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Of a Certain Age: Full figures don’t mix with under-the-bed hiding places

By June Mathews — Of a Certain Age

Bitsy isn’t bitsy anymore.

In two short years, the older of our two small terriers has gone from being a scrawny rescue pup to a full-figured creature resembling a furry white pig. Bitsy loves her food, as well as anybody else’s food she can get her paws on, and it’s beginning to show in a “big” way, if you catch my drift.

At every mealtime, she’ll lick her bowl clean then slip across the kitchen to check Moxie’s bowl for leftovers. She routinely scouts the floor for crumbs and given half a chance (which we try real hard not to give her) she’ll scrounge through the garbage for scraps. Then there are the treats she begs multiple times a day from her two indulgent humans.

Not surprisingly, Bitsy’s level of consumption has packed on the pounds, and as her girth increases, her ability to squeeze herself into confined spaces decreases. And that makes protecting what she considers her own all the more difficult.

While she’s clearly a connoisseur of food, Bitsy is also a collector of things. Whatever strikes her fancy – a chew toy, a shoe, a shiny pair of earrings she snagged off the dresser – she stashes under the bed. The area has become her domain, and even Moxie knows to leave the stuff stored there alone. But if Bitsy continues to grow rounder, sliding her chunky self under our low-slung bed would be a thing of the past, and her treasures would be fair game for wiry little Moxie.

Bitsy’s potential predicament reminds me of a similar problem experienced by Great-Uncle George on my paternal grandmother’s side of the family. While his reasons for doing so differed, he also sought shelter by crawling under a bed. But overindulgence of another kind ultimately prevented it.

You see, George was a moonshiner who loved his own high-proof hooch better than just about anything. Not only did it serve as a buffer between him and his hardscrabble existence in the mountains of northeast Alabama; selling it often helped put food on the table.

But intemperance eventually took its toll, and the resulting bloat proved a hindrance to George whenever his sister, Liller (Meemaw to me) came for a visit. Knowing a tiresome lecture on the evils of the demon drink was about to walk through his front door, it had become George’s habit over the years to simply slide under the nearest bed when he saw her coming and stay there until she left.

In fairness to George, I should note that Meemaw was one of ten sisters, and due to our direct relationship, I’ve heard only of her attempts to deal with her brother’s addiction. In the event his other nine sisters were putting forth similar efforts, well, you couldn’t really blame George for choosing to remain in his moonshine haze, much less for hiding from his rather sizable bevy of female critics. Even as a fellow sister, I have to say a man with ten of us deserves to be cut some slack.

But as is usually the case, his sins eventually found him out. The day came when Meemaw stopped by his house, like she had so many times before. As a matter of course, George saw her coming and headed for his hiding place. That time, though, it did him absolutely no good because squeeze as he might, he could no longer fit his big ol’ belly under the bed.

Great-Uncle George, you might say, wasn’t bitsy anymore.

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