I Am Not Just My Body

Now, I’ve never been what you would call a physical person, even though I’ve always taken up a fair bit of real estate. When I was a kid I was a little butterball, heavy on the butter and rounder on the ball. It was a fact of life that I couldn’t be in a room and not be noticed, even though I was shy and didn’t make a peep. I was always the last one picked for sporting games in gym, and I ran out of breath relatively early in those games. So, I was substantial, but not in the way I wanted to be.

Then I hit high school and had my growth spurt, stretching from that roly poly youngin’ into a tall beanpole. Whereas before I was recognized for my girth, after I sprouted it was all about the “air up there” jokes. Most times I entered a room people stared for such different reasons. But still they stared, even though all I wanted was to blend with the woodwork or to be recognized for my positive attributes, not just because of my body.

This is where I stop and compare myself to a buxom female who has always been just her body to men the world over, even though she probably has a sharp mind and a feisty wit. Most people just assume things, I guess, and that’s how it’s been with me. It’s funny to see their eyeballs get huge when they realize I’m a published author who has no love for basketball, that I majored in English and adore the game of golf.

Oh, and the air up here is a little bit thinner than the air down there.

Seriously, though, I’m not physical, even though my bearing is physically imposing. I was looking in a full-length mirror at Macy’s the other day when we took a trip to Syracuse, and I tried to see what others see when they look at me for the first time: a very tall black man with closely cropped hair, a thin goatee, broad shoulders, and wearing relatively stylish glasses. I can see why they think I must play basketball what with all the stereotypes I do fit that way, at least physically. I can understand why they would assume I’m only into sports, or that I would be good with cars.

But I’d rather talk about the essence of love, or read Sense & Sensibility, or relax on the couch with my wife after a long day, discussing the meaning of life, or a book we both read. I’m way more internal than external that way, and I’ve always been that way. If given the choice between going out in the park or staying inside somewhere, anywhere, I’ll pick the inside location 9 times out of 10. I’ve never been in a fight, and I probably wouldn’t know what to do in one anyway. Cars are for mechanics to look at, and yes, I can dunk, but it doesn’t look pretty.

I am not just my body, even though that’s the first thing most people notice about me. It’s only natural, but dig a little deeper and you’ll see that none of us is. Dig a little deeper.



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Dr. K. L. Register

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Sara Furlong

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