When I was a young child I had an obsession with fat people.
One such example took place many moons ago, inside a grocery store. My mother still tells this tale–one in which I was sitting inside the grocery cart seat when a really fat woman walked by. It was then that I opened my mouth in that loud, little-kid voice we are all familiar with. “Wow! Did you see that fat lady?”
My mom scurried out of that aisle as fast as she could.
This wasn’t the only example either. I further embarrassed my mother in Wendy’s, and a diner–both when fat people made the mistake of entering my sphere of consciousness. While my mom now tells these tales with a certain sense of humor, at the time I’m sure she was more than horrified. And justifiably so. The last thing an overweight person needs to hear is a punk kid loudly pointing out how overweight he is. And no parent wants to be seen as the person who raised said punk kid. Simply put, it’s embarrassing. All around.
Now, perhaps the fact that I spent most of my twenties in the upper 200s weight-wise is a sign that karma was indeed paying attention to my unhealthy obsession. And while I have managed to get myself back into a physical condition that should shield me from the punk kids of today, I don’t think karma is finished with me.
This is where Audrey comes in.
Last week I was walking with my precious 2-year-old daughter on a walking path near my house. We were taking turns running, chasing birds, and holding giant sticks over our heads threateningly. (Actually, she was the only one doing that.) Things were good. Things were fine! Nothing could possibly go wr–
Wait. Is that guy walking backwards?
Sure enough an elderly man in a funny hat and shirt was coming toward us. Backwards. Suddenly flashing back to my habits as a child I looked over to my daughter who had been previously engaged with a handful of rocks. But she wasn’t playing with them anymore. Instead…
She had stopped.
She was pointing.
And her mouth was beginning to open.
“Daddy! He walking backward!” “Yup!” I replied quickly, grabbing some rocks to distract her. “But, he walking backward!” “Uh huh!” I returned in that same please-shut-up tone of voice while simultaneously shoving said rocks in her finger-pointed hand.
Thankfully the backwards-walking man eventually backwards-walked out of view. But all the while Audrey kept staring, while I was busy shaking my head. The shame didn’t so much come from her actions, however. After all, what she did wasn’t even close to yelling about fat people in a crowded supermarket. But the writing was on the wall. She was going to be just like me in this regard. Anytime something strange, unusual, or even remotely interesting takes place in her vicinity going forward, she is going to make mention of it. And considering how loud she is already, the volume is sure to be set to eleven as well.
Terrifying. But deserved.
I don’t see much way of avoiding this behavior in the coming years–after all, I can’t keep her away from all fat and backwards-walking people her whole life–but perhaps my knowledge of how my comments affected my mother will serve as a guide for Audrey. A few heart-to-hearts should get the job done. I hope. Because while these stories are admittedly funny in retrospect, they’re not to be championed or tolerated.
Otherwise I’ll be the one scurrying out the aisle.