I have man boobs.
There I said it. Phew. What a load off my chest--or...erm, on it. If you perchance are one of the chosen few to catch a glimpse of my naked upper torso it would appear as though I'm stuck in the body of a normally developing twelve-year old girl. If you were a blind man, your hand would recoil in jailbait horror. I'm scared that any day now my Mom will sit me down and give me the big girl talk. It's just another thing to get hung about. If it's not man boobs it's something else. Worry, worry, worry. So many things to do. There's the money, the womenfolk, the status, the laundry, the car, the friend's wedding, the health, oh the health, don't smoke so much, don't drink too much, for God's sake don't drink that. The whole scam of life can drive a sane man to unleash a hellbroth of destruction unto the whole damn thing. Blow this popsicle stand! What's a guy got to do to have it easy? To have it made in the shade? I want to lay back and enjoy the ride, open a can of beer, thwack, drink my gloriously golden pint with my pinkie up, two Persian sex slaves with lobotomized eyes in tow, alternately fanning me with Macaw feathers, then sucking on my boobs with infantile abandon. Ah! If only my boobs produced milk,--I could make a quick score and cruise on Easy Street. You'd see me on Sunday afternoons in my black BMW convertible winding through back country roads, my golden retriever's tongue flapping in the wind like a worm with a fork in it. Sometimes, Christ, it's like I don't have enough sense to pour piss out of a boot.
These cursed man lumps are all the more strange looking on thin frame like mine. Usually you see big ol' droopy, hairy man boobs with flapjack nipples on the chests of heavier men--tits in proportion to their overall largeness. Through some genetic quirk, a simple twist of fate, I've got them. You can suck in a gut but try sucking in your tits--it's not easy.
I play tennis, jog, watch my food portions, and do some light bench-pressing once a week, but no matter what I do I can't get rid of this cursed boobage. Billy Blanks help me! When I'm alone and topless, lifting steel in my bedroom, after a ripping a good set, I'll invariably look at my reflection in the full length mirror and flex my pectorals without moving any other muscle. First the left, uhhh, than the right, uhhh, then both at the same time in rapid succession, uhhh, uhhh, uhhh, etc. Sadly, vision far superior to 20/20 is needed to detect any movement.
There was a time when I did go to an actual gym with other human beings--a YMCA in dowtown Brampton. It has fake rubber rocks jutting out of the wall for climbing, squash courts, and a wonderful 2nd level gym complete with all manner of modern muscle sculpting machines, spin classes, and about a 200 metre track around the whole thing. Ahh, the track. That was my favourite part. I was a skinny lad and didn't look out of place jogging around, I belonged on the track. Plus, I could look out over downtown Brampton (lucky me!). Turned out I was in pretty good shape, not because I was twenty years old, but because I would run around and around for far too long in an effort to delay the weight lifting portion of my workout. All those intimidating, alien machines that I didn't know how to use silently mocking me, daring me to give it a go; they looked rather like diorama oil hammers. I laid in wait, until I passed by on lap 12 on the track and saw some gym rat with a firm, taut body grinding it out on one of them to figure out how they were actually used before I'd even put forth an attempt. Nothing is more embarassing than using one of these machines in the wrong way and some hard body housewife in spandex walks by looking at you like there's a dick growing out of your ear.
I remember one of the first times I went to this Y. It was like a first day in a new class--and nobody was showing me the ropes. A stranger in a new land. I could just leave, toweling my forehead, feigning a good workout. But I would only be fooling myself, and that's who I have to live with in the end.
I finally acquiesce to the call of the weights, of my forlorn dreams of bulging buffness, of walking into a room (most likely sideways) with arms uncomfortably hanging out from my side with nowhere for their impossible girth to go. Like two twin elephants in the room. With these images in my head, I saddled over to the the mock bench-press thing-y, where you sit upright at a ninety degree angle and push outward instead of upward like you would bench-pressing with free weights. It' not for serious lifters, it's for women and dentists and the like. Adjacent to me, there was a gaggle of thick, self-assured, black guys monopolizing the free weights anyways, and in my wildest dreams I wouldn't dare to venture into that dimension of the gym. The five or six of them were dressed alike, like they were on the same football team. There was no one else around--just a noodle armed honky and a group of veiny coloured fellas. I'm white, and over all it's great, don't get me wrong, it would be imprudent to pretend otherwise, like my life isn't ahead a notch or two by default because of the colour of my skin, but when you're pumping tethered iron in close proximity to big tattooed black guys, you don't quite trust the paint job.
