She thought she was the first one since ancient Rome. Her mother wished she could do it, too. Her doctor called it "a great weight control technique." Read what it was like to consider yourself the first and only one since ancient Rome –and still live a fascinating life.

The Skinny: Adventures of
America's First Bulimic by Rayni Joan $16.95

Be among the first to read this shocking and outrageous new novel! It's now available on, in print, and as an e-book for the Kindle! Click here to learn more now! 



 Pp 49 - 53


Grandma and Grandpa had been married for fifty years and they still hugged regularly like sweethearts. We’d had a big party at a restaurant in the Bronx, and I didn’t dare complain about the uncomfortable green taffeta dress that rustled weirdly when I moved and made me look like I weighed about a thousand pounds. Daddy asked me to dance and pulled and pushed me around as he crushed me to his body. I knew my face was bright red. My body stiffened like stale bread. I didn’t mean to but kept stepping on his toes, and I even slipped a small fart out and pretended it wasn’t mine. He told me to relax and poked me a little in the small of my back but that only made me stiffer. Relief flooded me when the music ended. I raced to find Ralphie, whose white shirt was half hanging out of his navy blue pants. We danced a box step, counting as we trod, leaving proper space between us, not like Daddy. Afterwards, we ran around the restaurant threatening other cousins with ice cubes. Our cousin Mitchell wanted us to try bootleg cigarettes and Scotch in the alley but we turned him down. I didn’t want Daddy to murder me.

Back at home, after the celebration, I sat at Gram and Gramps’ kitchen table, watched them hug by the sink, and felt warm inside. It was good to know all couples weren’t enemies like my parents. When I grew up, I decided, I would marry a man just like Grandpa.

– ∞ –

Buddy Wine’s birth certificate lists him as Baruch Ofir Wine. His parents, Morris and Minnie Wine, had been Weinbergers before Joshua Benson, a mischievous employee of the United States government’s Immigration Department on Ellis Island, said to a young Morris, “Your name is now Wine. Drink and be merry.” When his parents named him Baruch, the first word of every Hebrew prayer, meaning Blessed, they expected to call their second boy Barry for short. But the vivacious little fellow, when asked his name at age one, answered “Buh” and his big brother Arnold decided to call him Bud. It stuck and expanded a bit to Buddy.

Bud, a flower that never quite blossoms and blooms, that was Buddy Wine’s fate, a guy drunk with dreams. Many years later, it was his wife’s hypothesis that Baruch Weinberger would have made it perhaps to Supreme Court Justice, or esteemed Rabbi complete with beard and yarmulke, chanting his name throughout the day, blessed be this and blessed be that, washing hands, eating breakfast, one prayer for fruit, another for bread, yet another for fish or fowl. But Buddy – as a kid trusted friend, pal, loyal comrade, a buddy to good guys, and hooligans alike, easy mark for con artists later on, Buddy, unlike Baruch, had no special angel, no special blessing, and no chance.

He got into plenty of trouble in the schoolyard, jumped headlong into scraps triggered by a slightly raised eyebrow or a curled lip. Quick at doing sums in his head, in class he balked at showing teachers how he arrived at correct answers before any other kid. Who cared as long as the answers were correct? He skipped school often and went fishing or bike riding or hung out smoking cigarettes, looking at girlie rags, and playing cards in Morty Pintchik’s basement. With no taste for alcohol, he just watched as Morty got soused on his old man’s Scotch and acted foolish. Maybe a bit of Baruch shone through.

The last time he signed his full name Baruch Ofir Wine, he thought good riddance as he signed himself out of high school forever at age sixteen. The guy with that name was somebody else, a different, seriously embarrassing Jewboy. Buddy Wine was a homeboy, a pal’s pal, a red blooded American who could go far like the characters in the Horatio Alger, Jr. rags to riches stories.

Next day Buddy went to work delivering flowers. He learned far more than he’d counted on from his third customer, a 35-year-old bleached blond, appropriately named Flora and called Flo. The yellow tea rose bouquet he was bringing Flo contained a Dear Jane card, a break-up letter from her married boyfriend. Flo’s delight at seeing the bouquet in the hands of the smiling teenager, with porkpie hat, quickly turned to shock as she read the news and mumbled a few choice epithets for her now ex. Buddy had never heard such language out of a female mouth, and this was a particularly pretty pink rosebud mouth he was in no hurry to take leave of, certainly not before collecting his tip.

“I’m sorry, Ma’am,” said Buddy sympathetically and pulled a clean, pressed white handkerchief from his pocket. Flo accepted it and cried into it without even thinking.

“Can I help you, Ma’am?” asked sweet, innocent Buddy, not moving from the porch.

“Come in, young man,” Flo said, between sobs. “I’ll give you your tip.”

He took off his hat and crossed the threshold.

