November 03, 2010

The Fat Kid

By Sigge S. Amdal © 2010

Everybody knew a fat kid growing up. They come in all forms but one size fits them all. The fat kid I knew, his name was Tom by the way, came from a relatively poor family. That is, everyone was relatively poor back then, but when both parents are generally uneducated and run a homebrew operation in the basement, it doesn't help.

I bet Tom's story would have been a success story if his parents were any different. But that's just speculation. Add to his situation a sadistic elder brother and you've got yourself a future social case file.

I was brought up in a Christian home, so when my mother decided that me and Tom would walk to school together, then her little rat spy Jesus would tell on me if I didn't. And so me and Tom walked to school together for the next decade or so.

I wouldn't exactly stand up for him if he got in trouble, but I wouldn't make fun of him either.

I realized very quickly that Tom would emulate me to get along with other kids. What surprised me, and still surprises me, was that he beat me as well.

I was really good at maths in school, making it seem trivially easy, because there really is nothing more to it than rule-following. Tom got the message the rest of class didn't, and soon we would compete three or four chapters ahead of them all. I remember thinking to myself that while I came from an academic family he would still be able to ace my math coming from his poor excuse of one. Of course, when Tom came home after school, his parents and his brother would not recognize this, and instead belittle and taunt his newfound sense of self-esteem.

Tom was the fat kid, and the other kids made fun of him, how he smelled, his hair, and everything they could think of. And he was a bit round around the edges, but that also meant a more streamlined and stronger body than other kids, making for a really good swimmer. In swimming class I was usually the fastest because I swam two months every summer at my grandmother's lake. Tom didn't go away on holiday, at least not far enough south to enjoy swimming, but he had no problem keeping up and sometimes even beating me. After I had convinced him that swimming wasn't so bad once you get in the water. Sure the other kids could point and laugh, but he would take points back from them anytime in the water.

I lost whatever remaining respect for adults when I discovered his parents' TV1000 porn recorded on a VHS tape that I borrowed, a few minutes after Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III. It puzzled me why they didn't hide it better. It was still there the second and third time I borrowed it. The last time I did it they explicitly warned me to stop the tape after Turtles too. Like that's gonna put an end to it!

It was terrible porn at that, with a plain looking couple doing the doggy-style on a pink background. It was more of an instructional tape than anything else. But it was also the only moving pictures I could get my hands on before the 'net.

Tom and his brothers were always up to mischief, and it was thanks to Tom I had my first experience with alcohol beyond just tasting it during a grown-up dinner. Thanks to his parents he had a ready supply of alcohol above 60%, just swapping some of the clear liquid with water, and not taking too much at a time.

The first time, however, we opted for an old bottle of wine that was just standing there. Having gulped it all down we walked downtown and tried to chat up some school girls we met. I later learned they would have to be drunk too. Two weeks later we found out that his parents had saved the bottle since their wedding day, since it was a gift, some twenty years before.

After high-school, in which I'd gone the Literature and Languages courses and he Chemistry and some advanced Mathematics, we sort of drifted apart. I had my rock band and he did whatever he did by then. Soon he moved away to begin University in a city at a comfortable distance from his family.

I met him one summer before I left there, and we got talking about his studies. He was doing something advanced in chemistry at university level, but I didn't care enough to get my head around it.

"Do you know how easy it is to setup a meth lab?" he suddenly asked. "You can get everything you need in regular hardware stores. I could do it by tomorrow!"

All I know is that he dropped out, or was expelled, at some point a few months later. And that is all I know about the matter.

That, and the fact he got kicked out of the local youth division of a particular right-wing party, because he chose a member meeting as the venue for coming out of the closet. That's just sad. It takes balls to do such a thing, but he should have used his brains as well that day. Of course, that part is just a rumor and may not be true for all I know. Last I heard, he was back in town and unemployed.

But these are the stories we make, of people we have already figured out. Who knows what the fat kids are up to today? Really! We just use their made up examples to feel more successful about ourselves. That's why we'll always remember them too. Long after we've forgotten the names of our best buds and first sweethearts, the fat kids will be on our minds whenever we need them. While they have long outgrown their past and leave to reminisce the troubled and unsuccessful.

Sigge S. Amdal is a word wanker from Oslo, Norway.

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