Jerk and Clean: Commentary from the Arnold Classic
There’s one form of body modification that crosses the purlieu of my comprehension — a masochistic brand of transmogrifying fashion.
Are you talking about tattoos, Mike?
No. Tattoos are wonderful, sexy, as long as you’re not a non-pacific islander inking your face, or a father-fixated porn star coloring-in your butthole…(pic excluded, you’re welcome)
Piercings, Mike? Again, done right; beautiful.
Botox, Face Injections? I don’t agree with it, but I understand.
I’m talking about Bodybuilding.
I said it, and I understand that any bodybuilder with the reading level around my 7th grade writing level prolly just ‘Hulk Smash-ed’ their Dell computer, pretending ’twere mah face.
Weights are really heavy; you pick them up, do something with them, and put back down. You eat some steroids for breakfast, lunch, get ripped, then, when your 60, your baggy skin whips around like an epidermal sail. As a former account manager for a particular brand of specialty Testosterone medication…that damage done from downing steroids and the cousin supplements gets REALLY ugly in the twilight years.
Last Friday, I drove into the parking lot at work, and had to park all the waaaay out in the Ball Sack, Iowa section.
Hoards of massive, neck-less beasts emerging from their vehicles, strutted along in shiny Affliction t-shirts to the Convention Center down the street….in 15 degree weather.
Dudes, it’s fucking freezing…
Then I remembered; it’s Arnold Classic week.
The Arnold Classic is a sports competition held annually in Columbus since 1986. Arnold —as in ‘Get to da Choppaaaahh’ Arnold— won Mr. World that year (in Columbus), and has stayed loyal to the town since.
The competition brings world-class athletes of all ages to C-bus, along with a lot of money to a city quickly emerging as the gem of the midwest.
There are a shit-ton of events held during the week — gymnastics, arm wrestling for orphans, the david lee roth high-kicking championship, plum smuggling race, but the weightlifting is the crème dela crème:
I strode through the parking lot, stretching my lean runner’s build to an Ichabod Crane height above the meatheads, shivering in my trench coat.
One of the bipedal gents had on a pink t-shirt, and wore a ponytail; his triceps the size of my Honda civic. Aside from the fact he could rip my shoulder out of the socket and play wiffle ball with my arm, I was impressed such manly man would wear pink…holy shit it’s a woman.
Giraffe gait led me in-stride with the new lady friend; a fake-tan-baked, sharp jawed, granite projectile who looked as though she could play strong safety for the Cleveland Browns (and should).
Mouth agape, my eyes wandered to the rest of her muscle tribe, where curiosity met ambivalent glances from a group of average height, tanned, veiny refrigerators with eyes.
Flight response kicked it, and I cut-timed it to work, stunned by the physical specimens.
Feeling insignificant, flexing my abs at my desk with every breath, I received a text reminder about the Arnold After-Party from my good friend Nate:
Nate: “After Party Tonight!”
Me: “I don’t think I’m strong enough to attend this party.”
Nate: “That’s the point – it’s prime people-watching, like a weird muscle circus”
Me: “I just prolapsed my rectum picking up this green tea.”
Nate was right though; Later that evening at the after-party, spilling my drink pin-balling against the wide-walls of weightlifters’ deltoids (in the super VIP area thanks to Mark the Connector) “they” all looked exactly the same. Sure, different skin tones (various shades of orange), hair color/styles, but same poses and egos with girls who could snap my tibia with their labia muscles.
How do you strike up a conversation? “Does that banana hammock second as an eye patch?”
After the third vodka drink, the epiphanic moment started to ooze in with a song:
“Biiiiiiiiirds of a feather, are flocking outside,” the chorus to Phish’s ‘Birds of a Feather’.
As much truth as there is to the ‘Birds of a feather, flock together’ adage, it fails to mention the natural, but constant competition within the flock. The Muscles at The Arnold traveled near and far for said competition, with each other; with themselves, to feel at home. As I stood in the middle of it all—the proverbial feather in Ichabod Crane’s cap — I felt, as a wise-man once said, “out of my element” in the cult of muscle competition.
And I just wanted to scream “1, 2, 3. NOT IT!” – Mike