Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Man in the Blue Tarp

I keep seeing this story. It's always a different person, but the story is the same. In this case from Lansing, Michigan, a 900-pound man, who had not been able to leave his home for four years, was brought to the hospital by extraordinary means. Firefighters and paramedics cut a hole in a wall to remove him from the second floor of his duplex, using a telescoping forklift. To shield him from the gawking crowds, they covered him completely in a blue tarp. The press, in its unfailingly humanitarian fashion, has made photos available.

For those not willing to avert their gaze, the Web also offers tarp-free images of the similarly immobilized Manuel Uribe Garcia of Monterrey, Mexico. He is now down to 800 pounds, but at 1200 pounds he was acclaimed the heaviest man in the world. Modestly he plays down his achievement. Just a regular Jose, he told ABC News. "I used to eat normal, just like all Mexicans do. Beans, rice, flour tortilla, corn tortilla, French fries, hamburgers, subs and pizzas, whatever regular people eat. I worked as a technician, repairing typewriters, electronic calculators and computers. So I worked on a chair. It was a sedentary life."

Manuel's picture isn't easy to look at, but one must look. What are we to make of this freakshow display? Perhaps it is a cautionary tale. You cannot ever turn into a two-headed calf or a snake-faced woman, but if you don't watch out, if you get always get fries with that, if you are a desk worker instead of a bicycle courier, if you let yourself go, this could be you: a man in a blue plastic suit whose other car is a forklift. You have been warned. Tarpe diem.

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