(Editor’s–err, Blogger’s–Note: This is part one in a series of interconnected stories about fatness, which will be posted over the next three days in three parts. Enjoy!)
I don’t remember the first person that called me fat, but I do remember the first adult–it was Halloween, and I was almost 13 years-old, dressed as a devil, but a last minute one–maybe just recently fallen and didn’t quite have the look down yet–a red t-shirt and sweatpants, not even the same shade of red, the shirt of the firetruck variety and the pants more a maroon, with two horns traced on and cut from construction paper taped to my head and a tail, also construction paper, stapled to the ass of my pants.
The previous Halloween, I had sworn, would be my last as a trick-or-treater. I was a year from high school and should have graduated from part-time treater and part-time ghoulish hooligan to full-time egg bomber, toilet paper thrower and shaving cream shooter before my tour of duty in middle school had ended. But that morning when I woke up and saw the bowl of candy in the foyer set out by Norma, our landlord, who lived in the apartment below ours (By this point, we had fled the basement from my last post for higher ground, a turn-of-the-century Victorian converted into a split-level, only two blocks north, but practically a new continent without the growl of the J rattling our only window.), I knew I’d be back at it, the outlier of trick-or-treaters, parting the younger Ninja Turtles and princesses with my changing voice and odd facial hair.
Of course, I headed north, where the apartment buildings became split-levels which became actual houses, single-family homes, where the mailboxes bore last names in an elegant script, doorbells chimed instead of buzzing and the cars, not a crack in the windshield or a dent in the fender, came to rest in garages. Now I wouldn’t call these people rich, but then, compared to how my mother, whom whenever I asked for something would say, “Who do you think I am? Rockefeller?”, and I lived, they might as well have founded Standard Oil.
The first few houses were lucrative–Snickers, Crunch, Three Muskateers, one place even had full candy bars, not the snack-sized minis normally handed out on Halloween. Droves of kids, all younger and in far better costumes, trolled the sidewalks, moms and dads in tow calling after them by their real names, not the Michelangelos (the turtle, not the artist) and Princess Jasmines they were that night. Alone, I rung the doorbell of a house I’d passed before on my way to and from the park where I played basketball and three years later would smoke pot for the second time. I didn’t know who lived there, but figured, based on the size and location of the place, a big brick house off Park Lane South, that whomever answered would have good candy, none of the knock-off stuff my mother bought at one of the 99-cent stores on Jamaica Ave.
“Trick or treat?” I screamed at the woman who answered the door, laying it on thick since I believed I had reached the age cut-off for trick-or-treating already.
The woman, holding a plastic Jack-o-lantern of candy, looked startled. Maybe it was my costume, obviously a hastily thrown together get-up, one I had been using for a few years, ever since I lost whatever cuteness that caused mothers to make sure their child looked like the best Ninja Turtle or princess a costume shop and sewing machine could muster. For me that day, it was either a devil or Jason, from the “Friday the 13th” franchise, and I assumed my construction paper tail was more adorable than a blood-smeared hockey mask that probably still had yolk from last year crusted on it.
“Trick-or-treat,” I said again, almost an ask this time.
“Aren’t you a little too fat to be trick-or-treating?” the woman asked, refusing to give me any candy.
I was stunned and unsure of what to say. Did this woman, older than my mother, wearing what I would come to know as “mom jeans” and a Halloween sweater embroidered with pumpkins, witches or ghosts really just say I was fat? Too fat for candy? I had comebacks for when kids at the park or school called me names, but nothing for this woman, an adult. The silence only ended when a group of children came up behind me, trick-or-treaters she would not deny.
“Now move along,” she told me.
I didn’t keep trick-or-treating; instead, I went home, feasted on my small bounty of candy alone in my bedroom, feeling sad for myself, yet finding comfort in what caused my sadness, the cheap, sugary chocolate, a delicious, little shoulder to cry on. By nightfall, I’d eaten everything–my own candy, all the good stuff in the bowl downstairs and had started in on the knock-offs my mother bought–and was properly fueled with refined sugars to begin the second half of Halloween night, the hooliganism.
I wish I could say I bombed this woman’s house, eggs, fresh from my pants’ pockets, the shells warm to the touch by the residual heat of my doughy white thighs, cracking against her window panes and brick siding, my mother’s scented shaving cream spelling words she’d hate me for using on the woman’s garage, toilet paper dripping with yolk from the trees in her front yard. I thought about doing all of it, but didn’t because, even though I was angry, I knew the woman was right. I egged another home, someone’s car, and left hers untouched.