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Funbag

I Gained Weight In Quarantine And It’s Making Me Miserable

A 13 year-old boy, who weighs 14 stone, is helped to his feet by his companions, 3rd June 1931. They are part of a group of fat boys being entertained to tea at the Guildhall, London, before one of them is chosen to take part in a historical pageant in Rochester, Kent. (Photo by Keystone/FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s new novel while you’re at it. Today, we’re talking about forks, credit card fraud, reading while high, and more.

Oh, hi there. I’m Drew. I answer questions. Lemme do that right now.

Your letters:

Paul:

Like many Americans, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the COVID pandemic stress-eating. How much weight do you imagine the average American has gained since the start of the year?

I actually lost weight at the beginning of the pandemic, due to stress (which makes some people eat LESS and not more) and because I was scared that quarantine would make me fat. Some of my Defector colleagues have also lost weight this year. Like a lot of other people, we’re all decidedly more attuned to our personal health than we were before all this started.

And then… I fell off the wagon. When I hurt my brain two years ago, I shrunk down to a frightening 188 pounds. I’m 6-foot-3, so that’s not a healthy-looking weight for me. I ate my way back into the 200s and started to feel like I was playing with house money. I still worked out at home. I didn’t even drink anymore. I could eat whatever I wanted, right? WRONG. Eventually my chocoholism caught up with me and I ended up heavier than I was BEFORE I fell into a coma. Since then, I’ve quit sugar (I’ll definitely be back on it at some point) to get skinnier, and it’s slowly working. I’m dragging myself back down into the 210s, bite by bite.

But I’ve still had those awful moments where my clothes don’t fit and my shirt comes up over my belly because I have too much belly for it to contain. Just a fucking horrible feeling. I’ve been up and down with my weight all my life, so every time I start to creep back up the scale, all the horrible feelings of self-loathing and insecurity for my other times being overweight rush back to me. My weight takes over my mind. I walk into the kitchen and all I see are the digits on the bathroom scale from that morning. It sucks. I fucking hate being overweight. Every overweight person hates it.

And it’s not simply the baggage that comes with it. As a married guy, I don’t REALLY have to worry about my beach bod anymore. But the weight itself is enough of a burden. The number. I hate the number. I hate seeing it and I hate thinking about it. I hate that I can’t get it down RIGHT NOW, unless I go into another coma, which I have no interest in doing. Every time I look at that number, smaller numbers feel farther and farther away. I can’t help it, and I even can’t even go to a goddamn gym to help speed up the process. The world itself has been enough of a headache. But now I, along with so many other people, have had to deal with the physical consequences of its bullshit. It makes me bitter, and in dire need of Cinnabon.

I bought an elliptical a month ago. This was not an easy task, and not just because these machines cost a lot of money. The bigger problem was that I couldn’t find one. I was among the last suburbanites in America to understand that the only gym available for a while is gonna be a home gym. So I went to Dick’s looking for equipment and the guy on the floor was like, “Dude, we can’t keep ANYTHING in stock right now. When the truck comes every week, it’s all gone.” When I finally found a place that had equipment to buy, the manager told me mine wouldn’t ship until October if I was lucky (I am; it arrives on the 3rd). Everyone hates Peloton but that company’s pandemic sales are on a rocket to fucking Mars. I almost bought an elliptical online from another joint, but I would have had to assemble it MYSELF. Imagine trying to assemble an elliptical machine yourself, man. Makes an IKEA dresser look like a set of Duplo blocks.

Anyway, now I’m banking on that stupid machine to help me reverse my gastrointestinal fortunes after the damage I’ve wrought. Is this a healthy approach? No. Has this country forced me to cling to anything I can for hope at the moment? Yes.

My answer to your question is roughly 15 pounds.

Walt:

I think most silverware sets come with two sizes of forks (yes, I know the little one is technically salad but, c’mon). At what point did you graduate from little to big fork? When I was a kid we had both and to this day I still grab little fork one first because big is for the adults. I’m 50 with grown children.

I hate salad forks. I don’t even like to eat salad with them. I’m a grown man and I need a fork with tines that are a foot long each, so that I can stab as much food as it will accommodate. I want a full shish kebab with every bite. Any other kind of fork is dainty bullshit. My wife sometimes puts out a small fork for me to use because we’ve used all the big forks, and I have revolted by taking a big fork out of the dishwasher and washing it BY HAND to make sure I’m eating with a proper utensil. No bullshit salad forks for me, with their stubby little tines. Stupid dwarf fork. I’ll cut it with a knife for its insolence.

