First of all, go and buy a goddamn truckerfish t-shirt…..the link is over on the right. It’s a good friend of mine, and he was cool enough to make a shirt of the symbol that has made this website so damn famous……
Okay, so the election is over and the holidays are upon us. Well praise the lord. I have a love-hate relationship with this time of year…I love the fall weather and that chill in the air, the sun going down earlier and earlier, BUT I also hate the damn mad rush of crowds, driving in the snow, the holiday shopping happening earlier and earlier every year, and the knowledge that this time of year comes around much faster because I’m getting much older. The sense of history and nostalgia that has been bugging me was driven home over the weekend when I attended my grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary party. That’s a big one, AND my parent’s 40th is next week too. With the number of divorces today and the attitude most people have about recyclable marriages, I count myself as very lucky to have grandparents and parents that are still together after all these years. I don’t have any living siblings, my only brother died at 15 in 1989, but I do have a huge family. And for the most part they are pretty normal, and nice, and family gatherings are something I look forward to when they are on the calendar. Our yearly family Bingo get-together is something of legend, I can’t think of anything more enjoyable than watching my grandfather getting frustrated trying to talk over people as he calls out the numbers….because we’re all wondering if he’s going to take the game all the way to blackout……we’ve had our eye on whatever piece of Big Lots goodness that is over on one of the prize tables for the past couple of hours. I get to bring my girlfriend into that arena for the first time next week when she is in town for Thanksgiving, and I introduce people to my family with the full confidence that we can pretty much take the Pepsi challenge against any other family of this size. Nobody can handle our Bingo game while meeting everyone for the first time, I’ll probably have them delay it until next February. Anyhoo, last weekend did a lot to bring me back to my center, and to reinforce the fact that no matter what is going on in the world politically, family really is the only thing that matters. I love to rant and talk shit, throw my liberal leanings out there with pride, make fun of my religious past and those who still cling to bad theology, etc., etc., but I do mean it when I say that at my core I am pretty conservative as far as my basic appreciation for a family, a job and a nice home. Now that I don’t have to filter every damn thing I say or do through the fact that I can break furniture when I sit on it, I’m able to take comfort in the simple things and realize the futility of getting hung up on the minutea of life.
I was wondering what to title this post, but then I remembered a great line from one of my favorite movies, Mystery Train, when Screamin’ Jay Hawkins says…”and it’s like they say, the clothes really do make the man”. And I have an absolutely logical connection between the last paragraph and this one, I promise. In my entire history with my family, the photos, the terrible home movies on 8mm in my youth….I can’t remember the last time I ever shopped at a “normal” clothing store. I remember like it was yesterday being in about the 6th grade and having to shop at Jerry Leonard (anybody remember THAT store?), having to wear men’s sized shirts for cub scouts and boy scouts…..the list is endless, and it felt like a fucking death sentence every…single…time. I’ve only ever know Big n’ Tall shopping since way back when my parents were still buying my clothes for me. I can’t remember the last time I actually tried on clothing while still in the store. If it didn’t fit when I got home, I’d just go and buy the next size. This cycle went on for decades, and even when I was thin enough to wear any of the old clothing, it had been out of fashion for so long or was so embarassingly ugly because it was some of my old preacher pants that I felt bad even giving it to Goodwill. I’ve either thrown away, given away, or in some cases sold, trashbags full of clothing since I had surgery. I’d say at least 30% of it was never even worn once, still had the tags. And I don’t mean kitchen trash bags, I’m talking about the gigantic yellow Boy Scout sale trash bags…….conservatively, and this is just the stuff I wasn’t too ashamed to let someone else wear…..I’d estimate a total of at LEAST six or seven of those trashbags filled to the point where the sides almost rip when you pick them up have left this house since surgery. That’s a LOT of fat clothes. And I’ve never been rich, I just didn’t want to deal with the reality of trying on clothing because it SUCKED. Being fat and shopping for clothing is more painful than an army of liniment-soaked colonoscopies. And no, I’m not being dramatic.
