      Bryce, on one hand, it is so obnoxious. On the other hand, as a writer, it makes for a great blog! So I will take the high road and write away! Thanks for the good words!!!

  5. bprcomm0612 says:

    Brad, it is the good Vassar education. Or maybe it is just being from a nutty Jewish family. Thanks, boychik!

  6. Bonnie Agar says:

    Hard work but it is worth it. Loved reading this !

  7. Rob Dunton says:

    Hey Brian – great new blog entry, and congrats on the “new you”! I knew you were looking trim by your recent FB photos. Reach out — I miss you!!

  8. Oh, Brian! I’m so happy for you! Particularly happy that you are feeling good about yourself. Mazel, baby!!! xoxo Lou

    1. bprcomm0612 says:

      Will call you end of this week. Crazy week, crazy life! XOXOX

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