My brother Stephen (left) and I play with water in the yard of our home in Grifton, N.C., during the summer of 1969. I was 3 here. Within 10 years, my topless days would be over.
Inside my ruggedly handsome shell of a body, beneath the hairy (insert body area here) and the layers of thick protection from the winter cold, a.k.a. fuel for that time I can’t get to the store for months, a.k.a. more bounce to the ounce, a.k.a. more Jeffrey to go around … Inside and beneath it all is a mind that has always been embarrassed by his weight and a heart that feels it.
I stopped swimming at public pools before my teens. I rarely went in the ocean. Mainly because I would make such a great meal for a family of sharks, but there was also the taking off the shirt in public thing. I hate even the thought of using open public showers or locker rooms. Shirts and skins basketball game. Don’t even …
Describing it as anxiety may be putting it mildly.
I’ve told you before how it started with me. Now at 50 years old and looking for work, I feel it even more. Is a potential employer going to look at me and see a hard worker? A smart man who can set his mind to something and get it done? A person who can meet deadlines and work with others to do it?
Or are they going to see a lazy, overweight man who doesn’t even have it in him to maintain his own fitness to any kind of reasonable degree?
I stepped on the scales this morning.
I had dreaded doing it and had actually pushed the scales off to the side at an angle so I could not just step on them. I’d have to drag them out away from the wall and dresser to be able to weigh myself. That was enough extra effort to have to go through to keep me from doing it for the past few weeks.
But after struggling to get the button on my largest pair of jeans through the slot yesterday, pinching my finger in the process, I knew it was time.
There’s something about cooking your own food. Very thankful I had a mom who shared her kitchen knowledge.
The call came on the last day of my vacation.
“Hi Jeff. It’s ….. I guess you know why we’re calling.”
Hmmm. To tell me you’ve missed me?
To say take another couple of days off. You’ve earned it after all those years of working the night shift, extra hours and no sick days.
Just to be nice and say hi?
“No. Not really,” I answered. But I knew it couldn’t be good. In 16 years I had never received a good call. Same as most of my peers.
“Well, we’ve had to make some moves and we’re letting you go. We appreciate everything you’ve done for us, trying to keep us whole and ……”
I didn’t really hear much more. The rest was less about my new circumstances and more about his. Something which I really didn’t care about at the time.