I'm one of those people who cry about weight fluctuation. Like many others, it's a result of eating and drinking like a fucking pig for extended spurts of time, rarely exercising (if you call a bi-weekly thirty minutes on the elliptical machine or the occasional down-hill CitiBike ride home exercising), then looking in the mirror and saying "oh crap, I got fat again". My eating habits have been dysfunctional ever since I can remember. In my mid-twenties, the time where I fancied myself to be in the shape of my life, I could have passed for an extra at one of Jessie's meth parties on Breaking Bad. This was a result of a steady diet of cigarettes, coffee, and the occasional dixie cup full of Cheese-Its. Then I quit smoking, gained thirty pounds, and have never recaptured my figure.
I tried being a vegetarian once. I lasted a week, eating nothing but flaffels and grilled cheese sandwiches in the process. Then I went on a date with a tough-as-nails bartender from a restaurant I got fired from (another outrageous story for another post). She ordered something along the lines of a meat sandwich, topped with meat, and a side of meat and a meat gravy to go with her meat-birched beer. As she ordered the manliness thing I've ever seen a woman order, I was left with the choice of vegan chill, a vegetarian foccaccia, or sewing up my vagina. Right then I broke my seven days of not eating meat, swore I'd never do such a silly thing again, and proceeded to strike out with her anyway. But that's besides the point. Point is, I love food, and I love to eat. Always have.
And even though I've realized my limits as an adult (and have consciously exceeded them through bouts of depression, shit happens), I had zero awareness of overeating as a child. This resulted in a few very painful, very gruesome stories from my youth:
(If you're expecting me to write something heartfelt and enlightening about adolescent overeating, I'm sorry to disappoint. No, I'm going to share some hilarious stories about a fat kid getting injured!!!!)
I've done my share of stupid shit, mostly in my adulthood, and while I always managed to stay out of trouble with the cops and such, I've had a couple of trips to the emergency room as a result of my tubbiness:
The Picket Fence Incident
I grew up in a middle-class neighborhood on Staten Island. Staten Island is known as the "borough of parks", and as a result, Staten Island kids hung out and drank and did dumb shit in parks. Our crew of shitheads resided in one particular park that was home to a small, humble, little league baseball field. "The Field", as we called it, was home to nearly every kid in the neighborhood. We would drink, smoke pot, break bottles, light shit on fire, and do just about anything dumbass teenagers were prone to getting into. The cops would routinely do rounds through the park, and we would all scatter like maniacs whenever they did so. None of us ever fucking learned. I have three "being in the park after dusk" summonses to show for it. Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.
There was an old man who lived behind The Field, whom everyone called "The General". Neighborhood kids had been throwing rocks at his house for years, and it was a tradition passed onto us by my friend's older brothers. Legend had it that instead of coming outside to confront the vagrants, The General would load up a flare gun and start shooting at them. The game was to throw a bunch of stones against his wood paneling (being careful to not break any windows, of course, we're not monsters!), and wait around just long enough for the first flare to come through the window. Then you get to dodge the shooting fireballs coming at you at an alarming speed!!!
I come from a good family, I swear.
It was a weeknight, just before we all had to be home for dinner. Myself and three of my slim friends had collected a dozen or so round, thrower-friendly rocks to banzai into this poor man's house. As I summoned the courage to endure this potentially deadly endeavor, I turned to my friends to confirm the escape plan:
Doorman - "So, we're going through the back and over the fence, right? Through the backyards?"
I was a tag-along to a more popular kid, who at that moment got some flack for bringing the fat kid with the round glasses who was asking too many questions. He begrudgingly confirmed the escape route.
With that, I felt like I had something to prove to these kids, so without hesitation or waiting for a countdown, I fired the first stone at the General's house. Despite my portly frame, I could throw something with deadly accuracy when in a pressure situation (and it's a skill I never lost, see: Doorman and the Batman Party Disaster). The stone cut through the autumn air with a prosecutor's conviction, crashing loudly just a mere inches away from his bedroom window.
Kid #1 - "DOORMAN WHAT THE FUCK?!?!"
Kid #2 - "OH SHIT!!!"
Each kid meekly threw their rocks, mostly falling short and creating sad, knocking noises against the house.
All of a sudden, the General's deep, groveling voice interrupted the party:
General - "Throwing stones again, ay?"
Everyone froze silently. Before I could react to anything, my arm had already gone into motion, firing another strike into the exact same spot where I planted the first.
General - "Alright, you asked for it!!!"
We all ran immediately. Lagging behind all of the skinnier kids, I knew I was the prime target. Panic set in as I wheezed and hustled my jiggling body towards the escape route:
He had to have seen me throw the second dinger!!! Legend had it that The General was in every single American battle since World War I!!! What the fuck was I thinking!!! The flare is going to shoot through my back and I'M GOING TO EXPLODE!!! I'M GOING TO FUCKING EXPLODE!!! I HAVE TO GET TO THE PICKET FENCE!!!
That's when I saw the first flare sail over my head. The legend was real. The red fireball fell just a foot or so next to my friend's running foot, and a pile of leaves popped from the ground like a flock of startled pigeons.
Doorman - "OH MY GOD!!!!"
The terrified screams of four pubescent morons filled the park. Another flare whizzed by my ear, burning and melting against a tree as we came closer to the promised land.
Doorman - "FUCK!!!"
Kid #3 - "NOOOOO!!!!"
Kid #1 - "I'M SORRY!!!!"
A decrepit, white picket fence was all that stood in our way from the inferno that our hangout had become.
The kids hopped the fence, one by one. I lagged behind, and I heard another flare drop a few feet behind me.
Kid #1 - "COME ON YOU FAT FUCK!!"
Winded, exhausted, and petrified, I placed my hands on top of the horizontal part of the fence. With all my might, I pulled my body up just high enough for my foot to catch the top of the fence. Just as I was able to put my weight on my foot and thrust myself over, I heard the wood begin to give.
The wood gave, and my thigh slammed right into the pointy part of the picket fence.
It all happened fast enough for my to be on my back before I even felt any pain. It clearly didn't go through my leg, or I'd still be up there. I looked down and felt my pants. No hole. So I got up and kept running the fuck out of there.
We finally made it to another park, and everyone took out cigarettes and bragged about how brave they were. I knew that I was the triumphant hero, but would never dare to verbalize that because I was just happy to be there. As I lit my Parliament Light and basked in my potential new group of cool friends, I felt nature calling. I found the nearest tree, and took out my junior mule for a draining.
Then I saw it. All of it.
I pulled my pants all the way down.
My beige khaki's were drenched in blood. And other stuff. Guts.
I blacked out.
My friend took me home immediately, and my Old Man was just getting home from work. I've never thought about this till now, but I could only imagine his horror to be getting out of of his car, holding an empty lunchpail after a hard days work, to see his eldest son, catatonic with a bloody crotch and being carried by his friend.
We got to the emergency room, and the doctor took of my pants to reveal a deep puncture wound located a mere inch and a half from my testicles.
After an hour or so of painful stitching, with my father holding my hand the whole time, I was sent home. They asked what I was doing, and I told them some idiot kid lie that I'm sure was brilliant at the time. I've never been a good liar, and even then I hated lying to my parents, but if I had told my dad that I was running from a psychotic war veteran who was firing a flare gun at us, he probably would have told me to go fuck myself.
The car ride home was mostly silent. We pulled up to my house and my father dropped some words of wisdom:
Old Man - "You know... you're lucky. You're lucky you didn't... (long pause)... tear your balls open."
(So that's the real story of how I almost tore my balls open, Dad.)