SECRET BAD HABITS - The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo - Amy Schumer

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo - Amy Schumer (2016)


Kim and I got really fat one summer. I’m not fat-shaming us. It was worth it. We both like to expand and contract like accordions depending on the season. If it’s hot, we drink white wine and tequila; if it’s cold, we drink red wine and scotch and tequila. So, basically, we always weigh around the same. I usually weigh anywhere between one hundred forty-five pounds and six million pounds. That summer we were not wanting for anything.

I was told by someone somewhere at some point that I should listen to my body. If my body wanted ice cream, it got ice cream. Cinnabon? Okay! Cinnabon ice cream is a thing? Pick it up and put some pretzels in it—and oh, they must have forgotten to add peanut butter. Not a problem. I’m on top of it. Amy, you had a bottle and a half of wine tonight on your own because you felt your “body needed to relax.” What is a good way to go to sleep? Good question, Amy. How about ordering a gluten-free pizza and also pasta from Seamless and putting the pasta on top of the pizza and eating it? Good call. But a word of advice: if you’re gonna get pastitzza (which is not a thing, except for with me), only order it if you’re already falling asleep and you’ll be woken up by the buzzer when the delivery guy gets there. Cool idea!

I was blessed with a mother who made junk food completely contraband in our house. This means it was bad and is not another word for “condom,” as I suspected before my editor explained it to me. If you’re thinking my mom did me a favor, ehhhhnnn (buzzer sound). Her restrictions did not have the desired effect. Instead of giving me a healthy in-moderation-only attitude toward shitty-for-you food, I acted like an Amish kid on Rumspringa any time I was near it. I’m talking any time I was around soda or pizza at a birthday party, I would wile out. I went full-metal-jacket crazy eating it all. Especially as a little kid.

Once when I was nine years old, I went to the circus with my friend Lauren. Her mom innocently offered to grab me something from the concession stand, and I was like, “What do you mean? I can have whatever I want?” She said—get this—“Yes.” In that moment, the whole world stopped around me. My vision blurred, and I blinked maniacally, unable to respond. She must have thought I was waiting for her to read me the menu of options—which is what she did.

“Well, honey, they have peanuts, popcorn, cotton candy, pretzels, giant chocolate chip cookies, lollipops, soda, and hot chocolate.”

To which I answered, “Yes.” Then, I ate so much, it’s a miracle my little stomach—which had now become a piñata containing everything in Willy Wonka’s factory—didn’t explode all over a dancing elephant.

Every time I went to a birthday party where junk food was made available to me, I’d return home to my mom at the end of the day very, very ill—my chin sticky with dried soda and Cheetos dust under my fingernails. All my friends who were allowed to eat that stuff in moderation were so confused as to why I would eat myself sick. Just like Italian kids who are allowed to sip a little wine with their dinners and never end up binge-drinking as teens, most kids can handle moderate exposure to this food. But I had to be secretive about it so my mom wouldn’t find out. I had friendships based on who lived near bodegas and candy shops. There was one girl I didn’t care for even the slightest bit, but I knew if I went to her house, I could get enough Sour Patch Kids to kill a large giraffe, which I did. RIP, Smokey.

In college, my roommate Denise couldn’t leave her food lying around because I’d come home from class or the bar and find a box of Twinkies and eat the whole thing. She’d make a tray of lasagna, and I’d slowly, square by square, eat the entire dish. I’d wake up like Garfield to her screaming my name. I had to tell her to start hiding it from me. I couldn’t even know it was in the house. She started running out of places to hide her snacks because I would always find them. I would ransack my own apartment like the Gestapo. One night she brought a guy home, and he found a box of Devil Dogs under her pillow. He was really weirded out. She was totally embarrassed and blamed me, but I of course acted like I didn’t know what she was talking about.

Even as a full-grown adult woman, I still have this habit. I curb it within reason. But there is no other way to describe that particular summer: Kim and I got fat. I was just about to start filming the second season of my TV show, so I panicked and asked her to lose some weight with me. There is no reason she should have said yes. She’s very married and is not on camera very much. Kim is one of those girls with a natural Playboy-model type of body—the kind that, if it were mine, I would have had so much fun with by now. I’d be carrying every disease known to man and monkey. Instead, I’m shaped like a cactus, and when I don’t shave for four hours I feel like one, too.