So I literally cannot remember the last time I shopped at a normal store for clothing, or at least the big and tall section of Dillards, Penney’s or Jones…..and today was the day that changed. I’ve been prompted by my girlfriend and both male and female friends to give this a shot before now, but you know your body well enough to know exactly how big you are, not the way THEY see you. So I was hesitant, because at some level being that big is kind of what makes you special….you need the “special” clothing….it makes no sense, but psychologically it is true. Being fat is a bizarre crutch that I won’t get into right now. I’ve had this one pair of black Dockers jeans that are probably at least fifteen years old at a minimum, because I remember them being old when I was able to fit into them again after losing some weight in 1995. I’m wearing them right now as I type this. They are a 44 waist, and people have been giving me shit about them being way too big. “Go buy some fucking pants” I think were their exact words. And hey, it’s not like I haven’t wanted to, but I have literally never known what it is like to do that. If all you’ve ever known is “normal sized” clothes shopping, think about that for a minute…….I’ve never done that, and next year I’ll be 40. I’ve got a good friend who has been on deck for a while now to come out shopping with me, and as fucked up as it may sound, the first trip into that arena just had to be on my own.
So I started this journey in the place that made the most sense at the time…..Old Navy. First of all, Old Navy has a TON of shit for sale. So much more than a Big and Tall store that it freaked me out. They have bigger sizes on their website than they have on the shelves in the store, so that threw me off for a little bit. In short, I found out that I can fit into the biggest sizes they stock on the Old Navy brick and mortar shelves….. 42 waist pants and XXL shirts/sweaters. In some cases it’s a tight fit, not freakishly so, but you have to realize that an Old Navy/department store 42 waist/XXL is very, very different and smaller than a Big and Tall brand of the same size. Big and Tall store XL’s are too big for me at this point, so there is some kind of sinister marketing at play. I did feel kind of like an alien at first, thinking that everyone in the store would be going “oh, we don’t have anything to fit HIM”, but that’s just a holdover from the pre-surgery days. My biggest asset is that I’m just cool as shit and low-maintenance, so I found out pretty quickly that the staff was willing to field questions when I told them “hey man, I haven’t been in a normal store since before sixth grade”. I have no shame or embarassment about that fact, it was like visiting a foreign country for me. Just tell the natives “hi, I’m retarded”, and chances are good you will get a positive reception. So I actually tried on clothes and asked some questions…..both things that I considered verboten a couple of years ago. And overall the trip went very well…I got two pairs of pants, two sweaters and a dress shirt for 87 bucks (after the twenty percent discount because I got a new Old Navy charge card). You have any idea how much the same shit would cost at even the cheapest Big and Tall store? I’ll tell you…..and this is no bullshit…..at LEAST 250 to 300 bucks unless they were running some crazy sale. So I can buy clothing like a maniac now, for little to no money worries.
Granted, this was just a preliminary visit, and my paranoia had me in a big hurry to get in and get out. I’ve got a thousand levels of shit to work through before I get my game down. I have zero clue about color coordination or anything like that. Plus, to me I look fat in anything I put on so I have to get reliable feedback on what looks okay and what doesn’t. I know there is a world out there beyond Old Navy, no matter what the girl at the checkout register tells you…….and do they train them ALL to be so whorishly flirtatious with customers, or did this chick have some extra hootch in ‘er? So I’ll rally the troops and we’ll go clothes shopping. There is some crazy sale going on right now at Old Navy, so I’m sure my girlfriend and I will end up there when she gets in town next Tuesday. Anyway, there is just no way to do a story like this justice unless I rambled on pointlessly for another 2000 words. Today I went out and experienced something most people probably take for granted, and it was weird, but still cool and nostalgic and historical and all that…..it’s a huge milestone, I don’t mean to sound flippant about it. It’s just nice to be in good health when you’re doing things like celebrating anniversaries with your entire family, and to look at the holiday season as something other than a death sentence as you pack on ANOTHER 20 pounds in a month. I’m at the fatter end of “normal” and I’m okay with that.
CLOTHING UPDATE!….. SonofaBITCH it is weird to see how the rest of the world has been living all this time! I went to Kohl’s today to take advantage of a big sale and this handy extra 15% off coupon that I found online. From looking at their site I knew that they should have stuff that fit me, but after shopping in big and tall stores my whole life I had no idea what kind of selection a department-style store could have. Old Navy has a ton of shit, but there’s something about the way it is displayed I don’t like. Kohl’s packs stuff in there like it’s a army surplus store, and it was very difficult to wade through the pant selections because there are just so damn many different kinds. PLUS they have some clearance racks with shirts that I knew would fit, and the prices were just unbelievable. Nice shirts for six or eight bucks. So all tallied I got: 2 pairs of Dockers, 2 polo shirts, six long sleeve dress shirts and some socks for a grand total, with tax, of 116 bucks. Between Old Navy and Kohl’s I am literally stocked up until spring for right around 200 dollars. That is some crazy shit.