Early last year, my sons were killing the last few minutes before the mandatory 6:30 am weekday rise-and-shine time watching a motivational story on television. The report told about a young boy who lost 40 or 50 pounds by getting involved in a variety of physical activities. I entered their room to rouse them out of bed only to be hit by some direct advice.
I should pause to explain that my sons are fraternal twins. The older looks and behaves stereotypically Italian, the younger looks and behaves stereotypically German. For purposes of storytelling, they will be referred to by their respective stereotypes.
I walked through the glow of the television. The Italian looked at me and stated, point of fact, "Daddy, you should take the fitness challenge so you won't be so fat."
"Really?" I said, looking from him to the German and then my waist.
"Yes," he said. The German nodded.
It was that simple. Over and done with. No joking, no judgement, no mean-spiritedness. Just simple observation and conclusion.
"I didn't know I was that fat," I said. Truth be told, at the time I was carrying at least 20 extra pounds, mostly around the belly, and the best you could say about my physical condition was I did not yet need a man-bra. My fatness reconfirmed by both nationalities, I pressed the Italian for a point of comparison.
"Do you know anyone fatter than me?" I asked. I expected one of many possible choices from among family and friends. Maybe even a random celebrity. Was I thinner, perhaps, than Tom Hanks? He seems to have packed it on recently. But would the Italian know who he is? Okay, then, maybe Mr. Incredible from the first half of the movie, or Uncle Vernon from the Harry Potter films.
The Italian put his hand to his chin, screwed up his 8-year-old face and gave my question serious thought. After several seconds he answered with some uncertainty: "The fattest man in the world?"
Since then, despite miles on the treadmill and spending much of the fall dieting, I occasionally remind my wife she is married to the second-fattest man in the world.