Today is World Redhead Day. And as a longtime redhead, I am in full support of this important national holiday.
It is difficult growing up as a redhead. For me it was doubly hard because I was also chubby.
I was a round child with curly copper hair, freckles, buck teeth, big feet, and puffy knees, who mostly daydreamed about meatloaf.
To make matters worse, in fourth-grade P.E. class, our uniforms included a white T-shirt with our last names on the backs.
Across my shoulders, in permanent marker, was written: “DIETRICH.” Which, if you’ll notice, clearly looks like the two words: “DIET” and “RICH.”
You can imagine the jokes.
“Hey, DIET RICH! Did you eat a RICH DIET today, pucker face?”
At the beginning of each gym period we were supposed to jog around the parking lot for twelve minutes straight. I don’t know why twelve instead of, say, three, but I believe our gym teacher was a sociopath.
I ran with the same grace as John
Belushi. The P.E. teacher, Mister Danny, would sound his whistle whenever he didn’t feel I wasn’t showing enough “hustle.”
Mister Danny was obsessed with hustle. It was all he talked about. And I’m sure it was his favorite dance to perform at various wedding receptions.
But it didn’t matter if I were running harder than Forty-Mule-Team Borax, still he’d yell, “Dietrich! Show some more hustle!”
The skinny kids would howl when I lagged behind the rest of the joggers. They would run past me, fuzz my hair, and say, “Rub a ginger for good luck!”
Or: “Hey DIET RICH, Your mama should pay the ice cream man to keep on driving!”
It hurt. In fact, it still hurts. But I tolerated it because I knew that as soon as school let out, my mother would make meatloaf for supper.
And I love meatloaf.…