I started being overweight around the age of seven or eight. I don’t know why…maybe I enjoyed comfort food too much and I didn’t run around like other kids.
It was also around this time that I decided I didn’t want to go to school. I hated school. Some mornings I refused to go. I remember one day my father used a switch from a bush and switched my legs up Main Street in Laurel, Maryland…on my walk to the elementary school. There was another time he nicely took me out to breakfast, just the two of us. I thought it was swell, until, instead of going home, he turned onto the road for the large one-story red brick building. The very place I was trying to avoid.
And then there was the time my second grade teacher met me and my father in the school’s parking lot. She took me by the shoulders and shook me until my teeth rattled. It was Christmas time and my father would tell the story, ending by laughing, “She was wearing this Christmas corsage and the bells on it rang, she shook Mitzi so hard.” I never forgot the fact that my father laughed about another adult shaking me.
So maybe there were a lot of reasons I liked comfort food.
Being fat as a kid is hell.
I don’t have to tell you about the names or the times I was overlooked for parties, games, friends.
Being fat as a teenager is worse.
I didn’t “fit in” in more ways than one.
Summer vacation didn’t give me a respite. We would spend time at an aunt and uncle’s home in Virginia. They had a son who teased me unmercifully the whole time we were there. But I got back at him: I killed him off in a story.
Nursing school wasn’t much better. I did have my first boyfriend in nursing school and my first heartache. Lots more were to come…lots more of both.
I found that being fat didn’t always negate having a man in my life but sometimes that man wasn’t the right one.
Neither was the man who’d always been in my life. My father had made fun of me when I was a kid: “This bridge only takes 2 tons. Mitzi, you’ll have to get out.”
And it didn’t end as I got older. One year I’d brought him from his home in West Virginia to my home in Pennsylvania to see his younger daughter graduate from college. We went for some coffee and I also bought a package of TastyKakes. As we sat down, he said, “Do you really need to eat those?” I’d developed some backbone by then and said, “Pop, I’m almost fifty years old. When are you going to leave me alone?” The old fart didn’t realize I’d bought it for him.
And then the next man in my life wasn’t much better. When I was married, my husband would go out drinking every Saturday night (sometimes other nights, too). After he left I would fix myself a bowl of comfort food, pasta with butter, and watch television.
I still crave pasta when I hear the theme from The Love Boat.
So, I’m fat.
I’m fairly healthy.
And now I’m loved…and that’s the most important thing.