Our annual Fourth of July football game was under way. Little kids, senior citizens, even girls were allowed to play. I was going only half-speed as I had already eaten two hotdogs and two hamburgers. Even with this massive load in my stomach I caught a touchdown thrown by my uncle Frank. He could play with a cigarette in his mouth–that takes talent. When he gave the football to his son, little Frankie ran the wrong way and kept going until he was tackled in my neighbor’s yard. The turnout was big this year–nearly a hundred cousins and friends. All together in our front yard. I was proud. We were drinking, sweating and swatting away gnats. At dark the fireflies came out, then fireworks and sparklers.
At sunrise my three brothers, sister and myself would head down the steps of our Victorian home to start Christmas day. Our brightly wrapped gifts and perfect Christmas tree were a sight to behold.
“Don’t open anything until Mom and Dad come down.” my sister said.
We sat sleepy-eyed and waited in the glow of the tree. Mom came down the steps and quickly pointed out which gifts were for each of us. Dad would come down in his pajamas and a robe. We only saw him like this once a year.
The unwrapping of gifts lasted about twenty minutes. You would hear somebody cry out “Oh, just what I wanted!” Some toys would be broken within an hour, others would last for years. A breakfast including sticky buns, eggs, bacon and hotcakes. A roast of prime rib for dinner with mashed potatoes and rich brown gravy. These traditions were kept year after year, making for some unforgettable memories.
My dream when I was seventeen was that I would lose weight, and become a handsome charming man. I would meet a beautiful girl, get married, have a family, be in love and be happy forever. This never happened.
Forty years later I’m still cheating on my diet, looking for love, not as aggressively but still looking. I want to marry, I don’t want kids. I want to be happy.
Growing up we had one usable bathroom for a family of seven.
Once I asked my brother why he took so long in the shower:
He said that he was only in the shower for five minutes,
but it took him twenty five minutes to get the water adjusted.
My parents were even skimpy with water.
My mom would put one inch of water in the tub then put my two skinny brothers in the tub.
Then I would get in. My fat body would displace water and the water would be up to our shoulders.
I laughed so hard one time I crapped in the water. My brothers jumped quickly out of the tub while screaming bloody murder. Then my father looked down at me and the smelly evidence floating in front of my face.
Some things will always be in my memory.
It was a family vacation to Nags Head, NC.
I decided to go even though, for the last three months, every time I ate I would get a sharp pain in my side. I lost weight, I felt weak, and none of them knew or noticed.
At dinner out one evening, I had the crab cake platter with fries and a piece of cheesecake. When we left, we were packed into my brothers brand new Audi wagon.
The pain hit bad, and I instantly vomited on the windshield and dash.
The car went from laughter to silence and shock.
I said, “I’m sorry. I’m sick–I don’t know what’s the matter.”
I was trying to wipe off the horrendous display of crab cake dinner.
The new car smell was gone.
The next night I had emergency gall bladder surgery.
There have been times in my life that I have given family members reasons to not speak to me for three or four years. Right now everything is cool.
1969 was a good year. I was an eleven-year-old boy, and one chilly night I was laying on the floor watching TV. My older brother burst into the room, said, “I’m drunk,” falls onto the floor beside me, throws up, rolls his face in the barf and moans.
I had been watching, Night of the Living Dead, so at first I thought my brother was a zombie. He had left with the juvenile delinquent neighbor Chip earlier, and I knew they would get in trouble. They took a fifth of my father’s Old Grand Dad, and drank it all.
My brother was thirteen and he had ruined my movie. My parents or my oldest brother would be home soon. If it was my parents the shit was going to hit the fan. I thought I saw lights coming up the driveway– in comes Bob.
“Bob, look, he is drunk, and he threw up, and pushed his face in it!”
Bob said, “I’m going to get him upstairs. You clean up this mess before Mom and Dad get home.”
When they did get home the rug was clean, but there was a big wet spot.
They had been living it up themselves and never knew a thing.