Bob’s Belly – A True Story

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My grandma’s second husband, a man I called Bob (because technically he wasn’t my grandpa and that’s what everyone else called him), had a belly the size of a medicine ball.

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While his frame was average, his stomach stuck-out so far that it would show up at the dinner table long before the rest of him followed.

 

Oddly enough, Bob seemed proud of his bulging midsection. While others might hide behind baggy shirts and sweats with elasticized waist bands,  Bob wore only tight-fitting slacks–held together with safety pins–and too small t-shirts that would ride up when he sat down, exposing his unsightly midriff.

What made this eyesore even more of an anomaly was that it was hard as a rock.

“C’mon! Punch it!” He’d shout, as all of the grandchildren would stand anxiously in line, eager to pound our fists of fury into his lower torso. “And none of them sissy punches either! When yer done I wanna be scooping my guts off yer granny’s new carpet!”

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Our knuckle-bruising jabs would barely cause him to flinch. “Awe, shit! You call that a punch? My mother can hit harder’n that.” Laughing, he would continue egging us on as we tried in vain to cause some kind–any kind–of internal bleeding.

Sadly, we would always walk away defeated. Easing our swollen fists into buckets of ice, we’d spend the rest of the afternoon on the porch, convincing ourselves that next time we’d kick the living shit out of him.

This game was an endless source of amusement for my sister and I. While at home we wanted nothing to do with each other, at grandma’s house we were allies, like-minded siblings working together to bring this geezer to his knees.

Using the male anatomy diagram found in my parents’ medical encyclopedia as a reference, we’d spend hours planning our strategy.

“Okay, so when it’s your turn I want you to aim for one of his kidneys.” Taking a felt pen, I’d circle what I assumed was a kidney but looking back was probably more like the prostate. “Once it’s out of the picture I’ll come in and take it from there.”

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Because of her young age and poor hand-eye coordination, I knew Laura didn’t stand a chance. Still, being her older sister, I felt like it was my job to encourage her.

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“Do you think it’s gotten even bigger?” we’d ask our mom, who would roll her eyes and remind us that Bob’s belly wasn’t a toy.

While the kids thought Bob was a God, none of the adults seemed to care much for the man. Even my grandma acted indifferent, calling him pet names like “Blob” or “Slob” whenever he was out of hearing distance. I often wondered if the only reason she married him in the first place was so he could play the role of Santa Claus at Christmas.

Every Christmas morning just after breakfast, the entire family would gather downstairs to open gifts. “Bob, Isn’t there somewhere you need to be?” My Grandmother would look pointedly at Bob, who would obediently make up some lame excuse about having to leave.

“I knew I shouldn’t have had that last bran muffin. You guys go ahead, looks like Bob’s gonna be busy for a while.” Then just to drive the point home, he would ask my grandma where she hid his stash of nudie magazines.

Ten minutes later we would hear the sound of bells, and before we knew it Santa was making himself comfortable on Bob’s recliner.

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Call it the ignorance of youth, but we never put two and two together.

It wasn’t until I asked Santa for a set of brass knuckles one year that the game came to a sudden end, my mother banning me from going anywhere near Bob’s lower torso.

Instead, in an attempt to steer me away from a life of violence, my parents enrolled me in accordion lessons.

“Who knows,” my Dad said, adjusting the straps around my neck so I wouldn’t do a faceplant while making my big debut at the Senior’s Polka Festival.  “Maybe you’ll end up being the next…er, famous accordion player lady.”

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One day, my grandma decided she’d had enough of Bob and his belly and kicked them both to the curb.

“Promise me one thing,” she said to my mom shortly after filing the divorce papers, “If I ever marry a pot-bellied barbarian like that again, have me put down.”

Eventually she did remarry, only this time to a shy, mild-mannered blue-collar worker named Frank.

But while Frank seemed nice enough–showering the kids with presents and doting over my grandma, because of his unassuming voice and lean body type, it took me a while to warm up to him.

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Bob remarried as well. I never saw the man again, but word on the street was that he ended up being accused of sexually assaulting one of his new wife’s grandchildren. I didn’t find out the specifics–only that the case never went to trial –but for some reason it didn’t surprise me.

A few years later, Bob passed away. I was shocked.

While I don’t remember exactly how he died, when I heard the word “prostate” I just knew that my sister was somehow responsible.

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Comments

  1. Wait – you’re saying Bob wasn’t your uncle?

    • Ha! Funny you should mention it, turns out there’s a good chance that he was my uncle! And my second cousin!

      Funny how non-blood related incest works.

  2. So, what happened? I mean with the accordian. Did you become the next…famous accordian lady?
    By the way, the appropriate way to rock a big belly is OVER your pants. Do not do the basketball wrap.

    • TL!

      Sadly, I gave up the accordion for the pan flute. Then I gave that up for the skin flute. You know what they say, you have to go where the money is.

      I thought you were supposed to rock it over the fanny pack? (You know, where the money is.)

