Egg the Fat Kid

I usually try not to respond to or write about things out of anger, but just this one time I’m going to make an exception. My friend Justine shared an article a little earlier that was about the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch and why he “hates fat chicks.”

The article explains:

“He doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people,” Lewis said. “He doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids.’”

It made me remember my high school years, when I was definitely not one of the cool kids. We were not well off at all, and my clothes were never designer, and sometimes not even new. It shouldn’t have mattered, but kids can be more cruel than the Marquis de Sade so it ended up kind of making things harder.

I was bussed from Santee to Grossmont high school, and I remember how crappy the kids from that neighborhood were to those of us who could not afford the trappings of wealth many of them could, and who didn’t look the way cool or attractive people were supposed to.

That was me for sure. Overweight by the in-crowd’s standards. Average-looking at best. Generic or used clothing, for the most part. The “fortunate” kids were always kind enough to let me know where I fit in the scheme of things.

There was one time in particular that stuck with me–well, two. The first was one day early in the school year. I remember getting on the bus and feeling like the clothes my sister had purchased me looked pretty good for a change, and my new Payless shoes looked just like Adidas. I thought it might make a difference.

I remember one kid when I got off deliberately stepping on my shoes and making them dirty, while another berated the “Kmart specials” I was wearing. I was utterly humiliated.

The other time I was getting out of my car at the Parkway Bowl theater about a year after my mom died and I was wearing this rugby shirt I liked a lot and a pair of actual Levi’s I’d purchased myself. A carload of high school boys (football players, by their jackets) drove up and yelled “egg the fat kid,” which they proceeded to do. Thankfully, their aim was much worse than their probably beer-impaired judgment, and they only hit me once, right on the chest of my rugby shirt.

Egg the fat kid, indeed.

So when I read that article Justine posted, it made me think of the careless cruelty of my peers when I was the age of many potential A & F customers. I so wanted what they had, because I thought I’d fit in. Maybe even get popular friends.

The friends I did have had nothing to do with how I dressed or the how much weight I carried. They still don’t. Maybe that’s why I never really cared much for brand clothes as an adult.

It might be worth adding that by all accounts, the A & F CEO is supposedly a bit of a troll in addition to his PhD in douchebaggery. It seems evident he is attempting to make up for whatever he feels he missed out on in his youth.

He’s going to fail, and no matter how expensive the clothes are he wears, in his heart he will always be the fat kid, or the poor kid, or the kid with buck teeth. There is only one way to find healing for those kind of wounds, and it is not through wanton buying sprees and callow and superficial attitudes toward people who don’t meet some arbitrary fashion standard.

If it weren’t for Jesus, I would still be trying to meet those standards and trying to please people who didn’t like me for who I was, and would never love me for who I wasn’t. It was and remains ridiculous.

I’m writing this on my phone and I can’t see all the stuff I’ve written further up, so let me just say in conclusion that I have never been in an A & F store, and thanks to this article, I never plan to be. it sounds like I wouldn’t be welcome anyway.

This CEO (who shall not be name dropped by me) can go take a flying uh…leap at a rolling doughnut.

Assassination

I wrote a little bit about the first theater I worked for, and some of the hilarity that ensued when we got bored, or had new people to…break in.

I’m not sure why, but today I thought of something some of the guys used to do at the other theater I worked for.

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As you can see, it was a much larger theater. 18 theaters in all, on two levels. I was mainly a projectionist, but would occasionally go down on the floor to help out. One time I saw a few of the floor managers and employees standing around in a circle talking.

I walked over and hung out for a little. They were just talking trash like young people do when one of the floor staff leaned down and punched another guy right in the basket. Hard. Then he ran off into a theater. All the other guys just stood around laughing while the unfortunate victim kind of bent over with his hands on his knees, contemplating his shoelaces.

“What the hell was that?” I asked.

“They’re playing this game,” one of the managers explained. “They call it ‘assassination.’ You basically wait until a guy isn’t paying attention and then you hit him in the junk.”

“And this is fun.”

“Dude, it’s hilarious. Matt put a red solo cup over his stuff.”

“You need to make a little more constructive use of their time.”

“What? Like…clean something?”

“Sometimes I worry about the future of mankind.”

“What…?”

“Nothing. But the first guy that hits me in the sack is getting thrown over the wall into the lobby. I’m too old for that crap.”

No one ever tried to assassinate me. I had a bit of a reputation for being a little cranky with the youngsters. I could tell you some stories about the things that went on in that building…

*******

That was a fun place to work, and I met a great many life changing people there as well. Some for the better, and some not so much. I wouldn’t change any of it. It got me here.

