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The Built-In Bullshit Detector

September 18, 2012

There is a negative and a positive to everything… and I mean, EVERYTHING. If you’re born rich, you have the advantage of wealth, but you also have a lot of pressures that poor people know nothing about. If you’re born beautiful, you have the advantage of being chased by scores of people who want to love you, but there is always the danger of being used as a trophy.

Being large has a lot of negatives, but it also has some positives that may surprise you. Most notably, we large people have built-in bullshit detectors. We’re so used to being disrespected, undermined, and criticized, that we have a highly-developed ability to spot that propensity in whomever we meet. We can spot superficiality a mile off. We can smell a fool at a hundred paces.

Have you ever met someone who gave you the creeps right off the bat? They might have smiled at you and said all the right things, but you had the undeniable sense that underneath their welcoming grin was a whole host of judgments and criticisms.

Or how about going out on a first date with someone? Did you ever just know the instant that you were in the presence of a guy or girl that something was off? Something inexplicable told you that it just wasn’t going to work, and it didn’t.

I remember going out on a date with a guy many years ago. This guy was actually my next-door neighbor. We were roughly around the same age, though he was a little older — very athletic and a nice-looking face. But although we eyed each other across the fence several times, he never really spoke to me.

His uncle visited several times, and he was very friendly and chatted with me quite often. One day, he asked me, “Why don’t you two go out together?” He must have spoken to his nephew because either that day or the next, this guy actually asked me if I wanted to go out with him. I had my reservations at his sudden interest, but I said okay. I have to admit one of the main reasons I wanted to go out with him was that I couldn’t wait to tell one of my girlfriends about it. We’d ogled him and shared speculations about him several times.

Anyway, we drove to some bar nearby for a drink. My reservations increased when our conversation during the ride wasn’t exactly stellar; he seemed kind of boring and didn’t have much to say. Didn’t ask much about me. He definitely didn’t seem interested. I started wondering why he’d asked me out in the first place.

The real tip-off came when we got to the bar. He walked in front of me, opened the door, and let it close in my face. I stood there for a second thinking, “What the hell?” I felt like saying “Fuck this” and leaving, but thought, “Oh well, I’m here” (plus I needed a ride home), so I went in and had a drink with him. Conversation was, once again, extremely boring and non-existent. We had nothing in common. He seemed preoccupied. I knew it was going nowhere and I couldn’t wait to leave.

After our date, I avoided him. Whenever I saw him next door in his backyard, I’d avoid going outside so I wouldn’t have to talk to him. Sure enough, one day he caught me and said, “Where have you been? How come you’ve been avoiding me?” I denied that I was, but of course we both knew it was bullshit. But I was wondering … he acts like he cares. Why? Shortly after that, he hit on my best friend right in front of me, and that’s when I totally cut him off. I kicked myself in the ass for agreeing to go out with him in the first place because that first instinct of mine had been right all along.

I also remember a job I had some years ago. I was working as a proofreader for a legal publisher. The morning I started there, my supervisor, a young woman, came out to get me in the lobby area where I was waiting. She smiled and shook my hand when she met me, like any other normal co-worker would, but right off the bat I sensed an ickiness about her, an instant dislike, and I knew we would never get along.

I was right.

I worked alongside her for about five years, and although we were generally civil to each other (because we had to be), we barely exchanged ten words of personal conversation. I avoided contact with her whenever possible because she totally creeped me out. I could never understand why she was so stuffy and snobby to me, until I found out from other co-workers that she was pretty much like that with every woman who worked under her.

She was a very jealous person, very uptight, but whenever a higher-up in the company crossed her path, she was as sweet as pie. She was so fake and phony. I couldn’t stand her. I knew my tenure there would end badly because of her, and I was right again. It was as if from that first moment she met me, she’d decided to get rid of me. It took her five years to do it, but she’d accomplished her goal.

That’s what I mean. I knew this woman was trouble as soon as I set eyes on her, and I was right. Likewise, in my school days, when I was growing up, I could always sense who was a genuinely good prospect for a friend, and who to avoid like the plague. I could never stand the really popular, cheerleader types because they were usually full of themselves and snobby as hell. I gravitated toward the more “regular” girls, girls who I knew were genuinely nice and fun-loving, rather than the social-climbing egomaniacs everyone fought to be friends with.

