Oh, the horror!

As you may or may not know, I could be politely described as being “big boned”. The truth of the matter is that I am overweight. In case you haven’t noticed, “larger folk” are becoming a far more common sight than we once were, although, to be fair, it much more difficult for us to hide than it is for you slimmer people. It’s nice to see that the world is accommodating us though. We no longer need to go shopping for our clothes, in shops with names like “The Portly Gent”, or “Ten Ton Ted’s Designer Emporium”. There are a number of suitable garments for sale in a wide (pun intended) range of department stores, the aisles between the racks are more generous than they are in the “normal section, but there you have it.

While I can see that considerable effort has been made by vendors to accommodate tubsters like me, there is at least one place where they have completely missed the mark.

You see in the same way that apps designed for a phone don’t always translate well to a tablet, and vice versa, clothing designers should think a bit more carefully about who they are making their garments for. Let me explain.

Recently I was asked to speak at a conference, and as I didn’t really think that my wardrobe was up to muster, I decided that I needed to get a new shirt. I headed out to our local apparel store and found myself wandering the spacious aisles so kindly provided by the store owners for men of my stature. I am incredibly embarrassed to say that I wear XXL shirts, and am mortified every time I am reminded of the fact. On this soiree I was fortunate to find a lovely satiny item which I was hoping would be just the trick. Now whilst us fatties are very often jolly, we are rarely delighted with the shape of our bodies, and we certainly don’t need to be reminded by tailors who think that someone like me would want a “slim fit” shirt, and so it was with this shirt.

As I was in a particularly optimistic mood, I thought to myself “well, you never know”, and toddled (or should that be waddled) off to the fitting room. While I did manage to squeeze into the shirt (with the help of an oversized shoe horn), I ended up looking like a sweaty and out of breath paisley patterned Michelin man. This was not really the look I had planned on going for when I made my address.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, the worst was yet to come. A kindly sales assistant had to call the local fire service as the jaws of life were required to cut me out of the very snugly fitting straight jacket, which the shirt had become.

Whilst I’m sure you’ll agree that this was terribly distressing experience, I felt I coped with it rather well. This was nothing compared to what has to be the most awkward occurrence of my lifetime.

You may recall from a previous post that I visited the doctor to take care of a “private matter”. To make sure that the procedure was successful, one is required to make a “deposit” which needs to be tested to see ensure that there are no “survivors”.

I won’t go into the how the sample was produced; suffice to say I received a lot of encouragement from Mrs L. I want to make it plain (as does Mrs L.) that when I say encouragement, that’s exactly what I mean. “You’re doing a great job there Ross, well done.” that sort of thing. Oh, and the obligatory round of polite applause at the end. Judging by our bedroom habits you’d never have guessed we’re English!

In case you don’t know, you have to take the deposit to a laboratory within an hour, so there’s no time for a post game cigarette and debrief, it’s pants on and off out the door. No worries, I thought, I’ll take it down to the designated centre a mere 10 minutes away, and I’ll be home in time for breakfast. Well…

First of all the traffic was unusually busy for a Saturday morning, this coupled with the fact that I was watching the clock the whole time, convinced that I wouldn’t make it in time. To make matters worse when I arrived at my destination, I couldn’t find a car park. I did eventually get one but the little plastic bag containing the sample had rolled under the car seat. I spent a few minutes rooting around on the floor trying to locate it, and after some considerable effort, found it. I emerged from the car, looking very sweaty but relieved.

I went into the lab, hoping to be the only one there, but it seemed that most of Auckland had the same idea, and so I made for the little window where there was a staff member catching up on the latest offerings from Hello magazine. As I got to the counter, a little boy (he must have been no older than 8),who was sat beside the portal, very loudly asked him mum. “Mum what’s Sper-um? That man’s got a bag which says Sper-um on it”. The quiet hum that is the standard sound at healthcare centres, suddenly disappeared, and I could feel 20 pairs of eyes on my back.

Unbelievably the lady at the window hadn’t noticed and so I coughed as discreetly as I could. She must have been reading a particularly riveting article about the one of the minor Kardashians, so I had no choice but to ring the bell to alert her to my presence. She looked up from her magazine and fixed me with a steely stare. “Can I help you?” she enquired, a little too aggressively for my liking.

“Err, I have a sample to drop off.” I said trying to subtly show her what I was holding.

“Oh one of those.” she said in a very loud stage whisper rolling her eyes. “I’ll be back in just a moment!”

She returned with a pair of gloves which she put on with much theatricality, snapping the rubber in a very threatening manner (I suspect she worked for Customs and Excise in a previous career), and then beckoned for my little plastic bag. “Did you produce it yourself or did you have assistance?” she asked in a voice designed for all in the waiting room, the car park and the shopping centre next door to hear. I couldn’t understand what that had to do with anything and so hurriedly handed over the “deposit”, before running for the door.

As I was trying to push the door open (it was obviously a door which needed to be pulled), I could hear the eagle-eyed little boy saying to his Mum, “That fat man’s flies were undone, Mummy!”

I am not someone who is easily embarrassed, however, this series of events caused me considerable angst. So much so that my family and I have fled our home of 12 years and are forging new lives for ourselves under new identities in the sunny Hawke’s Bay. But more about that, another time.