A few nights ago I experienced a first. While awaiting our turn “in the box” at the CrossFit gym, three guys who are varsity-caliber athletes were in a training evolution that mandated taking their shirts off and tossing heavy weights around as casually as I might flick away a sweaty towel. Of course, “Ryan” was a part of this group. It turns out that these boys are competing in CrossFit regional feats of manliness in St. Louis over the weekend (see here) and are shoveling in last minute workouts to fine tune their grunts and wheezes.
MEANWHILE, the working class mortals (the rest of us) were getting our warmups in before another session of torture, when, out of nowhere, I start hearing some cat-calls. And, no, it wasn’t callous dudes whistling at the women in the gym – rather, out of nowhere, a couple of the ladies were verbally swooning over these muscle-y he-men as they pounded out one lift after another. And, out of the corner of my eye, I caught the Wife, who was NOT there for a workout (but to pick up the boys), hanging around, just to, in her words, “check it all out”. Her version of “checking it all out” involves her jaw hanging slack with a little drool coming out of the corner while these taut bastards are hefting the iron.
From the far side of the group my buddy’s MOM Beth says “Hey, how can I concentrate with all this Man Candy happening?” This was answered by a bunch of agreement in the form of cackles and hoots by the ladies and none of which was noticed by the lifters; it went over like a turd in a punchbowl to the rest of us boys in the group.
“Sorry Beth, I’ll try to reign it in!” I shouted back at her, as though she were referring to my self-perceived manliness. This at least earned a chuckle from the rest of us emasculated-types. I feel a need to stick up for us, the muscle-challenged. The workout continued in earnest, with the guys focusing on strength and form and the ladies focusing on the bodies of the bad-asses working out behind us. Inspiration through envy I suppose.
After the class, I caught up with Beth as she was describing her feelings about either the workout or tax laws, I couldn’t really tell. Nonetheless, I apologized for distracting her with my distinct lack of muscles and excess body hair. I can’t help it if I toss manly pheromones out like so much candy at a parade. It’s not my fault. She just laughed at me, dismissively. She said to her conversational partner, “Oh yeah, this is Uli, you should read his stuff, it’s really funny.” Although thankful for the compliment, when I step into the gym, it’s all about making my body look less like melting wax and more like chiseled cheese.
It must be time to come to terms with reality.
So I looked her right in the eye, and I said, I says, “those boys may be Man-Candy, but I’m Intellectual Man-Candy, and you can’t find that in any old gym. Take a moment and drink it all in”. I then attempted to flex my giant hair as if to prove how big my brains are. It ended up looking more like I was suffering an aneurysm, which in turn led to more laughter.
I just can’t win.