The Krik

We were talking in the office a little bit today about different jobs we had, and I got to thinking about one of my older jobs, working for Krikorian Cinemas. I started during the early 1990’s, and though I was broke as a joke at the time, it was probably the most fun I’ve ever had at work.

I started as a usher, and spent several months cleaning trash out of the theaters. That part was pretty disgusting at times, but we made sure we had a good time while we were at it. We hazed the crap out of new people. I’m amazed no one ever got in trouble for it, but here I am today, having passed a government background check. And the grunge era was a different time.

Anyway, we liked to have fun with the new people. This was before stadium seating, and you would enter the theaters from the back. We’d stand there in the back with the new people, and you’d shove them down the aisle and yell, “look at me in the white!” That was fun.

We also figured out that a couple of us could mimic the GMs voice pretty well, so we would get on the intercom in the projection booth and call down to the new people in concessions as the manager. We’d ask them to bring a box of popcorn, a hot dog, a cleaning rag, and a courtesy cup of butter to the manager’s office.

Thankfully, the manager was pretty cool.

We’d also fill a bucket completely full of water and tell a new person it was “Technicolor.” The fridge in the projection booth was broken, so they needed to take it across the parking lot to Rubios and ask if they could put it in their refrigerator. They had to be careful not to spill any, because it was really expensive. People would fall for that all the time.

Also, when we’d get a really young new guy, we’d all crowd (4 guys as big as me) into the janitor closet and stare at him lasciviously for a few seconds before turning off the lights.

My favorite thing was to hide under the curtain beneath the screen and grab the legs of unsuspecting newbies as they hurriedly tried to sweep.

We were terrible.

It’s funny what came out of that situation. I eventually moved up to projectionist/assistant and made a lot of amazing friends and met a ton of extraordinary people, many of whom I still speak with today.

People talk about “team building” all the time, and about how it improves morale in the workplace. For most of the time I worked at the Krikorian El Cajon Cinema 8, the morale was the best I’ve ever been part of, but I suppose that may have been because most of our team building was done after hours.

There were many late nights in various places. Many bonfires at South Mission Beach, hundreds of employee screenings. I can’t remember any negative incidents occurring until the latter part of my tenure, right at the end of the 1990’s. It was low paying as hell, but it was fun.

Interesting it’s a multi-plex church now

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I suppose considering all the different types of things that happened there, it is sort of appropriate. In any case, I’ve got a lot of interesting memories of that place that will probably stay with me forever and still make me laugh. Perhaps not appropriate for a family blog.

Ask me sometime, and I could talk for hours. Lastly, there are a few of my ex-coworkers and present friends out there who might remember this one:

My Miracle

I believe because of my mother.

Well, not just because of her. It isn’t because of something she said, and she never really shared anything with me that I can remember. What I do remember is standing outside her hospital room not long before she died and hearing her pray with an old pastor from the Bahamas, the father of a family friend.

I knew she’d read the bible occasionally prior to that day, but she hadn’t talked about it. At least not to me. What I heard from outside that room was the old man’s voice becoming stronger as he prayed–his accent less pronounced. Then I heard my mom’s faint voice going through a prayer of repentance.

I remember sitting with her a while after that, after they’d induced her final coma. I was alone in the room and I remember holding a newspaper and not being able to read it. I remember looking at her, and she was so skinny. Her cheeks were sunken in and her mouth slightly open, rasping breath in and out. Her eyes were cracked open a little, too, but she wasn’t really there anymore. Morphine is a great and terrible thing.

I remember telling her that my sisters and I loved her, and that it was OK for her to go.

It was a few days after that she actually did. My sister Valorie was with her. I remember the call coming in the small hours of the morning.

I don’t know how deeply Jesus sank into her heart in the time she knew him, but I like to think he spoke to her as the lover from Song of Songs:

“Come now, my love.

My lovely one, come.

For you, the winter has passed,

The snows are over and gone,

The flowers appear in the land,

The season of joyful songs has come.

The cooing of the Turtledove is heard in our land.

Come now, my love.

My lovely one, come.

Let me see your face. And Let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet and your face is beautiful.

Come now, my love,

My lovely one, come.

Song of Songs 2:10 – 14

I became a believer in Jesus in March of 2000, but I don’t think I really experienced the fullness of the healing he can bring until 2007. I heard author Brennan Manning preach from the above scripture and it resonated in my heart.

I think Jesus calls out to all of us in that voice one day. Henri Nouwen speculates the Abba of Jesus called those words to him while he hung on the cross:

Come now my love, my lovely one come.

So that Brennan Manning conference was in my mind when my pastor gave a sermon not long after. He was relating the story of his mother’s passing, and how he led her to Christ. A radio softly played old music in her hospital room and at the moment of her death, the song “Heaven, I’m in Heaven” came on the radio.

