I: The Fat Boy Body
The fat boy lives in the echo of laugh tracks. The fat boy, frequently freckled, speaks with the most idiotic of voices. He eats too much to be smart. His stomach jiggles. The red mark of a hand fades on his skin. The fat boy falls on his face. He sits in a chair and then splat: the chair collapses beneath him! Unless, of course, he gets stuck in the chair — equally funny — and when he stands the chair suctions onto his ass. The fat boy farts. The fat boy says, “Me hungry,” in a deep, garbagy voice. Or asks, “You gonna finish that pie?” Or his voice diminishes in the distance, “Hey guys, wait up for . . . ”
The benefit of a fat boy body is that only a fat boy personality is expected of it. The fat boy shouldn’t try to become someone unique. It must imitate what it sees on TV: that kid from The Mighty Ducks, that kid from The Sandlot, that kid from Billy Madison, that kid from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, those kids from Heavyweights, and always that kid from The Goonies. Imitation promises purpose.
From an early age, The Fat Boy Body showed its stomach on command. The summer after sixth grade, for instance, at the town fireworks show, it walked around shirtless with a performer’s swagger, pumping its arms, attracting classmates who beheld the bulge of its belly. Its eldest cousin saw this unfold. This cousin — confident, marble-jawed, top of his class at West Point — made The Fat Boy Body feel privileged for sharing blood. The entire town took pride in the cousin. The Fat Boy Body liked telling teachers that the cousin and it were related. The teachers were always incredulous.
“Alex, Alex,” the cousin said at the fireworks show, pulling The Fat Boy Body aside. “Put your damn shirt on. You’re making a fool of yourself.” The Fat Boy Body put on its shirt and the cousin left, no What’s up? or How is your mother? He was likely proud of himself for protecting his cousin. But what do the handsome know of the fat? The Fat Boy Body’s stomach attracted a crowd. Dignity is reserved for people with friends.
As a freshman in high school, The Fat Boy Body granted upperclassmen full tummy-touching privileges so long as they let it join them at lunch. The Fat Boy Body’s basketball…