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Long, Slow Road to Hugeness, The
|You’re not surprised that Tim turned out to be my first boyfriend, right? Cool. Just wanted to make sure we were on the same page!
It didn’t last, of course.
Once graduation came around, we parted ways. It was his idea, not mine.
“But nothing, OK? You’re going to grad school, I’m going to San Francisco to do what I’ve always dreamed of doing,” he said, firmly.
“I could go…”
“No, you can’t,” he interrupted. “We’ve talked about this. San Francisco doesn’t have the right program for you.”
I chewed my lip.
“It isn’t really about the right program, is it?”
He sighed, looked away.
“No, really it isn’t. I love you and I’ll always love you but the fact is you’re just too big for me. I kinda thought you’d get over it and maybe even trim down a little. But you just keep getting bigger and bigger. It’s intimidating.”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake, give it up. MOST people find 20 inch arms and a 52 inch chest and a 500 lb. bench press intimidating, OK?”
I took him in my arms one last time.
“You’re fucking CHEST is wider than my shoulders, you know? So, YES, intimidating.”
He shrugged out of my grasp.
“But we’ll always be friends.”
+ + +
Grad school was good. It was a geeky field but I liked it and my classmates seemed to think I wasn’t any weirder than they were, just a whole lot bigger. (Well, not even bigger, a lot of the time. They don’t call ‘em “Big Michigan Women” for nothing, ya know.)
Two years later I was finishing up when my advisor, Dr. Venable, called me into his office. At 65 he’d been teaching there for 30 years and folks figured he was going to retire in the next year or two. A great instructor but from the generation that came of age before the Surgeon General’s report. He’d never kicked his 2 pack a day habit and at 5’9” tall he never weighed more than 150 lbs. sopping wet.
“So what’s up, Doc?”
“You’re the only one I let get away with that, y’know” he said by way of reply.
I laughed and leaned back in the chair.
“Hey, now,” he said, “be careful. You’ll tip that thing over.”
I straightened up, crossed my arms, and gave him my best “well, what?” look.
“It’s like this,” he said. “There’s something I’ve been needing to tell you and I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. You’re a great student, your work is topnotch, you’re going to be a great catch, which is why you have your pick of offers already…”
I started to feel a bit nervous. Where the hell was this headed?
“Well, nothing really,” Dr. Venable continued. “Except that you are one helluva big guy. I mean, let’s face it, you look like you’re on the football team. Your classmates are, lby contrast, either pencil-necked geeks or competition for the Pillsbury doughboy. Maybe 10% of them are in decent shape, the rest, well, Lord love ‘em. But you…”
“So what’s the deal, Doc?”
He rubbed his hand across his mouth, sat there in silence for a good long minute.
“It’s like this, son. You are a commanding physical presence in a field where folks tend to blend into the background. We’re unobtrusive. Our clients and our subjects expect that of us, if they ever think about it. You’re going to make them nervous. You’re physically intimidating” – there was that word again! – “and they’re not used to being intimidated… by us, that is.”
“Well, what should I do? Are you telling me I need to change fields?”
“Oh, heaven’s know,” he laughed, “that would really be a waste. You’ve just go to think of ways to minimize your physical presence, that’s all. We’ve talked about this before, you know, the way really tall people will lean forward or curve their shoulders or stand back a bit. It’s the same for you, you just need to find a way to do it.”
I squared my shoulders, threw out my chest, tensed my arms.
“NOT like this, in other words?”
He blinked, then took off his glasses.
“Exactly. NOT like that.”
+ + +
So off I went, once again, this time an entry-level position with a medium size, well-respected firm in Denver. It required 2-3 days of travel a month, usually with another entry-level colleague, sometimes with a more senior one, but I was cool with that. I liked travelling around the country, that was part of the appeal of the job.
Doc Venable’s concerns notwithstanding, I seemed to blend in OK. It probably helped that I always wore dress shirts and well-cut suits that tended to cover things up nicely. Not that it was even to find a suit to fit a 6 ft., 240 lb. man with a 57 inch chest, 22 inch biceps, and 31 inch quads. But it * was * possible – just took some work, that’s all! It was very clear that I was a very big, very well-built guy, but if people were nervous or intimidated, they weren't letting on.
About three months into the job I wound up pulling a trip with Jeff, a handsome fella about my age. As Doc Venable said, maybe one in ten of us in our field are in really decent shape and Jeff was one of ‘em. He was an inch or so taller than I, very well-groomed in a preppy sort of way, and nicely put together. The basic broad-shouldered, narrow waisted swimmer’s physique but he filled out his pant legs nicely. “I bet he’s seriously into tennis,” I’d think t to myself as he’d walk by my cube.
Turns out it was soccer, not tennis, but pretty much the same, either way. And, yeah, he definitely had my gaydar going. He had the “blend in” thing going good, too, so nothing overt or specific, but I had a tingle even so.
“You’re just wishfully thinking,” I’d tell myself.
After dinner with the clients we headed back to the room at La Quinta. We’d had just enough time to throw down our bags and make sure it really WAS a non-smoking room before meeting Mr. Ross and Mr. Green, who told us way more about the Texas Panhandle than either of us ever really wanted to know.
Back in the room, I said:
“I’m ready for a shower. How about you?”
He turned bright red.
“That didn’t come out quite right, sorry! I meant – do you want the bathroom anytime soon? I’m going to take a shower and I’ll probably be half an hour.”
He blinked rapidly.
“Sure, that’s fine.”
Half an hour later, I stepped into the room, wearing a towel around my waist, nothing more, heading for the credenza where I’d left my glasses.
“Holy shit!” Jeff exclaimed.
I froze. He was staring at me, his mouth hanging open, arm outstretched, finger pointing right at me.
“Oh my god, I’m so sorry! I didn’t think to ask whether you had any modesty issues.”
He started laughing.
“Uh, no, no modesty issues, sorry,” he said between wheezes.
I looked at him. “Well, what then?”
He pulled himself together, sat on the bed, crossed his legs.
“Well, Mr. Man, it’s like this. You’re the most gorgeous hunk of manflesh I’ve ever seen in my fucking life, not to mention the biggest and best built. Yer a fucking Moose!”
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