I was not the most athletically-gifted child. Sure, I could throw a Nerf football or dribble a basketball, but I lacked form. Watching me run was akin to how Phoebe from Friends would run with the arms and legs awkwardly outstretched.
Now there were a couple of reasons for this: 1. I didn’t like exercise. I liked to stay home, read encyclopedias, watch TV, and play videogames. And accompanying all of those activities …eating. Why exercise? I knew I was not good at it. I would start sweating and panting quickly and I didn’t like feeling my fat rolls move. 2. Since I didn’t like to exercise, I never developed a form. My parents never pushed me on it. They would say “Albert, go outside and play.” I would just make an excuse.
Partly due to my lack of physicality, I did not learn how to ride a bike until my early adolescents. I tried when I was seven or so but gave up after I fell a few times. The same applied for skateboarding. By the time I reached 13 or 14 my bike still had training wheels. I was sure a sight to see. Morbidly overweight boy riding a bicycle with training wheels, huffing and puffing and sweating.
I lived on a very busy street and I hated riding home because more often than not people would honk the horn and yell some calumny toward me. I needed the training wheels because I was so obese. I needed training wheels because since I rarely rode I never developed the ability to ride without them.
Finally around 16, my father really pushed me to learn without the training wheels. I finally learned to do so and I was so proud because that was one less thing in which I could be ridiculed. (a small one albeit).
In my final years of morbid obesity, it had become increasingly difficult to ride the bike due to development of rashes. Kids would ride dirt bikes according to their size of the youth. I had a huffy but the seat was so small that if I rode for more than a 5 minutes or so, it would be painful due to the amount of weight I was placing on my pelvic floor and genitalia. It was worse going over bumps. The weight, coupled with the sweat, caused me to have reoccurring battles with diaper rash. Yes, diaper rash in your teenage years! It would get really bad.
My mother would apply diaper rash to my groin daily. Why didn’t I do it? Because I could not reach my the underside of my groin due to the enormous belly. It is the same reason I couldn’t tie my shoes (Velcro Kangaroos baby!). I think skinny people don’t understand how fat kids can’t do the simplest things. It was mortifying having your mom apply diaper rash to your most sensitive spots.
So my parents came up with an idea! There was a bike repair shop near our house. They took my smally Huffy there an asked the repairman if he could install a shock-absorbing, springy seat. A week later we returned and they had turned my cool Huffy (albeit painfully inoperable to me) to a laughingstock of mythical proportions. The man added a gigantic pie-shaped squishy seat. Now, to his credit he was the Daedalus of Houston, for it worked wonders. When I sat on the seat it would squish down. Imagine an episode of MTVs old Pimp my ride!-bicycle style!!
How did I feel about my geriatric, anti-hemorrhoid seat? I was ambivalent. I knew it looked absolutely ridiculous, but honestly how much worse could it be compared to the training wheels? Now I cruise down the street (like John Travolta at the end of Staying Alive) thinking I was a bad-ass, but at least I had comfort.
Now I could ride! And where was the first place I went? McDonalds! My parents never thought that by liberating me from their guard I now had the freedom to go where I wish. Why would I ride to a park? I would either be bored or see kids that I hated. So anytime my parents left during the day, I would ride to McDonald’s to binge eat. (Hey the calories I burned riding the half/mile easily surpassed the 2,000 binge meal awaiting me. I would go down the McBurglar slide on occasion to so that was worth an extra sundae, right?)
I really wish I could have taken a picture of that bike for it was a sight to behold in all of its pathetic splendor.
Reach out to me…let me help you attain your goals.
A. Gregory Luna, double-certified health consultant.
(I would love to hear your stories below.)