Blubber: a story of staying pudgy

This follow-up to my non-viral post, the most vulnerable thing I’ve ever written to people on the Internet, is really more of a prequel, which makes this a lot like whatever happened with the Star Wars movies.

How did I get to the point of not loving me? That sounds too inclusive. It’s not all of me, just the physical me, so no big deal.

It took a while to get here, but let me let you join me on the journey.

I wasn’t always pudgy. No. There were pre-pudge glory years of an eon past.

Domination to Deflation

The year was 1990. The place, my hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee. The setting was the Knox County area elementary field day. You can sense the excitement and anticipation in the stands, filled to overflowing with hundreds of kids stupefied by classmates hopping around in potato sacks.

I didn’t participate in an honorable mention event, though, people of the Internet. I was fast. No lie. Like a Nick Cage movie to DVD fast.

My event was the 100-yard dash. I owned it, probably due to the stellar coaching of my PE teacher who was none other than Kenny Chesney’s dad. I never met Kenny. But, add 100ish pounds to the blue chair sittin’ fella holding the pirate flag and chilled rum concoction, and that’s Kenny’s dad.

A slight slip on some loose gravel at the sound of the starting gun meant I had ground to make up. But I already told you. I was fast. I won that race in 1990.

I’d never win another one (until I had kids and totally dominate).

The following year at our school field day/qualifying meet of the now-defunct Giffin Elementary, I came in third place. I didn’t trip or even go down it sprinter ESPN 30 for 30 style with a pulled a hammy. I just lost because I was slower than other people.

So what happened? How was my glory so short-lived? Were my socks too high (not possible, it was ’91)? Was my shirt tucked too tightly into the elastic waistband of my shorts? I need to know why!

It’s pretty simple, actually. Corn dogs.

Corn dogs and mashed potatoes and chicken-and-dumplings and Dr. Pepper and Cheese Wiz and copious amounts of banana pudding.

My heart didn’t quit on me that field day. My metabolism did.

That may not be 100% accurate, scientifically speaking, but it feels right, so let’s run with it.

I was an active kid. Riding my bike around the hood, playing basketball, baseball, 1.5 years of football (apparently it’s full contact, not a fan), tennis. But such frivolous activity couldn’t compete with my soul-deep desire for biscuits and gravy and milk…always milk.

Fashionably Unfit

My speed faded as fast as MySpace. But something else happened, an inexplicable phenomenon that was beyond my control.

Silk shirts happened.

Button up silk shirts, to be exact. I was given a couple as gifts, probably along with socks and a serving of gravy at Christmastime.

I wore them. Proudly apparently, since, living on in my parent’s house is a school picture of me in the multi-striped silky of fifth grade rivaled only by Joseph’s coat of many colors. That shirt, as fly as it was, couldn’t hide a couple of new features I was sporting.

  1. A less defined chin. Sure to capture the admiration of all lady people, my neck was growing upward. Strange.
  2. A mysterious case of gynecomastia.

In other words, my face was getting chubby. Also, what’s gynecomastia, you ask? It’s serious, people.

Maybe you know this condition by its street name…man-boob. What causes this mystery illness? Turns out it’s the same root cause of slowness.

Corn dogs and mashed potatoes and chicken-and-dumplings and Dr. Pepper and Cheese Wiz and copious amounts of banana pudding. Did I fail to mention that there is no cheese in Cheese Whiz? It’s just whiz.

Some dudes put on weight in their bellies and it never hits their chests. Others carry the excess in their posteriors or thighs–if only, my friends. My stowaway luggage fits nicely into the ever-so-obvious pectoral region, not to mention my face and tummy. Such is the pattern my fourth-grade self experienced for the first time.

Want proof that I’m still pudgy? My lovely, supportive, sensitive wife just professed her love the other day saying, “I’ve never even seen an ab on you.”

Just one. That’s all the poor girl wants. She isn’t greedy.

I’d like to give her that ab show–just the one. No more, lest I become vain and call down the Lawd’s wrath.

For Better or Fat

To be fair, I wasn’t ripped, as they say, when my bride and I said our death vows. I wasn’t fat, but I wasn’t svelte. I was pudgy…say it again with me – pudgy. Even the word sounds fat.

Early on in our wedded bliss, we moved to California where people tend to be fit. If not they just own it and wear tighter pants. Kudos to you, California.

