I graduated high school in 1970, a month before I turned 18. That was almost 47 years ago. A long time for me to remember something that happened my first year in high school. I was 15 years old. This incident happened almost 49 years ago but it could have occurred yesterday.
In that first year I never ate lunch. I was chunky, chubby, okay, I was fat and as we all know, fat people are not allowed to eat in public be it in a restaurant or in school. When lunch time rolled around I would drink Tab. Remember Tab? The first diet soda. Tab was an acquired taste. I’m not sure if anyone liked the taste of it right away. It took time.
Anyway, everyday I would sit at a table in the cafeteria with some of my friends, Janice, Barbara, Janet, and a few others. They all ate lunch because, being thin, they were allowed. They didn’t know that fat people weren’t allowed to eat.
Being my friends they were concerned that I never ate and urged me to have something, an apple, anything. But I didn’t because I was fat. But one day, one day was different. I wasn’t feeling well.
It was my “time of the month” and I felt dizzy and weak. Janice and the rest of my friends came with me to the food line in the cafeteria because they sensed I needed an escort.
Way back then students didn’t have any real choice of what to have for lunch. Well, does deciding to have jello or chocolate pudding a choice? I guess so but otherwise the cafeteria lady put a clump of mystery meat on your plate with a clump of mashed potatoes and some green beans next to it. That was it. No salad or anything like that.
I was walking back to my table, holding my tray of mystery meat, potatoes, green beans, and my Tab when some boy walked by me. He glared at me, actually glared, stood in front of me, pointed his finger and said, “Yeah, you really need that. You really need to eat with the way you look. You shouldn’t eat.” Then he stalked off. I told you fat people aren’t allowed to eat in public even if they’re sick. No eating allowed!
So I went back to my table and told my friends that I didn’t feel well and didn’t want to eat the lunch I bought. I told them to eat it and I’d just have the Tab.
They were surprised knowing that I should have some of it but I refused. I also refused to tell them that I was embarrassed and humiliated because some boy just accosted me because I “broke the rule.” I was going to attempt to eat lunch. The fat girl was going to eat. Not allowed and against all the laws of society.
The only thing I was proud of was the fact that I didn’t break down in tears. I did that when I got home.
Two years later that same boy was running for student president or something like that. He came over to me, in the cafeteria no less, and asked me for my vote. I didn’t vote for him. I don’t know if he won, he probably did.
My point is that this happened when I was 15, I’m 64 now and I remember it.
Oh, lots of bad stuff happened to me in high school. Lots of bad stuff happens to everyone in high school. High school hurts, high school is mean, high school sucks. I despised high school.
I’m sure some women now might remember me from high school. About a year ago I spoke to a woman who I haven’t seen since my high school days. One of her first questions to me was, “Are you still fat?” I looked at the phone then asked her why that was the first thing she was compelled to ask. I guess she heard the anger in my voice and didn’t answer my question. I didn’t answer her question and haven’t spoken to her since.
Now look, I don’t want to hear that life is hard, and high school is hard, and kids are mean, and crap like that. I know it. I also don’t want to hear that I should have lost weight because how do you know that I didn’t try? And why do I have to defend myself to anyone about what I weigh?
My grandmother, uncles, aunts, they all made remarks. I remember it all. My aunt once told me I had to lose weight because my uncle hated fat women. I knew this wasn’t true, I got along with my uncle it was just my aunt’s way of trying to get me to lose weight. A little tough love she would call it. Many people think that in order to get people to lose weight you need to show them a little tough love. I think that a person’s weight is no one else’s business because if push comes to shove we all have problems and a fat person could, someday, tell a person off and show them some tough love right back. But I think that might be rare.
Why did I go on this rant now? I’m not real sure. I guess I’m in a bad mood. I guess I was thinking about what happened when I was 15 years old. I guess I’m angry. I guess I think people have a lot of nerve.
Do you want to know if I’m still fat? No, I’m not. Well, I’m considered a little overweight. Not as fat maybe and now I don’t hear anything about my weight anymore. Maybe that’s because I’m older now or maybe that’s because my former schoolmates have put on some weight of their own and I’m thinner than some of them.
But I still don’t eat in public because I was “taught” by society, by “friends” and relatives that fat people aren’t allowed to eat in public. Not ever. So I don’t.
To see more of my childhood memories go to S.A.K. Remembers on my blog.