Martha Aguas loves her dog, her wardrobe and her job. And she’s fat, but she tries not to think about that a lot. Except when her sweet, overbearing titas come to town, and her perfect cousin Regina announces her engagement to her ex Enzo, she can’t help but feel a little fugly. Thankfully, she’s got her best friend Max on her side to play fake boyfriend until it all blows over.
“Your meat is going to get well done,” Dad pointed out, reaching over to move my steak around the grill stone to stop it from cooking too quickly. “And we both know that you might as well eat rocks if you’re eating steak well done.”
I frowned at my food, slicing off another piece of steak. Sawing into the meat would have helped my aggression, but the steak just split apart like butter. God, this steak was good. I could eat this steak forever. I would enjoy that more than having to endure another day feeling like crap.
“Martha,” my father said, squeezing my hand. “Are you okay?”
“Me?” I asked, my voice rising to a weird pitch like it did when I tried to lie. “Of course, I’m totally… not.” I finally sighed, resting my elbow on the table to give my double chin a spot to lean on. “I’m sad. The steak isn’t working.”
“A good steak can’t fix anything but a craving,” Dad pointed out, as he took a sip of his wine. “And a craving is only a symptom for something else. You’re not happy, Martha.”
I put down my fork and fixed my father with a glare. He’s been thinking this for some time, I know. If he’s bringing it up again, it means he doesn’t think it’s been fixed.
“Dad,” I sighed. “I don’t want to talk about—”
“I’m not talking about Regina or Enzo, sweetheart,” he said. “You haven’t been happy for some time now. Is it… a weight thing? I know your mom and I tease you quite a bit about it…”
I made a dismissive noise.
“No, it’s not that,” I said, picking up my fork again to cut up some more steak before I put it in my mouth. I could see Dad giving me an incredulous look as I chewed, and it took all of the soft juiciness of the steak away. “It’s not a weight thing!” I exclaimed in exasperation after I swallowed. “I’m actually happy with my weight, even though it’s hard to believe. I like that I can work it, because it’s mine. Everyone makes me feel so guilty for it, like there’s something wrong with me. But come on. I look amazing. And honestly? I don’t say it enough. I LOOK AMAZING.”
There was a quick moment of silence as the restaurant heard my little declaration, but it was the truth. For all my whining and complaining about my body, it was mine. I owned it, and I owned it proudly. Dad nodded solemnly at me, and I knew he believed me.
So why was he still trying to Six Sigma me?
“It’s not a weight thing,” My father conceded. “But it’s something. The last time I saw you smiling was—”
“I know, I know, my college musical,” I sighed, taking my knife and fork to cut into my food. I looked over the table to find my father chuckling at his steak. “Believe me Dad, if I knew I could be the next Idina Menzel, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
“Nope,” he said like he was the smartest guy in the world. “I was going to say the last time I saw you this happy was that day in Tagaytay.”
“Well, I learned I could potentially inherit four million pesos, so…”
“No, before that,” he sighed. “When Max and Ate Flora walked into the room. You looked so happy to have him there.”
I knew I must have looked ridiculous, staring at my Dad with wide eyes, not even realizing that I’d dropped my fork on the marble slab.
It’s weird, the moment you realize you’re in love. You see it when you’ve lost it, and at the most random, inappropriate of times. Because the moment I cut into that steak that afternoon, I realized that I was in love with Max. I didn’t recognize it at first, because I’d known love to be this slow, agonizing thing that was never returned.
But this? This kind of love filled my heart with so much happiness that I wanted to laugh.