Sunday, January 20, 2008

January FFC: The New Jacket by Dante Persechino

The New Jacket
© Dante Persechino



Picture if you can. Not, shopping for ‘dress” clothes for about six years. Try to fathom what a nightmare it would be. To load up the kids and head on down to the “Mall” area, to shop. Well, that is the situation that my wife and I were in, when one of my relatives died.

I know it sounds selfish. But one of my greatest fears had come true, the moment one of my cousins died. And I would have to go through the first circle of hell, known as shopping for “dress” clothes. I know,….. I know, it sounds totally selfish and self absorbing. My poor cousin had just passed away. And all I could think of, was that I would have to try to find something to wrap around my giant body.

You see; the last time I wore “dress” clothes, I was about 40 pounds lighter. Yikes, I thought. I am going to have to go to the Chubby Hubby section to fit into anything.

Since 1987 I’ve followed a vigorous workout routine. I started off, back then, doing an intense five day routine of weights, aerobics and running. I was in great shape. Not to mention the fact that; I ate next to nothing. I drank beer and snacked from time to time on jelly beans (and similar foods) to keep from passing out. I was a single guy. So when did I have the time to really eat a good meal. I was going to school, working a part time job, creating visual art and selling; said artwork. I was dating anywhere from three to twenty girls (Really, I am not bragging or anything, I used to always date at least three. It kept me from taking any one girl, to seriously).

After getting married, I didn’t just let myself go. I didn’t stop working out or anything. But, because of a car accident. I could no longer run or do aerobics. Yet, I still kept up my vigorous weight routine. I started walking, golfing and found a new passion. Kung Fu, to keep myself in shape. So, it was not my workout that had really changed my body. It was my diet.

Since the inception, of my obsession, with fitness. I was on a strict “Low fat” diet routine. Eating egg white sandwiches with hot sauce (To boast my body metabolism). Munching on fruit or raw veggies was my normal way to eat. And then all those “High Protein” diet books came out. I decided to try them,……all of them! Then after gaining 15 or so pounds, I thought, “what a great book this would make“. I’d sample every “Worthy” diet book on the market (And some not so worthy) and write a book about my experience! This lead me, to where I am now. Forty pounds heavier and in search of a new jacket. Maybe some pants to go along with it. Since my dress pants felt a little snug also.

The plan was a simple one. My wife and I were not, going to drag the kids through the mall; kicking and screaming, while Daddy tried to find a “New Fat Jacket”. So we dumped the kids off at my mothers and “stealthfully” raced away. My mother peering out the window like Godzilla looking for his next victim.

As we drove away in the “car of tranquility“, we decided on another mile stone of our journey. We were not, going to “Hit” some mall based store like JC Penny, to find my mammoth clothes; But a Gentlemen’s Warehouse. It may be a bit more expensive. But it would save us hours of running around looking for just the right jacket and pants, for the sorrowful event.

Boy, did we make the right decision!!

We walked into Gentlemen’s Warehouse. And were immediately greeted with a smile from a man, who’s attitude about selling clothes was, to say the very least, positive! As I came to know Paul, Our Sales Consultant (and my soon to be, new best friend). I had visions of being in a haberdashers, in the late 1800’s. Paul was a man who knew his business. He asked politely (Everything Paul said was polite): “What it was that I was looking for?” I told him my situation (My whole situation!!). And Paul whisked us off through the process of getting me fitted. He never said a word as he measured me. My waist, neck, inseam etc, were all processed and tallied. I, of course, was wearing sneakers. So Paul estimated my foot size (Very accurately, I might add), snapped his fingers and another sales associate appeared with my size 10 and a half wide dress shoes in his hands, along with a pair of new dress socks. To be mine throughout the fitting experience.

He virtually floated effortlessly throughout the store, grabbing pants, shirts and of course jackets on his way. With several pounds of clothes in his hands, he ended his journey on a huge black slate table in the middle of the store. In what seemed like a matter of a split second, Paul had six pair of pants. A couple of shirts. And, of course, a jacket all neatly folded and laid out for my inspection.
As I came out of the changing stall. I felt as thought the clothes looked good. But my “Spider Senses” were tingling. Which meant that something was amiss. I climbed up on the platform in front of my wife, Paul and, the rest of the store. Again,…. Imagine if you can, after six years of testing diets and gaining forty pounds standing in front of three huge mirrors mounted in such a way, as to see every angle of your body. In a very well lit show room. Add on to that, that now everyone in the showroom is peering at you, in your new dress clothes.

