Author : J.R.Blackwell, Staff Writer

“I was a fat old man way before it got popular.” The fat old man leaned across the old fashioned, wooden bar. “When I chose this body it was before what’s-his-face got on the Feeds about bellies and beards. I decided I wanted to be big, on my own, for, whatsit, philosophical reasons.”

“Oh yeah?” said the bartender, distantly sympathetic.

“I wanted to fill up space.” The old man gestured at his girth.

The bartender nodded, cleaning a glass. The old man continued. “I was raised in the Cult of Barbie. Really, I was. I know I don’t look like it now but I’d been a Barbie all my life. I know, doesn’t show to look at me now, but I was one of the plastic people, shiny hair, long legs, perfect surgical tan. I used to wear miniskirts. And the shoes, rows and rows of them. My closets, if you could have seen them then, you would have been amazed.”

The fat old man, who wasn’t really old at all, pushed himself back from the bar and stood, pointing at his feet. “You know how many shoes I’ve got now? Two, the ones I’m wearing. I didn’t take this body to be fashionable.”

The bartender raised an eyebrow. “Then why did you take it?”

Shaking his finger, the old man came back to sit on the barstool. “It’s not to rebel against the Cult, if that’s what you think.”

“Didn’t even come to my mind.” said the bartender.

“I did it to be free. You always had to watch yourself with the Barbie’s. You always had to be perfect.” He shook his head. “I did it. It was the way I was raised. I went through Skipper then the initiation to a full Barbie, the whole thing. You ever dated a Barbie?”

“Do I look like I make enough money to date a Barbie?”

The old man laughed. “No, you don’t. But they slum it sometimes. Although they always drive the bankrupt ones to tears. I remember. I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t take more money and spend it on clothes, crap really, just crap. I wanted to be covered by fat, my inner self-hidden. I wanted a big beard so you couldn’t ignore me. I wanted to be a drunk, I wanted to smell like a man whose been somewhere besides the mall and the compound.”

The bartender placed the glass upside down on the shelf. “You’ve been places since those days, then?”

“Oh yes.” said the old man. “I’ve seen up more skirts than when I lived among them. I’ve walked far in these good shoes. Then, when I want to disappear, I’m not pretty enough to notice.” He sighed over his drink. “But now, that damned actors made my look popular.”

“You gonna change then?” said the bartender.

“I have to, don’t I? I’m not one of those fad bodies.”

“So you’re worried that people will see you as fashionable then?”

“Yes.” The old man looked into his drink, his face warped in the brown liquid. “You know what?” he said, looking up at the bartender. “Screw em. I’m not changing. I’ll be this way long after they’ve found another body type to take.”

“You’ll be even further out of fashion then.”

“You’re right, you’re damned right.” The old man slammed his fist onto the bar, triumphant. “Bartender, another drink to celebrate.” He raised his glass “To the death of fashion.” He said. “May we all fall out of style.”

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