Not-So-Great Expectations


I’m watching the tail end of Mrs. Womack’s infiltration of Ernie’s bedroom, and I’m thinking to myself, this is wholesome. This is good. That fat turd spends so much of his time absorbed in himself—his food, his video games, his porn—it’s about time he was knocked down a notch!

I can’t believe I’ve been supporting his gross habits since the beginning of the school year. You know what he told me? He said that some pedophile named Robbie had kidnapped him and force-fed him honey buns for two weeks straight, and that’s why he has an eating problem: because Robbie likes to fatten his little boys before, er, going steady with them or whatever. What a dumbass I am. I felt so sorry for Ernie. I thought he was telling the truth, I thought I was helping him get through his trauma when I brought over the junk food. It turns out I’ve just been giving him free calories. He was never kidnapped by anyone, and he doesn’t care about me or my feelings. He just cares that I show up every few days with a new care package. Twinkies, Nutty Bars, Pirate’s Booty—those are his real friends. I’m just a convenient set of arms to shovel them into his gaping mouth.

I’m fat. I know it, as do the other kids at my school, and they frequently let me know that they know. As if I’ve never in a million years stood in front of a mirror and realized the futility of trying to squeeze into a pair of hip-huggers. I know that no boy will ever want to be with me for my looks. But it would be nice to be wanted in some way, to be…desired.

Ernie jokes that I’m too needy. “You take things too seriously,” he always says, usually after seeing my reaction to his calling me “Piglet” or “Fatness.” He thinks he’s being affectionate, or that I’m so totally cool with obesity that I don’t mind being called “fat” to my face. But I wouldn’t mind a lie or two once in a while. Something like, “You look beautiful today.” Or, “Theo asked to trade girlfriends, but I told him to fuck off. Why should I get the short end of the stick?”

I wanted Charlie Roberson, that cute skater boy with the beautiful hair who’s in my P.E. class. One of the few benefits of being fat is that when we run laps, I do more walking than running. I’m always behind Charlie, chugging, panting, exhausted, ready to pass out, but somehow able to keep my legs moving so that I’m never too far back to appreciate his perfect behind bouncing in those skimpy gym shorts of his, or his wild, unbridled hair as it does a slow-motion dance in the breeze, leaving the aroma of Head and Shoulders in the air. I could run the mile behind him forever, snorting his smell and slavering over his awesome skater butt. But he doesn’t like fat chicks. And the only class we have together is P.E. So, to him I’m just the greasy, sweaty, blubbery girl who’s always out of breath. He’s never seen me in my non-sweat-stained form.

I used to cry over it. All through sixth grade I tried to work up the courage to talk to him, to get out at least a few good words before exploding violently in front of him, leaving steaming, gooey bits of me all over his face, his clothes. Every time the end-of-day bell rang, I ran home in tears because I’d let another day slip by without making contact, without at least trying to snag him before some other girl did.

This year, I thought I might actually do it. I was practicing lines in my head to and from school. I was constructing backup conversations just in case there were any awkward silences. I was ready to “accidentally” bump into him. Then I heard he got caught making out with Katie Sigler behind the bleachers during lunchtime, and I knew it was over. He has a taste for lean meat now. I figured he’d eventually get suckered in by some cute and super-thin pixie, but Katie Sigler? She’s a slut! She used to sell kisses during recess! Making out with her is what boys do when they’ve exhausted all other possibilities—or when they simply don’t care who gets them to second base for the first time.

That’s why I settled for Ernie—and I do mean I settled. He’s fat, obnoxious, single-minded—but he never made it with Katie. I can guarantee you he’s never had a girlfriend before. I thought I could use the novelty to my advantage. Even though I knew better, I got with him. He was my Katie. The easy chick, the path of least resistance. I thought that maybe being with a girl would inspire him to chew with his mouth closed, or to make an effort to hold in his farts when he’s around other people. But no. He acts like a fourth-grader, which is ironic, considering he’s a high school honors student. (I have the feeling that someone somewhere made a paperwork error, because I’ve never seen him do his homework. Not once! How does someone like that get skipped ahead?)

I suppose it’s all for the better. If he doesn’t have the attention span to manage his academics, there’s little chance he could ever maintain a diet of any kind. No, he’ll never be more than what he is now: a pathetic, dateless butterball. I don’t need him. I can lose weight on my own, and when I do, when I’m thin and beautiful and all the boys want to go out with me, I’ll make sure I stop by Ernie’s for old times’ sake, just to let him see what he let slip right through his hands. Revenge is a bitch named Becky Bensonbutter. Remember that, Ernie.

I watch his SMN feed on my computer screen. The video of his bedroom bounces upside down as his webcam is dragged out into the hall by a still-screeching Mrs. Womack. He’s dropped to his knees and is now fishing remnant M&M’s from the shag carpet.

All right. Enough for today.

I reach beside my mouse pad, picking up the small Mrs. Womack-shaped paper doll I made earlier. I remove the claws and pull off the wings; I speak the sacred words. On Ernie’s end, the screeching dissipates, replaced with more traditional yelling and shouting.

His grandmother has been restored to normal.

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Published by

Jesse Gordon

Geek. Writer. Supreme overlord of the SUPERMEGANET pseudoverse. Author of THE OATMEAL MAN, DOOKIE, and other such wasteful nonsense.