Thursday, October 07, 2004

Who is David, really? Long Story...

Now that's a tough question! I never liked those writing assignments where the teacher would say something like, " fifteen hundred words, describe yourself" or better yet to imagine that you were writing to a 'pen pal' across the big pond and you had to introduce yourself to the limey. Sort of like a trans-continental icebreaker, really. I always thought it was a daunting task, especially when considering the fact I never knew where the assignment was heading once I got started. How do I cram myself into fifteen hundred words? Let us imagine our pen pal is not on the other side of the big pond and lives right in our home town. Who the hell would want to read what we have to say about ourselves when they can simply do what everyone else does and come to a conclusion after five minutes of observation? We all know about these things. Observing passively what items that chick is placing into her cart from the pharmaceutical section in the supermaket or how that dude sporting the "fake 'n bake" tan parks his car in a parking space. Yes, it sounds tragically shallow in black and white, I know. But these are the commonalities in life which bind us. I will, however, give you the benefit of doubt (and varying attention spans) to endulge yourselves at your discretion at what is to follow.

So, who is David? I was born David R. Marlborough. Forgive me for insisting on using my middle initial "R" (which stands for Robert in case of a bonus question down the road) for not using it has caused me grief in the past. You see, not only is there myself, David Robert but there is also a David Joseph Jr., David Joseph Sr., and I think a David Frances but he has been dead for quite sometime. Anyway, the point is that the Marlborough clan has had a real hard-on for the name David over the past three-four hundred years. I grew up always emphasizing that I am David "R." Marlborough instead of simply David Marlborough. (I should warn you now I can be a bit on the windy side.)

I have currently been breathing with varying degrees of difficulty for seven months shy of three decades. You see, I grew up with adolescent asthma and that coupled with the fact that I received the gift of girth at birth for all that it was worth, was a hell of a stigma for a kid. So you can appreciate that I spent many a day out of breath and the rest not breathing too well. I was formally diagnosed around the age of four or five and consequently I was attached to an inhaler for many years after that. I used to romanticize the situation as being born into bondage so to speak. The asthma proved to be a shackle around my ankle that every so often would break the skin a bit and hurt something fierce. Either way, the shackle would have to be broken. The obesity proved to be a fence off in the distance that I would in some way have to climb over. I needed to conquer both in order to get to the next step, receive the next challenge. While I am happy to say that I have won the war with asthma (threw away my inhaler and haven't had an attack in four years), I haven't yet won the war on obesity. Don't get me wrong I have won many, many battles along the way with the help of athletics, weight lifting and an ever growing socially relevant self-confidence which began to blossom around the age of fourteen. These bullets in the arsenal proved effective at making changes to my body and my spirit during those formative years. But the war is still a bit far from being won, and I am up to the challenge.

One of the things I did receive in the genetic lottery my parents held on my behalf on that warm indian summer night back in September 1974, was a well equipped mellon on top of my soon to be broad shoulders. Too bad they didn't splurge for a couple of added inches on my neck, bummer. They say that people tend to take the gifts they have in life for granted. My mind was no exception. Many things came easier for me as my parents used to enjoy describing at length to me at the oddest of times. It seems I was born two weeks early on 6:23AM Memorial Day Monday May 26th, 1975. The doctor held me by the ankles, slapped me on the ass and I proceeded to piss all over his face and chest. My Pop (not to be confused with my dad) always said it was better to be pissed off than pissed on - you may insert snare and hi-hat here. I learned to walk early at just under nine months and, despite the old wives' tale that babies who walk too early develop bowed legs, my legs are perfectly straight. Thank heaven, really! Could you imagine if I was fat, had asthma and a pair of bowed legs? I'm sure I would have had major marquis value as a bull rider but being born and raised in Patchogue, New York would somehow foil my credentials a bit. Everything else, you can imagine a child being able to do came very early to me. Talking, reading (especially), writing, mathematics (especially) all came to me a lot earlier than my peers. In a way, this helped me to "compete" with the other kids who had obvious physical advantages over myself. I remember my Mother always telling me that I might be faster or slimmer than the bullies in school but, I was smarter. My Mother could always say the right thing to make me feel better about myself. This served to give me confidence at times when I was running low on it. My Mother and father also helped to mold me into an independent thinker early on. They always wanted me to be a leader and not a follower. Sometimes this leadership quality would lead me right into mischief. Alas, boys will be boys.

Being an only child was tough in its own way. True, I never had to share any toys or clothes with brothers and sisters. At Christmas I always received plenty of gifts. I appreciate the sacrifice my parents made in order to make me not be in the want for most things. Besides, many of the things I was in want for they could not give me and I recognized this at an early age. You could say this was the spark that drove me for much of my early childhood. I would look at the kids who could run fast and I would want to try and run as fast as they could. At times, I couldn't do it for a number of reasons including my health. But I would always want to be out there playing, running, climbing, being with other kids. Of course, with a last name like Marlborough I was popular nevertheless in school and other kids I would meet usually knew my name already. I was picked on a lot as a child and for a while being over-weight really made me angry at thin kids. But a funny thing happened to me when I was young that sort of turned the tide a bit in my favor.

Even though to my teachers I was considered the meek, portly kid destined to be the teacher's pet, I really held school in contempt. I just could not get into those "Pug" reading books when I could go home and read the National Geographic magazine. Yes, the adult version! Remember, they didn't have a childrens' version until years later around the mid-eighties if memory still serves me. Believe it or not, I started to read the national geographic at age three. It actually was my father's subscription until I turned six when he thought it was a good idea that it come to the house addressed to "Davis." Davis means 'son of David' and my family name will be Davis until I have a son and then he will become Davis to the family. I wouldn't say that I am one of those traditional tight asses but I am fond of how the children are named in my family. You see, first borns will receive the name David. For their middle name, they will receive the name of their mother's father. So in my case, I am David Robert because I am the first (and only) born son of David and my Mother's father's (Pop, who I mentioned earlier) name is Robert. Now you might be asking why were there two David Josephs, junior and senior, in a row? It just happened to be that both wives' father's were named Joseph. Commonly, when tracing my family tree you will not see Sr., Jr., III or any suffixes like that, at least not with David in them. My father and grandfather on the Marlborough side are the only exceptions I know of. Sorry for that tangent. Back to where I was heading with this story...

Along with my rapid development, I seemed to also display an uncanny knack for getting into all sorts of trouble. Nothing malicious, mind you. The trouble I used to cause was more a product of my imagination and at times being a little too bright for my own good. While other kids might have been content with luring their unsuspecting friends into sticking their hands into holes in the ground filled with dog shit, I had other ideas. Like piecing together old, broken-down department store mannequins, placing sheets over them on Halloween night and sending them down a hill in a shopping cart. Did I mention cars would be driving down the road at the same time? Yes, I would agree with you in saying that a prank like the latter is border-line criminal. Let's just say that I have grown up a lot since then. Sometimes the lessons you learn are the lessons learned the hardest. This can also be said about dealing with bullies. I had my share of those during childhood up until I started participating in sports (more precisely, before I started lifting weights). Mean little bastards come in all sizes and shapes, much like profylactics do. While they might slip on rather awkwardly in the beginning and shroud your life with ridicule for a brief moment, all it takes is a purposeful "tug" in the right direction and the bully will roll right off. This leaves you to deposit it in the appropriate receptacle whatever that might be for you.

I will take a brief break and allow you to chew and digest all this fat I have presented. Besides some might not have made it this far in one setting and might need to come back to this latter on. For those who have read to this point, I thank you and feel free to say hello and to comment on anything discussed so far.