  3. Oh my god. You killed Bob.

  4. Wow, that was hilarious. Up until the last part, sweet God in heaven.

  5. Bob wore a bra and women’s blouses too it seems. The belly was the least of his issues.

  6. Is “Bob” really rock-n-roll heartthrob Jason Derulo?

  7. elizabeth3hersh says:

    More stuff we have in common, Bschooled!!! My grandmother’s second husband was named Bob (the one who shot her five times and “wrecked her nerves”). For realz!! I loved my grandmother’s stories (particularly the one where she stradled and beat the holy hell out of Bob’s girlfriend after she entered the tavern where my grandmother worked…hmmm, that’s where I got that tendency). And I, too, played the accordion as a child (disclaimer: I was so bad at it that my instructor would play for ME during music lessons even though my parents were paying him to teach me…time seemed to go faster that way…for both of us apparently). Haha…no Buddha belly on Bob (?), but who knows as I never laid eyes on him since he put a bullet though his brain before I was born. Guess what? My grandmother married a third time to a shy, mild-mannered blue-collar worker named Fred!!

    • I wanted to answer this comment yesterday, but after reading it three times I was still speechless. So instead, I ate some ice cream. How are we not related? And how is your life not a Hollywood movie? Or at least a made for TV one? I swear, if I lived closer to you I wouldn’t need a television to get my weekly Dateline/48 Hour Mysteries fix. I would just come to your house and make you tell me about your ancestors. (I would even bring the ice cream!)

      ps. I sucked at the accordion as well. The only songs I learned were “Moon River” and “Hello” by Lionel Richie. And both of them sounded like a crappy version of “Stairway To Heaven”.

  8. Funny…. your sister doesn’t LOOK evil…..

  9. Lessons Learned:
    1)Never marry anybody named “Bob.”
    2)Don’t play “Hide the sausage” with anyone you call your uncle but isn’t really related in any way.
    3)When Grandpa’s bran muffin kicks in on Christmas morning, expect Santa to arrive within ten minutes.

  10. No I think he is still alive. He just lost his belly and went into hiding. He had married a woman 20 years older and had run off with her daughter and grandchild. He had married his older brother’s ex-wife’s, mothers, sisters, third cousins, aunt. They say when they got married she was so beautiful that day. It was the first time anyone in the family had seen her in shoes.
    Wait a minute you’re right I’m thinking about my father. I keep forgetting that is why my mother kept telling my brother and me we could not marry our sister.

  11. I admire how you schooled your sister, b, on the art of belly punching. They don’t call you bschooled for nothing! :)

  12. What a heartwarming trip down your Memory Lane… even included Christmas! Thanks BSchooled!

  13. We had a Bob in our family. Except she was a female. And she never went away. And she made a terrible Santa Claus because she was too drunk to remember to say “Ho HO HO” and instead said, “Where the hell is my whiskey.”

  14. This is simply great, B. I didn’t even know there was a literary subgenre of North American Magical Realism. John Irving adapted by David Lynch. (RAWR indeed!)

    • Mikey! I’m sorry I missed this comment, I really need to stop replying to comments from the dashboard. (Either that, or get glasses.)

      Ahh, yes! A Lynchian Irvingivus(?) fusion. Like the fifth hand. Only it’s a stomach. And it’s ginormous.

      (ps. I have no idea what this means.)

  15. Robert X. Jones says:

    Funny and disturbing all at once. Pre-planning is key, so I loved your anatomical due diligence…its so B.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I saw “The Fighter” a few weeks ago. You, your sister and Micky Ward all aim for the kidneys. I assume your next post will be about how you gave up the accordion to be a professional boxer.

  17. I don’t know what it is about beating up old people that puts a smile on my face. I should probably get that checked out. Of course, a hilarious blow-by-blow account of the elder-punching doesn’t help. (Well, it helps with the smiling and laughing but not with the “I-think-it’s-funny-when-old-people-get-punched” thing.)

    Speaking of hilarity, watch this for a fine bit of Grandpa-punching (starting about 3:35):

    • I LOOVVEE THIS! Why have I not seen it before?

      “What’s the matter, Mary Kay? Gotta put your cosmetics on?”

      This is the funniest shit ever. I feel like I’ve missed out on so much.

  18. So let me see if I understand:

    Your parents wanted to steer you away from a life of violence, so they enrolled you in accordion lessons?

    If my parents had enrolled me in accordion lessons, I would have been punching people all the time. Just randomly in the street.

  19. Are we still on for my class reunion?

    • I thought you stood me up?

      I was waiting at the community hall but you never showed. I ended up going home with the guy voted “Most likely to get laid by some random chick after his class reunion.”

      It was fate, I guess.

  20. OMFG I think I might have peed myself a little bit. I mean, the whole molestation and dying of cancer thing isn’t funny, but the rest totally is.

    I have an uncle that seems to have this SAME THING going on in the belly area and ALSO encourages us to punch it. He can make it rock solid. I always figured it was a lifetime of heaving beer drinking and being obnoxious in general. He’s ALSO a little creepy. He’s still in the family though so I better be careful what I say.

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