How I Intend To Comport Myself When I Have Abs

With thanks to Louis Peitzman.

When I have abs someday, no one will ever know about it, unless it’s by accident, like I happen to be reaching for something above my head in front of a lot of people and my shirt rides up, and accidentally now a couple of (just a couple, I have lots) my casual friends (not my closest friends) see that I have abs, and it’s sort of a moment – not a big one, but definitely a few of them say under their breath, “Did you know that he even had abs?” and “I never would have guessed that he had abs” and “Wow, abs,” and then I’d have gotten whatever I was reaching for and no one would say anything out loud, because obviously I don’t make a big deal out of having abs so nobody wants to say anything to me about it. But they’ll talk about it amongst themselves, and they might even text a friend or two to say, “Did you know that he had abs?”

“I had no idea…but now that you mention it, I can kind of see it.”

And that’ll be the end of the conversation, probably, but they’ll all think that it’s really interesting and unusual because usually when people get abs you hear about it right away, but not me, because having abs doesn’t define me as a person, even though I have abs now.

“Do you think he even knows he has abs?”

“Oh, don’t be ridiculous. Of course he knows!!!” But they’ll wonder. Maybe I haven’t noticed!!!

When I have abs someday, my phone’s photo roll will include nothing but sunsets and interesting-looking floral arrangements, with maybe a few shots of my friends in candid moments. I’ll call my grandmother more often, and cut out recipes from the newspaper I think she’ll like and mail them to her.

When I have abs, I will have the kind of relationship to food that everyone universally agrees is relaxed, a lot of fun to be around, healthy, and correct. Whenever someone spontaneously suggests going to IHOP after a wonderful, electric evening of surprising connections and the beginning of several new friendships, I’ll always offer to drive and eat whatever amount of pancakes is neither showily excessive nor pointedly less than what everyone else is eating. I’ll also cover the whole bill!!! “It’s pancakes,” I’ll say. “It’s twenty dollars!!! It’s just warm bread!!! Relax, I’ve got it!!!”

When I have abs someday, my work will not suffer as a result, because I will be incapable of being distracted by my own abs. “His art seems better, somehow,” people will say.

“Would you call it art?” someone else might ask. “I thought he was a writer.”

“Oh, it’s all art,” people will respond. “It’s definitely art now, if it wasn’t art before. He’s an artist, definitely. And obviously it’s not that the abs have improved his art, because if he stopped having abs tomorrow I know it would still be just as good. The abs have had both no effect on him and also elevated the excellent things about him that were already there, simultaneously.”

When I have abs someday, even though I’ll barely notice my own abs, I won’t irritate people by performatively not noticing my own abs. I’ll have so thoroughly and casually conquered both any residual female-pattern body image issues and all my new male-pattern body image issues that I’ll be able to walk through walls, but I won’t, because I’ll respect what the walls were put in place to protect. “Thanks for saying something nice about my abs,” I’ll say. “That really means a lot to me and my abs.”