In the autumn of my domesticity, he waddled his tubby body into my yard. Closely followed behind, came his parents. I was able to easily see the origins of his over weight form.
Titus, despite his size was only four years old. His clothes were meant for a husky seven year old. Clearly a product of a fast food generation.
He came sweetly to me. A precious and sensitive child oaf. Chubby and gregarious, fascinated by dinosaurs and dump trucks.
Blonde tubby towhead, bright blue eyes and smile that could power a lighthouse. Titus could be king at charming adults when his mood was right. At other times, however, Titus was very irritable. These brash swings in temperament could be linked to a constant consumption of sugar and processed foods.
Solid attitudes toward health were far from priority for this family of three, living in a 500 square foot converted garage. Despite their eating habits, the house was well maintained and clean, cluttered only with Titus’ growing collection of happy meal toys and matchbox cars.
Reflections of the emotional stress of Titus’ parents is evident in his overall physicality. Pounds of fat to protect this child from his mothers need to constantly be drinking. A sensitive attitude perpetuated by his fathers fear of homosexuality, and a need to hide behind layers of smoke. Daily toking to detached from this unplanned life.
The only escape for Daddy is going out with friends; Mommy’s is the taste of wine on her lips, all day long. Titus retreats into a world of Walt Disney fantasy, and dinosaur discovery.
Though this child is oafish, he is far from dim witted; remembering the names and correct pronunciations of prehistoric animals is Titus’ specialty. At times correcting his tipsy mother as they share time playing before he goes down for his morning nap.
Titus’ mother, Sarah, is a college graduate with a degree in Literature. She is a wonderful conversationalist and a very friendly neighbor. She would occasionally stop by and leave me and my partner at the time, little gifts and treats. Cookies, herbs from her garden and cards of appreciation. We would commiserate over our failing relationships.
Sarah wasn’t shy about her alcoholism. She was well aware of it, all this despite her college education; which temporarily led to a phase of speed use that landed her in jail. Later she became a Warden in the same institution she was once confined in. This woman, this mother, drives while drinking as Titus sits in his car seat.
One day, while Sarah grabs the phone, as she unloads her car; she asks if I will get Titus out of his seat. He sees me move his mothers 64oz Super Gulp out of the way.
“Don’t drink my mommy’s juice! It’s her juice!” Titus declares.
I lift the lid, and take a whiff. Mommy’s “juice” is Pink Zinfandel, most likely from the economy sized box of wine in her fridge. I shudder at disbelief and spoke not a word about it to anyone except my tyrant boyfriend.
This added fuel to his fire, one that thrives off the faults and failures of others. To him, these were poor, fat, unhappy boarder line white trash neighbors. Still, neither of them knew, how harsh his criticisms were behind closed doors.
Titus’ father is as domesticated an Oregonian redneck can get. Rather than hang out with his “old lady” and kid, Sy would usually be out fishing; golfing, drinking at the bar, or clam baking in his tool shed. This is the life of discontent fathers in the land of suburbia.
The whole neighborhood had a veil over it, so it seemed to me. No one was happy with their lives, but they would attempt to keep their yards looking nice. If you ever got the opportunity to be invited in, the discontent was palpable. Sadly, I had no room to judge because everything was falling apart on my own end.