I dunno about Facebook, good buddies. I’ve lived in a small cabin in the woods for so long, entering the so-called social media feels like stepping into the big city with tall buildings, flashing neon lights, voiceless people in crowds and honking cars bumper to bumper. Then there are the alleys and garbage trucks and sirens. I got lost the very first day.
I thought and looked and looked and thought, and just before I pulled my hair out (no snickering), I stumbled across a gritty gym on the corner of 1st and Main. What a relief!
Down a flight of dimly lit whitewashed stairs was a broad, column-studded room about 50 by 50. There was sufficient light to find the iron but not enough to sting the peepers. A classy young doll (mid-50s) slinked behind the front counter. She gave me the eye. Her name was Laree.
“Where ya from, big guy? You wanna hit the weights?”
I scanned the layout, heavy on the bars and benches and light on the lifters and talkers. That was all I needed to know.
“How much to settle my nerves?” I asked.
“10 bucks for the day,” she said. “You break it, you own it.”
She was sharp and neat as a stiletto. I liked stilettos. I liked snub-nosed 38s.
“They call me La, like the note, do, re, mi,” her muscles flexed as she poured me a powerful protein drink of Bomber Blend, one egg and a banana. I drank it greedily and felt the pump coming on. “Locker room’s in the back. What did you say your name was, again?”
I dropped a C-note on the counter and grabbed a black City T-shirt from the stack of XLs on a shelf. “Keep the change.”
The locker room was clean, two-stall shower with soap, no peep holes, no graffiti; a lock for valuables (there were none) and a trash can for garbage, half full. A pay phone hung in the corner by a bin of dirty towels. I had dirt but nobody to call.
Nothing to prove and only my soul to satisfy, I exited the room marked “Men” and walked directly to the interesting end of the dumbbell rack. I grabbed a pair, settled on the incline bench and knocked out a dozen reps.
The last rep wasn’t easy, it never is, but I did it anyway. Tough, clean and mean, it’s the last rep that counts most. The others are just along for the ride.
A kid in a tank top with chunky arms is polishing the mirrors with newspaper and Windex. He’ll be huge and ripped one day. He’s paying his dues. Windex on, Windex off.
I like to move as long as I can move and fill in the time between sets of one blast with sets of another. The pulleys squeaked and wobbled as I tugged, a perfect deep-breathing stretch to accommodate and relieve the pitiless dumbbell compressions.
Three guys the size of grizzlies hover around a gnawed bench press. Plates cling to the weary bar and clang harshly in rebellion. Chalk dust, sleeveless sweatshirts, “Stay tight,” hips bumping stacked wheels to assure tightness, tense laughter, “You can do this, man”—a warrior sits, stiff, silent and staring. Deep breaths, hands, bar, grasp and grip; on three and lift.
Lightning and thunder.
Returning to the incline, I stop and lean on a waist-high immovable object and commence to push as if hoping to jump-start a stalled truck—lean and push, thighs and calves contract; go, go, go, on the toes; hard reps, slow reps, faster, harder for a minute—followed by 10 freehand squats and jumps. A little aerobic and a little leg action, and I’m on the way.
The girl at the counter, Fa, La or whatever, has one of those pint-sized, handheld computers that, unless she gives the thing a rest, is about to explode. How much can one person read, type, think, say, communicate?
Which reminds me: Facebook.
Quickly, I avert my mind and, while seeking a bent bar for a curls-’n’-triceps extensions superset, the Gun-loader, I ponder how long the ponderous pandas will last under the wrath of the bench press. You see, I love animals and I hate to see them caught in a nasty trap. We’re suckers for the bait—bigger, stronger, faster, huge and ripped.
Think I’ll wander over to the den of horrors and offer the boneheads some advice: Heavy benches wreck shoulders. Yeah. That’ll go over big.
Look sharp, Bomb. Doll face is heading this way—and she’s bringing that slick, trick tablet thingy with her. I’ll put on my don’t-bother-me-I’m-lifting mug. She’ll spin on her heels and head south fast.
“Dave, you promised to chat on Facebook.”
How’s she know my label? I don’t promise, and I don’t chat! Facebook?
“Yes, dear. Whatever you say, dear.”
God’s power… D.D. Irondog
Editor’s note: For more from Dave Draper, visit www.DaveDraper.com and sign up for his free newsletter. You can also check out his amazing Top Squat training tool, classic photos, workout Q&A and forum.