My best friend Julia and I lived together for almost eight years before she met her "one-and-only", Richard, and got engaged. I felt nothing but happiness for her and gladly accepted the privilege of being her maid of honour.
The wedding was five months away but Julia spoke of nothing else. Every time she'd open her mouth it would be about how many tiers the cake would have or how stressed she was about losing the sufficient pounds to fit into her wedding gown. Most people around her quickly grew tired of all the wedding banter, but not me. We were best friends and I was almost as excited as Julia was.
That was until one Friday night when we went out for a couple of drinks at our favourite city drinking hole. Julia ordered a bottle of sparkling and we toasted her and Richard repeatedly. I have to say, there was a bit of craziness about Julia that night as she repeated "I'm getting married!" over and over again, not only to me but to any passer-by who'd listen.
She then decided that she would expound the benefits of being married, to me — now her only single girlfriend — and tell me how sad she was for me as I hadn't had a boyfriend in over two years. She then proceeded to advise me on how I could "pretty myself up" so as to be more alluring to the opposite sex and how Richard insisted she only wear certain brands of make-up that brought out the best in her lovely skin tone. There was much more to this diatribe but I blocked it out as I fumed inside.
I said little to Julia over the next few days. Although it is hard to avoid someone you're living with, I did my absolute best.
It was when Julia came home almost in tears one day after catching a glimpse of her growing bottom in a shop window, the little devil on my shoulder gave me a great idea.
"I'll help you lose weight", I announced.
"Would you? That would mean the world to me!" was Julia's reply.
I was working as a part time chef at a cafe at the time and did much of the cooking at home as well, as Julia was hopeless in the kitchen.
Night after night I produced meals that looked low-fat on the surface: fish dishes with vegetables, soups and salads. Julia was thrilled with the thought that she would soon be shedding the kilos as the wedding was months away and there would be plenty of time.
I was waking early to make Julia breakfast and packing her a lunch as well, "to make sure all the meals are calorie-controlled," I told her. She was so happy that her low-fat meals tasted so good and that she "wouldn't have picked that they were low-fat if she didn't know better".
Luckily she didn't. I had been putting fairly generous quantities of olive oil and butter into every meal I cooked for her. I was also using double cream in some dishes (lying that I'd used low-cal condensed milk).
It was after a few weeks that Julia lamented about how she hadn't seemed to have lost a single kilo — in fact she thought she had gained some weight. I had to work extremely hard to mask my pleasure in this as I provided a much needed shoulder to cry on.
I told her that maybe she needed to exercise more (knowing full-well that Julia was very nearly allergic to exercise using the excuse that she never had the time.) I told her it was probably just her metabolism re-adjusting to her new diet and that soon it would even out. She bought into my reasoning and I continued to fatten her up.
A month later and Julia saw that her 'metabolic adjustment' hadn't happened yet. In fact she had weighed herself at a friend's house — something she was generally scared of doing — and she was certain she had put on at least five kilos.
I reassured her and made up a few new excuses. I told her I would double my efforts ("Yeah, double the fat content," I thought) and make sure that she won the battle of the bulge before her big day. I said I'd also exercise with her if she was willing and she seemed placated.
We started doing some very low-impact "pilates" (ie: a bit of stretching that I ad-libbed) and I actually increased the amount of butter and other high-calorie ingredients I was using in her food.
A month before the wedding Julia threw a hissy-fit of nuclear proportions. She screamed that nothing was working and that she was going to a well-known weight loss establishment to help her. When they told her that the amount of weight she wanted to lose to fit into her "already-purchased" and "obscenely expensive" size-10 wedding gown would not be viable or safe, she broke down.
Julia cancelled the wedding and broke it off with Richard.
Their relationship only got going again almost a year later and for that I feel guilty. I had let my own personal hurt turn me into a monster and in turn hurt the friend who had always been there for me. Revenge isn't always as sweet as it's made out to be.
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