Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fat Kid
Exercise, My Eternal Foe

It'll be proper spring in seasonal cities, and that means the majority of us are starting to face the fact that we're too fat for Spring. You shed a layer and you expose a previously unseen groove of flab that mounds of jackets had helpfully hidden before. The only cure for this is a frantic exercise routine that targets your problem areas, you hope it'll work in 3 weeks but see nothing, so you eat instead.

Exercise and I never mixed together. When I was a kid in grade school we had Physical Education which is a special section of school set aside for torture from demented adults who use shame and fear like medieval weaponry. I went to an inner-city type school, the kind where I only saw two white people and I used to think they were just sick kids, and it was the same there that it was everywhere.

"You boys, we'll play dodgeball. You girls, skip rope."

And I played with balls and boys and watched forlornly at the girls because I wanted to jump rope. It seemed like fun, and there was so much pressure to the games that boys played, and there was only fun to the games girls played. Those girl games had no consequence, and the boys games were all consequence, you won if you didn't suffer any humiliation.

My mother took me to a communal pool later on, the sort where all the kids piss in (she encouraged it of me too, why use the bathroom?). I stepped out of the kids locker wearing a tacky speedo, I fell into the pool, and I became a fish. The water was my home. There weren't rules here, and the only humiliation was if you hit a floater, but there was joy in the movements and it felt like I was flying.

"That's great exercise isn't it?" She asked.
Exercise, I thought, what a curious thing.

My curiosity dissipated when we had to do such exercise in school. We ran laps and miles for vicious gym teachers, we climbed ropes that went nowhere, and I climbed onto a balance beam which shook violently under my nervous feet.

At this time I was fat. I was eating-a-happy-meal-every-friday fat. My mother would supply me with happy meals because I begged her, but she worried, and she worried when all I drank was soda, and when I did nothing but run home from school and stay in the house. How could she know that I didn't leave the house because I'd notice the sharp mood the neighborhood was changing into; neighborhood boys now dressed like gang members, gang members loomed closer to houses and away from alleys, gangsta rap became popular.

So my mother purchased a bike and pushed. I fell over and cried because a dog had scared me. In Los Angeles people buy vicious dogs who will run towards you, hit their fence, and bark loudly (this only happens if you're foolish enough to walk around LA, or bike on sidewalks as a kid). I imagined dogs leaping over a fence and tearing my head from my torso.

When I got older my mother forced me to take Tae Kwan Do. FORCED me! Imagine that, spoiling your only child your entire life and then so rudely forcing him to go and join an inner city dojo. I went and I punched and kick things, the smell of sweat, gi, and pre-pubescence was palpable and the stuff of nightmares. I faked an illness, I faked it for 2 years. It consisted of gagging myself. My mother took me to a doctor, and the doctor told me to see a therapist, and the therapist said I wasn't sick but I told him I was. I could lie, I was destined to be an English major.

If only mom had seen the Michael Phelp's-like potential in my swimming, if only we could have a private pool, but alas, all we had was a communal pool in the apartment complex that had long become a cement pit. I had no hope until I wandered into a video game store and discovered my salvation, the one thing that would change me from a chubby kid into a contender.

It was Dance Dance Revolution

A dancing video game? You mean I can be active doing something I like to do?

Hours of play and sweat ensued, and I was an expert. I had enough confidence in my dancing abilities that I would play the game on the Santa Monica Pier arcade and show off to the beach-goers, I even got a round of applause once.

We bought the home edition and I continued to use it until I'd lost so much weight that my own mother couldn't recognize me from the kid she dumped into Tae Kwon Do.

That's when I realized a hard truth; it's easy to lose weight, it's super hard to get fat. To get fat takes dedication and perseverance. You must not only be inactive, but you must also eat creatively and for maximum pleasure. We as humans get bored when inactive, and so you must find creative ways to be entertained when fat.

Losing weight is so easy any stupid person can do it, and let's face it most fit people are downright stupid, comparatively some of the most clever people I've met are fat slobs. They're well read and watch lots of movies, all a fit person does is repeat the same actions over and over and "eat until they're full." How simple is that?

Since the snow has stopped in New York I have taken to running half an hour every other day. I own weights but I rarely use them, also I sometimes sleep in a day here and there, and that's fine. As I wake up my roommate Big Nig has remarked how I seem to be so full of energy in an envious tone.

I'm not. While I'm skinnier I still feel that a part of me is a wily fat kid, faking illnesses, not fitting into gym class but confounding it--defying it--still enjoying the ravenous pleasures of food as vice, and taking in other vices as food.

I have not traded the stupidities of being fit to the complexities of fatness, that's the man I am.


1 comment:

RSCME said...

I"m a lower middle class fat kid from New England (so I'm pale too). Your story is my story and I thank you for putting it into words that are easily understandable to dumb skinny people. I'm over 40 now, gay, single, not fat anymore but still hate exercise. Being a fat kid, who was made fun of by his own family, takes its toll and no matter how much therepy you get you never truly believe anyone will love you just for you. Without being physically perfect. Especialloy if you're gay like me. You story touched me - brought it all right back into focus when I've been trying for years to blur it. I respect you for being honest. Best wishes. R.