I've never been a model of physical fitness.
As a little kid I was skeletal. In elementary school I was short and fat. In junior high I went from being short and fat to tall and emaciated skinny in the matter of two weeks.
All through high school I remained bone skinny -- 5'10" and barely 150 pounds -- despite the fact I thought a one-pound bag of sour cream & onion Doritos contained my daily servings of fruits and vegetables. You might not remember the sour cream & onion Doritos. They were a variation of the present-day ranch flavor and turned you green up to your third knuckle. Delicious...
It doesn't help that our skinny Italian enjoys reminding me, in a very loving way that I do think is adorable, how fat I am. Just a few weeks ago he was hugging me and in the cutest voice said, "Daddy, I love you cause you're fat and soft."
I recall being self-conscious about my appearance since grade school. Some of it does relate back to being either too thin or too fat, but some of it also comes from my natural lack of pigment. I have none.
My feet could be used for road flares. If I were to ride my bike at night, rather than reflective tape on my clothes, I could just take off my shirt and illuminate an entire city block, that is if I weren't self-conscious about taking off my shirt in public.
Actually, my extreme paleness has afforded me a ready excuse to not take off my shirt in public, which should be a horrible crime anyway. There's usually no cause for it and it only disturbs people.
Fortunately, when I go swimming at the beach or in a pool, a shirt is required unless I want to spend the next three days recovering from a third-degree sunburn.
Doesn't matter what level of sunblock I use, either. I've lathered up with 45 SPF, 50 SPF, 70 SPF and recently tried 100 SPF. While effective, it does sometimes feel like I'm choking my skin with pore-clogging goop just so I can go out in the sun. And despite which SPF level I choose, an hour in the pool is enough to wash it off, especially from the shoulders where the children grab on. And in the past few years I've even taken to spraying sunscreen straight through the remaining hairs to myscalp.
So, the other weekend when we traveled to Concord, NC, to bring the kids to the indoor water park at the Great Wolf Lodge, I knew I would need to make a decision about going shirtless.
I started off thinking I would wear my blue sport shirt throughout the entire weekend since it dries quickly and would help hide my pudginess. The first dousing from the giant bucket took care of that, however. Once the air hit that forever-mildly-damp shirt, I would freeze and remain freezing the rest of the day.
So, the shirt came off for the rest of our time at the waterpark. Amazingly, no one's retinas were burned out by my paleness and no children's psyches were damaged from the site of my flabby gut. That is, at least none I'm aware of.
2010 Mark Feggeler