Some weeks ago, a woman at work said; ‘You look like Homer Simpson.’ There was nothing malicious in her tone or body language. In fact, I believe she thought it was a compliment. She smiled broadly, eyes sparkling, and said it in a friendly, singsong kind of way, as one might say; ‘You look lovely today’ or ‘I like your haircut’. I didn’t reply, not really knowing how to react to such an observation, but merely smiled and nodded. Should I have thanked her? Should I have reacted angrily? It was difficult to consider any reaction without first determining what she’d meant by the comment.
In what way did I look like Homer Simpson? True enough, I was wearing the sort of short-sleeved business shirt favoured by the character. And my hair is thinning on top. But is my head shaped like a football? Am I yellow? Am I flabby and overweight?
Or did her comment refer to Homer’s other qualities – his laziness, dishonesty, stupidity, greed, clumsiness.
It really was a struggle to find anything complimentary about the comparison.
After discussing it with my daughter, I could only conclude that there was something about my physical appearance that made me somewhat Homer-like. Maybe I had put on some weight. Maybe my head was a little more egg-shaped that I’d imagined. (Why this person thought the comment was a compliment was still a mystery, however, as I was too afraid to ask.)
There was nothing I could do about the shape of my head, but I could try and lose a few kilos. We drew up a dieting and exercise plan and, to help motivate me, my daughter L agreed to participate, despite the fact that she doesn’t look like any of the Simpson family. (She looks a bit like Betty from the Flintstones, but even that is stretching things.)
The first thing to go was any Homer-like food – doughnuts, hot dogs, soft drink, pizza, pastries, biscuits, ice cream – in fact, anything remotely tasty. L drew up a daily menu plan that included lots of apples, carrots, celery, lettuce and water – litres and litres of water. According to L water is the cure for all evils. I can’t drink enough of it.
An exercise regime followed. L tried to come up with a suitable plan, but the fact that I set down a series of limitations made the process very difficult. I refused to swim, run, lift weights, go to a gym, do yoga or aerobics, or wear sports clothing of any kind. That left walking or cycling, and without a bicycle or helmet, the cycling option was pretty much ruled out.
We live in a quiet suburban neighbourhood. There is nothing especially interesting or beautiful about our suburb. It is, in fact, quite dull. But every day, for the first week at least, L and I were up early, trudging up and down the local thoroughfares. L was in shorts, t-shirt, sneakers and sunglasses, looking like a healthy, active, sports-minded teenager. I was dressed as I would for any occasion – short-sleeved casual shirt, blue jeans, business shoes – looking like I was on the verge of a breakdown – pale, sweating, gasping for breath. I think L was embarrassed to be with me, as she kept sprinting off ahead.
We did this religiously for a week. During the second week, I kept finding myself busy with other things (surfing the net, watching tv) when it came time to exercise, although my dieting plan remained on track. By week three, both L and myself had given up the walking plan altogether, and I was sneaking muffin bars and biscuits in between meals. In short, our plan was failing miserably.
L and I are determined to revisit our dieting and exercise regime again in the near future. In the meantime, I am trying to think positively about Homer Simpson. He is kind of lovable, in a stupid, oafish sort of way. And he can be very passionate (about food, beer, get-rich-quick schemes), even if only for short periods of time.