But Kim agreed to work out and eat well with me because she is kind and knows my favorite thing to do is eat and drink with her. She was all too aware that I’d throw away our health plan the second she agreed to booze or a cookie, so she had to join me in the diet if she wanted to ensure I stuck with it. She keeps me from eating and drinking myself to death most of the time, but when she is having a moment of weakness I can sniff it out, and I strike like an MMA fighter avenging his closetedness.

So we signed up for this CrossFit-type insane workout and actually went most days. It’s one of those programs that puts you through Navy SEAL-style guerrilla warfare training that is completely over-the-top and unnecessary unless you’re a runway model or about to compete in the Hunger Games. But we went. Every day we were on the verge of death. Sweating and wheezing. Walking out shaking and dizzy. It was horrible doing these workouts that were originally developed for people who needed them TO SURVIVE. Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates, who worked with soldiers during World War II. He created his method to help very wounded soldiers get back into shape. Now it’s mostly used by housewives who want child-soldier abs and who refuse to let their asses go where gravity is inevitably dragging them. All these boot camps and diets where they teach you to survive on minimal amounts of food like a prisoner of war are just not right. But Kim and I were committed to getting healthier, so we went.

The instructors were all gorgeous—girls in tiny spandex shorts and sports bras, with perfect hair and flawless faces without makeup. I think it has now been established that without makeup I look like Charlize Theron in Monster. The guys were also in ridiculous shape and were super hot. But there was one who was so beautiful and charismatic that it was confusing. I don’t know if it’s because we were so light-headed or because he was actually funny, but he kept us laughing and having fun while we sweated and sucked wind like George Burns on an elliptical.

This particular instructor, whom I’ll call Neal, looked like a fake Greek sculpture of a man; he was so handsome you couldn’t look at him for very long. He was toned and tanned to perfection—beyond what you are imagining now. He spread his attention evenly in the class, walking around and winking and squatting next to us as we did wall-sits and crunches. He’d literally take a knee and encourage you with a hand on your lower back. I think every girl left the class with a stupid grin, giggling, “Bye, Neal!” Kim and I are smarter than those girls, right? We’re annoyed by physically perfect people, because fuck you. They can’t also be funny. YOU AREN’T ALLOWED TO HAVE IT ALL! But even we were not immune to his charm. We would roll our eyes and look at each other like What the fuck?! because we couldn’t believe how hot he was and how he could reduce us to smirking schoolgirls. He always made it very clear in class that he was available via the Internet to provide extra personal training outside of the usual class sessions. He’d say it over and over during workouts, and while I felt stupid even mentioning it to my sister, one day I said, “I kind of feel like he was saying that specifically to me … not just because he thinks I need help, but because he kind of likes me.”

I was fully ready for her to tell me I was an idiot and needed to slow my roll and remember that my current Mrs. Potato Head shape was what got us into this mess in the first place. Kim has often messed with me when I have a crush on a guy and he has zero feelings for me. There was a guy who worked on season one of my TV show whom I was crazy about. So cute—this little bike-riding hipster who wouldn’t give me the time of day, even though I was literally paying for his time of day. One afternoon while shooting, Kim said, “Oh my God, Aim, don’t turn around, he is looking at you!” “Really?!!!” I shrieked. I slowly turned around and he was sleeping on a pile of equipment. What I’m saying is that not only does Kim not lie to me about guys having no interest in me, she enjoys it. But after I asked her about Neal, she said, “Dude, me too, I felt like he was saying it to you!” This was all I needed.

I’ve talked onstage and in these pages about how I can have low self-esteem at times. But I’m also always completely ready to accept and believe the fact that I am prettier than I ever realized. On the evolution chart, this guy and I were at opposite ends. I was dragging my knuckles, sniffing around for bananas, throwing my own feces at tourists, and he was a Disney prince but with more sex appeal. I reached out and was all, “Can you help me with my diet?” and he was all, “Sure, let’s meet up at this healthy-eating place,” and I was all, “Here comes the bride.” So we met up and we hung out a couple fitness-based times before I texted him while a little buzzed one night saying I wanted to make out.

