birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Harry Potter and the Cure for Diabetes

I’ve gone to pot. A big round pot to be precise. I started losing my hair when I was fifteen. It really bothered me in my twenties. Then Jean Luc Picard made bald look cool and I got over it. I started gaining weight when I got out of the Navy at age thirty-three. Nothing too noticeable at first, just love handles, really. Over time, though, it got worse.

Soon I was no longer hefty, I was fat. People stopped asking for my number at the Quest, a local gay bar. Then they stopped asking to dance with me. I blamed it on my age, rather than my weight. I blamed it on the youth obsession of Gay Culture.

I was laid off by the phone company in 2012. I’d worked my way up through the ranks, learning on the job. Without a diploma to back up my skills, no one would hire me. I remained out of work for two years, during which I spiraled into a deepening depression. I coped with it by eating. I was no longer fat I was HUGE. My doctor was worried about me. “Bob, you’ve developed Type Two diabetes. If you do something about your weight, you could live another forty years.”

“Doc, the last forty haven’t been all that great. I’ll need better incentive than that.”

My friends were worried about me. “Bob, if you keep eating like that you’re going to die.”

“Meh, we all gotta die of something.”

I always plan and pay for my vacations at least a year in advance. I like them to be 100% paid for, before I leave home so that I can enjoy them without pinching pennies. I’ve attended every Harry Potter midnight launch party at Books a Million, shoving little children aside so that I could rush home and start reading the books. I sneer at people who have only seen the movies and dare to call themselves fans. If you haven’t read the books at least a dozen times, please don’t waste my time by trying to discuss the major themes. And woe to those who suggest that JK Rowling got something wrong.

Last year I booked my hotel at Universal Studios Orlando, paid for my plane ticket, and called to make sure there were no maintenance scheduled for any of the Harry Potter rides or exhibits for the second week of February, 2018. I asked if there was anything, anything at all, that I needed to be aware of that could hinder my visit in anyway.

“Well, if you’re pregnant, you shouldn’t go on—“

“I’m not pregnant and there’s no chance I will be,” I assured the perky woman on the other end of the phone. Those folks take nothing for granted.

“Because of the safety harness on the Escape from Hogwarts ride, your waist can’t be any larger than 40 inches. If you’ve had recent back surgery, you—“

“Whoa. Say that again. Forty inches?”

“Yes, sir.”

I could give a shit about living another forty years—this wanna-be wizard is going to Hogwarts. The diet started that day. Since then I’ve lost 45 pounds and seven inches on my waist. My plane leaves in three weeks. One inch to go. If think I’ll make it, but if I don’t, I’ll just suck it in. If anyone tries to tell me I’m still too fat for the ride, well, I know a few dueling curses and I’m not afraid to use them.

I Sing the Body

A Time of Great Forgetting