Some of ya'll already know what I'm gonna write about today - 'cause you've had people tell you what they've told me: "You have such a pretty face...". Of course, what comes next is "...and if you'd lose some weight...". Right? Yeah, huh. And, the person saying this is usually a relative, a friend, a well-meaning somebody saying it to you for your own good. Arrrgh!
I remember the first time. I was like 8 years old and visiting my aunt, my dad's older sister who lived next to my grandmother. Namnun was looney-tunes. Bonafide. She'd even been in the crazy house. But she was an ok lady who would hug and kiss me and let me sip on the coke she always had with her cigarettes.
Well, we were sitting on her front steps one afternoon, sipping cokes, and she "complimented" me - that "pretty face" shit. She then followed with some well-meant advice about losing the chunky. I still feel the hurt in the pit of my stomach when I think of it.
When I look at family photos, I can see when the ballooning happened. Often it is some kinda trauma crap that sends us down the road to plump-hood. Mine happened sometime after the March during first grade. Up until then, I was this normal-sized, blond-haired-blue-eyed cutie. Then we moved. We left my nest of safety that included my gum-sharing friend, Rusty. My mom's sister, Ethel, lived just a couple of blocks away and we saw her and hubby, Baynard, a lot. My dad's parents, Nannie and Gaggie, had a house just minutes away. My dad brought me to school and usually a relative picked me up. I didn't lack love, attention, and affection.
Sometime around March of first grade, we moved to my mom's dad's (Pawpaw) house way out in the country. And all that love, attention, and affection kinda went out the window. PawPaw and MawMaw (mom's stepmother) were too ill to care for themselves or each other and had asked mom to come and help. She and Dad said yes.
Almost all of moms' time was taken up with their care and normal everyday housewife/mother/wife stuff. Dad had to leave for work earlier and came home later, so we didn't see him much.
I had to go to a new school where I didn't know anyone. And, worst of all, I had to ride the bus. And that 45 minute, twice a day ride, was hell on wheels. We had to wake up at like 6 a.m. and stand out by this main highway where 18 wheelers passed every few minutes and wait. We didn't get home until after 4 p.m. When you live way-out-of-town, you are the first to be picked up and the last to be brought home. And many of the kids were mean as junkyard dogs and teased me to tears almost daily.
I don't remember what Pawpaw had, but MawMaw had "sugar diabetes" really bad. Many a time MawMaw, who was confined to one of those rolling-caned-seat-and-back, wheelchairs, would get what I know now was really low blood sugar. She'd go all strange on Mama us and would have to - this is the truth - give her a spoon-full-of-sugar. Then she be right again.
To make matters even more weird, PawPaw's sister, Aunt Pallie, lived in "the back room off the kitchen". Now, ya'll know, especially in the south, the really weird relative always - always - lives in "the back room off the kitchen". That's where Ole Pallie lived and she hardly ever showed her face. She was a recluse. Off course, she was. And, dear-oh-me-oh-my, she had "them thar fits." Epilepsy. Epilepsy of the Gran Mal kind. And, she smelled old. I don't know how old she was, but she smelled old. And she had this god-awful-mean-ass-black-mongrel named Bruno. She l-o-v-e-d Bruno; Bruno hated us kids. We were terrified of Bruno.
And, Aunt Pallie. Well, it was pretty darn terrifying for a 6 year old to see this tall, skinny woman suddenly fall to the floor, flat on her back, and shake-rattle-and-roll her eyes way back in her head and stick her tongue in and out, in and out. Mama'd be down on her knees in a flash, shoving a wooden spoon in Pallie's mouth. And, speechless and unmoving, we kids'd wait til the show was over, and Pallie'd stop gyrating, her eyes would go back in place, and her tongue would return to her mouth. Without a word, she'd get up and go to her room off the kitchen.
Now, if you look at my first-grade school picture, you'll see the "normal" Donna. Take a look at my second grade one and you'd think somebody had blown me up. No, not blown up like in "to pieces", but blown up like a balloon. You know what I found solace in to replace the comfort of a warm family and childhood friends: Food! Glorious Food! What would you have done?
Have a good day, Miss Althea.