My kids use the small forks because they’re small, but mostly because I like hogging the big forks for myself. My daughter, 14, caught onto this long ago and now uses big forks because she knows you get a better bite out of them. So really, I have no hard and fast age for when you graduate to the grownup fork. It’s up to the kid to identify the problem and go for the silver. That’s me teaching them self-reliance.

Tyler:

I find myself struggling to cope with the barrage of COVID stories and just the general sense of dread that pervades every corner of life. I’ll probably lose my job, my social life is nonexistent, and it doesn’t seem like we are getting through this anytime soon. Anyway I have been cooking a lot so do you have a good crockpot recipe to share?

I do not actually own a crockpot. This is not because I have anything against crockpots, it’s because I am cheap and lazy. And because I have journalistic ethics! TRUE STORY. I was profiling Guy Fieri for GQ and Fieri offered me a free, Guy-branded crockpot from a pallet he had lying around that had, like, 800 crockpots stacked on top of one another. And I said to Fieri that I couldn’t take that shit because journalism, and he was like OH COME ON. He really wanted me to have a crockpot. And frankly, I kinda regret not taking one. I took free Legos from Chris Pratt once. I am not a beacon of consistency.

For any crockpot shit, I use a Dutch oven, which is basically the same thing, only you get to make fart jokes any time you mention that you own one. My favorite Dutch oven recipe is Bourdain’s beef bourguignon recipe. That’s not me being a thirsty dipshit. It really is a flawless dish.

I watched an old episode of Parts Unknown once where Bourdain showed you how to cook it. The key, he noted, was to give each cube of meat space, even if you have to sear the meat in separate batches. Space is everything in cooking. If you crowd a skillet or a roasting pan, then you end up steaming the ingredients, and that’s just the saddest shit. You gotta give each ingredient its own little parcel of real estate so that it gets good and browned. That’s especially true with any kind of braised/stewed meat. So make this beef stew Bourdain’s way as the weather gets cooler, and that COVID angst will mellow for at least a bit. That’s really as good as you’re gonna be able to do right now.

Mannix:

I used to be a New Jersey Nets fan pretty much until they moved to Brooklyn. I was also an Oakland Raider fan, but now they’re going to Vegas. Now I’m also an Oakland A’s fan but even their future is uncertain. How can I remain loyal to my teams when they keep leaving me?

You’re not obligated to, and I know it’s easy to ask yourself why should I cheer for my team if they don’t really care about me? and promise that you’ll quit your team cold turkey when they abandon you. But if fans based their loyalty off of reciprocation, no team would HAVE any fans. Luckily for owners, that’s not how fandom works. You love your team despite yourself, and sometimes that love carries on through a move. Other times, it doesn’t. The Chargers are perhaps the greatest historic example of an entire city successfully quitting its team without regret (I have never gotten an email from a San Diegan who stuck with the Chargers after the L.A. move, and of course my inbox is a flawless instrument of sociological measurement). But a lot of Raiders fans stuck with the team after the Vegas move, and other fans have done likewise for teams that obviously don’t care for them and never have.

Should you be loyal to your team? No. Does that ultimately matter? Nope. You love your team and you can’t un-love it unless your mind, acting on instinct, truly allows you to. I can’t leave the Vikings. They could move to fucking Arkansas and they’d still be my team. My mind won’t let me desert them. I’m too far into the sunk cost fallacy to ever quit. And look at sports right now. Every NBA playoff team is playing in the exact same city. Virtually every NFL team is playing in front of empty seats. Has any of that shit changed how I view these teams? Nope. All of the things that make me love or hate those teams is still present in my consciousness. The pandemic has proven that sports can happen anywhere, under any circumstances, and still work their voodoo on you.

I used to joke that, in the future, every stadium would just be a fucking wall of luxury boxes and that actual fans wouldn’t exist, because they don’t have to. Well, here’s that future. And I’m still watching. So really, it’s no effort to remain loyal to these teams. That loyalty is already baked into the process. It’ll either fade away from your psyche naturally, or you’ll be stuck here forever the same way I am. Either way, you can’t force it.

But you should still root for the Nets. I mean, really: New Jersey, Brooklyn… what’s the fucking difference.

Nathan:

After I subscribed to Defector, my bank called to let me know that my card might have been used fraudulently.

It was. I own your house now.

My bank and my credit card are so vigilant about fraud it’s almost a drawback at this point. I tried buying a bunch of snacks with my card when I was in England seven months ago. My shit got declined and I was like OH GOD I’VE GONE BROKE AND DIDN’T EVEN REALIZE IT. But no, that was just my credit card company noting an anomaly in my purchasing habits and freezing my purchase because that didn’t trust that I was me. I appreciate that… to a point. But I really wanted some British candy, and I didn’t appreciate looking like a deadbeat in front of a random convenience store clerk. WOT? FISS BLOKE’S GOT NO QUID IN HIS SKYROCKET! JOO FANCY PISSING OFF, YA TWAT?! That’s what he said to me verbatim. Very uncomfortable.