I was in seminary and working at a church. Seminary is code for, I’m putting on 30 pounds and you can’t stop me. At 6-feet tall, I was a soft 225 pounds. It wasn’t handsome, burly, or any other manly adjective. The buttons on my shirt were sweating, and I was sweating. Lots of sweating.

Something had to give, mainly because my wife had a hard time looking at me. Mind you, when she did look she couldn’t miss me. So I started running and not eating crap. What happened?

I lost 40 pounds. My gynecomastia was cured! It’s a miracle!!

Yes, science is a miracle. Does that make me a doctor? I don’t know. You be the judge of that.

As a doctor, I discovered that the secret to not being fat is exercise and an appropriate diet (not a crazy can’t keep it up diet, just a healthy way of eating and being). **Disclaimer** Yes, there are actual medical conditions that make weight management difficult.** End disclaimer.

But, even after dropping the weight of a 3-yr-old, did Lindsey see that ab?? Nope. Pay closer attention.

What Now?

I’m working on the pudge purge. Persistence is the name of the game. I’ve made so many plans and set so many lofty goals that I don’t care to do either again. Persistence, though, she’s a gift. Show up each day. Say no to the kids’ scraps from dinner and from eating one of everything that goes in their lunch because that’s eating four extra lunches.

I don’t even like the saying “progress, not perfection” because then I feel crappy that my progress isn’t progressive enough. That’s why I say persistence. I’m becoming the guy who shows up each day. Who says no to the doughnut, even after taking a bite and feeling the shame that leads to spitting it out.

Here’s to the journey. Of course, you’ll be at the top of the list of folks I let know when the elusive abdominal comes out of hibernation.

The most vulnerable thing I have ever written to people on the Internet

Computer generated depiction of what I’d look like as Chris Hemsworth playing Thor

I don’t know how to say it or where to start.

It’s incredibly uncomfortable to write.

Here goes — body image has been a big thing for me for a long time.

No turning back.

I used to be thin. Yeah, six was a good age.

But something happened. All the corndogs and bologna just stayed around, as is affixed to my body until death do us part. Weird. If only science had been around in the 80s and early 90s.

Since then, I’ve dreaded summer. Pool time. The beach.

Why say it now, Patrick? Why here? Why trust me with it?

Well, trusted Internet blog reader person, putting myself out there will bring accountability. The incomparable Seth Godin talks about the importance of publishing, putting words out there for people to read or not. The important part is hitting the publish button.

So now you have the weighty responsibility of helping hold me accountable with eating and exercise and endurance training and exciting runs and excruciating foam roller sessions.

Not looking for perfection. The goal is to show up each day. See you tomorrow. Not literally. This is the Internet.

Enough Sexy, Bring the Romance Back

JT, bringing sexy back

When Justin Timberlake brought sexy back in 2006, I was a few weeks away from getting married. That was the perfect time to bring it back since I’d be spending a lush seven days in St. Lucia with my bride. This post isn’t about that trip, or even my marriage, but indulge with me.

While JT brought it back, I sent sexy packing again by stockpiling about 30 lbs of not muscle within a year or so. I was basically a barrel with arms and legs. No amount of sensuous R&B or mood lighting was going to make that sexy.

I wasn’t really romantic in that time either, not like when I was in high school and college. Point of fact, in the years of yesterfar the iconic rain embrace scene from The Notebook was my desktop background. My movie genre of choice was Romantic Comedies. News flash: the love fern is dead.

While I wasn’t always the best human I could be, I cared about romantics. I had the crushes and made the mixtapes (if you listen closely you can still hear K-Ci & JoJo singing ‘All My Life’). I would wait for the daily top five countdown with a blank cassette tape in my JVC boombox (exact model in the pic), ready to hit play and record with Ethan Hunt precision. Your mission, should you choose to accept it–try not to fall in love with the guy who made this wicked tape!

If all went according to plan, the progression of relationship would go as follows:

“I like you.” “We’re talking.” “Want to go out?” “Want to be boyfriend and girlfriend?” “Let’s get married.”

Something formative happens in the midst of hopeless romanticism and being head over heels in like. Something formative also happens in its absence.

Hello Sexy, Goodbye Romance

When sexy came onto campus, she kicked romance out the door. It wouldn’t be long before twerking would be a thing. And with twerking came the end of civilization or, at least, civilized courtship, dating, and age-appropriate romance. Meaningful communication took a nosedive. Kids would never know what it’s like to breathe over the phone for an hour in between spurts of pubescent awkwardness.