I was also able to spot the boys who were genuinely sweet and admiring underneath the artifice of bravado they demonstrated around their friends, and which guys were truly repulsive in character. I could easily spot the ones who went along with their friends in teasing someone, but genuinely felt bad about it. I knew who the secret fat lovers were, and it saddened me at times that they never blew their cover.

We large people have a highly-attuned instinct for reading character. We should use it to our advantage at all times, and never, ever disregard it. It is always right.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. vesta44 permalink
    September 18, 2012 11:21 am

    The really sad thing about that built-in bullshit detector is that other people usually don’t believe us when we tell them we have alarm bells going off about people/situations. Until they are bitten in the ass by not listening to our alarm bells, and then all of a sudden, it’s “Why didn’t I listen to you? How did you know?” And there’s really no way to explain that bullshit detector to anyone who isn’t fat/hasn’t been abused (because those of us who have been abused for reasons other than being fat also have that bullshit detector, even if we aren’t fat – it’s just especially sharp if we’re fat and have been abused for other reasons too).

    • September 18, 2012 1:55 pm

      this article and you, Vesta, are so freaking right on the money! I always know when something/someone is off and I always get called paranoid. And I’m not allowed to say I told you so when someone else gets bitten by the bug I tried to tell them about. Now, I just bide my time, avoid the conflict and say I’m sorry for whomever got hurt. I try not to gloat, but sometimes I get sick and tired of being told I’m too paranoid, I’m imagining it, that’s not true, it can’t be true, be more trusting…blah blah blahde freaking blah! But I always know when I’m not getting the job or when I”m losing a job or when a friend isn’t a friend or if a guy isn’t interested or if he is (which is very rare and sadly it hasn’t been mutual because I attract some pretty desperate guys *sigh*). I do love my little bullshit detector! It helps me avoid things but it also makes me sad sometimes because it’s almost always going off! Still, we take the good with the bad!

  2. September 18, 2012 12:20 pm

    Unfortunately, in my case, the fat people BS detector gets overwritten by my Asperger’s. What happens is that I second-guess myself constantly. Or I automatically start thinking negatively, and then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I hate that a lot of the time my first impressions are right, but I don’t listen to them like I should.

  3. Emerald permalink
    September 19, 2012 3:48 pm

    It took me some years to cotton on to this. One, my social skills were never great (CC, I’ve long suspected I had Asperger’s, although I never had a formal diagnosis – I had a lot of the classic signs as a child, although I’ve learned strategies for dealing with the world in a way I can handle and it’s perhaps not so obvious now). Two, because I thought the way I got treated was the way weird and/or fat people were always bound to be treated, it took a while for me to name the assholes as assholes, rather than as people who were simply treating me as I deserved.

    Also, I had my head reeeeally screwed around with by a narcissist from childhood onwards, and one feature of that was that I believed, for a very long time, that people who looked ‘nice’ (by a very strict set of definitions) really were nice. Only after I’d been shat upon by a number of conventionally nice-looking people I’d trusted unquestioningly, did it finally start to sink in – whereupon it turned the other way, so I spent a long time being completely unable to trust anyone good-looking. These days, though, looks are immaterial; if I get that little frisson of doubt about anyone, I know darn well that whatever the outward impression, they’re going to be toxic.

  4. September 20, 2012 12:02 am

    This blog post really hit home with me. I didn’t really realize I had a BS detector, but I do know I’ll pretty quickly decide if I like someone or not and it’s based entirely on an innate feeling. My behavior confounded my husband because I’m really patient with people’s imperfections, but there are some people that I just immediately dislike and more often than not, I’m eventually proven correct in my feelings.

  5. The Real Cie permalink
    September 21, 2012 3:48 pm

    We really do need to trust our instincts. There was a guy that I was really keen on years ago, but I literally got the word “vampire” in my head when I considered letting him into my life. I ignored it, and I got hurt big time. I almost let him back into my life for round 2 because he emphasized that he’s “clean now.” Bullshit. He’s still a vampire, still a coke addict, still a womanizer. This is something I do not need in my life ever.

  6. October 9, 2012 11:09 am

    I think anyone who is treated as an outcast, whether because of their weight or something else, will hone the ability to discern intentions. It’s not always accurate, but it’s a self-defense mechanism that has served myself, and you, well.


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