Monday, September 18, 2006

Judge Not Lest You Become the Object of Your Disdain

These are words I've often tried to live by. Or at least words I've found to ring frighteningly true whether I want them too or not.

Case in point: I've often been known to loudly mock the frivolity and vanity of gym bunnies and fake tanners.

Gym bunnies (aka Bro-Brahs) have always made me throw up a little bit. Not to mention I've always gotten the impression that I was being judged simply for the fact that I wasn't a regular attendee at the Church of Narcissus. Combine that with the fact that I spent my entire scholastic career getting picked last in team sports (I brought enthusiasm to the field, skills and natural athletic ability were someone else's job), I've definitely spent a lot of time feeling like one of the losers when it came time to disrobe for assorted social functions. I guess going to High School in California where they kill and eat the ugly kids gave me a pretty warped view of beauty.

Then I started working at the biggest gay bar in Houston, where there was a constant push to look incredible naked, because the only way to get better shifts or a promotion at that job was to catch the eyes of one of the bosses. So I started working out at the little on-site gym at my apartment complex. I'd only go at three in the morning when I got home from work, partly because I didn't want to share the space with anybody else but mostly because I was mortified that some hot beefy guy would be inwardly laughing at me for sweating and struggling with a 10 lb weight. I pretty much lived at the gym when I wasn't putting in ten to twelve hour shifts at work. Slowly but steadily I started getting in better shape, I even had a very helpful coworker give me some pointers on how to get more out of my time there. Still, I'd only go at night because I felt like a hypocrite for giving in to the completely shallow need to conform to some warped version of what male beauty was.

The sad truth of the matter is that I started getting serious about my health and well-being for exactly the wrong reasons.

I eventually left Houston and my crappy job there for greener pastures in Portland. I joined a gym, now confident enough in my weight-training abilities to not look like a complete tool when I went in to move metal around in the hopes of looking like that impossible ideal of physical perfection. It was the first time I'd ever belonged to a real honest-to-goodness gym, and it was everything I'd always feared it would be. The place was full of impossibly well-formed meatheads lifting what amounted to slightly less than my entire body weight while grunting and sweating. There have been many times where I've worried that the guy next to me was having a series of strokes due to the noises he was making during his workout. Mid-afternoon or late at night the place isn't so bad, but come the dreaded eight o'clock hour the building gets flooded with all the vacuous aberzombie queers that I always secretly hope will choke on their $50 pooka shell necklaces.

Yet still, for all of my disdain I still go to the gym several times a week.

Mid-winter, 24Hour Fitness has an evil habit of selling their tanning packages on a two-for-one deal. I've always thought of fake tanning as being about as lame as the monkey sidekick that those utterly useless Superfriends groupies the Wonder Twins would drag around with them. Being a sidekick's sidekick has to be about as low as you can go. And yet, my skin was starved for sunlight, even if it was decaf. You don't go from the searing light and heat of a Texas sun to the general overcast gloom of Portland without some serious withdrawals. So I started tanning, in a tanning bed. Naked as the day I was born, holding onto the support rails while I was lightly searing myself like a nice cut of mahi mahi. When people began to remark on how dark I was starting to look I'd jokingly play it off as my swarthy Mediterranean genetics sucking up all the fluorescent light in adamant defiance of ever getting pale from the northwest gloom. I was honestly too embarrassed to admit to anyone but my closest friends that I'd do something so pointless and shallow as get a fake tan. So I scaled back my tanning schedule in order to avoid any further suspicions that my healthy olive skin was the result of anything but entirely natural causes.

So here I am, after spending the majority of my adult life rolling my eyes at the buffed-out over-tanned people of the world I've finally become one (minus the buffed out and overly tanned part). I have to say though, there's nothing like the hormonal charge of a good workout or the feeling of pre-carcinogenic light bouncing off your bare tush first thing in the morning.


Blogger zortnac said...

I saved up over the summer for laser hair removal, so we can feel shameful in our shallowness together...through virtual connections.

2:05 AM, September 19, 2006  
Blogger rainstreak said...

I learned today that the church of elvis in portland is no more. My spirits were lifted, however, to chance upon this church of narcissus. Do they have belly dancers? Great to see you today. Don't change a hair.

11:27 PM, September 19, 2006  

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