The honeymoon was taking place in the bittersweet mysteries of Indian Summer in New England. The lovers' apartment had one romantic wall which was all French doors. They opened onto a balcony and the oily harbor beyond.
A green and orange dragger, black in the night, grumbled and drummed past their balcony, not thirty feet from their wedding bed. It was going to sea with only its running lights on. Its empty holds were resonant, made the song of the engines rich and loud. The wharf began to sing the same song, and then the honeymooners' headboard sang, too. And it continued to sing long after the dragger was gone.
"Thank you," said Valencia at last. The headboard was singing a mosquito song.
"It was nice."
Then she began to cry.
"What's the matter?"
"I'm so happy."
"I never though anybody would marry me."
"Um," said Billy Pilgrim.
I find this little passage heartbreaking. I have a lot of sympathy for Valencia, even if Vonnegut uses her as the butt of some of the humor in Slaughterhouse. It's the whole socially acceptable habit of making obesity the cause of laughter. I don't really buy into that idea. I have too many loved ones and close family members who struggle with weight issues. So I have a soft spot for Valencia and her struggles.
Over the last few weeks, since my wife's weight loss procedure, I have been astounded by her courage in taking this step. Some think that bariatric surgery is the "easy" way to get skinny. However, most people who actually reach this point have tried dozens of diets, been on a yo-yo of skinny and fat for years. It's not about looking good. It's about being healthy. My wife wants to be around to see our daughter and son grow up.
I don't want to preach here. No trying to judge. If you have always been a thing person, you should give thanks that you have never had to struggle with food. Obesity is not a matter of will power. Obesity is an illness, as much as alcoholism or diabetes. I have a friend who has struggled with weight her whole life. Her skinny mother used to tell her, "All you have to do is put the fork down and push your chair away from the table." It isn't that simple.
If you have friends or relatives who struggles with food, don't look at them as weak. Don't look at their dinner plates and shake your head. Don't count their calories or tell them they should go to Weight Watchers or Overeaters Anonymous. You aren't saying anything they haven't thought of themselves.
Instead of doing all that, try something different. Try empathy and understanding. Your cruel words or looks or jokes aren't going to help matters. However, your love will. I believe a guy who lived over two thousand years ago said, "Do to others as you would have them do to you." Try it out sometime.
Saint Marty is thankful today for his courageous, beautiful wife.