CW: body dysmorphia
Episode 51: Won't You?, Skinny – Shel We Read a Poem?
British Voice: Shel We Read a Poem?
Russ: Hello all and welcome to Shel We Read a Poem. I’m Russ.
Lauren: And I’m Lauren.
Russ: Lauren, allergies are kicking your bum today.
Lauren: I don’t even know what’s going wrong. I did yard work for a day. And I guess I should have showered immediately rather than eating something and then showering. Because I woke up the next morning, and the right side of my face felt weird, like my eye hurt. I looked in the mirror and it was kind of puffy. But as the day went on, I started getting headaches. And it just felt like gravity had hooks in my face and was pulling down and my ear started to hurt and my jaw was hurting. And I had this giant lump at the right side of my face close to my hairline. And it doesn’t seem like a bug bite. It’s about the right size to be a bug bite but it’s kind of bumpy, like a rash. And so I had no idea what I did in the yard, but apparently I got something on my face that is… Well my skin just doesn’t like it. My skin hates it.
Russ: Has this happened previously or anything similar?
Lauren: No, I get some pretty bad rashes from certain plants. But I’ve never had this intensely swollen before. There’s this bump, like it’s a goose egg, like I hit my head.
Russ: That’s wild. Are there poison dart frogs in Portland?
Lauren: Well, even if there were, no one would be, you know, sticking a dart in one to shoot at me. I’m sure some people keep them as pets. I went to the doctor because the pain in my ear was so bad that I wanted to make sure I didn’t have a coincidental ear infection on top of the allergic reaction going on. And they said no no ear infection. They also thought it was very weird.
Russ: Laughs. My face is swollen in medical science doesn’t know why.
Lauren: Right. They’re just like, “Ehhh. it’s… You know… Looks probably like an allergic reaction to something. You don’t have an ear infection though.”
Russ: As everyone knows, podcasting is a very visual medium. And I think our voices belie our style because Lauren is probably the most colorful person that has like ever existed. Right now. She has on a road cone orange sweater, pink hair, and what looks like a purple shirt.
Lauren: It’s sort of a lavender color.
Russ: And for some reason, this is like Big Bird telling me about his boil.
Lauren: Laughs. The welts on my head are the same color as my hair.
Russ: Laughs. Oh god.
Lauren: Oh, we… Let’s move on to the poems. Having the ear buds in while my jaw and ear hurts is not fun.
Russ: Well, what are we talking about?
Lauren: Okay, I am going to do “Won’t you?”
Barbara’s eyes are blue as azure,
But she is in love with Freddy.
Karen’s sweet, but Harry has her.
Gentle Jane is going steady.
Carol hates me. So does May.
Abigail will not be mine.
Nancy lives too far away…
Won’t you be my Valentine?
Russ: This episode drops on Valentine’s Day, doesn’t it?
Lauren: Yeah, I think so. Right? That’s Monday.
Russ: That’s Monday.
Lauren: Great. So this’ll be perfectly appropriate.
Russ: Are you just very prescient with your timing? Or was there some ulterior motive?
Lauren: No, it’s just appropriate for the time. I do enjoy this poem because it implies that you are the seventh choice. No, the eighth because there are seven women or girls in this poem, but they all won’t do for one reason or another. And mostly because they say “no” in one way or another and then–you’ve been to the seven so—Hey, Lucky number eight?
Russ: Laughs. You’ll do.
Lauren: You’ll do.
Russ: So? Are we talking about Valentine’s day to day?
Lauren: Sure, go for it. Why not?
Russ: What are your Valentine’s Day plans?
Lauren: Well, I didn’t even know what day it was.
Russ: Laughs. I’m expecting like a Singles Awareness Day and a karaoke party or something.
Lauren: Probably I will still be dealing with this allergy. And the allergy gets worse as the day goes on because of the inflammation draining down and pooling around my ear. So by the evening I may still be grumpy.
Russ: Laughs. Welcome to your anatomy lesson for the day children.
Lauren: Yeah, I didn’t even know that things would pool around my ear.
Russ: That’s the line of the show right there. “I didn’t even know that things would pool around my ear.”
Lauren: Yeah, I did not know that inflammation from my forehead would cause such a problem in my jaw.
