Saturday, March 06, 2021

About muscular fat

| February 3, 2021 7:00 AM

A classic G.George Ostrom column from 2001.

A year and a half ago, the editor of the Hungry Horse News went with the Over the Hill Gang to photograph our shoveling and opening of the Highline Trail in Glacier. He took that opportunity to snap an unflattering picture of the “Oldest Living Reporter.”

It made me look fatter than I really was. Basically, I was just darn well built, but the angle was bad. Since my stomach troubles this summer, I’ve lost 25 or 30 pounds; however, I’m still not the same lithe fellow who came out of Infantry Basic in the ‘40s.

In those times, at 5’ 10 ½” tall and hitting the scales at 170, I felt positive about what I was: an average proportioned specimen of the human male. Now it is different; the height has gone down while the girth has grown, and I’m probably going to gain back that muscle lost since May.

Most men can’t help wondering, “Where does chubby end and obesity begin? At what point does a man become pleasingly plump, or is it just women who are allowed to be pleasingly plump?”

While it is blatantly unfair, I do know females who seem to claim exclusive rights to being “full figured.” Could an older guy be accurately described as having a “mature” build? Is it covering up the truth to simply think of a male person of my particular dimensions and bulk as “huskier than average?” Have spent hours wondering at things such as, “When did they start calling that pool shooter ‘Minnesota Fats’?”

A matter as important as “What are you?” or “What am I?” eventually leads to self-examination, confusion, and then research. I did that as best I could. Psychology magazines were no help. Finally at the county library, I found a much larger than average dictionary that breaks down “fat” words. Here is how it covered the topic:

Fat – always implies excessive weight and is generally unfavorable in its connotations.

Obese – is employed principally in medical usage with reference to extreme overweight.

Corpulent – is a more general term for the same condition.

Fleshy – implies an abundance of flesh that is not necessarily disfiguring.

Stout – is sometimes used as a polite term to describe fatness. Stout in stricter application, suggests a thickset, bulky person.

Portly – is another word that can be used by polite people who don’t want to describe someone as fat, and in strict application designates one whose bulk is combined with an imposing bearing.

Pudgy – describes one who is thickset and dumpy. (Dumpy denotes “short and stout, from archaic ‘dump,’ a shapeless mass.”)

Rotund – suggests roundness of figure in a squat person. (Looked up squat and it means “short and thick; low and broad.”)

Plump -- is applicable to a pleasing fullness of figure, especially women.

Chubby – implies abundance of flesh, usually not to excess.

After studying these official definitions and connotations for several hours, I was able to commit them to memory. Once that was done, I put on a pair of skivvies and began turning slowly in front of a full-length mirror. On the sixth or seventh rotation, a realization came to me like a divine, uplifting message from the heavens: “George, you are just barely a portly person…using, of course, the strict application.”

I have great respect for fat, heavyset, portly, chubby, rotund, fleshy, plump people, but please! Don’t ever, ever call me… “Dumpy.”