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Long, Slow Road to Hugeness, The
|I was a bright kid and like a lot of bright kids I was easily distracted. Not ADD distracted, mind you, but easily bored and always going off on tangents. Consistency was not my strong suit. Eventually, though, I learned that consistency pays off. Sometimes when you’re on the road you don’t think you’re making any progress at all and then one day you turn around and see how far you’ve come.
In my case – as has been the case with so many others – it started with a Weider weight set and a 16-year-old’s enthusiasm to get HUGE. At 6 ft and a lean 160 lbs., I was nicely proportioned and toned, even had some decent abs, thanks to a lifetime (it seemed) spent in the pool.
But I wanted to be BIG. I wanted to be BUILT. I wanted to be INTIMIDATING.
Of course a lot of that had to do being gay and not dealing with it. I wasn't ready to consider the fact that always beating off while looking at or thinking about big, beefy men meant something other than just “I wanna look like that.”
So I started and from the get go I said to myself, “I’m going to be consistent. No matter what else, no matter how much or how little, I’m going to do this every day.” And every day I did.
Like everyone else, I wanted to get big FAST. I ate and I ate and I ate. My mother despaired of keeping food in the house. It didn’t do one damned bit of good. Everything got a little bit harder, everything got a little bit bigger, but it didn’t matter how much I ate (or didn’t eat), I always seemed to make the same amount of progress.
By 17 I was up to 170 lbs. and was beginning to show signs that I might someday have something other than a swimmer’s build. The shoulders seemed to get most of it and I thought that was an encouraging sign. I’d gotten stronger, too. I could only bench 140 when I started and I was benching 200 by the time I completed my junior year. But compared to classmates who’d put on 20 or 30 lbs. or more (and there were about four-five who’d done so) my progress was disappointing.
The summer between my junior and senior years I had my first job life guarding at the community pool. Unlike my peers, who spent all their summer spending money on music or partying or car insurance, I spent all of mine on weight gain formulas, power bars, vitamins, whatever I could get my hands on.
Much as I’d hoped otherwise (and I spent plenty of time trying to fool myself into thinking otherwise), none of it made any difference. As the months went by I continued to make pretty much the same small gains. I graduated from high school that spring weighing a sturdy, solid, well-proportioned 180 lbs. and my bench was up to a respectable 260 lbs. Decent enough, yes, but compared to Scott and Brent and Eric it seemed pretty sad.
We were all within a month or two of each other in age, all within an inch or two of each other in height, and all within 10-20 lbs. of each other when we’d started lifting. Scott was the only one who’d gotten any taller (he’d caught up to my 6 ft.) but they’d all put on at least 50 lbs. of muscle. Brent and Eric, both 6’1, had been the biggest, weighing 170 and 180 lbs. Now they were 220 and 230 lbs. respectively. Scott, who’d been my size, 160 lbs., had zoomed to 240 lbs. Compared to me, well, “He’s a fucking God!” was a constant interior refrain for me!
I didn’t see any of them again for another 10 years. I went to college out west, Scott chose a school up north, Brent and Eric, as expected, went to State. And my parents moved to a different city, 500 miles away. It had been my hometown but except for my immediate family, there was no one there to bring me back.
College was great – swell gym, excellent eye candy, new friends, much to learn. I hadn’t been in the gym long before I made a “connection” and finally tried the stuff. I’d been lusting after it from the beginning but I knew I’d be dead if my parents ever found out. Here I was away at school, hundreds of miles from home, and just enough spending money to make an “investment.”
Remember eating everything in sight? Remember all those supplements? Roids were just as effective, namely, not at all. PLUS I came down with the worst case of acne in my life. For two weeks I could barely sit down, I had so many pimples on my ass. When my “connection” wanted to know if I wanted some more, I just rolled my eyes. “Sorry, man,” I said, “I’m on a budget.”
And so it went: Freshman year, Sophomore year, Junior year, Senior year. “It’s all about consistency,” I told myself, over and over again. I told my friends, too. “I’m going to the gym, no matter what.”
From one semester to the next no one said much but about the middle of my sophomore year it finally occurred to me that I no longer had a swimmer’s build. “Hey, Moose,” a friend would say, “help me set up these speakers, OK?” Or “Hey, Moose,” another would call, “you gonna work security for me at the concert?” And where the hell did “Moose” come from, anyway?
It was the end of sophomore year and Tim and I were at the gym on a Saturday morning, the only two people who ever showed up consistently on Saturday morning. I was benching 380 and Tim was spotting, “spotting” being the operative word since his max bench was about 280.
I sat up, panting.
“Tim, why the hell do people call me ‘Moose’?”
He blushed, then snorted.
“Well, hell, man, why do you think? You’re built like a brick shit house and you’re strong as an ox. You’re 200 lbs., right, and you’re benching nearly twice your weight – for reps?! Crikey!”
I looked at myself in the mirror. Broad shoulders, thick, well-defined pecs, meaty arms, powerful legs – and abs just as defined and hard as they’d been when I was 16.
He cleared his throat.
“Let’s measure, OK?”
I gave him a glance. He was blushing again.
“Sure, why not? After all these years it’s about time, huh?”
He called the numbers out:
“Chest, 48 inches.”
“Biceps, 18 inches”
“Waist, 31 inches”
“Quads, 27 inches”
“Shit, dude! These calves are 19 inches!”
“Neck, 17 ¾ inches”
He looked down at the tape measure, then cocked his head up to look at my face.
“Do you get it now…Moose?”
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