That absolutely wrecked me.

I remember asking a friend from Healing Prayer to pray with me after the service and just coming unglued, totally falling apart in the third row of the sanctuary. I don’t remember what my friend prayed that morning, but I realized that was the first time I’d ever really grieved my mother’s loss.

I remember peace coming over me that morning, and it while the arms around me were my friend Ron’s, they were really the arms of the Christ, and his comfort was whispered into my ear through the earnest intercession of a good friend.

I think that morning prepared my heart for my wife more than anything else. I know I would have been useless to her had it not happened.

I’m feeling that comfort anew this morning. I’m sitting here on the couch holding my sleeping son and typing on my phone with my right thumb. I feel the love of my savior through my little man who loves me so much and sleeps so comfortably on his daddy’s lap.

It wasn’t my mom who led me to Christ–it was many things and many people all working together that did it. Many prayers rose to heaven on my behalf.

It was my mom who eventually led me to healing, whether she meant to or not.

So until God calls to me from Song of Songs, I will serve him to the best of my ability, and I will try and show my kids through my life what he’s done for me.

0727, 2 September 2012

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30 Days

A while back I saw episode of 30 Days on FX (catch it on Netflix streaming if you can, it’s really interesting) about a straight man living with a gay roommate for a month. It did much to dispell some of this man’s preconceived notions about the gay community, but it also raised some interesting questions about the straight community, and that of the church’s position and views (some churches, anyway) regarding homosexuality.

The show really made me think about some things.

That was always one of the toughest things about “the church” for me to deal with–the sometimes violent reaction that homosexuality provokes within it, from many people one would not normally expect to have that type of reaction. You see people who look like soccer moms, and schoolteachers, and just…regular people picketing places known to have gay patrons, or guests, or even just some places they (the picketers) can draw attention to themselves.

The “church” Which Shall Not Be Named seems to be the chief offender but certainly not the only one—just watch any news coverage of a gay pride parade and you’ll see the people I’m talking about (I am not naming that particular institution because they don’t deserve to be named—hate speech has nothing to do with Jesus) .

When I see those people were standing there with their sandwich board signs proclaiming “God hates fags” and things of that nature, it makes me feel sad more than anything else. For goodness’ sake, sometimes you’ll even see small children holding signs and yelling!

That just isn’t right, not to me at least.

These people spent a lot of time citing the various scriptures that refer to homosexuality as proof that God does indeed “hate” gays.

I disagree.

I believe God hates the devil, and the sin that he “inspires” in God’s people, but God does not hate his children.

These men and women say they take the bible literally. OK. Fine. Take it literally. It’s true. But if it is, and they believe all of it, then where do they get the idea that it’s OK to hate someone because of who they sleep with (or who they don’t)?

The message of Jesus is one of love, not condemnation. These kind of people just don’t get that. I believe the bible is just really one long love story–about God loving his creations through the messiness of their lives, all of them. Not just any one denomination, or cultural sub-group.

He loved us when he made us, through our sin, in spite of our sin, and he will continue to do so even if we never repent, and even if we never come to know Him and never realize that He loves US, he still will. I think of John 3:16. Romans 8:38-39. Nowhere does the either the bible or God say to hate a person because of the person’s sexuality or any other reason (that I know of).

Jesus did get angry at people—like the money changers who made the temple into a den of thieves, or the Pharisees who just didn’t get it, either. Come to that, these sign-holders are sort of modern-day Pharisees themselves, aren’t they?

But anyway.

Do I believe that homosexuality is a sin? Yes, because I believe the bible is true. But I don’t hate gays, or really their sin, either, to tell you the truth. It isn’t for me, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to hate anyone. And while I’m rolling on that topic, I don’t feel that two men or women being able to legally marry threatens the sanctity of mine or anyone else’s marriage, either.

I will be just as married whether or not two men are able to do the chicken dance at their reception. What I can do, what I should do regarding these men and women is show them the love of Jesus, and not color it with my personal hangups or ideas about what is and isn’t right.

I know a lot of people think that a person chooses to be gay–that it’s a preference. I’m not so sure I agree with that, either. Why would anyone choose to be hated, or persecuted?

But with that said, all I can really do is pray for them. The thing is, the gay people I’ve known in my life have all been pretty much cool, and in the case of a girl I used to work with, someone I liked very much. Someone I could (and plan to) be friends with.

I knew a gay man named Michael, who was another story because he embodied all the stereotypes people cite when they talk about gays; he was very promiscuous, he used drugs, he was flamboyant (though not particularly stylish. He could dance, though). But even he was pretty cool.

