When I was a little boy, I was the kind of kid who didn’t look fat until after he’d taken his shirt off. I remember once in elementary school when my hockey team went on a road trip to another city and I stayed at the house of a boy from the enemy team, whom we played (and I believe we were defeated by) the following day.
His parents set up a cot for me in the magnanimous youth’s bedroom. They were nice enough hosts. The boy found Cheech and Chong hysterical, and played one of their records for me, although I was too young and inexperienced to appreciate their sophisticated stoner humor at the time.
This was in the early nineteen-seventies. I can’t remember which year, but Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly” was at the top of the charts, a bittersweet celebration of masochism that was later converted into a cheesy hip-hop cover by some latter-day schlockmeister du jour.
Anyway, this noble youth, when I removed my shirt in the process of donning pajamas, was kind enough to say:
“God, you’re fat, aren’t you?”
I meekly confessed that I was, instead of punching him in his skinny stupid face, throttling his pallid neck, and withdrawing his eyeballs with my sharpened claws. I must have been too stunned to defend myself, unless I was just such an inveterate wimp from having been bullied for so many years that I thought such gratuitous cruelty my due. What the heck, I still do! Woo-hoo! Whoop de do, buckaroo! Peek-a-boo, I see you (through the sights of my sniper rifle–just kidding, folks; I guess I shouldn’t joke about that shit in these days of rampant school shootings, drone attacks, and indiscriminate assassinations by secret militias accountable only to the president–Congress Shmongress. Not that the congress we have now is exactly drowning in a surfeit of conscience).
Several years later, in junior high school, while at a school beach party in broad daylight, another fine young lad who was popular with the girls had it in his heart to announce from a distance upon spotting my incipient corpulence:
“Harmon’s a tub!”
Rather than humor him by reacting openly to the slight, I allowed the wound to fester in silence and traumatize me for life instead. He went on to become a wolf of Wall Street, I suppose, while I work at the service station, baptizing Lamborghinis and Maseratis in gasoline.