The Weight Room

June Men's Room

I have a doctor’s appointment coming up, a routine physical. Based on my last many physicals, I know the visit will go this way:

A nurse will guide me back to a closet-like kiosk, where she will take my vital signs. My blood pressure will be perfect, thanks to two pills a day. My height will be unchanged for the forty-second year in a row.

The nurse then will instruct me to stand on the scale.

I will ask if I can take off my shoes.

The nurse will say yes.

I will ask if I can take off my pants.

The nurse will say no.

I will hesitate, then step onto the wobbly plate at the base of the scale.

The metal indicator arm will slam to the top.

The nurse will slide the poise weight along the beam. Then she will slide it some more.

The arm won’t move.

The nurse will grimace, then slide the weight again.

The indicator will dip momentarily, then settle back at the top.

I will hear the nurse breathe slowly, possibly counting to ten to control her frustration.

Finally, the indicator arm will balance. The nurse will jot down the number.

“I had a big breakfast,” I’ll say.

“Mm-hmm,” the nurse will say.

“No, really,” I’ll say. “It’s just that things have been super busy at work, so I haven’t had time to work off my nutritious and moderately portioned egg white and oatmeal, with a sensible side of antioxidant-rich blueberries.”

She then will say, “Don’t you mean a bucket of Frosted Mini- Wheats with a side of apple fritter?”

I then will say, “Apples are good for me.”

She will add a note to my chart.

Minutes later, the doctor will enter the exam room as I’m pretending to read an article about kale salads in a four-year-old issue of Better Homes and Gardens. He’ll be tapping through my records on his handheld computer.

“Your weight is still an issue,” he’ll say.

This is his way of saying hello, and it will prompt me to sit up straight and suck in my belly. Maybe he won’t notice that I appear to have swallowed a volleyball.

“Big breakfast,” I’ll say. “And I’m wearing heavy pants.”

The rest of the visit will involve the doctor giving me a thorough going-over as he delivers a lecture on the benefits of proper diet and sufficient exercise. No, the doctor will tell me, he doesn’t have a pill that will make me svelte and sculpted again – and because he’s a kind man, he won’t mention that I never was in the first place.

I’ll take his point, and I’ll pledge to him, yet again, that I’ll do better. And I’ll mean it.

I’ll go home and look with disgust into my pantry and refrigerator. Then I’ll sit down with the page I ripped out of the doctor’s magazine and check out the ingredients for kale salad. 


Tim Bass is coordinator of UNCW’s bachelor of fine arts program in creative writing.


To view more of illustrator Mark Weber's work, visit