Today I feel I have officially turned a proverbial corner. I have decided for the first time in my life that I need to lose weight.
I know, another idle diet promise from a fat guy that takes great pride in being fat... but this time is different. As many of my friends will tell you, I kind of enjoy being fat. I also like tearing down the stereotype that you can't be fat and healthy... my recent bout with pneumonia aside, I am both... Furthermore, I feel that my size has always served the vital function of keeping shallow people at arms length, allowing me to develop more true friendships than most people will ever have the pleasure of having. I also really like the whole "fat and jolly" thing that most people associate with the overweight. I am fat. I am also jolly. A pretty good fit, all things considered. I have certainly never been ashamed of something that makes me... well, me.
So, what's changed? Let me tell you about my day...
Today was the first day of the Greek festival here in New Orleans. I look forward to getting my fix of Greek food every year, and have always had a good time doing it. This year me, Silverfox and Short Stuff decided to make a family outing of it.
There are a lot more kids activities to do at the Greek fest in recent years. They've added a few moon walks, a sand pit, face painting, a climbing wall, and several other things for families to do. One of these things is Canoeing on Bayou St. John.
I will admit that I haven't been in a canoe in years... not since college, at any rate... But I enjoy canoeing... I'm actually fairly good at it. I know how to steer one, what to do if you capsize, and how to get into one from the water. (thank you boy scouts) In short, while I may be a little rusty, I am probably a better canoer (sp?) than your average Joe shmoe off the street that has been mixing his Grappa and his Ouzu all day.
So, Silverfox and I decided that we would take Short Stuff for a ride out on the bayou. It didn't hurt that under the Filmore street bridge is a Geocache that is only accessible from the water... Silverfox was down with the idea on that basis alone. We had actually been planning for about a week to do this. Short Stuff was pretty psyched about it too, and he kept asking when we were going in the canoe from the moment I pulled up in front of the festival to the moment we walked up to the rental tent.
There were waivers that we had to sign, and we happily signed them. there were fees to be paid, and we happily paid them. We even borrowed plastic baggies to put our cell phones in, just in case. As I stepped forward in anticipation, I was approached by a gruff old man.
"I'm sorry, but I can't let you have a canoe." he said.
It took a second for me to realize what he said. "Huh?" I said, "why not?"
"I don't have a life jacket that will fit you." he said.
"Okay..." I replied, looking at the long adjusting straps on the life jackets, "I'm an excellent swimmer, and the bayou is only five feet deep at it's deepest, but I understand that you have liability issues. Can I at least try one on and we'll see?"
"No. I'm not giving you a canoe." He said.
"Look, I've been in a canoe before... I know what I'm doing."
"No." he said, getting a little nasty with his tone, "I've seen guys your size capsize too many times to let you in one of my canoes. Plus that, you'll break the seats. I don't want to deal with that."
I admit I was at a loss for words at this. Anyone who has ever been in a canoe knows that you don't actually sit on the seats in a canoe... you kneel on the hull and sort of lean against the seat, never putting you full weight on it.
"Excuse me?" I said.
"You're too heavy." he said, like that was what I wasn't understanding.
"First of all..." I said, trying to keep my tone civil, "You have no idea how much I weigh. Secondly, you're trying to tell me that I'm gonna capsize when you have no idea what my skill level is with this based solely on my size. Doesn't that strike you as a little bigoted?"
"Just give him his money back!" he barked at the kids working the table as he walked away.
I stood there for a moment as Silverfox took our money back, not really sure what to do. I thought for a moment about making a scene... but I realized that this guy was just being an ass and there was little I could do to change his mind. I mentally chalked it up to his stupidity and took a deep breath and walked away.
Then I saw Short Stuff's face. "We're not going on the canoe?" he said in a very small voice, with tears welling up in his eyes.
I had to explain to this child that it wasn't his fault, that he had been a very good boy, but it was my fault we weren't going on the canoe ride we had promised him.