Word Count: 40,000 words
Genre: MG Contemporary
Systems of Oppression: Politics of appearance, Racism
Author's Identity: Overweight, White
When Jordan’s best friend begs him to join the swim team, the overweight eighth-grader keeps his feet firmly on dry ground. Jordan does love to swim – in the privacy of his farm pond where only the perch can see his moobs. Besides, he’s got more important things to do, like raising the Benjamins to take a master class from a world-famous baritone while keeping his operatic aspirations hidden from his unsupportive classmates and grandpa. With time running out to register for the class and not enough dough, Jordan finally accepts a lake swim-off against a racist rival who’s been bullying Jordan (because of his bulge) and his best friend (who’s Native American.) But there’s no time for Jordan to get buff enough to squeeze into a Speedo – which is good, because that extra “insulation” may just save more lives than his.
I scanned the locker room to make sure we were alone, then peeled off my tank. “Look at me, man. I have moobs! There’s no way I’m wearing that thing.”
Zane glanced at my chest, winced, and looked away. He’d never get me into that super-sized Speedo, not when you couldn’t pay me to go shirtless in a regular pair of swim trunks. At least not in public. But that didn’t stop him from trying.
“C’mon, Jordan, swim team doesn’t start for another three months. You’ve got time.”
“I’d have to bench press a semi to get rid of these.” I grabbed my gut. “And what about this flab? How am I gonna get rid of that in twelve weeks? Starve?” I hurled the Speedo at his head. “I may be the biggest kid in Pawnee, but I’m not about to advertise it. And I’m not putting my butt in that bikini.”
“It’s a Speedo.”
“It’s a slingshot.” I turned my tank inside out and pulled it on. “Sorry, man. The Marlins will have to survive without me for another year. Some of us are born to be pond fish.”
Zane sighed and shook his head. Here came the same old guilt trip. “Dude, you’re the best swimmer in the state, and I’m the only person who knows it. Every meet the Piranha swim circles around us and the other teams, all because they have Bryant Larson. And you could blow him outta the water, easy.”
“Especially if I did a cannonball."