I’ve decided to share my latest book (The All-Important, Well-Fed, Giant White Man) with my followers here, free of charge, one chapter at a time. So… Where were we on this read-along… Oh, yes…
Chapter 6: Sweat, Blood, and Smears
Two years after my first love disappeared like a silhouette into the rolling credits of a silent-era romance movie, and my Jabba the Hutt-sized wart was nothing but a faint and insulting memory, and I had officially hit puberty as was evidenced by those extra-long baths I needed to sneak off and take two or three times every day, I entered… The Boy Scouts.
The Boy Scouts gave me all sorts of exciting opportunities as a young ever-fattening lad. I’ll never forget that first year when we were getting ready for Boy Scout summer camp and my next door neighbor, who happened to be a doctor, volunteered to give our whole troop physicals for free! Why no one ever questioned that is beyond me.
That physical was my first major public humiliation that I can recall. All twelve of us stood in a line together, in the same room, dropped our drawers, and one at a time, the doctor sat on his wheelie-chair, and felt our nuts. “Turn your head and cough.” We all know the routine. As he came to me, I was praying that there wasn’t some evidence of my new love for baths. I mean, what if all that “cleaning” going on in the bathtub was easy to spot by a trained medical professional? Luckily, after I gave a small grunt, he didn’t say anything and moved on to the next kid. I was happy to pull my drawers back up and hide my pudgy thighs and newly sprouting pubes.
My next major humiliation would come early that summer, also before Scout camp.
Where we lived, there were a lot of mountains. And a lot of mountains means a lot of hiking trails. Let me share an equation with you. Boy Scouts + mountains + hiking trails = lots of chances for chubby little preteens to learn about the cruelty of life.
As you will probably surmise with little help from me, a 12-year-old boy doesn’t often pack on the pounds by living an overly active lifestyle. When I was twelve, exercise in general was excruciatingly painful (to even think about, really). Dragging my ass up a mountain was at the top of my list for most barbaric and most torturing of all activities.
You see, fit people don’t exactly understand what it’s like to be fat and hike. The way it always worked was this. The troop and the leaders would hike, hike, hike, merry and happy as ever. “Oh look at that beautiful bird,” I’d hear them say in the far off distance. “Let’s pick up the pace,” I’d hear someone else say. With time, I would lag behind by two to thirty switchbacks. Dying. Wanting to die.
Every so often, someone would look back and say, “where’s Danny?” There would be grumbles and everyone would sit down to rest and eat granola bars while I caught up. Eventually I would round a bend and make eye contact with the group. There they all were, sitting on boulders and logs, drinking from their canteens, laughing, waiting. It was always so disconcerting to walk up to their loud sighs, their groans, and their rolling eyes. I was doing my best not to die. Couldn’t they see that?
As soon as I reached the pack, everyone would immediately stand up. Our leader would say, “okay, let’s move,” and away they’d go. I’d pause for a moment, desperate for a break. Desperate to sit down. Desperate to get a drink. Desperate to do anything but take another step. But I never got to because that would put me behind even further which would be the same thing as admitting that I was really fat.
One particular afternoon, my troop was hiking to Horsetail Falls. The trail to get there is wide and easy to follow, though it’s steep and a couple of hours by the time you hit the falls.
That particular year also brought out the Bitchin’ clothing brand. All the cool kids wore Bitchin’ shorts that basically looked like cut-off MC Hammer pants with drawstring waistbands. I always tied mine in a double-knot since yanking each other’s shorts down was also trending. And, as I did every day back then, I was wearing those Bitchin’ shorts on the hike. Or at least I was wearing them for most of it.
About half way up, my troop got so far ahead of me that I could no longer see or hear anyone. I was wheezing and gasping along, stepping over exposed roots and rocks when the feeling hit me. Oh crap. Oh crap. Oh crap. Oh crap. I suddenly had to poop, and I had to poop bad.
Without a single other thought, I speed-waddled off the trail and disappeared to find a place to do my business. Time was against me. I began yanking at my drawstring. My double knot had cinched so tight that there was no undoing it. I crossed my legs and clenched my ever-pressurizing bum as tightly as I could while I continued working on it. I still couldn’t get it. I had seconds left. I still couldn’t get it.
My eyes bulged, my mouth clenched, and I freaking lost it. I pooped my pants. And it wasn’t just poop. It was more like runny baby food as evidenced by both the feel and sound of it.
I assure you, the last thing any twelve-year old wants to do is shit his pants while he’s out with the kids who will make or break his entire social existence for the next six years.
So, I did what any kid in my situation would do, and I freaked the hell out. I panicked.