“Hold me tight,” she said, whimpering, still holding the bouquet, making no move toward her pocketbook.

One thing led to another and soon Buddy found himself inside a pornographic dream, in a four-poster bed with a blond living doll who squeezed his penis between the plumpest breasts he’d ever seen inside or out of a dirty magazine and followed that with an unspeakably pleasurable delight involving the rosebud mouth. How lucky could a guy get on his first day of work, which quickly became his last on that particular job since he stayed and comforted Flo until after darkness fell. Over the next few months, as Buddy flitted from one job to another, his one constant was that four-poster bed. Never had a boy been happier to have quit high school, for this love school offered an unparalleled education, not the disciplined academic variety the Sheldons, Iras, and Harveys were getting on their way to the MD’s and CPA’s, but the kind most red-blooded sixteen-year-olds could only fantasize about as they furtively tickled the pickle, burped the worm, choked the chicken, basted the turkey, jerked the gherkin and greeted Madame Palm and her five lovely daughters.

Buddy’s manly adventures with Flo impregnated him with a sense of self-confidence and pride. When he walked into Acme Wholesale Pharmaceuticals, the sales manager, Irv Prager, liked the kid with the straight posture, easy smile, twinkling eyes, and hired him on the spot. Buddy soon had a closet full of suits, a brand new car, a small apartment of his own off Grand Concourse in the Bronx, and more spending money than any other kid his age from his hometown of Dumont, New Jersey. Although Buddy never acquired a taste for alcohol, he liked the grown-up feel of smoky bars. After Flo, there was no way he could date girls his age, so he gravitated to dance halls and bars, drank celery tonic and Coke and worked out athletically on his mattress with fast girls named Dolly, Babe, and Candy. Irv Prager’s instincts had been accurate: this kid could sell cream to a cow and make the cow moo with delight.

Meanwhile, Buddy’s parents, Minnie and Morris, tiring of big-city life, sold their cut-rate drug store on Jerome Avenue and their house in Dumont, and bought a similar store with an apartment right upstairs on Water Street in Newburgh, New York, a small town on the banks of the wide, blue Hudson River.

“When we retire to Florida,” they promised Buddy, “our store will be yours.”

For ten years, Buddy led the Acme sales force and built a reputation as an ace. Meanwhile all the old buddies from high school had graduated from college and professional schools and were settling down with wives and babies. Even his big brother Arnie, with a DDS and office full of impressive dental equipment, had a zaftig wife and two little boys of his own. It’s time, old Buddy, he said to himself. Enough of cafeteria food and dance hall floozies. With this mindset, he was working the Newburgh territory he’d requested – more out of duty toward his parents than love for them – when he noticed Pearl Fine for the first time.

He spotted Pearl as she walked, talked, laughed, and goofed with her three friends, coming from high school and heading south across upper Broadway. A petite, raven-haired knockout with straight teeth, fiery dark eyes and creamy olive skin, Pearl had a contentedness and easy laugh so completely opposite from his dour mother that Buddy felt his heart melt and was drawn in right away. Along with girlfriends Sylvia, Tess and Elsie, the delightfully spirited girls were known around town collectively as the Noisy Four.

On a whim, he followed her home to Overlook Place, then poked around a little like one of his True Detective Stories private eye heroes, Sam Spade. As a traveling salesman, Buddy was in town only sporadically and for the next few months, Pearl dominated his dreams. When he next returned it was fall. Pearl’s girlfriends had all gone off to college but she, a top student, had to stay in town and face the humiliation of attending Metropolitan Business School because her father refused to send a daughter to college and it never occurred to her to go on her own.

Buddy parked in front of Metropolitan and waited. Pearl came out alone, carrying an armload of books. Her black hair was bobbed, her cheeks rouged, her skin golden, her jaw set, attitude feisty, a result of the raw deal her dad had trapped her with. Buddy, dressed impeccably in new tweed three-piece suit, wool felt Fedora and conservative dark cravat, walked straight up to her.

“Good afternoon. My name is Buddy Wine. I know you are Pearl Fine and have four older brothers named Phil, Jake, Sydney and Benny. I think you’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen and I’d like to drive you home in my new roadster and take you out for dinner on Saturday night. My parents own Wine Cut-Rate Drugs on Water Street. We’re a solid, respectable Jewish family. I have a good, steady job with Acme Pharmaceuticals and my intentions are honorable.” He bowed low, hat in hand, then swept the hat invitingly toward his shiny black Pontiac with gleaming silver streaks. Astonished, speechless, wide-eyed, flattered, impressed by this dapper, romantic, smiling, charming figure, Pearl stepped gingerly into what would become the nightmare of her life.

