Just Blame it on Your Childhood

By Susan DeBow

Just blame it on Barb Soufflé. As we all know, everything that happens in our lives, whether it happens at 30 or 60, goes back to our childhood. Take the fact that I am now fat. The story of that can easily be traced to these few elements of my youth. My mother drank Diet Rite Cola. The house got way too clean on Tuesdays, my mother’s day off. I wasn’t allowed to eat a piece of the cake she had made on said Tuesday until my dad saw it whole, and a girl named Barb Soufflé (not her real name, but close enough) said I was ugly in 7th grade. Therefore, at 60, I am overweight.

Makes perfect sense to me.

It is not just that according to my BMI, which means Body Mass Index, (which I continue to think means Bowel Movement Is Imminent, even though, technically, that would be a BMII), I would be considered obese, (but then, again, according to new guidelines put out by the government’s Bureau of National Lard Asses, headed up by Mayor Bloomberg, unless you are dead, everyone is obese). Of course, my out of whack BMI is, again, the direct result of my childhood, since back then I could eat anything I wanted without gaining an ounce, my mother drank Diet Rite Cola, cleaned the house way too much on Tuesdays, didn’t let me eat the cake until my dad saw it, and Barb Soufflé said I was ugly.

I still don’t like to go to church because of my childhood. We were made to go get saved dogonit! My mother would be in the foulest of moods while she was getting dressed to go smile at church. She passed on that foul mood to me. It began with her drinking the Diet Rite Cola, cleaning on Tuesdays, making a cake I couldn’t eat, Barb Soufflé saying that I was ugly, not being able, for the life of me, to find a pair of pantyhose that didn’t have a run in them and not having any cute boys that went to our church. Therefore, on Sunday mornings I prefer to stay home and thank God that I don’t have to wear pantyhose anymore.

I blame the fact that I have red dots on my stomach and chest to my mom drinking Diet Rite Cola. (The dermatologist did say it was genetic.) I’m pretty sure Barb Soufflé had something to do with those red spots, too.

When I think about it, I’ll bet you a pound to a penny that the reason I don’t care for short men stems back to my seventh grade gym teacher, Mr. Howard (his real name). Mr. Howard, a short skinny man from the backwoods, who stood with his arms crossed and his pelvis thrust out, said to me one time while standing in the playground, interrupting our tetherball game, and with a hillbilly accent, “Hipkins, you think you’re gettin’ too tall to be a cheerleader?”

Of course, I told my mother when I got home, as she sat at the kitchen table drinking a Diet Rite Cola, protecting the seven-minute frosted cake, that Mr. Howard said I was too tall to be a cheerleader. Mother was up to that school before the icing on that cake had dried.

I made cheerleader and was co-captain.

But, I still don’t like short men.

If I could, I would get my hair cut at a barbershop, the kind with the barber pole that goes round and round and the chairs that, in case of emergency, could be used as thrones for royalty, (but even better than thrones because they go up and down with a push of a foot!). I can trace this desire back to childhood, too. On Saturdays, while mom stayed home and drank Diet Rite Cola while talking with her friends on the phone with the phone cord strung the perfect height for me to hang myself while walking by, Dad would take me with him to get a haircut down off the pike. I loved it if we had to wait. There would be men of different ages, mostly old, sitting in the kind of chairs that if you bounced, the chairs bounced too. I’d sit there next to my dad, bouncing, unless I was at the bubble gum machine, thinking I was quite the big shot, the world was fair and Dad loved me best.

When it was Dad’s turn to get his hair cut, I would hop up in the second empty barber’s chair and twirl myself around, looking at myself in the big mirror whenever I twirled by. Dad and Larry would yaw, and my dad would look like he was in ecstasy when Larry put that thick white foam on his neck. Then, after the barbershop, we would run a few more errands that on a good Saturday ended up at the bakery on the pike, where I would be given a FREE French cruller. And if it was a super, duper Saturday, we would go to the Howdy car wash down on Reading, where real boys dried our car with cloth towels.

On the other hand, I can trace my fear of beauty parlors to my childhood, too. Etched in my mind like a cow brand are the times I was made to go to the Cut and Curl before school started and get a perm. I would go into the beauty parlor looking like a kid and came out looking like a poodle that had been attacked by coyotes. Mother, drinking her Diet Rite Cola, would tell me how nice I looked while my sisters laughed. And that’s why, to this day, I do the butt-cheek tighten up whenever I go to the beauty salon to get my hair done. Give me Larry the Barber any day.

I say, what good is going through the gauntlet of childhood if you can’t even blame some of your actions on it? Accepting responsibility is very over-rated.

About this writer

  • Susan Hipkins DeBow Susan Hipkins DeBow is a writer and artist. A hobby of hers is watching Law and Order reruns and then going around telling people she wants to make a “collar on the perps,” and demands a “remand.” She got hooked on Law and Order reruns after seeing Seinfeld reruns 20 times. You can read Susan’s work and see her art, photography and miscellaneous miscellany at www.ohiowritergirl.com If you are nice, she’d like to be your friend on facebook. Go to her Facebook page, Ohio Writer Girl.

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