Sunday, April 25, 2010

Harold Huge And Other Reminiscences

Eons ago I worked in a bookstore. I believe it was not long after the Gutenberg press was invented. We had piles and piles of books and remainders, you know the books that didn’t sell as well and were put on sale for drastically reduced prices. Amongst the regular characters who used to peruse these mountains of books was an enormous man who would waddle in, huffing and puffing, red faced and sweating with exertion. He would find a stool and kick it over to whichever pile or shelf he was interested in browsing. He would then plop himself down on this unfortunate stool, all but obliterating every trace of it with his folds of blubber.

Now don’t get me wrong since I am no Adonis myself but this guy was incredibly fat. I would guess he was about 5’ 7” and weighed 500LBS, 25 of which were muscle and bone. Jesus he was a slobby fat porker. And as if assaulting your eyes wasn’t enough, he had another outstanding feature that assaulted your nose – he smelled like Death’s rectum. He reeked to high hell and would cause mass evacuations of whichever aisle he decided to stuff himself into.

All my coworkers refused to get near him so when he struggled up to the register with his pile of books, I always had to ring him up. I had a few conversations with him and he seemed like a decent enough fellow. One day he bought a book about circus freaks that I had recently purchased myself. We discussed it briefly as I recall and then he stomped his way out of the store. That was the last I saw of him save the time a few months later when I glanced in my rear view mirror will driving and noticed a car behind me listing badly towards the driver’s side. The driver was none other than the huge man himself. And that was it. Never saw him in person again.

Fast forward many, many years to about 7 or 8 years ago. Flipping channels on a Saturday, I can across a show which I believe was on the history Channel. It was a documentary about the last of the carnival sideshows and it featured a very familiar fat man. At one point he tells the story of how he came to be in the circus sideshow and it involved going into a certain bookstore, buying a book on circus freaks and coming to the realization he was fatter than most of the fat men in it. The legend of Harold Huge had been born right in front of me.

Bruce Snowden was his real name and he also came to have a bit part in the odd film “Big Fish” by odd director Tim Burton. Claiming to weigh over 700LBS he actually “only” tipped the scales at about 600. Of course nowadays that’s nothing since you regularly hear about people weighing in at almost half a ton.

I was telling some coworkers about Harold Huge the other day and decided to look him up on the web to see if he was still in a sideshow. I discovered he had died last November in a nursing home at age 64. He was survived by a cousin and brother who didn't even know he had passed away until a couple months later. A sad ending for a large man.


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