A Literary Curiosity: The Nimble Fat Man

Posted by jlubans on October 24, 2022

Caption: Homer Nimbling Along.

Have you, when reading fiction, wondered why the author invariably describes a fat man as nimble on his feet?
To compound the cliche, some authors add “surpisingly”.
I have seen this countless times.
Here are several I picked up in a quick Internet search:
“Although he was fat, he was very nimble.”
“He was one of those men who are surprisingly nimble despite massive weight.”
“Moving with that nimble quickness peculiar to many fat men . ...”
“()(f he had not been wondrous nimble for a fat man she would have caught him…”
“For a fat man, he was nimble.”

But nimbleness is not just limited to the feet:
“Standing at the table , the fat man opened the book with his thick but surprisingly nimble fingers.”
Is this a result of an author’s insightful observation of fat people or is it an attempt to ameliorate with something positive what could be seen as fat shaming?
Just found! A titillating titbit from 1930*:
"She was breasting the stairs with a celerity surprising in one so plump, and her rather protruding blue eyes positively bulged with excitement?. she looked like nothing so much as a fat Pekinese, aquiver at the sight of food."
(Excerpt From The Case of Sir Adam Braid By Molly Thynne)
Is this fictional nimbleness related to an organization’s seeking to be nimble?
An example:
“For an organization steeped in decades of bureaucratic tradition it was surprisingly nimble when it came to justifying a larger budget.”
Want to see an elephant dance, stand on its head, and do back flips? Come to a budget hearing!
Our next literary curiosity: The Infamous Deal Table”.

My book, Fables for Leaders, full of literary curiosities, is available. Click on the image and order up!

And, don’t forget Lubans' book on democratic workplaces, Leading from the Middle
© Copyright text by John Lubans 2022

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