I moved around a lot during my school years, attending six different schools during that time. Seven, if you count my 6-week stint in summer school. Moving around this much meant, I met a lot of different people during those years, and sadly, most I don’t remember. I do remember times spent in activities with large groups of my peers, but I would be hard-pressed to name anyone specifically that was with me at the time. It was fifty-years ago! Too many people, too many times, I guess. There are some though, that through no fault of their own, have become embedded in my memory and therefore unforgettable. No matter how old I get.
In grades 5 and 6, I had a classmate named Gordon. I didn’t know Gordon very well, he bused to the school from another town close by. He was okay, but we didn’t hang out during recess. He hung with the bus kids and I hung with the town kids. What makes Gordon memorable to me, was his very unique, and somewhat disturbing appearance. Gordon had a huge head. Far too large for the body that was carrying it. I would see him and think “how does this guy not fall over??” His head looked massive sitting on that tiny body!! I was ten years-old!! It freaked me out!!!
I never said anything about it, even though I was just a kid with a developing moral compass, and it was the 70’s and the ‘pick on others’ brand of Don Rickles’ humour was popular. I didn’t make fun of Gordon because that was not who I was. Gordon was an okay guy, and a normal kid apart from the gigantic melon perched on his neck. I don’t remember anyone else making fun of Gordon’s appearance either. My assumption can only be, that everyone around me either didn’t notice, didn’t care, or were too afraid of him to say anything out loud. You can cancel the last one off the list. Gordon wasn’t an imposing 11-year-old, the worst he could do was head-butt you. No one was afraid of Gordon. But I don’t remember any of my friend’s making fun of Gordon, even when he wasn’t around.
Maybe I was the only person that saw Gordon’s head as being an issue. As far as I was concerned, that head was on the wrong body, but since no one else was willing to say anything about it, I sure wasn’t going to be the first! I just let sleeping dogs lie, and two years later I was off to another school, and Gordon and his head, became just another memory. One that as you see, never went away.
I don’t know what to call this thing that I have about people with big heads. It’s not a ‘phobia’, because I have no fear of big-headed people. I don’t cross the street when I see them coming. It’s not that I have any abnormal degree of ‘sympathy’ or ‘empathy’ either for people with disproportionate body parts. They don’t have medical cause for their head being larger than normal. I would call what I have, a ‘condition’. My ‘condition’ causes me to notice people with big heads, because they still freak me out!! Even at sixty-one, I get startled by big-headed people!! No wonder my wife has a field day making fun of my ‘condition’!!
I always assumed that Gordon grew into his head. He was just a kid, and puberty would help even things out, or at least I assumed that was what happened. But there are a lot of big-headed adults out there. I notice them all the time. Maybe, Gordon became a big-headed adult! Maybe his head stayed disproportionate to his body, and he still wanders the streets startling others that share my ‘condition’. Maybe, Gordon stayed the same and requires a special pillow that supports XXL craniums when he sleeps. Maybe, I need to join a support group for people with my ‘condition’.