Russ: We are made in God’s own image,
Lauren: My jaw is so painful that touching it is excruciating.
Russ: Let us never fail to mention what boils have sprung up on our bodies.
Lauren: Are you doing anything for Valentine’s? You’re the one who has a partner?
Russ: Yeah, it’s really sweet because my partner is… Well, I mean, “my partner” that makes me… That’s… That’s an odd term. My prettier half.
Lauren: Ok, “partner” is more weird than “prettier half?”
Russ: I don’t know, “partner” makes it sound like we’re running a law firm.
Lauren: Yeah, you aren’t.
Russ: And “partner” sounds forced a lot of the time to me. I have an acquaintance at work, but only refers to their partner as their “partner.” And—I don’t know—replace it with like “my Robin,” or “my Batman” or something.
Lauren: Sure. Why not?
Russ: Anything sounds better than that. “Partner”… that’s only law firms. Like, I’ve never heard about that anywhere else.
Lauren: I like it, because it’s a good way of… I mean, in your case, you are married, but it’s a good way of saying, “Hey, I’m not married to this person, but I’m very committed to them.” Sometimes you are committed. It’s just sort of a generic legal status term of describing someone who is going to be in your life for a while.
Russ: I wish that we had… you were required to refer to them by that term. So it’s like “Here is my common law mistress.” But then Borat corrupted “my wife.” And we can’t say that anymore, because it sounds really forced. But anyway, the person that for some reason puts up with me, is zero maintenance. So the idea of like a Valentine’s thing or a Valentine’s exchange for her, it’s just very foreign. And so we’re like, “you want to do anything for Valentine’s Day?” And so we decided on, we’re going to take a small shopping trip, where we just wander around and find a small thing for one another that we think the other person would enjoy. And then at the end of the day, we surprise each other with it.
Lauren: I like this. It’s a little bit of a scavenger hunt.
Russ: And then I’m going to cook a steak.
Lauren: Sounds good.
Russ: Well, it doesn’t sound good to you.
Lauren: Well, I mean, when I ate meat, like steaks, it was a very long time ago. But I think steak was my favorite food when I did eat meat. I’m not doing anything for Valentine’s Day, but I’m part of this Buy Nothing group in the neighborhood. And there’s a person who was recently homeless and has their first apartment and doesn’t really have a lot of money to spend on niceties for their Valentine. So they were asking the neighborhood for decorations. I was like: okay, screw it. I’m just gonna make you a bunch of little heart pillows because I don’t have anything to make anything for anyone.
Russ: That’s so sweet.
Lauren: Yeah. They’re a little bit misshapen because I’m still learning how to sew. But it was an excuse to do some simple sewing and hopefully it will be good enough.
Russ: Somehow a misshapen heart pillow is better in my mind than a perfectly shaped heart pillow.
Lauren: Good. Well, you can tell they’re handmade for sure.
Russ: It kind of has that “a gremlin made this feel to it.”
Lauren: Oh, how accurate.
Russ: Here’s your pillow shaped by a goblin that has heard of the shape of hearts but never actually see one.
Lauren: Some of them may be a little bit more shaped like the organ, but oh well.
Russ: Anatomical heart pillow.
Lauren: What are you reading today, Russ?
Russ: Today I have made it a point for myself because I am always the downer on these episodes.
Lauren: You are?
Russ: Well, I don’t know maybe we both are but I have made it a point not to be a downer this go around. And so today I am reading “Skinny.”
was so terribly thin
that while taking his bath
out popped the plug
it washed Skinny
right down the drain
out of sight.
And where is our dear Skinny
In some underground pool
Or up there so high
in that tub in the sky
where all of
the clean people go?
Lauren: This is such a good children’s poem. Russ laughs. It super feeds off the fear a lot of children have of going down the drain.
Russ: I was afraid of this poem as a small, and the illustration doesn’t help because it’s a bathtub with one skinny arm just reaching out from where the drain would be.
Lauren: Yeah, if you’re like most children, and you hate taking a bath and being clean, and are perfectly cool with being dirty and disgusting, and then you have to face the big scary hole in the bathtub…
Russ: …that’s definitely going to wash you away.
