Apr 6, 2011

The Wide Man's Burden.

Dear AAP-
You've answered a couple questions now about how important it is or isn't for a band to worry about its "look" and all of that and you've talked about how you go about throwing a member out of a band AND you have even talked about how to figure out who gets stuck playing bass - I am all these issues rolled up into one person. When my friends and I were putting together a band, I agreed to play bass even though I was the better guitar player - their shady logic was "oh, since you're so good at guitar it'll be easier for YOU to learn bass." - so I did it, and after a while I did get good at it, and I figured out how and why to actually LIKE playing bass. The real reason they didn't want me playing guitar is because I'm not exactly frontman material. I'm a big guy, fat even. Not "cut a hole in the side of the house and get the fire department to help winch him onto a flatbed truck"-fat, but If I run my height and weight through the BMI calculator, I am officially "obese." Until we started the band, I didn't think my friends really cared, but once the band started and it WAS an issue, I realized it was something that could potentially get me thrown out of the band, friendship aside. Knowing this too is probably also why I agreed to play bass, because I still wanted to be not just in 'a' band, but in this particular band. With my friends. So now that we're playing out a lot and actually making a few things happen for ourselves (Next year or definitely by the year after that, we'll be ready to try to get into SXSW and stuff.) my bandmates are again making noises about my being too big... they never say THAT of course, they complain about everything else like "don't wear that shirt tonight, it looks like it fits wrong" How can a shirt fit wrong? I know what they're really saying. It is hard to pin down, but I just get the vibe that the squeezeout is coming and that they're going to find some excuse to replace me. Which really sucks because we've known each other since high school basically and we're all in our mid-twenties now. I mean these are really the closest friends I have in or outside of the band. What are my options in a situation like this? - Fat Strings.

Dear FS-
Your instincts are probably right. You know your friends well-enough to know when something is up. There are lots of ways you could go with this including (and I'm not saying this to be a douchebag) losing some weight. You're in your mid-twenties and you've "always" been big? Like I said, I'm not trying to be a douche - I know I need to lose weight too, but I'm a lot older than you and I haven't "always" had a weight issue, so the stuff I need to address is a bit different, for you though, it sounds like you just figure this is
the natural state of things for you, or perhaps a fate you've just resigned yourself to... and I can promise you, THAT just isn't the case. I'm NOT saying they're right. I'm saying you probably know, silently, that you would be healthier and better off (mentally/emotionally etc) if you found a way to get healthier - for YOURSELF.

For most people, even youngsters of your generation who were (unfortunately) raised on a diet of frozen pizza, McDonalds and high-fructose corn syrup, excess weight is an external sign of internal trouble, trauma and/or pain... and it affects not just where we shop for shirts, but it affects our mood, our personality and our capacity to hope. Think I'm wrong about that? Ask yourself why you so passively just 'accepted' their decision that you would have to play bass inspite of your six-string skills... What is the source of the lack or confidence (or perhaps self-esteem) that would let you
just roll over on the issue and let your "best friends" BS you into switching to bass...? Know what I'm saying? ... You're so young, you have the time, stamina and energy to change your whole freakin' life (internally and externally, mentally and physically) in ways you can't even begin to imagine... and all it takes is a little solid nutritional information, some achievable goals and a bone-deep understanding that your life and your good health is something worth fighting for.

I wonder if you're still reading this. I have no idea how truly open you are/were to really hearing all your "options" and I probably shouldn't have led with the "lose some weight" option, but THAT had less to do with staying in the band and more to do with staying off of diabetes medicine.

HERE is your main/best option:
Face the issue head on. It sounds like everyone is pussyfooting around the real issue. If these are really your closest friends, what CAN you all actually discuss openly with each other? I'm not talking about staging a big screaming confrontation, but rather having an "all cards on the table" summit. Find out what they're really thinking. Push for honesty, no matter how unwelcome it might be. Truth is, your "best friends" might just be a bunch of douchebags themselves. Finding something like THAT out reeeeeally sucks, but it is way better than not finding out until too late.

You sound like a good musician and a good guy. Ask yourself what sort of treatment you deserve from people... no wait, scratch that, because if your self-esteem has been kicked to sh#t, you probably don't think you deserve good treatment... Ask yourself how YOU would handle the situation if you were them... If you're not being treated as well as you would treat some other rotund bandmate, then you deserve to speak up, speak out and have your say.