Authors: Mark Rosenberg
The names and identifying characteristics of many of the people and places mentioned in this book have been changed to protect their privacy.
Copyright © 2013 by Mark Brennan Rosenberg
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Three Rivers Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of
Random House, Inc., New York.
Three Rivers Press and the Tugboat design are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Rosenberg, Mark (Mark Brennan)
Eating my feelings / Mark Rosenberg
1. Rosenberg, Mark (Mark Brennan) 2. Comedians–United States–Biography. 3. Weight loss–Humor. 4. Body image–Humor. I. Title.
Cover design by Kyle Kolker
Cover photographs: (ice cream cone) Michael Valdez/iStock; (sprinkles on ice cream) Tetra Images/Superstock; (sunglasses) Jonathan Downey/iStock;
(sprinkles on back) Mayakova/shutterstock
Every day you are missed.
In loving memory.
I’ve had more ups and downs with my weight than Oprah. Unlike Oprah, however, no one really gives a shit. I’ve never carted all of my fat onto a soundstage in a wheelbarrow. There have been no cameras following me around while I hike my fat, black ass up forty flights of stairs. I’ve had my issues with food, but America was not watching, until now.
I guess I should introduce myself. My name is Mark Brennan Rosenberg and I’m pretty much a whiter, skinnier, gayer version of Oprah with a much filthier dialect. True, I don’t have my own talk show or my OWN Network, but the similarities between the two of us are unbounded. Oprah has struggled with her weight and so have I. Oprah has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on diets, trainers, and nutritionists and so have I. Oprah is a strong black woman and so am I. Unlike Oprah, I go even further, dig deeper, and get to the underbelly of how bad weight issues can get. I’ve never seen an episode of
that tackled the nightmare of eating birthday cake off the floor. Never have I seen an episode of her show that delves into what can happen when you want to fuck your personal
trainer, but have absolutely no intention of actually working out. I’m also quite certain that Oprah doesn’t have Grindr on her iPhone. Well, guess what? I do. I am picking up where she left off and we are leaving no stone unturned and no bucket of chicken uneaten.
Together, you and I are going to take a journey into my struggles with weight, food, and body image. I know if you’re reading this that means you’re on page two. I know, books are long and reading is very hard and God forbid you create a world within your own imagination when you could be watching
. If you picked up this book and actually bought it, you probably only did so because you liked the cover, you are a friend of mine, or I verbally threatened you to do so, but have no fear. What you are about to read is a series of essays, all of which have a recurring theme. Meaning you can read one, a few, or all of them without hurting yourself from thinking too hard. I find this helpful to know beforehand, as most people these days seem to have the attention spans of guinea pigs.
Before we begin this magical voyage, here are some definitions of a few phrases that are mentioned throughout the book, just so you know what they mean ahead of time.
Swamp ass happens when you go from cold to hot or hot to cold and your ass sweats so much that your underwear sticks to it.
“Body Be Right”:
This is a common phrase I like to say when I see a guy with a really killer body. Its meaning is heightened when you say it with the inflection that a fourteen-year-old black girl may use.
This commonly happens at gay bars when a guy is so drunk that you think he could potentially have been date-rape drugged.
“Eating My Feelings”:
Well … we’ll get to that one in due time.
It may also be helpful to know some of the pop-culture references I refer to as well. I’m a child of the 1980s and ’90s, and since no one has an appreciation for the classics anymore, it may help to briefly discuss a few things I reference frequently.
A movie that came out in the 1990s that propelled Alicia Silverstone to superstardom for about six months and gave America catchphrases like “as if.” If you don’t know what this movie is, then you probably aren’t (A) gay or (B) a girl who grew up in the 1990s. If you don’t fall into one of those categories, you should probably stop reading this book right now.
All My Children:
A daytime television show that introduced the world to Erica Kane, the woman America loves to hate. In fact, my first book,
Blackouts and Breakdowns
(currently on sale in bookstores everywhere), was dedicated to her.
A very popular 1980s nighttime drama that featured women in dresses with shoulder pads fighting in lily ponds over a man who was in his late seventies and
probably couldn’t get it up anyway. Also known as the greatest show in television history.
Now that we’ve covered that, get ready for a shit parade beyond your wildest dreams. If you’re hesitant about reading on, just pretend that Oprah actually wrote this book. I’m pretty sure she would approve.
