Josh ate boogers. I remember watching him in class as Mrs. Downes would teach us how to classify animals into various genus and species, and why the animals are classified the way they are. Josh would sit on the right side of the classroom, digging deep in his nose for a little gold. Sure, Mrs. Downes would pose a question for us to chew on, “What genus would a deer fit into?”, but this wasn’t enough for Josh – he needed something more substantial. He liked his boogers. And who was I to judge anyway? I am sure that at one time in my life I made a nasal-oral transfer, so I didn’t think too much of it.

Ann had red hair. Trevor smelled funny. Nick’s parents were separated. I was the fat kid. And Josh, he ate boogers.

We’ve all been called names at one time or another, and I know that most of these names wore off in time. The nerds made their way through high school and college dominating the computers, and now many of them are quite rich working in the network systems and information technology fields. Their nerdiness propelled them into a successful career. Ann and her red hair moved beyond the stiff natural curls that haunted her through her childhood, and now she has sexy, long flowing locks that continually catch the opposite sex’s attention. The boys couldn’t stand her when she was in elementary school, but now all the men want a fiery red-head. Trevor, it turns out, was simply more ‘mature’ than the rest of us, and the smell was covered up the next year with the application of a little deodorant. And Nick wasn’t the only one in class whose parents were separated – Amy, the prettiest girl in the class, watched her parents’ marriage slowly dissolve, and now Nick (and Amy) isn’t alone because a lot of marriages end in divorce.

But being the fat kid, it kind of sticks with you. I can’t capitalize off my fatness like the nerds did with their smarts; there’s no roll-on for my waist that will gently cover up the sight (while releasing a pleasant musk aroma at the same time). Being fat doesn’t just fade away over time like my friends’ problems did; instead it tends to hang on for quite some time.

Abundant. Ample. Beefy. Big. Big-boned. Blimp. Broad. Built. Bulky. Burly. Butterball. Chubby. Chunky. Considerable. Cumbersome. Dense. Disgusting. Elephantine. Excessive. Fat. Fatso. Fatty. Flabby. Fleshy. Gargantuan. Great. Gross. Heavy. Heavyset. Heavy-built. Hefty. Huge. Hulking. Husky. Insulated. Immense. Jelly-belly. Jolly. Jumbo. King-sized. Laden. Lard-ass. Large. Lead-footed. Lumbering. Mammoth. Massive. Nasty. Neglected. Obese. Obtuse. Outsized. Overfed. Overweight. Padded. Paunchy. Plump. Podgy. Portly. Potbellied. Pudgy. Robust. Rotund. Round. Sizeable. Solid. Squat. Stocky. Stout. Stubby. Substantial. Thick. Tubby. Ugly. Unhealthy. Unpleasant. Vast. Vertically-challenged. Volumous. Weighty. Whopping.

These are some of the names given to me by former classmates, close friends, strangers, pastors, teachers, physicians, and family. I admit that I have earned them – I’m a big guy. I don’t deny that I’m not overweight or fat or whatever else you want to label it as. I haven’t always been this way, and I probably won’t be, but until that time comes when I am able to shed some of this excess baggage I will remain fat.

When I was a kid I was normal for my age in the way of size. Looking back at the pictures of my youth, you could see my ribs sticking through my skin as I posed for a picture in the summer sun. It wasn’t until I was about nine or ten that things started to shift. I continued my activities as always – playing baseball in the summers, hiking and fishing, hunting, and playing on the playground. My physical activities never died down, my body just grew a lot. As I entered the fifth grade I was the fat kid in class, and I endured all the angst that came along with it – the name calling, the staring, being the butt of many a joke, and being forced to live in a shell that my classmates had created for me.

The thing that always bothered me was that I made fun of Josh, too. And I was the fat kid. Now, if the fat kid is making fun of you from time to time, you know that your life isn’t all that great. I really regret that I poked fun at him, because I was no better than he was – none of us were; and yet, we still made fun of him just because he ate his boogers.

I suppose it’s difficult to understand our own faults, so we point out those we find in others. Josh’s was easy to find, so we all jumped on it. But there were a lot of kids we could have picked on just as easily. Perhaps that’s why we did it – because his fault was visible. But why didn’t we pick on Ellen because she was dark-skinned, or Traci because she developed faster than the other girls (the guys actually fell over one another to see her, which I could say is a form of harassment. We only liked her because of those marvelous bumps on her chest that none of the other girls had.). It can be said that everyone has a fault of their own – everyone has a reason to be made fun of, to be picked on and be the butt of a joke. It’s not that we don’t have faults that we make fun of others, it’s because we do, and therefore have to cover them up by pointing out someone a little worse than ourselves.

Traci had braces, the shiny metal ones many kids suffer with, and thick oversized glasses. That was many years ago, and the last time I saw her she was very beautiful – she had contacts, and the braces left her smile radiant. It seems the things that she struggled with in her youth turned her into a beautiful woman. These things we go through as children make us into the people who we are – either better or worse. It’s what we do with the words, the lifes, the actions of others that determines who we are as adults.

much love. sheth.

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