How to lose 140 pounds

by tobias crabtree

I sat inside my buddy’s house with a cup of coffee, waiting for the morning to happen. The sun came up again and proved that Tuesday still lands between Monday and Wednesday. I like Tuesday, it’s the day nobody talks about. It’s spelled kinda funny, I guess Wednesday and Tuesday have that in common.

On this Tuesday –it might have been this last one, but who’s counting– I sat and watched a little California Towhee throw himself against the sliding glass door over and over. At first I thought, ” aw, look at little buddy, he wants in where it’s warm, ” but then I figured out that he was fighting with his reflection in the glass. I wondered what he was thinking, like, “damn, this guy’s quick, he knows my every move!” or maybe he was thinking he would outlast the other bird staring back at him. There he was, pecking and scrapping and fluttering against his own image in the window. While he was busy with that, I was busy thinking about what he was thinking. I even excused him a little, at least he’s getting some cardio in. I finally couldn’t take it anymore, I started feeling bad for a lot of reasons. You see, the California Towhee is a drab little guy, he often goes unnoticed and when he is noticed, folks often call him a sparrow. I guess there’s nothing wrong with being confused with a  sparrow, but why grow out that long narrow tail if you ain’t gonna notice it? And what about that beautiful fade from brown to rust on the lower belly and thighs? I like the California Towhee because he’s just making his way, drab brown with a pretty little voice and a shy demeanor, through the big blue world. I reckon that somewhere out there are two little Towhees all mated up and snuggled beautifully and brownly on a branch, singing deeply each into the others’ heart, and all else is lost. But this little guy at the back window had somehow picked a fight with himself and he was pretty damn determined to win, or lose, however you wanna look at it. I got up and opened the door and broke up the fight. He bounced backward a couple feet, looked at the giant ape that ruined his fight, and flew away chip chip chipping into his Tuesday.

Little dude flew away, but he stayed with me all morning. Hell, he’s still with me, right here in this story, right here in my mind and as plain as day. I think, and this kinda bothers me, he reminds me of me. When I went for a run later that morning, I was daydreaming back and back into my life. All the steps I’ve taken. How many of those steps wasted? How many times have I walked a path toward the same mistakes I’d already made, and staring down at my own damn tracks all the while. Oh yeah, I’ll learn, eventually I’ll learn. These thoughts were in my head and creeping toward my heart while I ran. The path turned and my shadow crossed in front of me, I could see the shape of my nose and the tilt of my head. Sure enough, that’s me, right there in that shadow. I wondered how much of my soul my shadow owns. That ol’ Shadow, cast out on the ground, running and meeting me, only leaving me when I leap. I guess I own my shadow, maybe the sun is a co-owner. If either one of us goes away, the shadow is gone.

My mind found a place in the past, when I was in the Marine Corps. I heard an instructor yapping at me with a hard smile on his mouth, “Crabtree, how much do you weigh?”

140 pounds staff sergeant.

“Well, that’s a small pile’a shit, ain’t it, Crabtree?”

Yes it is staff sergeant.

And then, years later, on Tuesday, that same 140 pound pile of shit was running up a hill near Fosters house toward the rocks that sit in the middle of the buckbrush where the lizards lie cold and wait for the sun to stir their blood and the roadrunners run with chattering beaks, swallowing the frozen lizards, and the little black stink bugs lumber with their hind ends high and my feet were finding the ground over and over, each time meeting my shadow, and I was looking at myself and wondering about that little Towhee in the window. I hope he makes it. I hope I make it.