I’m sitting at a coffee shop this weekend, working on this book. A few people wander behind me, and I’m half-listening to their conversation as I write. One of the women asks the man, “Is that your lunch?” And then I hear (from the man): “Yeah. I’m on a diet. My goal weight is four pounds.” I turn around. He notices me, noticing him, and asks, “What do you think? Is that a good goal?”
I glance back at my computer screen before replying, “I’m writing a book on eating disorders, so I’m going to go with ‘no.’”
He laughs, but then continues: “My whole life, I’ve wanted to be anorexic—but I’m always hungry. I wish I were anorexic.”
“No you don’t,” I quip.
“Yes, I do—my sister was anorexic. I was so jealous.” I stare. “I’m just kidding,” he says. “I joke a lot.” I freeze, caught between a general tendency toward humor appreciation and not wanting to condone a joke about an issue I take so seriously, managing only a half-smile in return. He tells his companion, “I’m going to go back there (he points), before she hits me in the head.”
A friend overhears the exchange and states the unspoken truth: “Theoretically, you could never stop writing, because people are going to give you material wherever you go.” It’s true—even as I sit here writing, there’s something more to tell. At some point, I hope to put this in print, but long after I tire of writing on this topic, there will always be another story, another joke, another conversation. . . .