Lauren: It’s definitely gonna suck you down. And it makes like growling noises. It’s very scary. Russ makes gutteral sounds. Yes, yeah. And you can feel the water around you getting pulled?
Russ: Laughs. Wow, that was visceral. I had never made that connection. But you’re exactly right.
Lauren: Yeah, you can feel the water being pulled from the area around you, things sucked away.
Russ: And I’ve been meaning to do this one for a minute, because to any listener that doesn’t or has never seen me. I am very skinny, and have been basically my entire life. And when I was in high school, I didn’t know the term for body dysmorphia in high school. But I definitely had conflicting feelings about being so skinny. And I remember going through a period where I was really desperately trying to gain weight. And then I like got a lot of anxiety around trying to gain weight. And that didn’t help either, because then I would get like sick to my stomach while I was trying to eat food. And that’s definitely a healthy thing to happen. I think I’ve mentioned my dad on this podcast before like telling me to weigh myself and that kind of thing, which, you know, it was what it was. And it wasn’t until I was an adult that I became very comfortable with my frame. And now, when so many of my friends are trying to lose weight. I’m finally at a point where I kind of like this. Buying clothes is really easy. It’s like when you’re built like a department store mannequin, it’s it’s pretty easy to find clothes. And for the nerd side of me there is nothing that I can’t cosplay now.
Lauren: Yeah, that’s gotta be fun.
Russ: Fan Expo Vancouver next weekend come out, folks. Billy West is going to be there. My favorite voice actor—my favorite living voice actor.
Lauren: What does he do?
Russ: Oh, he’s done everything. You would probably know him from Futurama. He does a lot of the voices on Futurama: Fry, Zoidberg, Professor Farnsworth. He was the voice of a lot of the Looney Tunes in the first Space Jam movie.
Lauren: Well, I know Futurama.
Russ: But yeah, and now being older and still thin, but that feeling hasn’t gone away. Like I’m still very obsessed with my weight and what I eat and now I’m at a kind of a state maintenance thing. But I don’t think it’s it’s transgressed into that anxiety area again. But now it’s a lot of fun because living in the area I do I get to try any fashion choice that I want to and won’t be met with judgment.
Lauren: Yeah, that is nice. It’s nice to both be able to wear clothes and you know they will fit and also not have judgment on the style that you’re choosing.
Russ: Last night I accidentally dressed like Anton Ego, the food critic from Ratatouille.
Lauren: I thought you looked kind of like Steve Jobs without hair.
Russ: Laughs. And then I replied, “Moby.”
Lauren: Sure. I’m not sure I love Moby much better.
Russ: But I sent the photo to my sister. And she’s like, Oh my God, you look like Anton ego, and then attached a photo.
Lauren: So I just looked down at my phone. And while we’ve been recording, my mother tried to call me and I haven’t heard from her in weeks. And recently I found out why. So when I would call the phone would be busy turn so she changed her number and didn’t tell me. Russ laughs. I know this wasn’t intentional. I know her. But she just didn’t think of it.
Russ: And say my mind would immediately go to quarreling or something.
Lauren: No, she just forgot.
Lauren: Mm hmm. Yeah. And so now I’m getting calls from a number I don’t recognize and not picking them up. Oh, turns out is my mother. When you were a kid, did you hate taking baths?
Russ: That is a good question. Okay, this goes way, way, way, way, way back. Wow, you just unlocked a core memory.
Lauren: I hope it’s ok.
Russ: No, no, it’s okay. I used to have a favorite babysitter who would give me baths and play with me in the bath. This was never anything inappropriate. I was very very small at the time and I’m talking like on the order of like four or so.
Lauren: I would not assume that it was inappropriate.
Russ: No, no, but it very well could be. Like I think I need to add that disclaimer because this is a time that someone could be. But I remember the fact that that she took my nakedness as nothing, and just played with me as though I was still out of the bath. I remember being beyond fond of her.
Lauren: Yeah, so it was she didn’t bring anybody shame into it.
