When I turned 14 my parents suddenly stopped supplying me with everything I wanted. I thus was forced to obtain employment at a water park. Not only did I decide to work in a water park, the most trite of first job options, but I decided to work as a park service employee. This meant I was essentially to act as a personal servant to any person within the park. I cleaned, provided moral support or gave direction. Now this was Provo, Utah, so obesity rates were fairly low and a good number of swimsuits stretched over the more doughy parts of people, but I saw several stomachs that were used as curtains over crotches, and those patrons are still potent in my memory.

The most prominent of those potent memories was formed on my first day. Armed with a bottle of bleach and a phlegm colored rag, I marched into the moist concrete confines of the women’s restroom where my new office was located; the maintenance closet. Two feet by three feet containing a water heater and a shelf with just enough room for the mop. Just as a pulled my head from the room a women standing directly behind the door requested the most emotionally scarring thing I have ever been asked to do, help her out of her swim suit.

She was five-feet two-inches at most and must have weighed somewhere between 250 and 300 pounds. This stout woman’s face was not one to be turned away, tragically up turned nose and sagging eye sockets. It seemed as though she were the poster child in the fight to abolish gravity, proving the horrors it could perform on people.

“Can you help me out of this?” She kindly croaked.
“Yes, of course,” I choked out–a frequently ruinous phrase for a fourteen-year-old people-pleaser.

The woman then turned to reveal the back of her form fitting ballet pink swimsuit had a corset-like lace up with a neat pink string desperately attempting to hold all of her in. I placed my trash bags under my arm and reached for the bow her husband must have lovingly tied.

Some bows are fun to untie. Like presents, or too small of shoes you’ve been wearing all day. But this bow, to a fifteen-year-old on the first day of their first job, this bow felt like opening the hell-mouth. With its loosening came only a slight stretching of the suit, meaning I had to fiddle with the rest of the clingy damp fabric to free the poor women. As I continued on down unlacing her, I noticed that the woman was expanding. The lacing had been so well done that she had managed to hide thirty pounds in the overlapping of her back pudge. The woman was inflating. As if on the other side of her there was a bike pump adding air to her.

I successfully reached the bottom of the corset and took a nervous breath when she turned to thank me holding her swimsuit to her chest so as not to flash everyone within a seven mile radius. Her attempt at modesty was in vain and I saw more of her than I did of any of the bodies in the Body Worlds exhibit. She quickly expressed her thanks and withdrew back into a stall. Struck with the piercing fear that she would ask me to help her back into the suit, I scuttled away to my only safe haven, the dumpster behind the cafe.

Out beside the dumpster, I stood like a heroine amid the Armageddon scene of thirty years of hiring teenagers to clean a water park, breathing deeply at first and then not so much when I considered the chemicals being emitted by the pools and the fragrance of the dumpster. This was my first day of work, of my first job, and the first time I talked to a dumpster.

My soliloquy is long since forgotten but it must have gone something like: “What? What in all the sweet mercy of the universe is this? I can’t go back out there. I can’t see any more backs like that. I don’t ever want to see another swimsuit in my life. Oh dear, I’m going back out there aren’t I? I am going to go back out there and clean the throw-up off the chairs next to the wave-pool. I am going to go back out there and give some sunscreen-saturated father directions to the other side of the parking lot. I am. I simply am. And if this happens again, I’ll laugh, and I’ll be gracious and I’ll earn my $7.25. Every penny of it. And I will forever and always praise every lunch lady, bus driver, janitor, and garbage man I see. Anywhere. Ever. I mean it.”

Four months later, the park closed for the winter and I got a job as a weekend busser at a failing Italian restaurant, where I was once asked to make enough lasagna for the state champion football team.

April 3

Comments

Lexie,
I just want to know why you are never around to clean up my throw up.
Also, you are super groovy.
Mom

Lexie,

I enjoyed your essay immensely. You have a great talent for writing and are clearly a very intelligent woman with great parents. Will you marry my son? You don’t have to answer right away – just think about it. He doesn’t get home until the end of June and we could certainly wait until August for the wedding. So take your time thinking about it. But do let me know when you have decided so I can approach him with the idea as well.

