If you’re an obese child in America today, you have to outrun the busybody obese police (BOP) who sends letters home from school or trick-or-treating on Halloween night. Of course, it doesn’t help if your birth weight matches a bowling ball. Rather than judging you on your character, the BOP will assume things about your weight and make your life a living hell.
Doctors told my mother that she was going to have twins. After one hour of labor and 250 stitches later, she gave birth to a ten-pound bowling ball. If that wasn’t bad enough, I was a boy and not a girl. As a young child, being overweight wasn’t a problem. Although an undiagnosed hearing lost in one ear was enough to declare me mentally retarded in kindergarten, no one mentioned anything to me about my weight.
The BOP didn’t make an appearance until the sixth grade when teasing by the other retarded boys and girls drove me to tears. The principal and my teacher called my parents into the office to scold them for my bad eating habits. They discovered that my parents were skinny people, assuming that I came from a family of fat people who shoveled junk food into my mouth. Shocked and dismayed that they couldn’t scold my skinny parents, I got sent to the doctors for testing to find an underlying medical problem.
After poking and prodding, the doctors determined I was just a big boy. Genetics wasn’t a common word back then, so no one bothered to look up the family tree. Since my parents moved to California from Idaho in the 1960’s, I didn’t know about my extended family until I was an adult. We had some big men and strong women on both sides of the family. I have inherited the “bigness” gene that has skipped my parents.
By the time I graduated from the eighth grade and dropped out of high school in 1984, I haven’t grown to my full height yet, weighed 400 pounds, had the stomach ulcers and high blood pressure of a Type-A businessman, and hated going to school. I became a shut-in for the next four years as I educated myself from newspapers, magazines and books from the library. On my 18th birthday, I got a ten-speed bike that I rode everywhere and lost 70 pounds in a year.
After I became a Christian and joined the campus ministry at San Jose City College (which I graduated four years later with a general education associate degree), the BOP came roaring back into my life with a vengeance, citing 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”
With that scripture in hand, the brothers would give me “friendly” advice about losing weight. This became the source of many conflicts in the ministry because I wasn’t shy about pushing back, especially if I thought their ideas were impractical or unrighteous. I made many enemies as the leadership always ruled against them. After 13 years of pushing and shoving, I got tired of that crap and let them kick me out of the church.
Before I got kicked out eight years ago, I joined a gym and lifted weights. I’m now 5′-10″ tall with 350 pounds and wearing 2XL shirts. I can easily bulk up to 400 pounds in muscle, but finding 4XL shirts is problematic. I’m focused on trimming down to an XL shirt. Except for the occasional fitness nut at work, the BOP has left me alone because I can physically pound them into the ground without trying. As Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, “Bigger guys get better respect.”