The dropping of the H-Bomb.
As I stood there, my mind exploded with images of how great I would look in my new clothing as I strutted down the hallway, flashing people the peace sign, on my way to my classroom on that first day of school. Every head would turn and gasp in awe of my grooviness!
My dream had finally come true!
Before me stood rack after groovy rack of the most spectacular clothing I have ever seen in person. And they were mine for the choosing! This clothing was every bit as exciting as I imagined possible from what I had seen on TV, especially The Jim Nabors Hour. That Gomer Pyle could sing and he wore the coolest clothes.
Because we were the poor preacher’s kids, the Muirhead’s (members of our church when my dad preached in Dearborn, who owned a very high end department store) invited us to come to their store and each pick out 2-3 outfits before school started. Dreamy-eyed and jumping for joy (in my head), I stood in awe with my mom in the Boy’s Clothing department at the opulent Muirhead’s Department Store in Dearborn Michigan.
As I stood there contemplating which of these wonderful outfits I would try on first I heard something through the purple haze of my glory…
“Excuse me ma’am…”
“Mom! Isn’t this clothing amazzz………..”
“… you seem to be in the wrong section…”
(audible screeching halt)
I snapped my head around just in time to witness as this very tall, very well dressed sales woman (yes, that is what we used to call them) paused just long enough to look over her shoulders, in either direction. I guess she was checking to see if the coast was clear for what she was about to do.
“Ahem, you see ma’am, this section is for… slim boys”
Then, in a tone as if she was speaking of a horrible and unthinkable disease, and ever so slightly more maliciously, as if she knew she was about to drop the H-bomb on a little boys heart, she uttered,
“… your boy is… obviously, HUSKY.”
As the mushroom cloud was forming above my head, and before I could completely comprehend what exactly just happened, she flipped and turned to lead us to the department especially assigned for my “type”.
I remember vividly taking the long walk of shame to the dark, rear corner of the boys department as I was placed in front of the ugliest rack of beige clothing I have ever seen.
The letters of the sign hanging over the one, singularly sad rack of clothing, designed especially for fat little boys like me, simply read for the entire world to see, in big fat, chunky bold letters – HUSKY BOYS.
My life was over.
It was official. At 11:28 am on August 11th, in the year 1971, at the age of 7:
I was fat… unlovable…and obviously not worthy of groovy clothing.
This moment in time forged the basis for my self image that would follow me for the rest of my life into adulthood.
…to be continued. (click here for part 2)
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