Literature 1-26-2009

miniStories: “Perfect Size” by Jodie Maruska

Jodi Maruska's bitingly funny, bittersweet little story, "Perfect Size," was selected to be a miniStories winner by author Michael Kimball.


Perfect Size

She enjoys feeling full, but she doesn’t enjoy eating, at least not the way she eats. Granted, some binge eaters find clarity and peace. The binge quiets down their racing mind, forcing it to focus only on donuts, buttery toast, or Oreo cookies. Sometimes though, her binge is accompanied by random and chaotic, dream-like thoughts. Tonight she consumes the usual family-sized box of Kraft macaroni & cheese, followed by a Pepperidge Farm vanilla cake (not the whole cake, just the four sides with all of that frosting, studded with small, dark vanilla beans). Her thoughts wandered to the Somalian cab driver who wanted to marry her last week when he drove her home from work. “You’re not married?” he exclaimed, “You’re a beautiful woman….beautiful.” He paused to turn the corner. “Perfect size.”

She relishes the thought that in a country like Somalia, she’d be a queen, beloved and revered for her size. If you have money in Somalia, you can eat, and being able to eat is the ultimate sign of prosperity and success when food is scarce. She loves the irony that in this country, she lives and grows on $1.29 boxes of macaroni and cheese.

Her thoughts wander and she finds herself wondering, if Queen Elizabeth was a binge eater, what would she eat? It wouldn’t be anything so refined as finger sandwiches or deviled eggs, washed down with a weak, sugary tea. No. This Elizabeth would become Lizzy while she filled the emptiness with bangers & mash, scotch eggs, chocolate-covered digestive biscuits, and meat filled pasties. Her staff would find her in the evenings, passed out in a stupor on her damask settee, surrounded by greasy rolls of paper and the remnants of the fish and chips she’d snuck out and picked up anonymously in a small pub down the street from Buckingham Palace. The Queen would imagine herself being able to stay at the pub, being plain Lizzy, so she could eat to her heart’s content in peace. She knows her staff whispers amongst themselves, “Right. The ol’ girl’s gone and done it again” before they clean her up and put her to bed to sleep it off. The next day while shaking hands at the opening of a hospital wing, the queen would notice the slightest piece of fried batter still stuck under one of her fingernails; she’d slowly lift her finger to her mouth and ceremoniously suck it out to enjoy it, before realizing everyone was looking at her. And for one moment, she wouldn’t care. She was the Queen and could do whatever she pleased, thank you very much.

And after her official engagements are over for the day, the Queen’s Somalian driver weaves through the streets of London carrying her back to the quiet loneliness of her palace where Elizabeth, not Lizzy, must preside over a state dinner that evening. “It’s too bad you’re already married” he’d think. “You’re the perfect size.”

About the author: Jodie Maruska is a writer and stand-up comic living in Minneapolis. Her most recent appearances include the Sample Night Live and Women Stand Up shows at the Bryant Lake Bowl and she is a regular in the Women Out all Night comedy series. Jodie’s writing has been published in the Minnesota Women’s Press and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. She is currently working on a one-woman show titled “Women who Love Men Who Love Liza Minnelli.”