Travelling on the Chicken Bus When You’re Hideously Obese

Touring lessons for our modern age.

I don’t want to be too presumptuous, but hell I will be. I’m damned sure if you’re in front of the computer often you’ve gained a few pounds in between pints of ale or gallons of ice cream, a few burgers, the occasional full-pig barbeque, dozens of hot dogs, and maybe some feral roadkill that you fried up too. That stuff rocks, trust me: a few spices, a little tabasco, and you’re golden. For about ten minutes anyways until the real king of the body, the stomach, rears its ugly head.

You’re probably chasing and crushing pimples like Dirty Harry day in and day out, waking up when you can (and damn it’s hard to wake up these days) to spew out a few dozen ice cream sandwiches and bags of Doritos down the toilet in between getting ready for your big adventure – heading down to the corner store. But I’m being presumptuous again, hell – the morbidly obese do get around sometimes, on occasion even go flying, and after that are usually subjected to the rigors of third world travel. It’s painful when you’re a normal size, but when you’re big boned, or as is often the case, just too damned fat, it becomes a bigger challenge.

So strap on your orthopaedic shoes and your tent with a hole in the top that you call clothing, because I do have some advice to give on this complex issue. Many dodge it, many pretend it doesn’t exist, many more just forget the nuances of the art of travel when they can’t even apply underarm deoderant without a handler or two; hey, that’s fine. Diversity builds contempt and all that. But the sooner you learn to handle yourself, and certainly not like that, the sooner you can have a good time on the road to hell in some third-world backwater.

I’m a bit of a reformed fat fanatic myself. In my early days of being broke and depressed I ate my way across America, riding a steady stream of barbeque sauce and deep fried hamburgers, pizzas, potato chips, and gallons of fountain drinks. No sooner had I eaten a town clean of its saturated fats than they ran me out, huffing and puffing, my loose clothing billowing in the heated desert and my upper arm flesh rippling like small waves on the shore. Yes, it was romantic in many ways, until I had to stop on the side of the highway and vomit.

That’s when I started taking the bus. First one greyhound, then another, then another. I never got ahold of the car thing until I thinned down, but that’s another story. Out at the old bus station there were plenty of hefty people and they provided me with some tips after we scuffled for the aisle seat. Of course, it still took a few minutes of fighting to grab each other’s munchies bags, but after a few attempted reach-arounds we were all out of breath. So I did what any whale would do – waddled down the center aisle and flopped on a seat. Or two.

Wedging that suitcase of precious munchies in between yourself and your seatmate is no small feat – you’re best to slowly edge yourself into the aisle seat (don’t even think about the window) and over the course of an hour or two start moving the fat folds over to their direction,b Because it gets painful when the people from the back of the bus come forward and flop your flab around on the way to the front. Trust me, I know. And of course the longer the ride, the more your seatmate is going to complain – offer up a few pieces of grub to them and they might stay calm. If they wave their nose in disgust, just act shocked – hell, in third world fuckedupistan why would they care what you smell like?

Then, of course, there is the long wait to wherever in the hell you’re going. This can feel like days, even though it’s probably only hours, because all you have to eat is whatever you brought with you. For a multi-day road trip, never trust the roadside diners: you’ll have to stock up on Donairs, pizzas, deep-fried mars bars, barbequed critters, and of course a garbage bag full of potato chips to survive. This kind of stuff shouldn’t be taken lightly: hunger pangs, hypoglycemia, sore and swelling feet, lymphedema, fecal incontinence, it’s all going to kick in if you don’t down at least one box of Ho-Ho’s an hour and shit, if you’re shaking like a Polaroid Picture from a lack of sugar while on a cramped bus, god help the poor bastard next to you who’s going to endure a whallop of vomit and your own girlified crying because you’re so pathetically hungry. Therefore if you’re as disgustingly fat as I think you are, I’d recommend you drop all pretenses and just wear a fucking tent already: it’s waterproof, it washes off easily, and it’s easily expandable to accommodate your own expanding self.

The less hungry whom sit around you throughout the journey may give you flack but hell, once they see how many hundred pounds you have at your disposal they’ll quickly shut up. Judo is great for fat people: learn to throw your weight around if they get all uppity. In fact, on occasion if you’re imposing enough to those people sitting beside you, you’ll get the seat for free. God bless human rights and all that – if it had gone the other way we’d be paying double. Or triple. Or quadruple.
Once on the other side if you’re exhausted after heaving your body bulk off the bus, a taxi might come in handy, but on the other hand, walking isn’t such a bad idea after all: thieves rarely target fatties, seeing them as kinds of omens or bad spirits or something, at least in the dirtier parts of the world. In this case it may come in handy to tye-dye that tent you’re wearing, to look all spiritual.

Indeed the cheap and hideously obese traveller has a challenge in this respect – trying to accomodate the weight of three people into the room intended for one. that’s why I eventually thinned up – well, that, and the meth habit. It really drops pounds, you see. I’d probably do it again, if I hadn’t blown my fortune somewhere along the way, and was left wandering around, vagabonding if you will, not exactly like James Bonding, trust you me; but I’m about to get on a Greyhound to play some Vegas Craps, and all jokes aside, I’m sure it will have plenty of shits and giggles in store. See you on the other side of the toilet bowl.

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