Sunday, January 18, 2009


As a member of Ohio University's venerable (so tell me) Honors College,* I sometimes get corralled into various activities. Usually I resist, but yesterday was Interview Day for prospective applicants. I was super-excited because we had three potential students (last year the anthro program didn't have ANY), so I agreed to attend a meet-and-greet lunch with the applicants and their parents.

The food was actually pretty decent - there was black bean soup that hit the (previously very cold) spot. Current students were already seated when the applicants and their parents came in. I scooted my chair to the right to make room for an applicant's mother. "Do you have enough room?" I asked.

"I don't know, I might grow here, I've got a big plate," she said, settling in. I turned to see one of the thinnest adult women I've ever encountered. The "big plate" was mostly vegetables (granted, mine was too, but I'm not that thin anymore). I immediately regretted the dollop of sour cream I'd added to my soup. Why? I'm in recovery, and this kind of thing happens.

I tried not to make any assumptions and focused on my own plate, though I did notice she tended to pick things apart and ate very slowly - been there, done that. I put my energy into answering her and her daughter's questions. The applicant seemed really bright, and given her interest in human rights, she'd be a good fit with our faculty.

Then her mom asked about the fitness center. E, the girl, rolled her eyes and shook her head. "Oh, come on, you might start exercising!" her mother said.

A little bit later E asked about vegetarian food options. The dining halls are okay, I said, but this is hippie college - there are a ton of vegetarian places around Athens, including a couple Middle Eastern and Indian places. E was happy to hear that, but said, "ohh, I'm going to gain so much weight!"

"Maybe you will start exercising then!" her mother said.

I shook my head. "No, you'll be fine," I said. "The freshman fifteen is a myth. None of my friends or anyone I knew really gained any weight." Except me, but I doubt your diet will include as much BoostPlus as mine did. I didn't look at her mom when I said this.

Did I say the right thing? I mean, for God's sake, I don't even know if the woman had an eating disorder. Some people are just really, really thin. I probably read too much into it and it was my own fault that I was uncomfortable.

*Other illustrious graduates of the Honors College include Piper Perabo (of Beverly Hills Chihuahua and Coyote Ugly fame) and, more importantly, Jessica Hagy of Indexed.


Carrie Arnold said...

I think you handled the situation very well, actually. It's hard when you're not in a position to really share much of yourself (nor should you have felt obligated to), but you reassured the daughter and hopefully, being on her own will be damage control for her mom's food issues.

Gaining Back My Life said...

You were fabulous.

And kudos to you for continuing with your meal. AND for continuing with your perseverance towards recovery.

You may just have made adifference in those peoples' lives you will never know.

Tiptoe said...

It's hard being in that type of situation. I know I would have felt just as uncomfortable as you. However, I think you did a fine job, and I'm sure hopeful applicant was appreciative of your information about the school.

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