“Stupid idiot imbecile!”
For 12 year old self and my 10 year old brother, these were equivalent to curse words. This was a typical week-night dinner, with my brother and I at the kitchen counter, mostly done eating but still consumed in a fight. Mom already retreated to the barracks (living room). I don’t know how the fight started or ended, most likely because all of our fights blurred into one. The verbal battle consumed me with rage, and it was in this fight I threw a word bomb much bigger than I expected.
The world went on pause. I set off an atomic bomb, and now I just stood in the ashes of silence. I immediately regretted my choice of words.
I regretted it because it was true. My brother was fat.
My brother was diagnosed as overweight by our pediatrician. When we came home from school he had to count twenty pretzels, put them in a bowl, and only eat that until dinner. After his first serving at dinner, he had to wait twenty minutes before his second.
When we went to the community pool, he would wear a t-shirt to not show his man boobs. He opted to be goalie rather than a mid-fielder in soccer games. He had a double chin. I could hear him breath. All the time.
Calling my brother fat was not just an insult but a confession. I knew he wasn’t a stupid idiot imbecile, but I knew he was fat. And I thought it was a flaw. I thought he failed somewhere, or our family failed him, and that’s why he was so big. I was embarrassed by him being so fat. I figured he was embarrassed as well, so I never said it out loud because I did not want him to feel bad. But it was always in my head. He’s fat. My brother is fat.
And now I aid it. The insult was a confession that I had fat-phobia. Being skinny came easily to me, and through my obsession of being thin I had a fear of seeing fat people. But a fat person lived with me, and after this insult, we both knew his older sister had a problem with him being big.
In middle school, my brother got a growth spurt. Thanks to sports he became fit, and his chubby days were over.
Throughout the years I continued to call my brother some colorful words, but calling him fat is a guilty memory that still comes back to me. I would not be surprised if he does not remember the incident, because in the end it said more about me than him.