– Bob McGee

“I saw several stomachs that were used as curtains over crotches” is fat-shaming at it’s best, or should I say worst. It is sad that in this day and age it is still alright to shame overweight people.

I just saw a story about you on the MSN homepage that brought me here and I’m glad it did. I really enjoyed reading this and hope that you continue to write.

Nice one… very descriptive! “The most trite of first job options” for me was making fudge on one of those marble tables in my hometown of Gettysburg. i was 14 and earning $4.25 an hour while overweight flatland tourists would ask inane civil war questions while stuffing their food-holes…..oh the humanity. keep on writing! ps. dig the photo too of the guy walking up the dry, overgrown slide…..

Found this via the MSN article. I like your style, and that was an entertaining read! Keep up the good work. And the Princess Mononoke poster? Cool points awarded.

This is amazing. You are an extremely talented writer. I also worked as a lifeguard as my first job at a water park. I sympathize.

Alexandra –
I am an English teacher in Oklahoma and randomly stumbled on your blog. You’re writing is phenomenal, and I hope you don’t mind, but I am using you as an example for my students to follow with their creative writing. You will do amazing things – keep sharing your thoughts so I can spend another hour getting lost in your words!
– Ashley

I’m not quite sure why this lady named “Leigh” considers this “fat shaming”. I don’t believe that was Alexandra’s intention, whatsoever. The woman’s body is the way it is and Alexandra chose to write about it as it is. No harm done.

I am horrified at the complete lack of respect you have for human beings. The way you talk about this woman and her body is shameful. This woman is not her body, you of all people should know that. I was reading about your story in the news and decided to check you out because I was interested in what you had to say. I can say now that I am not impressed, and you seem to be a pretentious young woman who obviously has no regards to others or their health issues. Also, I’m pretty sure you use a thesaurus for all your writings. Cheater.

It is disgusting that you have overcome difficulties in your life but you shame others with difficulties. Fat-shaming is not clever, funny or cute. You should be ashamed and hope one day you mature enough to see how horrible this really is.

You really are an amazing author! Please start a novel right away and please don’t forget to notify me when it’s published and on Amazon! I seriously can’t wait !

I am literally AMAZED at the ridiculous comments before me. Fat shaming? What on earth are you people talking about ?! We Do not have to live in a world where we are so politically correct that truth and reality go out the window. Get on a diet or get surgery or take out your rants on the cultural norm which is the opposite of whale like for homosapiens!!! This story is freedom of expression in it’s purest form and to damn with you who try to politically correct it to fit in with your truths rather than the artists freedom of expression!

Hi Alexandra, I know you probably get a lot of this but you are really inspirational in the way that you approach life and you should be very proud of this. On another note, I LOVE YOUR WRITING. I too can’t wait to see what you write next. Like Lili said, your writing is very honest and fresh and please don’t listen to what people are saying- its fine to share a human experience. Thats what writing is about!!! You are under no obligation to please the crowds but please keep doing what you are doing. Sending love from Australia 🙂

Hi Alexandra! You’re such an impressive and amazing writer, and your style reads wonderfully. I see why some people read this as rude, but I thought it was incredibly descriptive. I think it would absolutely be daunting to be asked to help someone undress on the first day of your new job, especially someone who needed a little extra help. Again, I see why some people see it as rude, as calling someone’s swimsuit “the hell-mouth” doesn’t come across very kindly. While descriptive, it was almost grotesque at times, and did seem a bit offensive to larger people. I don’t know how to best express this, but perhaps consider people’s reactions to your work before you post it? Oh, that sounded preachy, apologies. It’s the internet, and there’s always someone who’ll get offended.

Awesome writing, and I love your “Welcome” piece!

(PS if everyone’s as grand as you say they are, wouldn’t the lady you helped be grand as well? 🙂 )

Clare

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