Vanessa Weibler Paris’ series follows 29 year old Slim Jim, a skinny fellow struggling through life with below-zero self esteem. Slim Jim kindly, if a little unwillingly, agreed to be interviewed … here he talks with Mandy Nicol.
Firstly, what would you like to be called – James? Jim? Slim Jim? Or Jamie? I heard you once quite fancied being called Jamie.
You can call me Jim. I guess. When you’ve been Jim as long as I have, let’s be honest - there’s no way you’re ever going to break free of it. Not unless you up and leave, leave everything behind - family, friends, everything. And, if you do, where are you then? Alone. Even more alone than you were before. Anyhow, call me Jim. Or whatever. You can’t make up your own nickname any more than you can make up your own path in life.
You’ve been attending a clinic for your weight issues, could you tell us a bit more about that?
Weight issues! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to laugh. I just imagine this appearing in print ... what kind of paper or magazine did you say this was going to be in, again?...
Pure Slush. Don’t worry it’s very cool and you’ll be quite safe there.
... And it makes me think of those women’s magazines that always have articles about losing weight. In every single issue. Ten tips for smart snacking at holiday parties, or five ways to drop five pounds by summer. Stuff like that. So when you say “weight issues,” all I can think is that the reader is going to assume I’m trying to lose weight, instead of gain. But I’ve always been too thin, my whole life. I’d like to be honest with you, to try and explain what it’s like, but ... normal people don’t understand. They think it’s a joke, trying to gain weight and failing. Or they’re jealous. It’s like jealous of being someone who’s lost weight from chemo. “Hey, you look great! What’re you down, 20, 25 pounds? Heh, I’ll have to get me some of that!” So you asked about the clinic ... um, at the clinic, there they try to help me with ... actually, would you mind skipping to the next question? It’s just hard to talk about.
OK what about your family, are they supportive? Do any of them have the same weight issues as you?
My family! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to laugh again. No, it’s just me. They’ve known me my whole life, and you’d think that if anyone would understand, they would. But I’m not sure they do. I’ve heard them call me Slim Jim. Not to my face. But they’ve said it.
Tell us about your friends. Do they help?
My friends. If anyone understands, it’s my friends. They get it, because they all have their own things. You know? Different things, but still things. Dougie, he had cancer but he’s better now. Bobby, he had a stutter for years, but it’s gone now. Andy, his parents split up when he was a kid and it was rough on him and his sister. So my friends ... yeah. They have their stuff, too. The difference is, mostly their stuff is in the past. Mine, it’s still something I deal with every day.
What about your job, Jim. Can you tell us a bit about that?
I work at a call center. You know when you get a credit card mailer and it tells you to call right away for bonus free airlines miles, or a limited time low interest rate, or whatever? When you call, you get me. Me or someone I work with. Lots of people wouldn’t like spending the entire workday on the phone instead of dealing with people, but I do. I prefer it. Sometimes I use different names and picture myself differently for that call. I was Hal yesterday, one time, and I imagined myself looking like Zach Galifianakis. Do you know how to spell that?
Well no, can’t say that I do.
Actually, I may not either. I’m not sure if my voice sounded different. It might have, a little. Anyhow, I completed the application, which is what they want us to do.
And your future, do you think about that? Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
More than anything, I’d like to be married. Kids. Happy. Normal. Is that too much to ask? That’s where I’d like to be in ten years’ time.
... wait, what was the original question? Where do I see myself in ten years, not where I’d like to be? I’m sorry, I guess I misheard. I guess I’d like to skip this one, then. If you don’t mind.
Sure, we can skip that one. Let’s go back to the marriage and kids bit. Tell us about your ideal woman. Do you think you’ve met her yet?
If I have, well, I guess that means she’s with someone else. So I hope not. I’m not even sure I have an ideal woman...but I’m even less sure that I’ll ever be anyone’s ideal man.
Jim, I think you underestimate yourself. Thanks for sharing with us, and best of luck to you.