HALFTIME!

David:

Which NFL team is going to fuck up playing in a pandemic the most egregiously? I mean, they’re all going to pooch this, but who is going to do the WORST job of this and why isn’t it the New York Jets?

It’s not gonna be the Jets because the Jets, at least for now, have closed home games to their fans. This was for the best on so many levels, and it means that the Jets, for once in their miserable existence, are doing the right thing (if only because the governor ordered them to).

This past week, only three home teams had fans: Kansas City, Denver, and … sigh … Jacksonville. I noticed that NBC rarely, if ever, went tight on the crowd last Thursday night, and I know damn well that was on purpose but I don’t trust Chiefs fans to wear masks any more than I trust FSU fans to do likewise, and the NFL doesn’t want you to know that their fan guidelines are going unheeded. Both the Chiefs and Jags won those games, which means every other team is gonna freak out and try to load fans into their respective death traps the second they have clearance.

Also, the fact that any fans are at ANY games sends stupid people the message that everything is okay now and they can go about their business as they did before, even though everything is still INCREDIBLY FUCKED. That one game at Arrowhead probably set off a chain reaction that’ll have us living through a surge that lasts until 2024. So my answer is the Chiefs. Fuckheads.

Mark:

How do you read a book when stoned? I bought Point B on my Kindle and only have time to read after the kids are in bed, but I’m so stoned I can’t focus on plot. Any tips? 

Are you still enjoying yourself when you read, even if you happen to be stoned? Then keep reading. I’m not saying that because you’re talking about a book I wrote. Obviously, if I had my druthers, everyone on the planet would be forced to memorize all of my books, dead sober, at knifepoint. But I read when I’m stoned, too. I don’t necessarily glean everything from the pages when I do this, but I’ll notice a cool idea or turn of phrase in the pages here and there and go all stoner on it. If I forget a few parts, I can always go back and re-read those passages when I’m lucid. It’s not a crime.

Most important, I read to sleep. That’s true whether I’m stoned or not. Reading is a lovely way station on the way to Sleepland. If I sleep well, then my reading session was a breathtaking success.

To that end, right now I’m reading The Tiger by John Vaillant and it’s the best shit ever. If you enjoy weed as I do, it’s red meat for stoners on endless mental digressions. We used to live in greater harmony with animals back when we lived MORE like animals instead of living like the sentient elliptical machines we currently are. WHOA. AND this book has tiger attacks. Cannot recommend it enough.

Steve:

How would your dating game have been in quarantine? Like if all this had happened when you were in your 20s and 30s, would have just hunkered down for a year or would you have been the king of socially distanced walks and cocktails, heart-to-hearts over zoom, or whatever else the kids are up to this days?

I would have become an online creep. Go right ahead and book it. I would not have had the determination nor the imagination to be the quarantine cutie guy. I would have gone fishing for virtual lays, gotten rejected, and then become an MRA Redditor. That’s probably happening with some guys right now, this second. Being all horned up with no place to go will make a guy that age do some dark shit. The good news is that a lot of guys who would become creeps during quarantine right now ALSO happen to be virus truthers. So instead of bunkering down and becoming cyberstalkers, they just go out and have normal sex and infect everyone with the rona instead. WHICH IS GREAT.

Back in the day, I always considered myself more charming and creative, romantically speaking, than I actually was. Like I saw that series of rooftop courtship TikToks that everyone else saw and that’s definitely something Single Drew would have thought he could pull off. Why yes, my life IS a romcom. Really, back then I was just getting shitfaced all the time and trying to hook up with anything that moved. I doubt quarantine would have softened that approach. I would have tried to turn every Zoom cocktail into a sex room. It would have gone poorly, and there would have been VIDEO of it. All bad. Marriage is the only good quarantine, amigo.

JJ:

My wife and I – like most people – are working from home these days. In an effort to minimize spoon/utensil usage, I came up with the following system: instead of using a spoon to stir in milk and sugar after the coffee is made, start the cup with a base of milk and sugar, and then pour the coffee into the cup, thus allowing the milk and sugar to mix with the coffee from the bottom up and eliminating the need for a spoon. What say you?  

Well wait, are you stirring the sugar into the milk before you pour the coffee in? Or are you just trusting that the sugar will magically dissolve somewhere during the process? I have terrible news if the latter is the case: you’re leaving most of that sugar at the bottom of your cup. Sugar doesn’t mix itself, no matter how vigorously you pour your milk and coffee. You have to stir it if you want that sugar to become suspended in the liquid. That’s literally basic physics.

