My son is a very smart cookie. He's pretty observant when it comes to everything but where he put his shoes, remembering to turn lights off after he leaves a room, and whether or not he fed his dog in the morning. And most of the time (okay, pretty much all the time) he tells you the truth, whether you want to hear it or not. That's a quality you can't teach, and his mother and I hope it's one that stays with him for the balance of his life.
I got burned by his honesty last weekend, and there was nothing I could do about it.
His mother was out of town in Florida visiting her grandmother, and he and I were in my bathroom brushing our teeth. We'd just gotten up, ready to begin an adventurous Saturday of eating breakfast at our new favorite greasy spoon, followed by a haircut for him, and a quick trip to the Super Wal-Mart (he wanted a new Nerf gun, and I needed to pick up some new work boots). Later, we'd make our way to the mall for our other usual activity when his mother is out of town: we were going to the movies. But before any of that could take place, we had to brush away the yuck mouth generated from the previous night's sleep. We were standing there, at the counter, brushing our teeth when it happened out of the blue.
He stopped, looked at me in the mirror - which caused me to stop brushing my teeth, too - and smiled. And then he laughed and pointed at my waist, poking me a couple of times. "Ha ha. That's funny. When you bend over, your gut falls over your underwear!" I was utterly dismayed. I looked at him like I wanted to say 'if you want to live to be ten....', but I couldn't. I was speechless. My child just told me that I was a fat ass. And he was right. Technically, he's still right.
I've always been tall (just about six feet), and when I was younger - much, much younger - I was as skinny as a rail. Thank God I am no longer the 155 pound, bespectacled Urkle look alike my Facebook friends have witnessed (and no doubt gasped at, copied and pasted to their family members for a good chuckle, and thanked their deity of choice that they never looked like me during their formative years). College filled me out, it was where I put on thirty pounds of muscle, and where I was good looking enough to entertain some very nice young ladies, and eventually met my wife. I even had this pair of forest green Wranglers that I called my 'girl-catchin' Wranglers'. They were a 32 waist, but pulling them on was a chore and once they were firmly in place, breathing was difficult, and sitting down in them was an impossibility. But damn, I looked good in those jeans! The thought of trying to squeeze into them now makes me throw up a little in my mouth.
I'm not the most fashion-capable person on the planet. But I know what to do to hide the bits I don't want exposed to the world. Years ago, before I started working at the international package delivery company, a few years after my son was born, I was whittling my way down from an all-time high of 202 pounds. I started loading trailers, basically working out five hours a day, five days a week. Before I knew it, my clothes were falling off and I could eat absolutely ANYTHING I wanted. I was a beast! Muscles that I'd created working out in college had taken a sabbatical during my sedentary years, came roaring back thanks to the near-constant activity of filling twenty-eight foot trailers over and over and over every day. For a year and a half.
I moved up in the company, and I went from loading trailers to driving them around the yard. My level of physical activity dropped to nothing more than hooking and unhooking the air hoses from my switcher (it's basically a one-person mini semi used to transport trailers from one place to another at the international package delivery company). Overnight, my muscle tone checked out. I'd yo-yo'd from just under 200 pounds, down to 163, and was working my way back up to two bills again. My metabolism went on strike. And my clothes that were falling off of me at one point, somehow immediately shrank. Like I said, I'm not the most fashion-capable. You would do well not to have me dress you because I typically don't care if I'm wearing a winter color in spring, or if my jeans are still in style. But I know how to trick the eye into thinking it's seeing something it ain't. Like Billy Dee Williams said in his iconic and long-lasting commercials for the worst beverage on the face of the planet: Don't let the smooth taste fool you. I may look like I'm put together on the outside, but there's a honey bun under my shirt trying to bust its way out to freedom!
I need to work out. I need to lose weight. And not just to avoid the super honest, but unintentional ridicule of my child. I need to do those things for myself. My wife tells me all the time when she thinks I'm receptive and ready to do something about it that I'm in a lot of bad categories for a black man. And she's right. Although I don't always feel like it, I'm probably overweight. I'm probably too close to the limit on my cholesterol and caffeine and sugar and trans fat intake. My diet could be a LOT better than it is. And I could be getting exercise on a regular. Thank God I've quit smoking, or I'd have yet another strike against me.
In two years I will be 40 years old. (That's kind of hard to read now that I've typed it.) I'm now closer in age to those old guys in the television commercials who can't sit through a baseball game without having to pee eight times and have conversations with their fraternity brothers about the great doctor who performed their vasectomies. It's trivial and cliched, but I would really like to not only attend my son's wedding - and my daughter's provided my wife and I ever have a girl - but I'd like to dance without tripping over my oxygen tank, or asking my wife to roll me over to the roast beef station because I'm too enormous to walk under my own weight. Okay, okay, shut it. I'm exaggerating, but you get the point.
My wife bought that Insanity workout the other day. I can't wait to see what she thinks about it. I'm not dumb enough to promise I'll tackle it head first like I did when she brought home those satanic Tae Bo tapes. Billy Blanks should be arrested for what he did to people on those tapes. But I'm totally willing to see if the infomercial workout can help a pudgy guy like me drop a few lbs and persuade my muscles to come back to roost. I will never be on the cover of Men's Health unless they are doing a Before issue. Can't you see it? I'm standing on the left, wearing a big Bill Cosby sweater and eating a bowl of ice cream, while some guy who works out for a living and eats dirt and berries for dinner is on the left, holding some hot ass topless model in his arms and secretly giving me the finger behind his back.
My expectations are honest, like the statements unconsciously spewed, unfiltered and innocent, from the mouth of my child. I want to be healthier. And I want to get back to that hunky guy my wife met during a great weekend in Savannah, although I'll be a balder version the second time around. LOL.
I wonder if Colt 45 comes in a 'Light' version. Somebody get me Billy Dee.