I stated to Paul that everything felt great. But that the jacket seemed snug around the shoulders, arms and chest. He looked with great care at my shoulders, and said: “Yes, well that should fit. But if it feels snug to you, then it won’t due to have you unhappy with the jacket. Lets try a 48 instead.” (I thought: “Oh my God, A forty eight. What the heck does that mean.? I am jumping up in size here like Rosie O’ Donnell at an all you can eat buffet contest“). Paul found a jacket that would now fit my immense body. He threw it on me and stepped back. (Now I am thinking: Any minute midgets dressed as “tiny clowns” are going to jump out of a small car and mistake me for a circus tent) “What do you think of that one?” Paul questioned. My wife piped in with: “I like that jacket, it makes you look so handsome”. (Yeah right, I thought. You could plaster me with butter and ask a half starved Sumo wrestler if I was handsome. And he would shy away as if I was Quasimodo. )“Good then”, my wife said, “Well take all of this”; As I oozed down off the foot and a half high “Biggest Loser” platform. But not before noticing how old my grey hair made me look, in the searing beams that they called a “lights“.

I sulkily walked over to the table that Paul had had my new wardrobe on. And as Paul and my wife were discussing further matters of my new clothes. I flipped one of the pants over and almost had a heart attack. It wasn’t the price that hit me. It was the size!! The pants that I had had on, were a size 40! I never wore a 40 in my whole life. EVER!!!

I wanted to run. But where to. Should I just “chuck” my credit card at my wife and hide in the car? I cannot face Paul again I thought. With him knowing that, ..(Sigh).I, “Pizza the Hut“, wear a size 40 waist. So I did what any proud man would do. I confidently, and with all the composure that I could muster, asked Paul: “Hey, Paul. I noticed that these pants are a size 40.” I went on to say: “Now I feel real bad Paul, I never wore this size before in my life, I feel real huge!”

“ Not at all sir” Paul exclaimed! “The 46 jacket that you first tried on comes proportionally with a size 41 pant”. “This means that your waist is a size smaller than the normal man”. I thought: (Yeah,…right, a normal fat man). “In fact sir, you had to jump up in jacket size to a 48”. I am now thinking: (Yup, that’s Me alright,… fat all around). Paul went on: “And a man with a 48 jacket should wear a 44 waist,…proportionally that is”. “In fact” Paul continued: “Your wife and I were just discussing the fact that: we MUST take in your new jacket around your waist area.” “So sir,…this means that you shoulders, chest, arms, neck and back are much larger than your waist” “Your upper body is huge compared to your hips and waist”. “Do you work out Sir, because we usually only have this problem with football players and professional athletes”?

(Silence),….I must have looked dumbfounded beyond belief! With those few sentences from Paul, all my dreams had come true! I never wanted to kiss another man in my life. But at that moment, I was so “Freakin” happy that I wanted to plant one right on him (Paul and I are both happy I didn’t). In an instant, I went from feeling like Marlon Brando’s backside to Conan the Barbarian’s biceps.

Of course my wife didn’t hear the end of it for weeks. And all she would do is smile. As if she knew a secret that I didn’t. Did they conspire to tell me a lie? Or was she just smiling because I was happy. I will probably never know. But one thing is for sure. I don’t ever want to find out!!!


*****************************************************************************

BIO: Dante Persechino. (The Big Kahoona)

A visual artist, writer, martial artist and Mr. Mom.

As a visual artist:
I've had several one man shows. Open juried shows and won some prizes. My work has been on several television stations including one out of Boston. My artwork has also been in a movie called "Say You'll Be Mine", formerly known as "Strangers in Transit" by Michael Corrente (It was never released as far as I can tell).


As a writer: I wrote for Findri.com, under the pen name of The Big Kahoona. I am working on three books right now. And around seven or so on the back burner.

As a martial artist: I enjoy the greatest of luck, since I study under a great man (A nice onetoo) and martial artist. Mr. Wen-Ching Wu. Mr. Wu's top instructors are Ryan May and Frank W-Lynch (Who I am proud to call my brother in law).

As a Mr. Mom: It is the toughest job in the world. But, it is also the most rewarding one.I wouldn't trade it for anything.

12 comments:

Gwen Mitchell said...

There were quite a few grammar errors and word mis-uses in this, and I'd recommend a more thorough edit. I like the voice, but a lot of the punctuation hung me up from enjoying it - periods where there should be commas, etc. It was very heavy on -ly adverbs too. It was funny though. I never thought about men having problems with that too...lol.

Serena said...

I, too, like the fact that it shows men go through the same size issues that women do, and this really demonstrated that well.

However, you do love punctuation a little too much. I don't think I've ever seen so many quote marks, semi-colons, and parentheses in my life! :) It calls attention to itself when, really, punctuation should be transparent.

Congratulations on participating in the FFC.

R. Jill Fink said...

I deal with a very similar size problem, so I could totally relate to the character's plight. It sounds very heartfelt.