Our story begins in a sleepy suburban town outside of Washington, D.C. Our heroine, Mark, an overweight ten-year-old with an affinity for soap operas and show tunes, has found himself in a delicate condition that raises the questions: How much Halloween candy is too much? How inadvertently racist, offensive, and foulmouthed can one boy be at such a tender age? How did he get that way?
“You can do what you wanna do … in living color.”
Every Sunday night I parked my fat ten-year-old ass on the couch to watch the most glorious television show ever,
In Living Color
. For whatever reason, I thought it was the funniest program on TV, but my parents thought otherwise.
“Mark, I don’t think that program is suitable for someone as
young as you,” my mother would say. My mother is how I imagine all middle-aged housewives to be. Very well put together on the outside, bat-shit crazy on the inside. She basically embodies all of the characteristics of a person I would call a friend in adulthood, which is why we’re besties now.
“But, Mom,” I would retort, “they have the Fly Girls.”
I always wanted to be a Fly Girl. In my opinion, that was about as high on the entertainment food chain as you could get.
Not only did
In Living Color
have Fly Girls, it had pretty much everything you could want from a television show at the time. MC Lyte would make an occasional cameo, you could find out what was playing in theaters that week because the Men in Film would snap for the movies they liked, and there was of course the pièce de résistance: Homey D. Clown. I loved Homey—the ex-con who plays a clown—and his take-no-prisoners attitude toward life. If someone pissed him off, he would lash out by hitting them over the head with a sock full of tennis balls. Because Homey did not play that, many people were injured as he tried to delight the world. I know one ten-year-old he entertained, and that was me. I wanted to be Homey, except for that pesky ex-con part, because I had no desire to go to jail. For whatever reason, I always wanted to get back at “The Man,” and although I had no idea who the man was, I knew I hated him because Homey had told me to. Perhaps it had something to do with that fact that I was a constantly hungry ten-year-old, filled with angst because my parents continued to refuse to serve cake for breakfast.
The fall of 1990 was magical. The world was delighting in the musical stylings of Taylor Dayne, and talented people such as Ian Ziering and Arsenio Hall were about to come into their own. I was wrapped up in third-grade bullshit and loving
every minute of it. My best friend at the time, Kelly Harmon, had decided to rename herself yet again. She was now going to call herself “Katie.” The previous year she had gone by Katherine. This confused me so I decided I would call her “Katie-Kelly-Katherine” in order to prevent any further confusion on my part. When Halloween rolled around, she told me that she was going to be Sleeping Beauty and asked me what I was going to be.
“I don’t know,” I replied. “I guess I’ll be a hobo again.”
For the last three years, I rocked out a fabulous hobo costume that my mother had designed. This may have something to do with the fact that most upper-middle-class families have never actually seen a homeless person; they do, however, seem to think hobo costumes are the most adorable outfit choice for children come Halloween.
“That’s cool,” Katie-Kelly-Katherine responded.
“Yeah,” I replied, “but I have been a hobo like three times now and I am beginning to feel like making fun of homeless people is wrong.” Bust out your soapbox, young Mark Rosenberg. “I don’t have any ideas.”
“You could go as Barney Rubble. Just turn your hobo gear into a brown frock and call it a day.”
“Barney Rubble? What a dumbass idea,” I replied, duly noted, and used the following Halloween. But this year I needed something with a little kick. Besides Katie-Kelly-Katherine, I had no other friends, and I wasn’t quite sure how to make them. I was fat and the rest of the kids liked to play sports, not watch soap operas, so there was a definite divide in the friends department. On one side there was myself, a soap-opera-loving, brownie-baking tyke who appreciated everything Susan Lucci wore and had a strong affinity for things that glittered. On the
other side there was everyone else. Luckily, I had a friend in Katie-Kelly-Katherine because she watched
All My Children
and the conversations were endless. The rest of the kids weren’t as cool, and I think some of them watched NBC soaps, which was unacceptable as far as I was concerned, because if a soap opera didn’t feature Erica Kane, Viki Buchanan, or Lucy Coe, there was no sense in watching it to begin with.
I needed to find a Halloween costume that would wow the class and get me as much candy as possible, but I had no idea where to find inspiration. I thought about going as Lucy Coe from
and wearing a hot red wedding dress, but quickly realized that would only be a good idea if I wanted to get punched in the neck repeatedly by every bully at school for the next fortnight. The Sunday before Halloween, I was sitting in front of the TV, and like a gift from Jesus Christ himself, I had the best idea ever.