I’m fat. Y’know what makes me feel better about that fact? Not much.

Did you know that if you ask people on the street what ‘Obesity’ is, most people consider it to be “anything fatter than me”? They proved that by going out in public and asking people on the street. Eek.

So anyhow, one time my friends and I were out at the park (you know the one with the miles of bike trails? That one.) finishing up a ride when we realized just how lucky we were to be winding up when we did. There was a Triathlon starting up. By gum, THAT explains all the new tape and signs on the trail. It was a minor miracle we were able to get on and ride, all things considered. (We used to ride early. That’s a tip. Start riding at daybreak. More spiderwebs in the trail. Fewer everything else.)

So, why WOULDN’T you stop, take a drink of water, cool down, and watch a bunch of people swim across a lake, charge up a hill, grab their bikes and ride off, all trying to go faster than one another? You would. We did. And so did this other guy.

Nice guy. Little round across the midsection. Little talkative. So far, I might as well be describing me, but here’s the difference: He’s eating an energy bar. I was about to go home and pound down the calories, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that this guy is mildly munching away on a ‘meal replacement’ energy bar while watching other people exercise.

Very fit people are rushing past us and clambering onto expensive bikes and rushing away, burning calories like a coal stove. My friends and I had just had a leisurely weekend ride by comparison, and we were sweaty and burned down. And this pleasant talkative guy munched and told us alllll about how he competes in this kind of thing all the time. He was in such-and-such a town two weekends ago and rode in some race or other, and he doesn’t have his bike with him today because he’s doing another race next weekend and doesn’t want to burn out, and while he unwraps a second energy bar, he continues to talk about what kind of bike he has and how he and his friends love to race.

You caught the part about the second energy bar, right? This guy, who looks like he’s in no better shape than me or Hubris, is nattering on and on, and in the course of watching the hotshots of the triathlon come in from their first loop around the trails, the guy finishes the second energy bar and opens a third.

We tried to be polite. We tried gently ignoring him. We tried having our own conversations in low tones. The guy had a message, though. His message was “I’m an athlete. I do these kinds of races, too. Just not today.” We got it. Point made. Go on, now.

But he had to put the finishing touch. “You’d think,” he eventually said, starting into his FIFTH energy bar, which he had also mentioned that he buys by the box, “…that I’d be skinnier, what with all the racing and stuff, but I just can’t lose the weight.”

Five energy bars while standing around watching other people exercise. And he doesn’t know where the weight comes from. Amazing.

Having gotten this off his chest, he finally waved, told us he’d be seeing us around since he does this kind of thing all the time, and wandered off. Probably going to make sure that other people in the crowd knew that he wasn’t just a fat spectator, but that he, too, did this kind of thing. All the time. Just like those guys who were just now riding in off their second lap and starting to leap off their bikes to run for miles.

What’s the takeaway from this kind of story? It’s okay to be incognito? A stealth athlete hiding behind a screen of no bike and an extra twenty five pounds? Yeah. Okay. I’ma go home and eat a chicken.