She thought she was the first one since ancient Rome. Her mother wished she could do it, too. Her doctor called it "a great weight control technique." Read what it was like to consider yourself the first and only one since ancient Rome –and still live a fascinating life.

The Skinny: Adventures of
America's First Bulimic by Rayni Joan $16.95

Be among the first to read this shocking and outrageous new novel! It's now available on amazon.com, in print, and as an e-book for the Kindle!  Click here to learn more now! 

EXTRAS

More Rowie

For all  you Skinny fans, here’s a chapter that didn’t make it into the book, but it stands alone.

BIRTH ORDER


    By the time I reached sixth grade, I wondered why there were dozens and dozens of photos of my big sister Karen at every age filling albums and bags and boxes and exactly one baby picture of me, sleeping in a carriage. I suspected it might not even be me. It was hard to tell.
    "Karen was such a beautiful baby," Mom would say. Did that mean I was hideous?     
    There were several photos of me at age two, obviously from the same roll. I wasn't smiling in any of them. I wore a frilly little dress and clutched either a miniature rag doll, a tricycle seat, a dandelion, a beach ball, and always in one hand, a cookie. When photos were out for viewing, Mom would laugh and say, "There's Rowie with her cookie. Always with a cookie in her hand." Ha. Ha Ha.
    Victoria, at five, already had her face in far more photos than I did at more than twice her age. Not quite as many as Karen, but way more than I had. Was I really in this family or just a visitor?
"The camera had broken for a while," Mom said by way of explanation.
    Karen added slyly, "Rowie's face broke the camera." I jumped her and we fought. I was almost as tall as she was even though she was more than three years older. She had claws and I bit my nails so I got scratched up, but my wicked pinches on her arms compensated. She'd start wheezing and Mom would scream that I was killing her, so I'd let go.
    According to birth order proponents, it's common for the middle child to be the forgotten one.  The oldest is the driven achiever, the middle one the easy-going, creative, and sometimes rebellious one, and the youngest the most charming and loving. In the Wine family, Karen's only interest in school was social. I became high achiever and detested the role. The elementary school we went to, Liberty Street School,  lacked even an elementary challenge for me. I got the highest academic marks possible with no effort. They say middle children don't put themselves out to achieve. In my upside down world and dumb school, not achieving would have required effort. As soon as I got my first report card, the label brain attached itself to me. I hated it.     What was the point of family kudos with all the ooing and ahing and bragging to neighbors over what I considered mindless?
While comic book characters like Dennis the Menace and even Archie hid their report cards from their parents because of failing grades, I hid my report cards because I couldn't stand idiotic praise. The day the report card was due back, I'd shove the back page in front of my mom, hand her a pen and say, "Sign here, please" hoping she'd mindlessly sign. But she'd immediately perk up, open the thing, and cluck.
    "Honor, honor, honor, honor, honor, with satisfactory in Physical Education which doesn't count. Congratulations, darling. Have you shown your father?"
    I shrugged.
    "Show your father, dear. You know how proud he is of you."
Yeah, I thought, that's why he hits me every day.
    "What is the big deal, Ma? School is stupid. I get these moronic honor marks automatically without even trying. Don't congratulate me, okay? Congratulations are supposed to go to real achievements, not no-brainers. Do I deserve congratulations for breathing?"
    "Oh, Rowie, you're very smart. That's nothing to be ashamed of."
    "It's not that I'm ashamed of being smart although I admit I'm not sure I'm smart. I just think most of the kids in my class are dumb so I seem smart compared to them. What would make me really happy would be to learn to hit a softball and not be left standing like a jerk when teams are picked. If I could stop being a klutz and get a good mark in PE, then I'd deserve congratulations."     "Rowie, Rowie, Rowie," she'd say. "Any dope can hit a ball."
"Mom, would you please get me a bat and mitt and softball? That's what would make me the happiest girl in the world." I stood with my eyes big and eager.