Younger generations have been dating digitally way before COVID. It’s why right now there are umpteen teens in passenger seats while mom drives, thumbs flail across digital keypads as if independent from the body. Swiping, scrolling, sending, sliding into DMs. Gotta keep the streaks alive, am I right? I’m a savage. You’re a savage. We’re all savages. Screens have yet to make anyone more human.

I’m not anti-technology. I kept it 100 when I courted my wife on AOL instant messenger. Now feels different, though. Impersonal. Unembodied. Confusing attention for affirmation and affection. Thus the birth of arched back photos, ratchets, and body counts.

Sensual Death Tolls

If you’re out of the slang game, a body count no longer only refers to casualties of war, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters. No, dear friend. Language once reserved for the worst disasters is now how many people someone has been with sexually. Every young girl’s dream…to be on Mr. Right’s hitlist. A casualty of war.

Why so serious? Because the anguish I, and plenty of others, feel is deep. It’s like watching Dorian Grays frolicking in fantasy as if their portrait tucked away in the attic isn’t externally disfigured as a result of their internal decadence.

How sad to watch hearts longing for romance settling for rendezvous. Once hopeful sprites for love now given over to the lowest common sexual denominator because what other choice is there? This is a bit of a cry for help. I’m crying out to parents and teachers and friends and churches.

It starts with giving an alternative, better picture of romance and relationship. Including romantic pursuit, conversation, flirting, dating, notes, and all the things. For those who are married, would you be thrilled if your kids had your marriage? I can’t address everyone here. I’m asking for folks who are interested to raise their romance quotient.

Part of why I published this is to make myself for accountable in romancing my girl. She deservers way more. Time to step up. Our kids get giddy when they see us flirt and kiss. But there’s more to it, and I’m looking forward to the challenge. Chances are, someone reading this has a boy one of our three daughters will like one day. So get on it. Give your boy a robust picture of romance.

Switch to Side B for the rest of the tape.

Life has lyrics to forget

I used to watch Newlyweds. I did. I loved it. I also love that it has a Wikipedia page as well to tag when writing about Newlyweds.

Nick and Jessica will forever be in my heart. Not in one another’s. But mine, yes.

I saw a clip years later of Nick and his brother Drew singing at their grandmother’s wedding (or something like that). For those who weren’t in the coolest of cool groups in the 90s, one of 98 Degrees’ biggest hits was I Do, Cherish You. It was a mixed CD staple.

In the 90s, you could only wear denim and white, in no particular order.

It was also a redo of a country song, which may be the only boy band hit to boast such a genesis. Regardless, Nick Lachey probably sang that song 1,000 times, scientifically speaking.

So there Nick and Drew are, at granny’s wedding (or something like that), rehearsing for the walk down the aisle. And Nick doesn’t remember the words! Oh, Nick, you’re so crazy, forgetting the words to the song you sang for 10 years.

It’s comical how something so familiar can feel so foreign at times.

I have a great friend who is a great singer of great songs he’s written. He used to forget words to his own songs. It was always awkward.

My son loves to sing. In the shower. Doing chores. In the car. Doing chores in the shower before getting in the car. Singing is his favorite. Christmas is also his favorite, which means Christmas songs are his favorite favorite.

A few weeks ago he boldly belted out O Come, Let Us Adore Him. He knew the melody. He knew when to go up and down and when to get softer and louder. That he didn’t know the correct words seemed a non-factor to his ill-formed frontal cortex. As far as he was concerned, he was nailing it.

Ready for what any of that goobly gop has to do with our adult lives?

I can’t help but feel that there are days upon days when it seems I know the tune…maybe I’ve even sung it perfectly before. Marriage, parenting, friendship, conflict, work, finances. We have lots of songs to sing.

We know the crescendos and tempo changes, but doggonit, sometimes I can’t remember the blasted words!!

I know what marriage is supposed to sound like and how that relationship is intended to flow and how my job harmonizes with it all. But I’m singing and just. can’t. remember. the. next. ___________.

Those moments are going to happen. I’ve appreciated when artists have just owned it right there in the moment and didn’t pretend like they were perfect. They laughed at themselves and made everyone feel free to laugh as well.

At 36, I’m learning to own my lyrical amnesia. I’ve been owning it a lot lately.