On our next few dates, he’d let me know he was interested but also stomp on my ego, saying things like “Looks aren’t the most important thing to me.” Wow, thank you, I thought. I really lucked out—I am so busted looking, but I still have some qualities for which you can muster an erection. We wound up hooking up a couple times, and I could tell that he hoped I was going to just blow him. But he didn’t realize how lazy homegirl is. I’ve given maybe eight blow jobs to completion in my life. I have to really love the person and feel they deserve it, or just be in a dirty mood. But they still need to deserve it. So, yeah, eight total. No joke. We had sex a couple times, always at my place.

To be honest, I never really enjoyed making out with him because the whole time I was thinking, Why would he do this with me? It makes no sense. What does he have to gain from this? It’s not that I was down on myself, but it just didn’t add up. I saw all the girls who were actual real-life, young-as-fuck supermodels in class swooning over him. But there he was with me, eating my dumb-ass pussy. Not ass pussy, but my vagina. Anywho, the point is he was hot and I am me, and we never went to his apartment. Always mine. Until one night. And that’s when I found out about his secret bad habit.

We all have habits we don’t want people to know about. Most are fairly harmless, but we still keep them a secret because we feel like we should. Some people only eat fast food in secret, and some people, like my sister-in-law, watch reality TV that is so trashy it should be illegal. How do I know that? Because I watch it right there with her and make her watch even worse TV. Some people like to eat the inside stuffing of their couch. Only God can judge you, brotha!

Anyway, the night I found out about Neal’s secret, I had taken him to an event with me. We were progressing—he was hot enough and had enough confidence to actually confuse me into thinking he was cool and that we might even start dating for real. (Typing that just made me short of breath.) So we went to a fund-raiser for a disease, Lyme or alcoholism or something, and it was embarrassing to be there with him, because everyone was looking at me like, Give me a break, bitch. And they were right. Not that I don’t deserve someone hot like that, or whatever I’m supposed to tell myself, but there is a line. You can be with someone kinda a li’l bit hotter or less hot than you, but if the levels are too off, people are furious. It’s sick and sad. But I wasn’t surprised. His hotness was just in the ridiculous range. I felt like we were in that scene from The Little Mermaid where Ursula sings the song about stealing Ariel’s voice and I was one of the weeds on the floor and Neal was Ariel. (Hmm? Don’t worry about it. All my metaphors aren’t gonna hit.)

I got myself nice and drunk to deal with the humiliation—I don’t care what anyone says, it’s a great technique. We left hand in hand, excited about continuing the evening together. Walking to the car, I thought, Maybe we will have something more. Is this my next boyfriend? In the car, I was feeling good about “us” and I said, “Let’s go to your place.” “Okay,” he said, “but it’s kind of a mess.” I let him know I wasn’t the type of girl who would ever care, and off we went.

That night, we walked past his nice doorman to the nice elevator and walked down his nice hall and he opened his nice door—and there it was. What had probably once been a beautiful studio apartment had become an overstuffed locker. It looked like a garage door had opened on Storage Wars. The mess was bad—the kitchen and bathroom were black with mold, all porcelain surfaces coated in hair and grime, and there were unwashed dishes and towels covering every inch of the counters. I’d seen messes in men’s apartments. It’s not that uncommon for a guy to have a disgusting apartment, especially if he’s single. I actually think it’s endearing. I love a guy with a shitty apartment with nothing hanging on the walls. I like for guys to dress basic and be hanging on by a thread with their style. I don’t trust a guy with taste. It seems unnatural to me.

But Neal’s apartment went far beyond endearingly dirty. It was more than dirty. It was like Jumanji. Filled to the brim with unnatural things that didn’t belong in an apartment. I mean, there were piles upon piles of just stuff. Piles everywhere. Piles of books and clothes and sneakers and furniture sitting on top of other furniture. There were magazines and papers stacked in tall symmetrical towers, but there were also messy mountains of stuff. Like big, haphazard pyramids made of boxes of merchandise and exercise contraptions and unopened packages. There were bottles of things, protein powders and health-food products. Junk mail and paperwork, CDs, rolled-up posters, jump ropes, empty grocery bags, knee pads (knee pads? WTF) … It was a nightmare to look at. A filthy, stacked-to-the-ceiling nightmare. There was barely room to walk around. You had to walk sideways through the narrow pathways he’d cleared. This boy was not a collector. He was a hoarder.

I instantly sobered up. Now I had to act. I’m an actor, I told myself. I can do this.

“I told you it was messy,” he said. “Is it bad?”

