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The Compassionate Life by Marc Ian Barasch

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4

STREET RETREAT: THE DEBT OF LOVE

We’re all in the gutter,only some of us are looking at the stars.

—Oscar Wilde

LAST SUMMER I SAW AN IMMENSELY FAT WOMAN—350 POUNDS at least—struggling to step onto a Manhattan bus. Wheezing with effort, perspiring through her floral print dress, she couldn’t hoist her foot onto the platform. Her knee, encased in layers of flesh, wouldn’t bend. The driver, with an exasperated sigh, bolted from his seat to try to shoehorn her through the door.

The passengers gaped and craned, their expressions ranging from embarrassment to scorn to a sort of horrified fascination. As schedules unraveled and tempers frayed, the irritation grew more audible. The thought flashed through my mind as it did through nearly everyone’s: ...

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