The thing I have noticed about gays and lesbians is that they seem far more accepting of people as they are, and not who they think they should be. And the support they offer one another within their community is extraordinary. Maybe we straight folks could all learn a thing or two about that. Maybe it comes from having to draw together as a group, and accept each other when no one else will accept you. I don’t know. Anyway, it’s a tough issue, and one that I probably won’t figure out anytime soon.

I guess for now, I’ll just have to accept that gay people are going to be gay whether I or anyone else wants them to be. I’ll continue to think their lifestyle is a sin, because I believe the bible is fundamentally true, and that’s what it tells me. Romans uses the term “unnatural lust” to describe it. But I will not hate homosexuals because of their lifestyle. I will do my best to love them as people, to accept them as people like I would accept anyone else. I’m not going to be condemning anyone because of their sexual proclivities as consenting adults.

It’s for God to condemn, not me.

Oakridge Death Squad

Originally written back in my Oakridge days right in the midst of our ant infestation (2005 or 2006, I think)—it was really horrible. So many stories about that place…

Until today, our battle for survival was fought without the use of much in the way of deadly force. The ants would force their way into the house by whatever means they could; through gaps between window screens, through badly closed doors, and God only knows how many other ways. They would form a line of battle down the wall, across the table or floor, and overrun everything in their path.

Until today, they were the locusts of San Carlos. They were the aliens from Independence Day, simply devouring everything in sight and retiring fat and happy to their ant living rooms and easy chairs, secure in the knowledge that all we had to combat them was Windex. That’s right, Windex.

At a glance, it appeared to work. It seemed to kill the 6 legged menace. We’d spray them and they’d lie there, seemingly dead. But if not disposed of immediately, the dead would arise and begin their scourging anew (well, either that or the ants were the insectile version of Army Rangers–“no one gets left behind”).

Why Windex? I’ll tell you why. Deanna, it seems, has a profound sensitivity to chemical odors of any sort, and a pronounced horror of anything other than a sponge and tepid water coming into contact with the blessed sanctity of the house’s “cooking surfaces” and countertops (sometimes hard going when they are littered with pine nuts and little bits of Martian lettuce). So we spray Windex on the ants and they laugh at us.

Today, however, was different. Today I vowed to purchase a non-chemical based weapon of mass destruction–the new, plant-based Raid. No way could she deny us this, I thought. As I stood in line at Wal-Mart to pay for our wonderful deliverance, I heard the middle-aged African-American woman at the register to my right cry out at something skittering by on the ground near a cooler full of soda. “Oh, look,” she said. “He a alligator! He a baby alligator!”

I looked and saw a gray-green streak about 5 or 6 inches long run past me into the garden center like Quasimodo running for the Notre Dame cathedral. No, I thought. He a garden variety lizard.

“Baby got no tail,” she said to the lizard’s retreating, tail-less back. “He need one o’ them handicap signs. Little man in the wheelchair?”

I was tempted to try out my Raid on the lizard, but he reached the refuge of a large BBQ and disappeared. I put the escaped alligator out of my mind and paid for the Raid, ecstatic at the thought of our soon to be ant-free existance.

I arrived home with trembling hands, barely able to take the beautiful can from the bag. “Hey, Deanna,” I said. “Plant based Raid. Now we can kill the ants without fear of reprisal, after they retreat to the sanctuary of our cooking surfaces and countertops.”

“Plant based?” she asked. “Must be from blahdeblahblah.”

She picked up the can and examined it carefully. “No,” she said. “It’s from flahdeflahflah. I wouldn’t have thought that.”

Apparently not. Deanna, it seems, in addition to a degrees in plant husbandry and the equine arts, has also studied extensively in plant-based insect killing. Regardless, she pointed the can at a single ant and pressed the button. A small jet of blessed death reduced the ant to a withered, 6-legged corpse, but before she could move on to the next, a problem arose. “I just know this is going to give me a headache,” she said.

Don’t spray it then, I thought. Silly woman. Go look at horsies on the internet and leave the killing to me. “I’ll do it,” I said, and took the can.

I lifted my weapon and began to rain death on those little bastards. I was the Grim Reaper of the insect world, harvesting with my plant-based scythe and all fell before me. When the blood lust abated a bit, I saw there hadn’t really been that many ants in the kitchen and dining area. I had come upon a small expeditionary force. My cat sat in the den and looked at me with a stoned look on her face and began to eat Bella’s food. After polishing off much of that, she moved on to the cupboards and began looking for potato chips. I decided to open a few doors.

The ants in the kitchen and dining area that survived will not forget me. And I’d like to think their fallen brothers, when they reach their little ant Valhalla, will hoist a mug in my honor for defeating them honorably on the field of battle. And when their kinsmen arrive seeking vengeance, my plant-based sword and I will be ready.