Physical Imperfections and a Trip to Town

Posted: December 12, 2012 by S. Trevor Swenson in Life, Me & Mine, Observations
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What hump?

What hump?

After three months in a cast, followed by three weeks in a Darth Vader-esque walking boot, I was finally cleared by the over-worked orthopedic doctors at the medieval charity hospital to return to the ranks of the pedestrian.

I think I gained 15 pounds of flab from indulging in comfort food, sloth and a bout of injury related depression and self-pity. I was so very anxious to get back to work and move around once again. I’d hopefully be back to my job shortly and start anew with building up my savings, paying off some debts, etc. At least until the universe decides to throw another catastrophe my way. I don’t like to gain weight, and sadly gaining has never exactly been difficult for me. The man behind the bullet proof glass at my local check cashing place noticed I was without crutches and felt the need to exclaim ”Wow, You got heavy, huh?” I have never understood people saying this to others, and especially when they say it to me. I’m always at a loss with how to reply to this unsolicited and unwanted observation. Usually I get angry and say something to the effect of a sarcastic “Gee, thanks.” I am starting to think I need to take this up a notch. “Really, I gained weight? Thanks for telling me because I recently stopped keeping mirrors and a scale in my apartment. Things were too cluttered so I threw them away and have been doing all of my personal grooming by instinct. I’ve been lucky enough that people like you take the time to point these things out to me. Thank you!!! You know, just saying “thanks” doesn’t seem like enough. I need to do you a solid now….Hmmm let’s see. You know, your skin looks quite greasy lately. Have you been eating a lot of fried food? It really adds to the already blinding shine of your male pattern baldness…Oh, did you already know that? Oh, well OK…Just wanted to make sure you were aware.”

Strangers or acquaintances saying this is to me bad enough. Family seems to feel the need to bring these things up too. “Oh, you got fat.” my grandmother blurted out once after she hadn’t seen me in several months. It used to be a grand -motherly “Oh, he’s getting so big!” said sweetly and usually in reference to my height. Seems to me if I had been 5 or 6 years old and said “Oh, you got fat.” to an adult I’d have been taken into another room and spanked after receiving a little talk about the importance of tact and manners. Again, I was at a loss when my grandmother said this. My mother had tried to discourage me from saying “Oh, Fuck You Grandma!” Or “When are you going to die anyway?” So, I said nothing, and later that night, I hid her dentures. My mother had also tried to discourage me from punching and kicking my grandmother ever since the 1983 Thanksgiving incident. I know she’s 80… next time she’ll be a little quicker passing me the green-bean casserole.

"I'm walking here!" (And, I'm really happy about that. No, seriously. Sorry for the yelling, I'm actually quite tickled)

“I’m walking here!” (And, I’m really happy about that. No, seriously. Sorry for the yelling, I’m actually quite tickled)

It has been great to be active and mobile again. I love walking. Even if I am walking stiffly and a little painfully I am thrilled to be walking in any capacity. I wanted to get out and go for long walks every day prior to going back to work. So, on Tuesday I packed up some of my late mother’s books and went downtown to sell them at the Strand book store and then to shop for some new work clothes. I loaded up my backpack and filled a green reusable grocery bag with some books and bopped on over to the subway to head downtown.

The train ride was fascinating as the subway car was filled to the brim with cartoonishly unattractive people with strange physical imperfections. It looked like something Robert Crumb or Francis Bacon would create during a severe case of food poisoning. A young woman standing in front of me stretched to reach the holding bar exposing her midriff a foot away from my face. I looked up from the book I was reading and saw that her stomach had a healthy crop of thick black curly hairs on it. Ewwww, honey. Some Nair if you please?

At 59th and Lex a young man boarded the train. I couldn’t help but notice that he had a thumb sized mole on his cheek that was covered in dense coat of fur. Tres yucky. I found myself wondering if anything could be done about this. Can a mole that large actually be removed by a dermatologist? If not, that has got to be a serious bummer.

Coulda been worse, right?

Coulda been worse, right?

