Despite all the running around I did growing up, I had somehow morphed into a fat kid. It could have been because I used to steal candy. Most people have a Snickers every once in a while, but I’d have three in a row and wash them down with a can of Sprite (I like bubbles!).
On nights when I didn’t do that, I’d have pasta at a friend’s house. Pasta: the meal of choice for the overworked suburban parent. I also ate at home, of course, and went out for pizza quite often as well, although usually after a game of manhunt. Manhunt, by the way, is a combination of hide and go seek and trespassing that can only be played at night. It has the potential to be the next paintball if someone gave it the chance.
So, that was my role in the group, funny guy who also happened to be fat. Not tremendously fat, but I did have to wear husky pants. I was different in another way too: I always felt remorse when my friends did mischief. I’d try to abstain from throwing eggs or doorbell ditching. Not just because I didn’t like running, but because I didn’t like the idea of inconveniencing people with having to clean up a mess or answering the door. But I was susceptible to peer pressure and often tagged along.
Just how susceptible was I? I was using the bathroom in fourth grade and someone noticed that I was wearing jockey shorts and not boxers. Immediately I was labeled a gay and, once home, demanded my mother buy me boxers. Including that “once home” clause made me think of how funny it would have been if I ran home immediately ( I lived across the street from the school), called my mother, and said, “A boy saw me in the bathroom and made fun of my underwear! Please buy me boxers.” She’d agree, I’d hang up, and then realize I couldn’t go back to school. The next day I’d inevitably be sent to the principal’s office.
Int, Principal’s Office, Day
“Ben, why’d you run away from school?”
“A boy made fun of my underwear.”
“You know, Ben, Hitler made fun of the Jews, and this boy is making fun of you, so, in a way…”
“He’s a Nazi?”
“No, you’re a Jew.”
Speaking of Jews, I was once walking down the street with a friend and I had mentioned that I had Jewish ancestors. His response was, “Well, you must be cheap.” “Why?” I asked. “Because you’re a Jew and Jews are cheap.” Valid reasoning;unsound premise. Too bad I wasn’t a nine year old philosophy major!