ABSTRACT

Stan says one day he was planning a social gathering at his house, and in a moment of what he calls “make yourself feel good about yourself” compassion, he looked up his neighbor to invite him to drop by. “I honestly thought this guy had no social outlets, and because I hadn’t seen him out, that he sat home alone all day feeling ostracized.” Stan’s big surprise came when his neighbor opened the door, to reveal a condo filled with people, all celebrating their host’s birthday. “There were a lot of similarly large guys in there, a handful of women, and some thinner guys, mostly younger, all buzzing about.” As Stan explains it, he went ahead and gave his invitation-“he was surprised, but gracious in accepting it”—and the two men got to know each other fairly well before Stan’s job sent him south to North

Carolina. He tells me his neighbor turned out to have a rather extensive network of friends, who mainly got together at each other’s homes, and largely communicated via their e-mail and instant messaging correspondence. Says Stan, “I was really arrogant in assuming just because he was fat he was also sad and lonely, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. Once we got to know each other a little and he started opening up to me, I found out his sex life was just as active as mine was at the time. Okay, that’s a lie. His was actually better, and the guys he was meeting were higher quality, and a lot less flaky.”