    "Rowie, Jewish girls don't play softball. Today it's softball, tomorrow it'll be god knows what kind of mishagass."
    "Ma, what does being Jewish have to do with it?"
She lit a cigarette.
    "Please just trust me," she said. "I will not have a daughter of mine growing up to be a…a…a gym teacher. Forget it."
    "Ma, I don't want to be a gym teacher. I'd just like it if I weren't always the team booby prize. It's humiliating standing there while every other kid gets picked."
    "You say that now, but what if you actually like playing ball?"
I exploded. "You mean what if I actually enjoyed something? I hate school. I think it's the stupidest waste of time ever invented. Maybe I would enjoy playing ball if I could practice and learn to play. And you know what? One way or another I'm gonna get myself a bat and ball and glove. And you know what else? Maybe I will be a gym teacher when I grow up and you can't stop me!"
The color drained out of her face. I ran out to the back porch to scheme determinedly.
    Three weeks later, bat, ball and mitt in hand, thanks to a visit from my uncle Jack, fresh from a lucky day at the track, with Victoria at my side, bribed with the promise of a fudgicle, we set out for the field behind South Junior High a couple of blocks from our house. Victoria's pitching didn't come close to my bat, so I self-pitched and swung over and over until I connected. Victoria retrieved. My swing got stronger and stronger. I hit the ball with all the power I could muster, and slammed it across the field. It felt great being coordinated. I thought about Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, Duke Snider. This was fun stuff! Victoria and I got filthy and sweaty and I felt a surge of pride at my accomplishment that far exceeded reading on a college senior level. We went out a few days a week until I felt I had some control and could make steady contact with the ball.
    At school I only got to show my stuff once. As usual I was the last one chosen by default by the team captain Raymond Lafarge who was the best athlete in the class and most popular even though he still could barely read. My turn at bat came in the last inning with two outs, bases loaded, and my team losing by one run. Everyone groaned thinking with the klutz at bat it was hopeless. Raymond turned his back and threw his cap on the ground disgustedly. I stood next to home plate and took a couple of practice swings. The infield and outfield defense saw me and indulged in daydreaming. I smashed the ball hard and took off around the bases. Our base-runners ran home. My first hit and I'd scored three RBI's and a run to win the game for my team. The kids squealed excitedly and patted me on the back. "Nice going, Weena, " Raymond said. It was the last game of elementary school and the thrill of my life.
    On my very last report card at Liberty Street, I got an honor in Phys Ed for the first time. I beamed proudly.
    "Look, Bud," Mom said. "Mrs. Benson gave Weena a gift of honor in PE so her last report card would be totally perfect. We should frame this."
    "That's no gift, Ma," I said. "I earned it."
    "Yeah right, Weena. Listen, it's no sin to be a klutz. Brains like you are usually klutzy. It's a Jewish thing. How many Hank Greenbergs are there?"
    Dad nodded agreement, barely paying attention, engrossed in a mystery book, but he managed to add, "Don't forget Phil Weintraub. Played with the Giants back in the 30's."
    My heart sank. I wanted desperately to sass them both for not paying attention to me. But I was so hurt all I could do was hold back tears and wonder how I could have been so foolish to actually believe I'd deserved that great grade in PE. Once a klutz, always a klutz. I'd have to face reality. My hit was a fluke. Maybe my parents had bribed Mrs. Benson to give me that grade."
    "Are we going to play ball today, Weena?" asked Victoria later.
    "Nah," I said. "You can have the bat and ball and even the mitt. You'll grow into it. You're graceful so I'm sure you'll be a good athlete too. Not a klutz like me."
    "You're pretty good at hitting now, Ween. You run me across the whole field a lot. You're not a klutz."
    "Thanks, Victoria. You're a good kid to say that even if it isn't true."
    "But it is true!" My skinny little sister, always affectionate, gave me a big hug. She wrinkled up her face in concern. "It is true, Ween. You're not a klutz."
    "Right," I thought, as I reached into the cookie jar. "And the Pope's not Catholic."