My fat, lazy childhood

February 3, 2011

Andrew Hicks

I was ahead of the curve, a major trendsetter. By which I mean, I was fat before America was.

I spent my first handful of years as a skinny kid, but there’s a picture of little school-age me looking all groggy and sugar-shocked, with a sucker in his mouth and the cookie jar to his left freshly raided. Early episodes like this formed the genesis of an addictive personality with an only marginal sense of moderation.

By fifth grade or so, I was a little husky kid. I think my first attempt at a diet was the summer I was 11. I was raised by a single mom who worked, so my brother Matt and I spent all our weekdays at a summer day camp. I remember packing my lunches and counting calories on my baggies of Teddy Grahams and pretzels and lunchmeat sandwiches. I was already one of those fat kids who’d pig out on diet soda, too.

The diets I’d go on were pretty much starvation diets like that — a thousand calories a day until I’d go crazy and binge out. I never lost more than 15 pounds. I’d spend more time off diets than on, and both parents would indulge me and Matt (who was skinny as a rail until well past his teenage years) in the inexpensive excesses of drive-thru fast food, delivery pizza and buffets.

My childhood involved a lot of trips to the park and Six Flags, baseball in the backyard and bike riding through the neighborhood. When adolescence set in, and self-esteem problems and worry problems, my lifestyle got more reclusive and lethargic. We had a small family, three people, and we kept to ourselves. Lots of movie watching and mom working at home and me crudely drawing comic strips and writing “Batman” fanfic stories (a good decade before I ever heard the word “fanfic”).

Once I reached my mid-teen years, I was physically so far out of the loop that gym class was often humiliating. I liked that the teacher would put us through a strict ritual of stretches, jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups and laps, though I often hated it at the time. I really hated the Presidential Fitness Test, because all I could ever really qualify on was the stretching stuff. I’ve never done a pull-up in my life; I hope to before I die.

I didn’t want to join any sports teams because the jocky kids seemed so much more bold and put-together than I did. And because I was lazy and afraid of everything. Also, I knew you had to take group showers, and there was no way in hell I would’ve let all the buff kids see me naked, soaping up.

So, more pizza nights at home, compulsive TV watching, homework and personal writing. I did manage to drop something like 25 pounds before my junior year, which brought me back under the 200 mark and saw me accomplishing the previously unattainable feat of running the mile in under ten minutes. I beat the kid with the baboon heart by, like, a full lap.

But then my small Christian school closed down, and I spent senior year in public school with the misguided notion that I should keep my head down, write down all my funny stuff instead of sharing it with people, and basically stay at home as much as possible. For one glorious quarter, I got to school early for A-period honors world history and was then done with classes by like 11:30.

Every day, I’d walk past the guard at the gate, continue walking a mile home, and spend my afternoon watching sitcom reruns on cable and binging on Doritos and day-old Hostess products. I had the house to myself for hours, I could take naps at will, and I didn’t have to endure the humiliation of voluntarily excluding myself from social activity in the lunchroom.

Oh boy, that’s when I truly got fat. In another year and a half, I weighed myself on some pseudo-classy novelty scale at Sharper Image and saw the scale tip 300 pounds. It depressed me more than ever at a time when I felt like a super-freak isolated from my peers. But after wallowing for a few strange months, I finally got motivated to do something.

TO BE CONTINUED

FAMILY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Silas is awake, and he's grabbin'.

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