I know this because I used to put HEAPS of sugar in my Corn Flakes when I was a kid. How else are you supposed to eat Corn Flakes, I ask you. I did not stir the sugar in, because that would have made a mess. And so what happened was that some of the sugar would settle onto the flakes on the way down, and the rest of it would coalesce at the bottom of the bowl. I did not hate this, because it meant my last bites of cereal every morning involved me dredging for pure sugar and eating spoonfuls of it drenched in milk. It was the fucking BEST. I can taste it right now in my mind. Why yes, I did just quit sugar why are you asking?

So use a spoon. If you want to save it for later, just rinse it off and put it back in the drawer. It’s quarantine. Who’s gonna notice?

Robert:

When I get too nervous or witness something like a horrific injury, instead of butterflies in my stomach, my butthole trembles. Not like a painful spasming mind you, but more an uncomfortable quivering. As an expert in anal displeasure, do you think this reaction is common, and if so, why doesn’t anyone talk about these anal tremors?

I’ve gotten that on the way down a roller coaster. Like, you know how every roller coaster starts off with a steep climb and then an even steeper drop? I get a tingly asshole from that.  My butt lifts off the seat and my asshole sees stars. Like Robert here, I’m gonna go out of my way to clarify that I do NOT shit my pants when this happens. It’s like getting chills, except in your butt. Kinda ticklish, really.

I think this is normal. But for Robert’s sake, I googled, “is it common for your anus to tingle.” The first result involved hemorrhoids. I don’t think that was the proper context for when Robert and I are feeling Pop Rocks of the ass. It’s not like a hemorrhoid magically appears on my starfish the second I make a trip to Busch Gardens. More benign factors are at work. I don’t care to explore those factors any further. It would ruin the magic.

Ben:

One of my best friends was drunkenly posting videos last weekend of himself out partying on the Jersey Shore. I called him up a few days later and talked with him for a while, calling him out for being selfish/reckless/stupid. He didn’t argue and acknowledged all of that is true, but doesn’t seem likely to change his ways. What’s the best way to talk to people close to you that aren’t taking the pandemic seriously enough? Do I ditch him as a friend?

I wouldn’t ditch him as a friend, no. I wouldn’t hang out in person with him until there’s a vaccine, but I wouldn’t like, disown the guy forever over it. Early in quarantine, I yelled at a friend because he was planning to go to a bunch of places and I was like BITCH YOU’RE NOT TAKING THIS SERIOUSLY ENOUGH, YOU CAN’T GO ANYWHERE and he was like DREW I’M STUCK IN A FUCKING APARTMENT, MAN. I couldn’t really argue with that, seeing as I have a house with a yard and shit. I just told him I wanted him to live, and he got that part of it. Sounds like you did likewise with your friend. If he doesn’t listen, that’s on him. But at least you said your piece about it. I think that’s as much as you can hope for.

I know people who have had friendships destroyed by the pandemic. I’ve luckily escaped that so far, mostly because I know I can’t really control what people I know do in response to the outbreak. I CAN’T know how the pandemic has affected them, even if I ask them outright. All I can do is let them know I worry about them and then go from there. I don’t wanna sever ties with people over it because, at this point, virus truthers are who they are. There’s no intervention for them. Losing me as a friend won’t be enough of a consequence to change their behavior and, ultimately, I’ll be the one left grieving over it. And I’ve lost enough already. Everyone has.

Email of the week!

Jay:

Before the Virus, I brushed my teeth first thing after getting up, pre-shower, and then drove to work and had coffee at my desk. Now that I’m working from home full time, there’s no buffer between toothpaste and coffee — I pour myself a cup as soon as I go downstairs. It’s a ritual I look forward to, one that suffers tremendously when a fresh layer of Crest with Scope is coating my tongue. So I’ve started putting off brushing my teeth. I’m at home, after all. Fuck it. The thing is, once the caffeine kicks in and my brain starts vibrating at a productive frequency, I usually get a head of steam going with work. It’s not until a few hours pass before I pause long enough to consider going upstairs to brush my teeth. And by that time, lunch is just around the corner, you know? Why not kick it down the road a few more hours?

Yesterday I brushed my teeth for the first time at 5:15pm. It’s nearly 4:00pm right now, and I’m still unbrushed. Sometimes I skip brushing all together until right before bed. My teeth feel slick, like they’re coated in a thin film, and my breath…well, you can imagine. I can’t help but wonder if all this is worth it. Is the experience of an unadulterated cup of coffee first thing in the morning worth the degradation of my hygiene routine? Or am I on a slippery slope toward vagrant-level oral care? 

Brush your teeth when you wake up, man. If it ruins your coffee, just stir in more sugar.