– ∞ –


Pp 66 - 67


Little by little, I learned from experience what came up easily and what didn’t budge. Liquids cleared the way, especially warm creamy ones, but chocolate of any kind stuck like glue. Once I ate a bag of Oreos and almost ripped my stomach open struggling to bring them up. My heart pounded, glands swelled, eyes teared, the back of my hand looked like an animal had chomped into it – and still, nothing rose. I gagged again and again, knowing I had all those Oreos lodged in me. They had to come up. They had to. But they didn’t. I lay curled up on the tiny bathroom floor berating myself. How could I have been so stupid? Why didn’t I know? God, if only you let me get rid of them now, I will never eat Oreos again. Please, I promise! Again I bent over the toilet and gagged. Nothing. I drank warm tap water, shoved my whole hand down my throat, wiggled the fingers around deep inside. Water came up, slightly brown from the Oreos, but nothing solid. How could this be? Beside myself, I prayed to Sky-mother for a solution. Exercise! said a voice in my head. Exercise hard! I had to get out of the bathroom since there was no room in there even to spread my arms. I cracked the door and, certain no one was around, quickly darted straight through the house and out the back door.

In the backyard, I hooked my feet under the decorative molding beneath the porch and did so many sit-ups on my Oreo-filled stomach that I not only ached, I actually felt nauseous. I lost count somewhere around 800, but felt relieved to be using up calories. I decided the Oreo filling must contain glue and vowed once more never to have an Oreo or anything chocolate again. So what if chocolate was my favorite flavor. So what if Oreos were my favorite cookie. I’d sacrifice.

– ∞ –

As I acted out this bizarre ritual day after day, sometimes more than once or twice in a day, I had a big payback. First of all, my ungainly body was shrinking to what I considered a normal range. Secondly, having grown up around random raging, I relished the repetition, familiarity, and security of the new routine. I was in charge now. I had control. Moreover, both overstuffing and anticipation of emptying thrilled me. I could open up my mouth and dump in as much as I wanted of almost anything! More and more and more, I’d stuff and stuff and stuff until there was no more room for anything. Then followed great physical relief of pressure and emotional elation after the purge. The secrecy necessary to carry this out terrified me at times, but it also fed me with satisfaction. I knew something nobody else knew – including Mommy, who, I believed, blocked it out of her mind using classic denial. I felt special, empowered, daring. I got away with something. It was during this time that I shocked and delighted myself by my warrior behavior in smacking Daddy back – with no conscious preplanning. Right after that victory, I strengthened myself further by demanding an end to being called Weena or worse, Weenie. Fresh from a double coup, my attachment to the secret habit was now cemented as never before. I was beginning to sense a tiny, nagging pain as the addiction’s hooks dug into me, but I ignored it. How could I possibly give up something which transformed my life?

– ∞ –


Pp 248 - 251


I arrived in New Orleans on Monday, February 24th, at four in the afternoon, the first leg of my trip home to New York, and had a layover until six next morning. For a while I nonchalantly walked around the airport, found a newspaper, read a little, did a crossword puzzle, browsed the shops amazed at all the varieties of Louisiana hot sauce, read a little more, got tired, drank black coffee, guzzled water, walked again. Shops closed, and I started getting restless, probably from caffeine and hunger, which, as usual, didn’t occur to me. I’d eaten half a slice of pineapple and black coffee for breakfast and another half slice, a couple of bites of lettuce and one forkful of chicken salad for lunch, which I deemed more than enough. I had no credit card, was too broke to go to a hotel, and as my situation sank in, I realized hanging out in the airport all night might not be necessary. Sure enough, there was a flight leaving at two AM, making stops in Atlanta and Washington, DC, and going on to land at LaGuardia at about the time I’d be taking off with my original flight. Delighted with my decision and feeling foolish that I hadn’t thought of it earlier, I buoyantly approached the agent at the Eastern ticket counter. He was tall and husky with light, creamy coffee complexion, shock of curly black hair, and unusual gray-green eyes. It was reassuring to see someone cute and boyish I could relate to and flirt with. I greeted him ebulliently, handed him my ticket packet. He took it apart and examined it.

“I’d like to get to New York earlier,” I said, as he perused the papers. “Are there any seats on flight 304?”

He handed me back the ticket, looked straight into my eyes. “Yes, there are, but I can’t let you on that flight, Miss Wine. You’ll have to stick with your original itinerary.”

Rage rose instantly. My voice cracked shrilly. “What do you mean? If there are seats, why can’t I have one? You’re going to make me hang out in this stupid airport all night when I could be on my way home? That isn’t right!” I waved the ticket packet madly.

“There’s nothing I can do,” he said calmly. “I can’t let you on that flight.”

“I’d like to speak with your manager,” I huffed.

“You’re speaking with him, Miss Wine. I’m the manager. You can file a formal complaint when you get to New York.”

