Read Does This Beach Make Me Look Fat?: True Stories and Confessions Online

Authors: Lisa Scottoline,Francesca Serritella

Tags: #Autobiography, #Humour

Does This Beach Make Me Look Fat?: True Stories and Confessions


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Table of Contents

About the Authors

Copyright Page


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In loving memory of Mother Mary



By Lisa

People go to the beach for lots of reasons, namely, the sand, the sun, and the water.

I go for the food.

You might think there's no food at the beach, but if there's no food at your beach, come to mine.

Food never tastes better than it does on the beach.

How do I know this?

From a lifetime of eating on the beach.

You would think that the beach would be the last place you would eat, if you're a woman self-conscious about her body, which is every woman in the world.

But I grew up in a family of chubby Italian-Americans, and The Flying Scottolines didn't sweat the small stuff, especially the fact that none of us was what you would call small.

Mother Mary loved to cook, and the rest of us loved to eat, and none of us saw anything wrong with it.

We had the time of our lives on the beach, because we were so full of food.

It's hard to be unhappy with a full tummy.

This was before the invention of Food Guilt.

Think back.

Because we Scottolines never had any Food Guilt.

Food is love, and we had a lot of love in our family.

We would
feel guilty because we ate.

We had guilt if we

And we had guilt about wasting food, which was our version of a mortal sin.

So before any trip to the beach, Mother Mary would cook up spaghetti and meatballs, so we could make spaghetti and meatball sandwiches to take to the beach. I know that not everybody has eaten spaghetti and meatball sandwiches, so here's the recipe:

To make a meatball sandwich, put a ton of meatballs in a hoagie roll and smash the top down. You can serve it hot or cold, but you should serve it on the beach.


The spaghetti sandwich is made the same way. Put a lot of spaghetti on a hoagie roll and smash the top down. It also works hot or cold and is perfect for the beach, because you'll spill so much tomato sauce on yourself that you'll have to go wash off in the water.

Not that I ever did that.

Less than two thousand times.

By the way, it goes without saying that you never put spaghetti and meatballs in the same sandwich.

Just in case you were thinking about it.

Don't embarrass yourself, or me.

And of course after we had our delicious meal on the beach, we'd be looking around for dessert, and in those days, an angel would appear in the form of the Ice Cream Man.

This wasn't a man driving an ice-cream truck like Mr. Softee, but a man who walked back and forth across the beach in the hot sun, wearing a white T-shirt and white long pants, lugging a massive cooler full of ice cream on his back.

Mr. Tuffee.

All the while he'd be calling out, “Ice cream and ices, ice cream and ices!” like a town crier for saturated fats.

And we would get our ice-cream treats, the first round of the day, but certainly not the last.

Because ice cream tastes better on the beach, too.

There's nothing that doesn't taste better on the beach.

Mother Mary used to smoke on the beach, and she thought even cigarettes tasted better on the beach.

You can tell we weren't health nuts.

So then it won't surprise you that we couldn't swim.

Neither my mother, my brother Frank, nor I could swim at all. We never learned how, and to this day, we don't know.

Don't ask why.

The Flying Scottolines are full of mystery.

But my father could swim, and so for exercise we would go down to the water's edge and watch him, like three beach balls looking out to sea.

So given my altogether adorable childhood, it's hard to understand how I grew up and acquired Food Guilt, I-can't-believe-I-ate-that, a generalized fear of carbohydrates, and a lifelong worry about my weight. And I'm always on a diet, and I just now gained back the ten pounds that I had lost last month.

But more and more, especially in summertime when I'm sitting on the beach, I'm learning not to sweat it.

To go back to the child that I used to be.

To see myself through the loving eyes of my parents.

To eat on the beach.

And not to worry about whether every little thing makes me look fat.

In fact, not to worry
at all.

And so that's very much the spirit of this book.

It's full of funny stories and true confessions from my daughter Francesca and me, and though we write about our bodies, we know that weight doesn't really have any weight with us.

It has to do with the stuff of life, yours and mine, as women in the world.

And at its warm little heart is a secret message:



I'm Not My Type

By Francesca

I have a terrible personality.

According to Myers-Briggs.

My best friend sent me a version of the famous personality test to discover whether or not we would be good candidates for the CIA, hypothetically.

