I hate job interviews.
In truth, I haven’t had a real job interview since before my senior year of high school. It was for this six-week art co-op program that focused on providing jobs for teenagers, and I was applying to be the culinary co-op assistant. I was determined to be a chef back in those days, but I also thought I would get a girlfriend my senior year of high school and have a date for senior prom. I often had dreams of cooking a three-course meal for my nonexistent girlfriend and failing every time to deliver anything edible. And then I learned to stop falling asleep to reruns of “Chopped.”
But this isn’t about that.
What really pickles my onion is the quality of clothing one has to wear in order to beg someone for a job.
I’ve lived on the heavier side of life since I was eight years old, when I spent the first of many summers living with my grandparents in Manassas, Virginia (haha, ‘Ass’). They filled their house with bowling ball-sized muffins and enough peanut butter to render a brick house. When I returned home to the loving, gentle care of my mother at the end of the summer, as jolly as a miniature Santa, my mother looked into my cherubic eyes and said, “You blew up…like a balloon.”
Needless to say, my relationship to food and anyone I shared a bloodline with changed drastically. I could no longer trust either. But perhaps the biggest shift I experienced was in the way clothes fit on my body (or didn’t fit, rather).
I still can’t walk into a JC Penney without the voice of my grandmother ripping through my ears. “Try this on,” she’d gurgle. I can’t count the times we walked into a department store and, within mere seconds, my grandmother had collected at least half of the boys’ section in her frail arms.
“Look at how nice,” she’d say, while throwing me into a dressing room. I tried to point out that the t-shirt she wanted to buy me was a little snug around my tummy, but she’d give me a cold look in her eyes, put a hand on her waist and say in her knowledgeable voice, “This is the style. This is what kids wear.”
I had a beer gut by the age of 11, and since I couldn’t depend on my family or food for friendship, I leaned on my books for companionship. I was really big into Harry Potter at the time, mostly because he wore glasses and I tried to find role models who were at least chubby or had glasses. And because my headcannon for male protagonists in all novels is usually myself, he had both traits. I also ran around my grandparents’ house pretending the twig I picked up from their yard was a wand, but that’s a story for another day.
For a fat kid like me, books were a gateway to happier times and weightless figures who only lived for about 400 pages (and forever, in my heart). That is, until my father sat me down one day to tell me I should be out running around and exercising instead of reading books like some loser. He added that I should be concerned “girls weren’t checking me out like they should.” Not your best point Dad, given that I was barely 12. If anything, why should they be interested in me when books existed?
Trying to point that out to my father didn’t really go over well. But it did give me something to think about. Mainly, my family was out to get me, but I already knew that. No, I think I learned that I could never truly fit in anywhere.
And I think about it every time I have to buy some new presentable, “nice” clothes that I have to fit into for one day every few months.
Like the time my mother forced me to buy nice clothes to wear under my graduation gown, and on the day of commencement, the button flung off my pants and into the mirror. I think I used two belts to hold up my pants that day.
Or the time (every single time) I button up a dress shirt all the way and my neck feels like a pig in a blanket.
Or like back in high school when I tried to leave my uniform shirt untucked to give myself that slim, sucked-in-stomach look to attract all of my lady friends.
OR what about that time in high school I ran into a teacher and spilled his coffee all over him. No, that doesn’t relate to the topic at hand, but I sometimes think about it so I can laugh about how I was kind of an asshole in high school. I did not apologize.
But seriously, I thankfully have an interview coming up. I need new clothes. But instead of doting on all the awkwardness and painful memories associated with clothes shopping and my grandmother, I’m just gonna pretend like I can’t fit into anything because my awesomeness cannot be tamed by fabric.