This is a guest post by Big Fat Mike’s sister, Andrea
The whole “Big Fat Mike” thing kind of came as a surprise to me. I knew my brother wasn’t skinny. I knew he struggled with his weight for years. And I knew he tried everything under the sun to deal with it. But it never dawned on me to think of him as “Big Fat Mike.” If you asked me for adjectives to describe him, I’d probably pick “hilarious” and “silly.” If pushed for a third, I might say “dark-haired”. He is also “tall” and “unarmed.”
It breaks my heart to know that he’s thought of himself as “Big Fat Mike” for so long, but we’ve never talked about it. Weight was one of those off-limit topics between us, something we’ve just never discussed and we’re pretty close. And it’s not like I’m Kate Moss. I spend my life struggling to reconcile my passion for cooking and eating with my desire to fit into cute jeans. But Mike never felt like he could talk to me about it and I wasn’t going to push him.
We have such a wonderful shared history, loads of hilarious memories, and a lot of them food-related. Does thinking of himself as Big Fat Mike color those?
There was the time our parents went away for the weekend and the first thing we did was hightail it to the grocery store and fill up a cart with crap galore: pop-tarts and oreos and potato chips and cheez-doodles and corn pops. And then we forgot about everything in the cart when we spied the latest technological advancement to hit aisle 6: microwave brownies.
That was the only thing we bought that day. I’ll never forget peering into the microwave with Mike, our faces filled with wonder at how those new fangled, possibly radio active, micro waves pelted the goopy brown batter from all sides, forming brownies right before our bedazzled eyes. These were most likely the kind of baked goods they were eating on the Starship Enterprise! How futuristic! It was 1985 everywhere else, but inside that microwave it was clearly the 23rd century.
They were terrible once “baked”: mushy, raw and really hot on one side and overcooked and hard as a rock on the other. The middle wasn’t much of a success either. But if it was good enough for James T. Kirk, then gosh-darnit, it was good enough for us! We ate the whole tray, or at least whatever we could get our teeth through.
I hate to think that Mike’s memory of the microwave brownies isn’t happy and easy-going and unencumbered by self-doubt. Big Fat Mike isn’t how I define him, how his friends and family define him, or how the world defines him. But it’s how he’s defined himself.
I love him so much. I wouldn’t be me, had I not grown up with him. He’s the one I turn to when I need a laugh or parenting advice. He’s been a defining factor in my life, in a really positive, I-can’t-stop-laughing kind of way (most of the time, anyway.) I just want him to look in the mirror and be happy with what he sees. I want him to think about his past and be happy with how he remembers. I want him to think about his future and be optimistic about the possibilities. And I want him to want to talk about it all with me.