Because that's the type of idea my best friend and I come up with.

So she forwarded me a web link to a shortened version of the test.

Shockingly, neither of us had the spy personality; she was an INFJ and I came up with an INTJ. At first we were excited—we were just one letter off from each other—twinsies! It took a minute before I bothered to learn what my letters meant: Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, and Judgmental.

“Is that good?” I asked her over Gchat, Google's instant messaging service.

“Yeah!” she typed. She was lucky I couldn't see her face. “That's a very rare personality type.”

She sent me an extended profile of my type. Sure enough, it said INTJs account for just 2% of the population, and female INTJs are only 0.8%.

I felt like a rare gem, a diamond.

Until I read the rest of the description. The only thing diamond-like about INTJ is a heart of coal.

The intro paragraph could be summed up as “Lady Macbeth.”

“INTJs are defined by their tendency to move through life as if it were a giant chess board, always assessing new tactics, strategies, and contingency plans, constantly outmaneuvering their peers to maintain control.”

Famous INTJs listed were Vladimir Putin, Lance Armstrong, Augustus Caesar (did you know Myers and Briggs lived Before Christ?), and Hannibal, among other Machiavellian rulers, egomaniacs, and cheats.

“I'm horrified!” I wrote to my friend.

“No! You could conquer the world!!!”

Three exclamation points are Internet-speak for overcompensating.

I can't possibly belong with these narcissists. Although, I do write about myself for a living. And I'm a formidable Scrabble opponent. Does that count?

Another section speculated about fictional INTJs. The first was Walter White from
Breaking Bad.

Okay, so the superfan in me loved this. At least it wasn't Lydia.

Also Gregory House from
House MD,
Hannibal Lecter from
Silence of the Lambs
, and Professor Moriarty, mortal enemy of Sherlock Holmes. Smart but heartless characters, ranging from a know-it-all misanthrope to a cannibalistic sociopath.

Put that in my OK Cupid profile.

The only decent one was Katniss Everdeen. I haven't read those books, but she's the good one in the kill-kids-for-sport game, right?

I'm not slinging arrows, I'm grasping at straws.

My friend's chat bubble popped up again: “You're right. This is so not you. Especially the parenting stuff.”

Parenting section? I found it, and—
—the INTJ parent makes the Tiger Mother sound like a kitten:

“Not prone to overt displays of physical affection … perfectionistic, often insensitive. When it comes to emotional support, INTJs … will likely never deliver the sort of warmth and coddling children crave.”

I don't have children yet, but I have a dog and a cat who are my babies. I let them sleep in my bed, I kiss them on the mouth, I cook for them, and I tell them they are brilliant and beautiful—although they listen best when I'm holding a treat. I even brush my dog's teeth three times a week.

Believe me, I can coddle with the best of them.

I was Italian before I was INTJ.

At the end, the profile stated, “Remember, all types are equal.”

Oh, sure. That's why you listed history's greatest super-villains in my group.

I hate this. My astrological sign, Aquarius, never suited me either. The descriptions say things like: a flighty air sign, a social butterfly, no one can hold on to you for long! Meanwhile, I've had the same five close girlfriends since I was eleven, I'm a serial monogamist, and I'm a homebody who enjoys nesting.

Aquarius wouldn't let me sit at her lunch table.

Anyone who has been on Facebook recently has seen their feeds inundated with those “Which Disney Princess/Dog Breed/Game of Thrones House/Alcoholic Beverage Are YOU?” personality quizzes. Who among us hasn't clicked on one?

Who among us hasn't taken one twice for a better outcome?

The last one I took promised to tell me who would play me in a movie. My answer:

Morgan Freeman.

I get that all the time.

I never believed in astrology, much less an online personality test, and yet I'm still curious and then disappointed when they aren't what I want to hear. What are we looking for in these quizzes? Validation? Recognition? Any excuse not to do work?

Well, I'm done. I'm more than a type, a star sign, or an algorithm. I know myself better than anyone.

And I'd be great in the CIA.



By Lisa

It's time you knew I had fleas.

As if I weren't single enough.

Apparently, being single is like being broke. You don't think you can get broker than broke, but you can.

Just ask the government.

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