So I haven’t written anything like this for a while but I was inspired by lifting weights. If you have time to read it I would suggest reading it while imagining Jordan playing bass in the background.
I’m not a professional weight lifter or even very athletic but at different points in my life I have entered the weight room in order to bulk up. The motivation to lift weights comes from a variety of places. There is of course the obvious reasons involving vanity. The lifting and curling while watching yourself in a mirror. The flexing in the mirror as you examine the results before your shower. The talking about lifting weights while in the presence of others (my personal favorite). All of these things boost my vanity and support the desire to lift but vanity can only drive me so far. Real weight lifting takes more motivation then just a drive to satisfy personal vanity.
I’d say one of my primary reasons for lifting is that it feels good to lift weights. My body feels more powerful and when my wife asks me to lift something around the house I can do it. Plus the actual working of the muscles, the physical exhaustion. There is something to be said for manual labor and how it can lift up the soul. I like feeling sore and knowing that I earned the soreness with hard work.
My recent return to the weight room after a nearly 5 year absence was brought on by having to move twice within a month. Each move utterly decimated me. By the end of moving all the boxes and our other meager possessions my body felt weak and limp. We don’t even have that much stuff but at 5’6 and 130 pounds it doesn’t take much. I’ve always been small which is fine and something I have no problem with but has its disadvantages. For example I have much lower chance of ever becoming a CEO of a fortune 500 company. When I was involved in the dating scene it took much greater efforts for me to gain the attentions of young ladies than a guy 6 inches taller. And of course there is the physical weakness that comes with having such a small stature. So lifting weights feels good physically and allows me to do more with my 130 pounds than some guys do with a lot more. It feels good to know that I’m doing the best with what I’ve got.
The second major drive to lift weights comes from the actual occupants of the weight room. The people that you see collected in the weight room you would never see anywhere else. Just seeing the kind of people in the weight room and imagining what their lives might be like is enough to entertain anyone for hours. I still remember going to the weight room during my undergrad and seeing a guy that Dan Jennejohn and I referred to as Towel Guy. He always had a little hand towel around his neck and had the kind of personality where he would say, “I hear there’s an Asian dance going on tonight. I don’t know about you bra but I think I’m coming down with a little bit of yellow fever.” Towel Guy could say that statement without a trace of irony. This guy was in the weight room almost every time I went in and his personality never ceased to amaze me. I wanted to know what made a guy like that tick and often contemplated it.
There were of course girls in the weight room. Usually the kind of girls that were interested in the kind of guys that towel guy was. The girls would come to stretch out and lift mild amounts of weight and hope that towel guy or some guy like him would talk to them. These girls were of course interesting in that they were attractive but one girl I always saw was in the weight room for an entirely different purpose. She was getting ripped. She could lift more weight than me in every possible situation. I tried to stay on the opposite side of the room from her so that my self esteem would not be affected by the comparison. She was about 5’7 and built like an ox. I’m not sure if she threw shot put but she certainly should have. Later on I got to know her a little bit outside the weight room. Nice girl. She didn’t try to use her physical power to intimidate but it still did intimidate.
I, of course, group myself with the people in the weight room. They probably looked at me and thought that I have that short guy syndrome. That I’m in the weight room so that I can show the bullies from high school that they were messing with the wrong guy. Maybe they’re right, maybe I do fit in with the characters. I did wear a Thor t-shirt the last time I went lifting. The awesomeness of doing curls while staring at a muscle bound Thor illustration on my shirt was enough to make me up the weight of my dumbbells by 5 pounds.
As I’ve gone back into the weight room after an absence of about 5 years the people are still awesome. I regularly see a guy that looks just like the incredible hulk from the 1970s TV show. Same haircut as the hulk and everything. Just a much smaller version of Lou Ferrigno. Then there’s the rad guy with long hair, skinny neck, skinny legs and a torso way out of proportion with the rest of his body. It literally looks like you took a guy from Weezer and replaced his torso with a professional body builder. All I can say is awesome. How could I not want to be a place where that guy is. I’m not sure what kind of life these guys have but I’m sure it would be interesting to see these guys in their everyday lives. Lou Ferrigno Jr. accepting exact change at his job at Starbucks. Torso guy trying in vain to find a shirt that fits while shopping at the Gap. I really want to know what drives these guys but I really, really don’t want to talk to them. That ruins the whole enjoyment of the weight room. Every once in a while one of these guys will ask if I’m done using some machine and I’ll have to actually interact with them. I usually tell him what I have left to do and try to avoid eye contact pretending to be engrossed in thought or concentration.
So here I am almost 30 and the weight room is still drawing me in. Vanity is still a drive but even less so now. My physical weakness has been going away over the last couple months. I think that during my next move I’ll have a much easier time moving everything that needs to go. But what keeps bringing me back is the people. A special bonus for the weight room I attend now is that just to the right of the weights is a basketball court. The other day while resting from curls, I took a break from looking at myself in the mirror and looked over to the court. There on the court was a guy by himself with headphones on covering his entire ears, a fancy tank top (not just a wife beater but one that looked like it cost him probably thirty dollars), a sweat band and shiny black shorts. The guy was running around having the time of his life. Hitting shots but mostly missing them and his lips moving along with the lyrics of whatever songs he was listening to. His movements hinted at dancing. He was completely oblivious to the fact that I was watching him. He was just happy to be there and so was I.
By now all of you have gotten a call from me and it is official – I am getting married. We probably wont get invitations out for another week, so until then, consider this your official invitation. Marci Jensen and I will be getting married on December 19th in the Washington DC Temple at 11:00 am. You are all invited to the sealing and the reception, of course.
Also, Marci and I are having live music at the reception and we are inviting all our friends and family to perform at the reception if they would like. So if you decide to come to the reception, you are welcome to help provide music for the evening. It doesn’t have to be anything big. I’m probably just going to do a couple short numbers with some guys I play with out here. And if we have the band together in one room again, we really should play something. But if anyone among you wants to put something together of your own, you will have a chance to perform to a captive audience of well-wishers. Dave, I believe spoken word counts as a musical performance. And Spence and Jordan, Dan Greenhalgh said he would look into coming out so maybe we could have a Vajra reunion too.
I’m sitting in the Peppermill Hotel, Resort, and Casino in Reno, Nevada right now. The industry I work for is run by a mix of suits, nerdy professor types, and grizzled prospectors. When it comes to our annual trade show and expo the part that is still stuck in the nineteenth century ensures that we keep coming back to Reno every year.
I wish I could say what Reno is like but I haven’t really been outside for almost 3 days. No big deal though, the out-of-doors doesn’t really matter when you are living a building with mirrors and bright neon lights EVERYWHERE.
One of the highlights of my trip here was one of these prospector type old guys walking the trade show floor. He was wearing this basball hat that didn’t really fit and that had written on the front in big letters “YOU AINT GONNA BELIEVE THIS!”. I will probably wonder my entire life what “this”, which I would not believe, is.