Russ: Yeah it was just: You’re naked. And we’re gonna do the same things you do when you have clothes on. And I loved her. I’m pretty sure she was my first crush. And then in later life, I would reconnect with her, like, I would meet her again. And you know, she’s older than I am by at least a decade. So she’s always further along in her career than I am. And she’s always been very successful. You could tell that for her, it was just another day at the office. And for me, it was like this formative thing where it’s like: Hey, here’s your junk, and no one has to worry about that.
Lauren: That does sound like a really powerful thing. Especially if everybody around you is like, “Oh, no, we have to treat this as a very sensitive subject, even though we still have to give you a bath.”
Russ: What was your relationship with baths?
Lauren: I hated them, because I found them boring. And I didn’t get to control what temperature I was in. And sometimes I got shampoo in my eyes, and I didn’t have any control. I just didn’t like it because I didn’t have control over sensations that were happening to my body. Even though my mother and father attempted to be as patient as they could, I just hated it. And the part I hated the most was when I got out of the bath, and the coldness hit me. And then I had to stand there being cold while my mother or father dried my hair with a towel and then the rest of my body, but I just remember that I couldn’t make everything warm all at once. Like I could pull my towel around me, but then my legs were cold. Yeah, so for me like not being able to control the temperature of my body. It was very upsetting.
Russ: Just hear you describe it sounds terrible. It’s like, oh, I never want to take a bath again.
Lauren: Laughs. Well, the nice thing is as a you’re an adult, you have more thermal mass, and so you’re able to withstand temperature changes better than you are as a child.
Russ: The coldness never bothered me, even as a small. I remember getting out of the bath and never really caring about it. And to this day, unless I’m cold for too long, but that whole like shivery after the bath thing. I don’t really care. But I’ve been in a couple of places, usually nice hotels that have like heated floors, outside the shower bathtub, and that is one percenter territory.
Lauren: Radiant heat is not a 1% territory, necessarily. You just have to have a structure that’s built with radiant heat.
Russ: Now, I am so fond of baths. I love showers and I take unnecessarily long showers because I like thinking in the shower. Now I get to shave my head in the shower, and so that’s extra fun. But baths, and especially really hot onsen kind of baths, I really enjoy.
Lauren: I enjoy them, too. I get bored pretty quickly, though, or overheated. And so I don’t stay in them a lot. But I like the option of being in them and then getting out and then being in them and then getting out and then being in them again. Oh, your mother?
Russ: Yep. Man, the best thing I could have done with my mom is move away.
Lauren: It seems like it has been good for your relationship.
Russ: Our relationship is so much better.
Lauren: Yeah, that sounds good.
Russ: Yeah, me and my sister too. I used to… Of course when you’re small you hate your sister. Just you know, you have you have a sister. But as an adult for ages and ages, I didn’t really know what to do with her. It was like, here’s another person that’s also an adult, but also we grew up together and what’s going on here? And now she’s probably one of my best friends, which is super odd.
Lauren: That’s wonderful.
Russ: And wouldn’t you know it? Look at that. We have kept an upbeat tone this entire episode.
Lauren: Yeah, we did.
Russ: Wow. This is… Everybody, Golden Week.
Lauren: I think the worst thing is me bitching about my face pain.
Russ: Well, it wouldn’t be Shel We Read a Poem if we weren’t bitching about something.
Lauren: If I weren’t crabby about something.
Russ: Well, do you have any uplifting thoughts to leave the listeners with? Well, I’ve got one. There’s a new Kirby game coming out. Have you seen the trailer for this Kirby game?
Lauren: I have not.
Russ: I’m going to send it to you right after this episode is done. Kirby already can’t be cute. He’s small. He’s pink and he inhales things. But now he’s on the Switch. And he has a whole adventure dedicated to him. And like at one point, he inhales a vending machine. Come on, and then he becomes all rectangular…
Lauren: Wait? Are you saying he’s cute or is not cute?
Russ: Kirby’s fucking cute.
Lauren: For some reason I heard “he can’t be cute.”
Russ: Oh, I don’t know what I said. Let’s clear that up. He’s adorable as shit. Little bald pink thing. Laughs. Are we still doing phrasing?
Lauren: I remember them referring to him as “one tough cream puff” in some ad.
Russ: Ah. There’s no sexual imagery like Kirby sexual imagery.
Lauren: You’re right. There’s not.