Other members of the subway freak show included:

A young man with a long protruding overbite, literally a saber tooth, a smorgasbord of warts, growths, mutant noses, ears, unibrows, several gross and willful fashion violations and finally a woman with a beard. I have never understood this. Sure some women (and men) have unwanted hair in unwanted places, but this is why we have grooming products and procedures. Maybe the nice man behind the bullet proof glass at her local check cashing place was more tactful than mine and didn’t make depiltating commentary or suggestions. Still, one can rub their face and determine, “Time for a shave”. This woman reminded me of the summer of 1986 in my hometown. There was a particularly big and mean butch lesbian woman with a mustache that rivaled Burt Reynolds or his gay life partner Dom DeLouise. Being stupid and obnoxious punk rockers we decided to double-dog-dare one of our friends; Coiln to go up and hand her a razor. Colin, succumbing to the peer pressure, did so with an exceptionally obnoxious shit eating grin on his face. Ms. Billie Dee Sensible Shoes took issue with his offering and wouldn’t you know it, she had studied martial arts. She beat the ever-living snot out of the hysterically laughing Colin, and then turned to the rest of Spanky and our gang and started walking toward us, her eyes blazing with images of young punks with black eyes and bloody noses. We got up and ran as fast as our little combat boots could carry us. Colin was a pretty tough kid and seeing how quickly she dispatched him…well, we didn’t want to stick around for our very own version of Enter the Dragon.

I got off at 14th street and walked over to the Strand on Broadway. At first I grimaced in horror as I saw that Forbidden Planet was no longer at the corner of 13th and Broadway. In its place was a trendy clothing store. Blasphemy!!. I was relieved to see that Forbidden Planet had just moved a few doors down. It’s a great store for comics, cruising cute geek girls and browsing for toys.

I got to the Strand and was directed to the back of the store where they did the book buying. There was an angry and over worked looking old man with a name tag that read “manager” who was scanning books and making various low ball offers. My guess was that he regularly deals with scavenging homeless people who argue with him over books picked out of trash barrels and dumpsters. “That’s a first edition hardcover…just clean the dog shit off it and you could resell it easy!” (hic) There was one guy in front of me and he was offered $12 for his books. Another young man tried to pull “cutsies” with me in the non-existent line. I stepped in front of him assertively and glared at him. It was a bluff. I wasn’t about to get into a brawl at a book store. My knee was that of an 85 year old man, and I was 15 pounds over my fighting weight. Angry manager man scanned the bar codes of all the books I had brought, and put them into two piles. When he was done, without looking at me he gestured to the piles and said “These we can’t use, and these I’ll give you $16 for.” I agreed and he gestured to a much friendlier young man standing in front of a cash register.

Why do I like this store? Yeah, it's a mystery!

Why do I like this store? Yeah, it’s a mystery!

After the Strand I walked to a couple clothing stores to buy some work. By the time I was done, my knee was throbbing with pain. I hobbled slowly back to the train station. When my train finally lumbered into the station I was fascinated that this train was the exact opposite of the downtown train a couple hours earlier. Everyone on it was handsome, pretty, cute or sweet and friendly looking. There was a really adorable and kindly looking elderly couple. I am almost out of grandparents and was tempted to ask them to adopt me. There were some pretty women in my subway car, happy looking couples sitting close and holding hands, a happy looking nerdy guy reading contentedly from a comic book. I envied the look of satisfied serenity on his face. Maybe he was glad that Forbidden Planet hadn’t left us either. The main attraction of the subway car was sitting across from me. It was a dad with his daughter of perhaps 4 or 5 years of age. She had big brown eyes and long dark hair. I had no doubt whatsoever that she’d be quite the heartbreaker in about 15 years. Her dad was a handsome Latino guy of an age I couldn’t determine. They looked like they had been having a really fun afternoon together. The little girl was talking a mile a minute, and dad was trying to keep up. It made me realize why parents go into a daze and say things like a deadpan “That’s nice, honey.” I dug into my backpack to find one of the library books I had brought for the trip. Of course it was at the bottom of the pile of Strand rejects. I cracked it open and half read, half listened to the banter of the girl and her father. At one point the little girl squealed at a volume reserved for a young child’s inappropriateness “I farted…I fah-tid….I far-ted..” She kept saying over and over between giggles. I sucked my cheeks in to keep from laughing and exchanged conspiratorial and humorous glances with my fellow passengers. Dad said something to try to get her to stop repeating her gastrointestinal updates aloud so she took to whispering (still loud enough for everyone to hear) “I farted daddy…I farted.”

I made it home, tired and still sore, but happy that I had been out and about, able to walk, and to have gotten some things done


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