The dropping of the H-Bomb.
There I stood with my mom, sparkly-eyed and jumping for joy (in my head), in the Boy’s Clothing department at the opulent Muirhead’s Department Store in Dearborn Michigan, looking at rack after groovy rack of the most spectacular clothing I’d ever seen in person. This clothing looked every bit as exciting as I imagined possible from what I had seen on TV shows, such as The Jim Nabors Hour! And they were mine for the choosing! My dream had finally come true!
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 pick out 2-3 outfits each before school started. I can still smell the richness of this store… it emanated the scent of wealth.
As I stood there, my mind exploded with images of how great I would look 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! As I stood there contemplating which of these amazing outfits I would first try on, my world came to a screeching halt.
“Excuse me ma’am…”
As I’m hearing in the background, nearly drowned out in the midst of the purple haze of my glory,
“… you seem to be in the wrong section…”
The sales woman begins to whisper to my mother in a tone as if she were speaking of a horrible and unthinkable disease.
“What?!” Snap! …goes my head just in time to witness the sales woman pause for a few seconds more to look over her shoulders, in either direction; I guess 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” as her voice became even softer, and slightly malicious, as if she knew she was about to drop the H-bomb on a little boys heart.
“… 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 turned to lead us to the department especially assigned for my “type”.
I can vividly remember taking that long walk of shame to the far corner of the boys department, with my spirit completely crushed, 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 very sad rack of clothing, designed especially for me, simply read, for the entire world to see, in big fat, chunky bold letters – HUSKY BOYS.
My life was over.
It was official. In that moment, on that day in the late summer of 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 through to adulthood. I grew up thinking I was fat… with varying degrees of non-love for my body.
…to be continued. (Click here for Part 2)
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