“No!” I shrieked too loud and fast. “It’s a really nice apartment.”

I shut myself in the bathroom and noticed a bra and girls’ things hanging on the door. I’d previously been suspicious he had a girlfriend—some little model walking in Paris at Fashion Week, I had guessed. Even though I’ve never been to Paris and I don’t know when Fashion Week is. (It seems like it’s every fucking week though. Does anyone else feel that way?) Anyway, I don’t think this bra could have belonged to a recent girlfriend. Based on the expired time stamp of everything else in that apartment, that bra could have been hanging there for years. It could have been Amelia Earhart’s bra. I stalled in the bathroom, marveling for a moment at the fact that a man so perfectly waxed, so expertly coiffed and immaculately molded, could emerge from this bottom-of-an-orangutan-cage bathroom every morning.

After I pulled myself away from deep breathing in the bathroom, he continued leading me around the apartment through the pathways he’d cleared. It felt like being led through a maze. It smelled dusty and like his dog, a sweet pit bull who followed us single file through the pathways. He offered me a drink and I said no. That’s how bad it was. I never turn down a drink when I’m with a new guy. I typically use dating a new guy as an excuse to go on a Keith Richards-type bender. But I just couldn’t see myself touching my mouth to a wineglass that lived in his apartment. He led me to the only clear area—the love seat in front of the TV, which he obviously sat in frequently since it wasn’t covered with stuff. He made room for me on the love seat and we watched TV. Rather, I pretended to watch TV, unsure of how to leave. Does he know how bad it is? If he does, he could be planning on killing me. I looked at him to see if he was on edge. Nope, he was laughing hard at whatever MTV nightmare we were watching.

So what did I do? Well, Amy, you obviously left. You thanked him for a lovely evening. No, no, good friend, that is what a normal person would do. What I did was let him lead me to his mattress that had no sheets on it, and he went down on me. It was an out-of-body experience. I was looking around the room at the stacks of things he had accumulated over the years. Gifts from Nike and Adidas. Dog toys and a broken lamp stacked on top of a broken desk, covered in even more magazines and CDs. The dog and I made eye contact. I felt like we were sending each other the same message: “HELP!” I got dressed. I specifically remember putting my boots on and making myself pause to feel what it felt like to be in my thirties and having a sexual encounter like this. Never again, I thought. I said good night and walked back out to the city street full of steaming trash where things were nice.

It was three a.m. and the garbagemen were pulling up right as I entered the clean night air. I was clearly beginning my walk of deep shame and they knew it. They howled at me and I laughed at myself. There was no denying the state I was in. I went home and showered for eight years. The next day Neal said to me, “You inspired me to get my place together.” I didn’t know what I had said to make him do that but I thought this sounded like pretty good news.

“Oh, cool, you’re gonna get rid of some stuff?” I asked.

“No, I’m going to get some new furniture.”

I couldn’t think of anything to say. I don’t know what caused his condition. My only guess is that maybe he grew up without a lot and struggled—and maybe material things and name brands and just having stuff makes him feel successful. He could measure his place in the world by how much he had accumulated. This analysis is based on watching about three episodes of Hoarders and asking no one. I have no information is what I’m saying. But like every other girl I’m friends with, I like to diagnose people without any research.

He called me a few days later and I hung out with him one more time, just as friends, at my place with my sister. I didn’t want to suspiciously disappear after seeing his apartment, but I couldn’t go back there. And since Kim and I had already declared victory in our weight-loss journey, given our impressive combined loss of six pounds, I had no reason to attend his fitness class anymore either.

He wasn’t a bad guy at all—he was quite the opposite. I’ve seen him in passing since then, and he’s doing very well for himself. I wonder if he knows he has this affliction. I mean, this guy very clearly grooms himself within an inch of his life. His body is an absolutely immaculate temple. But his actual temple, on the other hand, is maculate. I don’t know what that means. But it is.

Sometimes I think I have the opposite problem. Most of the time I throw away shit I need. I can never find anything I need. I even lose my NuvaRing a few times a year, and that is supposed to be inside me. All human beings have secret compulsions and habits. Including me. But now any time I see someone who is so physically beautiful they almost don’t look human, I remember there’s definitely something totally fucked about them that will bring them right back down to earth. I’m kind of grateful to the guy because he made my pastitzza-as-I’m-falling-asleep habit seem a lot more forgivable.