Posts Tagged ‘Doritos’

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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Stay out of the sewer

October 13, 2010

Andrew Hicks

The weather has been beautiful for almost a week straight. Sarah and I play outside, and I’m mobile enough on crutches that I can “walk” (though it is comical enough to watch that it deserves the quote marks and these parentheses and some italics) the perimeter and go up and down the hill with her.

 

I get worn out easily and retreat to the deck chairs, and that’s when Sarah turns to her props. She’s fond of a giant blue exercise ball that’s almost as big as she is. She also likes to wheel the four-wheel pink horse thing up the hill, then ride it down while laughing. Taking Sarah sledding will be fun when the time comes. Let’s just be sure to fully heal from the last mishap before inviting a new one.

Sarah occasionally likes to venture past her allowed boundaries. She loves to bang on other people’s sliding glass doors. And she loves to play on the concrete storm sewer platform. I’ve seen the TV movie of Stephen King’s It. I know you keep your kids away from those yawning, rectangular sewer openings where the evil clowns live.

As a rookie parent with very little history of authority in the real world, I’m still working out how to make Sarah listen and obey. I won’t be one of those “screaming and hitting,” abusive, low-rent parents you see at Dollar Tree when you’re just trying to reach for the Kraft Thousand Island With Bacon dressing. Which tastes like crap, by the way. I want my dollar back, and I’ll scream and hit to get it.

On crutches, I’ve lost my #1 Dad on Autopilot trick, which is to scoop Sarah up and remove her from the scene rather than achieving the desired behavior from her. Probably a good thing, because now we have to talk it out. I’m trying to weed out my #2 Dad on Autopilot trick, which is to bribe the crap out of the little munchkin. If, “You’re not supposed to play on the evil clown sewer, let’s go play with your ball,” doesn’t work, I’m tempted to ask if she wants to watch Elmo or see pictures on my phone or eat a mound of Doritos instead of being abducted by a sewer-dwelling Tim Curry in white greasepaint.

My toddler diva all of a sudden can’t get enough of the video clips on my phone she’s the star of. “Watch movie?” doesn’t mean “Let’s check out Citizen Kane, I hear it has some of the most inventive mise-en-scenes in cinematic history.” It means, “Let’s watch me splash in puddles at the park on a one-minute permaloop.”

“Look pictures,” means, “Let’s look at all 90 pictures in dad’s phone for the eighth time today.” That I don’t mind so much, because Sarah continues to surprise me with her one-word descriptions of each picture. She’ll usually start by saying who’s in the picture, then the next time through it’s more about what’s in the picture. “Bike, park, bathtub, akeem, car, sleeping…” I’m just softhearted enough to be touched and amazed by it.

This girl is absorbing words left and right, which I found out the hard way when I said “shit” under my breath then so did Sarah, from across the room. I told Tiffany about the transgression after the fact, and she said, “Oops,” followed immediately by, “Was it cute?” It was cute, shit, I can’t lie. But no more accidental cussing around the toddler. Easily said, I know.

Sarah and I keep having to come inside early due to swarms of mosquitoes. It’s the downside of our week-long Indian summer. They’re probably humping like bunnies down in that storm sewer (i.e. the mosquitoes, not the Indians), and if Sting’s tantric ass has taught us anything, it’s that marathon sex creates an insatiable thirst for human blood. And tepid adult-contemporary hits. I have bites all over me, and so does Sarah. She’s got a big bite on her cheek, and even that looks cute, like she has an adorable case of acne-onset.

Poor Silas, my 3 month old, has had newborn acne almost since Day One. Does they make ProActiv in his age group? Silas’s little face bumps are making him self-conscious around the girl babies.

My social life at the moment, outside of immediate family, consists of maybe one friend visit per week, the dully addictive world of Facebook, and the occasional chain-smoking retiree sitting on her outside patio. I ran into one such yellow-haired, yellow-fingered nicotine repository yesterday afternoon. She intoned through gravelly throat phlegm that my daughter was beautiful and that I should enjoy my kids while I can.

“When they’re 18 and 20,” she wheezed, “they won’t come around much anymore.” I wanted to offer some kind of consolatory protest, then I thought of myself at the late-teen age. I had awesome parents and grandparents and lots of less-than-awesome excuses not to see them on a more regular basis.

Liggett Lady was right. I have to cherish the everydayness of parenting. It seems like ages since Sarah was Silas’s size, taking naps on my chest and sucking down 4-ounce bottles. Now she’s describing photos to me, in mostly clean language. Soon Silas will be her age and she’ll be in preschool. I’ll be in my mid-thirties. And Liggett Lady will have smoked another hundred or so cartons. Time marches on.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Silas celebrates St. Patrick's Day--er, goes for a walk.