  • Sorry, children…it’s not you, it’s me.
  • Sorry, babe…it’s the kids, not you. Okay, no, that’s me too.
  • Sorry, teacher at school…that was my fault.
  • Sorry, person struggling to figure out the merge lane…it really is you and you’re the only one who doesn’t know it so I’m not owning that one.

What do we do in those frightful moments when the music’s playing, but the lyrics just aren’t there?

I think we keep singing. Keep belting it out like we know what we’re doing. And when it’s clear–even if only to ourselves–that we’ve forgotten the lyrics, we own it. Name it. Laugh or ask forgiveness or confess or whatever the moment requires. 

And if you’re wondering

I do, cherish you
For the rest of my life
You don’t have to think twice
I will, love you still, from the depths of my soul

 Love, Nick and Patrick (we do share a birthday, so that counts)

This Idea Casts a Long Shadow Over Your Life and Mine

andrew-tallent-793883-unsplash

Photo by Andrew Tallent on Unsplash

Many of us, myself for sure, live in the long shadow cast by an idea, a phantom idea, a ghostly, probably not real but it feels so real idea. The shadow of this idea brings a darkness with it that goes where we go and grows as we grow.

I’d go so far as to say we are inculcated–indoctrinated if you will–with this idea.

What is this idea? The shadow-caster? The ghost?

Better.

Better stuff, better place, better people, better toys, better car, better neighborhood, better amenities, better clothes.

Better is in us. It grows up with us, too. Your better may not be the same as your friend’s better, but you both have it. It could have looked something like the following –

  • You were 12 years old and SUPER awkward (because who isn’t) and you were 100% confident that 13 was the magic number when things would be better. But no. Just more awkward.
  • 15, though, 15 is where it’s at! I’ll get my driver’s permit, and I’ll cruise into the horizon (with my dad in the passenger seat because mom gets too skittish when I don’t brake in time).
  • Ugh, I’m sick of driving while my parents hit imaginary brakes on their side of the car. It’s all good. I get my license next year, and 16 is when life will really begin.
  • At least at 18 people will take me seriously, because I’ll be an adult. (Nobody tells us why that’s the age. The government just decided one day.) Now, if I want, I can
    • Enlist in the military
    • Buy cigarettes–make America proud
    • Vote, because Ben Affleck told me to

18-20ish are the first of the serious ‘who am I’ years…what do I want to be, who will I marry. Can I marry her–no, her–no, her…

  • I turn 21 in a few weeks. I’m so glad I’m not one of those pathetic teenagers anymore. Look at how sad their lives are.

After 21, better moves into life stages instead of ages. So, life will be better when I…

  • Get a job
  • When I get married
  • Marriage will be better when we have kids
  • Maybe life will be better with a different wife, a different husband
  • Better with a different job
  • Better if we move here
  • Better if that person would die
    • Shoot, I didn’t mean it! Do I have to go to the funeral?
  • Better when I retire…

And then we run out of better and die.

It really could happen.

You could die always believing that the next better would be better than the better before.

Here’s what I’ve learned about my better, and I’m willing to bet your better is a distant cousin of my better and looks mostly the same.

Better is always a moving target. Better is elusive.

It’s like trying to shoot the squirrels who used my back deck as their personal teeth filing hot spot. Those glorified rats were sneaky. Better senses you’re coming and scampers off, leaving part of your deck chewed up while you’re standing there in pajama pants, holding a BB gun with a heart full of anger and sadness. (no metaphor is perfect)

Whether you want to talk education, politics, economics….someone is always promising something better.

A better plan; better policies; better financing; better curriculum. Blah, blah, blah.

The marketing and advertising world lines its pockets by playing on this intrinsic appetite for better.

This product will make you look better, feel better, think better, hit better, jump better, study better.

Instead of better, we get bitter. We were duped.

Better is the guy who never comes through like he says. Better is the boss who over-promises and doesn’t deliver. Better is the movie with the star-filled cast that you wish you had never seen.

There has to be more to it, right?

I don’t have to live in this shadow forever, right?

Right.

More to come

 

Today We Cewebwate Marriage

Thank you Princess Bride for ever etching that sound bite into my mind.

Today, August 12, is the anniversary of my marriage to one Lindsey Danielle Mitchell, then Lindsey Danielle Porter. 5 years ago today, we wed at Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church (pictured left) in the beautiful city of Savannah, GA. Marriage has been the single greatest sanctifying tool God’s used in my life, and for that I am grateful. Love you babe and look forward to many, many years in the future.  Really enjoyed dipping you by the way…