If you’re not pretty, you can be interesting. Mama said all the time. She was not Five feet, two inches tall and weighed 250 pounds. I do, Gertrude thought aloud.
I did get the braids, she thought. The long ones that look like asparagus. You always wanted me to get that hair style. I miss you so much. It’s been a year and half since you been gone.
You left all that money. I don’t have to work. Aunt Finney and Aunt Luella are still angry. All you left them were your wigs, she giggled. I’m still faaa…
Suddenly, she was startled by the sound of Addie, thin high screeching voice. Full size, Gert! Remember, Full size, never say fat. And don’t forget my soapbox lectures: ‘There’s always somebody prettier! There’s always somebody smarter! There’s always somebody skinnier. There is always somebody full size! And note, I didn’t say fat! ‘Everybody has something that they can cultivate to present an illusion of beauty. The ones that have the physical looks get the first stare, but after a while, even they need more than just that’.
You will continue to hear my voice until you use the word, FULL SIZE.
Thanks mama, I know you are telling me that I’m not alone, she thought.
Earlier that day, Gertrude stopped at Star lights groceries. The Meat department had so many varieties of meats. They had rabbit, frog legs, chicken, hens, pork, beef and her favorite hog head cheese.
“What’s happening, Miss!” It was that butcher who knew the history about every meat. She never really looked at him. He was covered in a white work coat. A blue cap was slung across his head. He was a big guy. She momentarily looked up at him. He smiled with his eyes. They were separated by the meat freezer.
“Hog head cheese, right?” He hummed a song, shifting his body left and right.
“Give me a….a pound!”
“You got it!” He slid his hands into plastic gloves. He slid the freezer open. He took a handful of hog head cheese. He slid the meat in a plastic bag.
“Thank you,” She said. She looked into his face without smiling, but he still smiled with his eyes.
“See ya next time.”
She rushed to bread aisle. She paused, turned back around and he continued to stare at her. She swallowed and disappeared around the aisle.
“Not bad,” He whispered aloud.
A month later
These are the friends that I’m dumping for now she thought.
They never ask how I am. What’s going on with me?
Max. “I have no idea what I would do if I didn’t have you in my life to talk, Gert.
Yes Max, I know. I thought.
Brad. We went to the movies and he fell in love with a thin, shapely, girl behind the popcorn counter. I can still hear him as well. “She’s the most beautiful, sexy thing. We’re going out on Saturday. You’re a great friend Gert, just one of the guys.
And, last but not least.
Tim. He was so cute. He was this tall, long leg guy with dreadlocks. The kind that looked matted or like a spiders web. He was Jamaican. He introduced me to reggae. I thought that he would ask me out. He did, along with him and his girlfriend.
After today, I won’t be home for a while or if the phone rings, I’m out.
She wrestled herself into a burgundy sweat suit. She slipped her feet into pink gym shoes. She stuffed the bottom of her pants into the red socks. At least, I don’t have to wear makeup, she told herself. She stood in front of the mirror as usual and scanned her body slowly up and down. Well, my stomach is not big…Hmmm, she thought. At least, I could see my feet. She stepped on the porch and sat in the middle of the swing chair.
One of those massive brown UPS trucks had just parked across the street. That’s when she saw him. He looked across street at her and smiled. She could only see his face.
Not bad, she thought. Actually, he…. but, he might be faaa.. I mean full size, she thought. I’m beginning to get it mama. If only he would get out of the truck. I know that this is awful, but I just want to see if he is as big as he looks. He pushed the door to the left and leaped out of the truck.
He was built like a gorilla. He was solid without being fat. The middle part of his massive arms looked as if the muscles were large moth balls. His moved with a swagger as he climb the stairs. He was dressed in that uniform, dark brown pants, shirts with the sleeves rolled up toward the elbow. A whiff of the men’s cologne polo trailed him.
I know that I saw his face before, but where, she thought?
He made it up the stairs “You’re frowning, do I make you nervous?”
“I’m trying to figure out where I ….I….”
“You see me at starlight groceries! The store a few blocks away? I’m the butcher that slices your hog head cheese that you like so much.”
“That’s right!” she smiled and looked up at him. “You drive a UPS truck too?”
“I got two jobs and I’m in class twice a night. My name is Milton. I just happen to look over here and…I see you a lot when you come to the store,” he smiled. “What’s your name?”
“Give me your phone number. I would like to call you sometimes.”
After a minute. “Yes…I…I would.”
“Well, it’s 503-4776.”
He stared at her. She looked down and rubbed her hands.
They grew silent.
“Well, I got deliveries. I’ll be in touch.”
He wrote the number on the back of one of his receipts.
He backed back and stared at her one time. He rushed down the stairs
Gertrude stood. She watched him leap back into the truck.
“I will call you later! Okay?” He yelled and winked.
Oh my goodness, she thought. I never looked at him at the store. She collapsed on the swing set. He’s not bad looking and … I wonder will he call me? She thought. Well, if…I’ll just wait.
THREE WEEKS LATER
Gertrude sat on the swing set, arms folded, feet planted on the floor. The day was sunny. It was nice and cool.
Had too much hope! She told herself. She stood and was just about to open the screen door.
She turned back around. There he was. She stared at him walking slowly up the stairs. He stood right in front of her. She slowly sat down. He wore black jeans, black boots and a brown sweater with the sleeves turned halfway to his elbow. He pushed his thumbs in the top pocket of his pants. He looked all around him and cleared his throat.
“I didn’t forget, well forget your address, but I lost your number. I I was kind of embarrass to…to… I know it’s been a few weeks.” He slowly sat down on the swing chair beside her. Their thighs nearly touched. “And I…I..know…”
“Milton, you don’t owe me an explanation!” He sat so close that she saw a tiny gold earring dangling from his ear. “We just met and…”
“Well, I know but I just didn’t want you to think that I was full of myself, even though, I am this big Fat,” He punched his stomach and giggled.
“You’re a full size man, not fat.”
Right mama, she thought.
“I never thought about that,” He rubbed his chin. “That’s a nice way to put it. Fat does sound. Well, the word fat sounds bad.”
“Someone told me not to use that word because Full size sounds better. You are a full size man.”
They grew quiet. He shifted his body. His knees touched hers. He looked into her eyes.
Now, I’ll find out, she thought. Will I be a psychologist or one of the boys? Her question was answered before she could get the words out.
“I’m, I’m sorry, can I call you Gert or would you prefer that I call you Gertrude?”
Nobody has ever asked me that, she thought,
“I don’t like either of them, but Gert is fine!”
“Do you like movies, plays, or can we go out for a drink? Or go out to eat?”
Well, now I know that I’m not one of the boys or a psychologist, she thought.
“Gert, let’s just go and eat.”
“We’ll eat and still be full size.” She giggled.
Mama, I’m still learning, she thought
Story by: Kenneth M Harris
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