Outraged, I pulled out every argument I could, used logic, emotion, even my female tears to get him to allow me on that plane. He was made of stone, apparently, and absolutely refused. He didn’t even apologize or explain. Helpless to get what I wanted, I stormed away. I resisted vending machine candy – easy because it was all chocolate and that hadn’t tempted me since the Oreo trauma. If there had been a pizzeria or doughnut shop open, I would have indulged recklessly, but instead I stopped in a restaurant for a few more glasses of water. An Agatha Christie someone had left behind got me through the night. Between the book, anger, exhaustion, and hunger pang denial, I was too fogged to notice anything else.

By the time I arrived at LaGuardia, even though I’d napped on the plane, I drooped with exhaustion. I caught a shuttle to Port Authority and a bus to Vails Gate, a suburb of Newburgh, where Mommy now rented what had been a Revolutionary War hunting lodge, a two-hundred-year-old, rustic, historic frame cottage she was thrilled to have found and had written me all about. Another place George Washington was purported to have slept. I had never seen it since she’d been living in Syracuse when I left fourteen months earlier. I’d meant to call her from the bus station but skipped it and waited to phone from the suburban Mom and Pop convenience store where the bus stopped.

“I’m here, at Al & Mabel’s store, Mommy. Please come pick me up.”

She got so blubberingly hysterical when she heard my voice, she couldn’t speak coherently.

“What’s wrong, Ma? I thought you’d be happy to hear from me.”

“You have no idea how happy I am, Rowie, darling,” she sobbed. “Thank God, you’re okay. We were terrified you’d been on the other flight. I’ll be right there to pick you up as soon as I call Karen, Victoria, Aunt Bea, Ralphie, and Sylvia.”

“Mommy, wait, don’t hang up, what are you talking about? What other flight? I was up all night, I’m really tired and there’s no place to sit down here. Can’t you wait and call the family gossip network after you pick me up? Please don’t make me stand here.”

“This is not gossip, Rowie. We’ve been scared to death. Why didn’t you call earlier? Don’t you know? There was a plane crash around two in the morning in the lake in New Orleans. A flight to New York. Oh my God, I’m so relieved. I have to call your sisters. I’ll call the others later although by then word will be out, I suppose. I’d rather tell them myself, but don’t worry, I’ll be there soon.”

A huge “PLANE CRASH!” headline screamed from the front page of the Daily News. I bought a paper. The flight I’d tried to fight my way onto had crashed into Lake Pontchartrain shortly after take-off and killed every passenger and crewmember aboard. I’d begged to be on that plane. Reeling and dazed, I spent the last of my cash on my usual medicine, a large box of glazed doughnuts. I pulled a sweater out of my suitcase to make room and smushed in the doughnuts, hidden for later when I’d surely need them. Even crushed and crumbly, they would do the trick.

So who was the ticket agent? How had he known? Had he known? Why was I supposed to live? Did I have some special mission? Why wasn’t the flight cancelled? What about the other passengers? Why wasn’t I dead and buried in the lake and finished with all the problems of my life? My mind overflowed with questions I couldn’t answer. Shouldn’t I tell somebody official? If only I’d paid attention to his name. He’d said I should file a report. Was that code?

After admiring Mommy’s new Volkswagen bug, I put my bags into the trunk under the hood, distracted that the engine was where I expected the trunk to be. “Very cool,” I said. I turned down the offer to drive and then explained what had happened and asked her opinion about the ticket agent.

“Don’t make a whole tsimmes out of it,” she said after a quick hug and peck on my cheek. Her eyes were still red, but the tears were history. “Just thank God you’re alive, dear. It wasn’t your time.”

“Ma, don’t you find it just a teensy bit hypocritical to thank God when you don’t believe in God?”

“It’s just an expression, Rowie, for heaven’s sake. And who knows? If it was God that saved your life, who am I to question? So sue me, call me pisher if I say thanks, just in case.”

“Oh Ma,” I said. “You’re so funny. Still the befuddled queen of double messages.”

Mommy chattered about this and that and didn’t even realize my mind was somewhere else. I wondered about the ticket agent and God. Maybe it’d been a huge mistake! Or had been random and had nothing to do with any divine being? After all, why would a god want someone as nuts as me around? But then I thought I’d better do like Mommy and say thanks just in case. Hey, I said silently, if you’re there or here, in whatever wild and weird form that is not an old man with a beard up in the sky, please give me a sign. Or was this plane crash a very big sign you just gave me? I’m so confused.

“I’ve made matzo ball soup,” Mommy said. “Glad you’re here to eat it, dear. You will have some, won’t you?” She turned into an almost hidden driveway. “My wonderful old house is about half a mile up this dirt road. Isn’t this amazing? Wait till you see the place. You’ll love it!”

– ∞ –