I agree with Gwen and Serena on the punctuation; it should be pretty transparent. You could always copy and paste to something like a Word document in order to self-edit, if you don't already, and that would help you with a lot of the grammar issues.

Great story, and congrats on posting.

Mark said...

This isn't bad as a slice-of-life piece and your voice is relaxed and conversational. It's a good five finger exercise that has the pencil lines of a beginning, middle, and end. I strongly recommend that you invest in a copy of Strunk and White's The Elements of Style. I think you'd find it invaluable to help you address some basic craftsmanship issues that others have commented on. Good job.

theunfocusedlife.com said...

I agree with the earlier comments: Your interesting and funny story was marred by the errors in grammar and punctuation (I noticed the surplus of commas most, myself). Those errors aren't just noticed by the grammar police; you can lose readers because it's just too much work to read through them.

Dante said...

Hello everyone! See the post above me from “Mark“. He, unlike myself, is a published writer. I am also proud to call him my brother in law.
Isn’t it great! On one side of the family I have him (A very talented writer), to help me along with my writing. And on the other side of my family, I have another brother in law who is a Master of the Chinese Martial Arts, to help me along with the pursuit of the study of CMA. It is nice to have the two of them to guide me along the way. Who’s luckier than I, to have such a talented family.

I want to thank everyone for their critique. It has been very, very helpful.
I would just like to make a note on one issue that has brought up.

It is great to have advice, yet at times, it can be destructive. In my last gig, at findri.com., I had an editor who kept telling me not to use run on sentences (come to find out, they were never run on sentences, at all). I assumed that she knew what she was talking about. This is the reason I used so much punctuation. After a year of telling me where to put the periods and commas, my writing ended up looking choppy, not unlike Morse Code.
The rest of the mess, I claim full responsibility for!
Thanks again.
Peace!

Caleb said...

So I am not the only guy who notices he's getting older. I agree, this is a great slice of life story. I don't know if I can add much more in the way of constructive criticism.

William Skye said...

Dante, how much of the punctuation / grammar usage is intentional? It makes for "heavy" reading and I wondered if that was the point of using it, given the subject. Good story.

AlannahJoy said...

Grammar/punctuation misuses were a distraction for me, and I think there are ways in which to make this story flow more smoothly.

Still, the MC was endearing. It is nice to know that men can be as self-conscious of their bodies as we women are! I found myself wanting to know more about this particular MC. He had a sense of humor about himself and it made him real.

Dante, you mentioned in a comment that advice can be destructive. Please don't look at it that way. Every piece of advice you recieve can (and should) be taken with a grain of salt. In this forum, advice is given in the spirit of sharing and supporting each other. Take it as CONstructive!

You have a voice that readers relate to and want to hear. Your heart is coming through. You only need to overcome some technicalities. :)

I like your style and hope to see more from you in the future!

jerzegurl said...

Dante

Your characters are great! They are real and I feel them breathe.

I enjoyed the story, as a woman who has overcome a weight gain. (Lost 25 plus pounds).

Would work on the dialouge (punctuation)to make it easier to read... but thumbs up!!

Ray M. Solberg said...

Solid writing voice. I enjoyed the liberal use of humor for what initially seemed an embarrassing situation. As others have noted, no matter your gender these issues can sting. You addressed this while incorporating the "new" theme very well. I won't repeat the grammar assertions already discussed by others, except to note I generally agree with them.

Your story was funny and the informal voice gave it a personal touch, as though this were a friend I've known a long time. Good work.

Kate Boddie said...

First and foremost the grammar. I agree with what everyone else said about it. It seems, Dante, from your comment, that you've gone from one end of the punctuation spectrum to the other. Instead of having run-on sentences here, you have incomplete, choppy sentences that are improperly punctuated with semi-colons and commas. Also, if the tone of a piece is slightly sarcastic, you can tone down on the use of quotation marks because people reading your work are going to understand that you're being sarcastic when writing something. They get cumbersome, especially when used so many times. I was pulled out of the story quite a few times because of the punctuation. It was lik sitting in stop and go traffic. You get to the end eventually but it's not a smooth ride and in that sense I was distracted many times from what you were trying to say.

On the opposite side, it's nice to see a piece about weight that doesn't involve the female going nuts that she has pudge in a dress. I would have liked to see just what he looked like or, more importantly, why he thought he was so fat. It seems that he was going purely from what the scale read but even from the beginning, especially with the mention of heavy lifting, I just imagined a muscular guy with broad shoulders. Perhaps mentioning his jeans size or how much bigger his clothes have gotten over the years, something for the reader to have visually to attach to the character instead of just taking the character's word for it that he's fat.