Daily Archives: August 13, 2012
Well, the Olympics are finally over. Good riddance! The Games always bring back painful memories. I don’t usually like talking about this, but I guess I can share it with you since it’s just me and you… I was supposed to go to the Olympics. Yes, that’s right. You’ve been in the presence of an Olympian all this time.
The year was 1994 and 11 year old me had a huge crush on this girl in my class. She didn’t know any better at the time, so she didn’t like me either. I asked her to level with me and tell me why. I remember what she said verbatim, “Blah, blah, blah nerd. Blah, blah, poor. Blah, blah, dress like a bamma. Blah, Blah, short. Blah, blah, fat.” You know me. I channeled the spirit of Jay-Z before he even came out: On to the next one, on to the next one.
I asked the next two top girls in the class “for a chance” and I got similar responses. Finally it was my best friend, my home girl, my ace who put me on the level. “You are kinda annoying and nerdy and you do dress like a bamma but you can’t help that because you’re poor and then you are fat but that’s just because you’re short but I’m sure it’s a girl out there somewhere who is shorter than you.” The mind hears what it wants to hear. These girls don’t like me because I’m fat. Cue the Rocky music.
Like, seriously. Cue the Rocky music. It came on TV that weekend. I don’t know how I managed to never see any of the Rocky movies until ’94, but that famous montage inspired me. Sixth grade was almost over and I’d be moving on to middle school, but I swore that things would be different in seventh grade.
I got up one morning and ate a raw egg. After that came back up I went for a “run” and I use that term very loosely. Blockbuster was about a mile and a half from my house, so I decided to run there to take some movies back. Ten minutes and two mild heart attacks later, I was about four blocks from my house. I started to think that maybe Sylvester Stallone lied to me.
Pushups and situps were a little better. I could do five of those at a time, which I thought was great until I read an article in Sports Illustrated for Kids that told me I sucked. I also started to notice that pushups did absolutely nothing to build muscle. Someone told me that I needed to lift weights, but where the hell was I gonna find some of those? (Light bulb!) I took all my old encyclopedias and stuffed as many as I could into an old backpack. I put it on the scale and it topped out at 20 lbs.
I took my shirt off to let the bird (chest) out its cage and started lifting “weights” in the mirror. I wanted to watch as the muscles exploded out of my chest. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking. If I couldn’t do five pushups, imagine what happened after two reps. My arms locked up, I got a cramp in my side and my chest started to spasm. As I lie on the floor writhing in pain, I imagined all the girls I was doing this for. Women (or parts thereof) are a hell of a motivation. I got right back up.
By the end of the summer I was skinny. I’m sure puberty helped with that, but the ability to do about 50 pushups and situps in a row, run a six minute mile and lift my ghetto-fabulous backpack weight was all me. What does any of this have to do with the Olympics? Two years later in ’96, I watched Michael Johnson run the 200 and 400 and decided that if I could go from the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man that I was in elementary school to the iron man competitor that I’d become, then I could do that too.
All I needed was motivation. And then Rocky came on TV again…