The portly man is generally more benign than the rawboned man because cells in the portly man’s body contain organisms called Ludobites, which work like endorphins to keep the portly man relatively docile much of the time. The portly man should be fed at regular intervals and in quantities commensurate with his size, but once enough food has been obtained the result is an abnormally benign adult male when measured against the disposition of rawboned men, such as your father. The portly man often retires to the living room and smokes a cigar after a meal, often requesting an ash tray but then not using it and letting ashes fall where they may.
Buoyancy and Aquatic Adaptability:
The portly man is more buoyant than the rawboned man. If you push him down underwater he will float up to the top again more quickly, which is counterintuitive but true. His lungs are bigger, and he can therefore stay down longer. This means you can push the portly man farther down in the water than the rawboned man and he will be able to retain enough breath to make it back to the top. This gives the portly man an advantage over the rawboned man anywhere in the world’s oceans or lakes. On land, the portly man’s lung capacity allows him to talk longer and louder than anyone else in the room.
Your father will not like the portly man, because the portly man inevitably smokes cigars and drops ash on the living room carpet as if he owns the place. Your mother will say to your father, “Since when are you so fastidious? You just don’t like my brother and you’ll use any excuse against him.” However, your father will be polite to the portly man when he’s at the house. He’ll only say things behind the portly man’s back.
Looked at from directly behind, the portly man’s back is roughly the size of the continental United States on standard sixth grade wall maps. It is estimated that the portly man has more than four times as much skin as the rawboned man. If the portly man were a buffalo or bear, you’d have to skin four normal-sized buffaloes or bears for every rawboned buffalo or bear you skinned to get the same amount of skin.
The portly man is substantially smarter than your father.
On dry land the portly man seems to move more slowly and with greater effort than the rawboned man, but in fact this is mainly due to Einsteinian time dilation effects in the area around the portly man’s gravitational pull. Once Lorentz transformations are calculated, the portly man can actually be seen to be moving faster than the rawboned man. This can be convincingly explained, with much more elaboration, by the portly man, who has a better grasp of three-dimensional space due to his size, and who was a physics major in college until he switched to psychology in his sophomore year because physics involved a great deal of math.
The portly man’s brain is floating in a solution secreted only by portly men, known as Gabor’s Milk, which helps the brain of the portly man protect itself from sudden shocks, whereas the rawboned man’s brain presses up firmly against the walls of his rawboned man’s skull, leaving him more open to head trauma than the portly man. This means rawboned men like your father are more skittish than portly men and are always looking around to make sure they don’t bump into anything. Gabor’s Milk also contributes to the portly man’s brain functioning in such a way that he must always have the last word, which means the portly man will win almost every argument he has with your father, a rawboned man, even when the portly man is dead wrong and has no idea what he’s talking about.
Nature vs. Nurture:
The portly man will always be on a diet but not on any specific diet and he will never lose weight. Your father’s theory is that the portly man was indulged as a child, but your mother says he was brought up exactly the way she was and she’s not portly. Your mother’s theory is that the portly man is genetically different and it’s not the portly man’s fault. Your father’s theory is that the portly man has no will power. The portly man says he has no theory and doesn’t believe in theories about being portly. The portly man says theories about why people are portly are invented by rawboned people who want to sell diet books.
The portly man says one of the country’s great presidents, Teddy Roosevelt, would be considered portly by today’s standards but that he was not considered portly in his time. Which goes to show the concept of being portly is relative. Your father says Teddy Roosevelt would have been considered portly by yesterday’s standards as well, and the day before that while you’re at it. He says Teddy Roosevelt would have been considered portly by the pharaohs in the time of the pyramids. But the portly man has more historical knowledge and makes better points and your father is forced to admit he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
Horses find it much harder to throw the portly man, so the portly man is in less danger of being thrown from a horse. In fact, on the day your family goes out for a horse ride at the ranch, the people at the ranch won’t rent him a horse because they say he’s over the weight limit. This makes it practically impossible for the portly man to be thrown from a horse. Even so, when it is necessary to get somewhere quickly, the portly man prefers taxicabs.
According to the portly man, puppies sleep more soundly on the portly man’s stomach than on the stomachs of rawboned men. This contention of the portly man’s has not been confirmed because your mother is allergic to pet dander and you’ve never had a dog.
If your mother, who is the portly man’s sister, tells the portly man to lose weight or he’s going to drop dead of a heart attack, the portly man will not listen. He will have a heart attack. However, he won’t drop dead. He’ll live another two years. During that time he’ll go on a diet and lose almost a hundred pounds. Then he’ll have another heart attack and drop dead. And the rawboned man will remain silent for the many days your mother cries.
© Nick Roth
[This story was selected by Sara Crowley]