I take the pin out of the 150lbs slot and put it into the 70lbs slot. I grip the handlebars, and for a moment it looks like I could be riding a Harley 74 down the PCH, like a righteous Hell's Angel. I start furiously pumping away and simultaneously sneaking glances of how much weight the big black guys are lifting. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice one of them playfully taps his buddies shoulder, motioning him to look at me. Then they both laugh, looking in my direction and I pretend not to notice, praying they're looking at someone else, but there's no one else in the general vicinity. Oh, shit, here we go. At first I'm angry that they just couldn't be more discreet about mocking me, it's not like I inherently care too much about what people think, just please keep it to yourself. But then one of 'em said something along the lines of, "Hey bro, you need a spot?" and they all erupted in laughter. I laughed, too, because the whole thing was kind of funny, even if I was the brunt. Whoever says you should ignore bullies should be ignored. I have to say or do something if I'm being engaged in conversation, no matter how insulting if only to diffuse the situation. A real man doesn't just turn his back. Similarly, I have to acknowledge homeless people when they ask, "...spare a quarter, sir?" I will certainly and without fail try to use another citizen as a human shield and hide behind them while walking by the homeless to avoid the exchange, however brief, but I cannot simply walk on as if a ghost is talking to me in another dimension. The homeless may not always get any change, but they'll always get a half-hearted, 'sorry brother', or a at the very least a sympathetic shake of the head, as if to say, "I see you and the other-worldly suffering you endure, cold and alone on the streets, and it's a shame, I really truly believe it, yet I choose to walk on because somebody else is going to help you, of that I'm sure."
Okay...let's get down to the real issue here: body dysmorphia. Don't we all suffer from this affliction to some degree? Whether it's bitch-tits, no tits, no hair, too much hair, one leg, acne scars, Chinese people, big guts, jiggly arms, gunjy pussies, crater-asses, hook noses, muffin tops, spare tires, lazy eyes, blotchy skin, bald spots, liver spots, big belly buttons--there's always something wrong that we're dying to fix; doubts about our attractiveness that niggle at us while we lie in bed at night. Not many of us come out genetically perfect. I'm sorry, it must be tough for you.
The t.v. flicks to life and a booming voice says what the screen reads...
Next on TLC...the premiere of Skinny People, Bitch-Tits.
Really--what has happened to that channel in the last ten years? They switched from programming firmly rooted in their namesake, with at least a modicum of educational value, to a modern day P.T. Barnum act. I've sat and watched Toddlers and Tiaras on visits to my parents, my mom and I sipping on red wine and laughing at what passes for entertainment in today's culture. Don't get me wrong, it's not like it's not entertaining, it is down right fascinating, in a car wreck rubber neck way, on so many levels: A--How N.A. culture sexualizes women at younger and younger ages; B--Red neck families are funny in and of themselves; C--The incredibly sad beauty competitions and the even sadder attendees; D--The castrated husbands at the mercy of their diva daughters. But these network t.v. reality shows seem to hit a collective nadir on a semi-annual basis. Personally, when watching Toddlers and Tiaras (BEEP-BEEP-BEEP[flashing red lights]--Incoming Pedo Disclaimer: I've only watched it with my Mom, and only twice in total, so get over yourself) I like to scan the meager audience for potential creepoids (I told you, it's entertaining on multiple levels), I look beyond the families introduced at the start of the show for that one creepy guy in sunglasses, alone, sitting in the back of the banquet hall, seemingly well composed, but on the inside of his head I bet there are seven different kinds of illegality going on during the crowning of the winner for the five year old bracket. I can't wait for the Muslim themed knockoff: Toddlers and Hijabs.
Can it be any funnier that the channel is still called The Learning Channel? It's like buying the New York Times and it turns out to be some porno mag called Laying Pipe. If it were up to me, I'd enlist that Super-Size Me guy, Morgan Spurlock, and get him to make a documentary wherein he subjects himself for an entire month, not to a Mcdonald's diet, but an immersion of a different sort, a televisual diet only consisting of TLC shows. 24/7. No commercials, either. Totally DVR'd. Line 'em up and knock 'em down Morgan. He must watch specials and regular programming alike. Season upon season of Little People, Big World and 28 Kids and Counting, all manner of hour long documentary type shows of morbidly obese human beings being carted out of their homes on forklifts. I've got a better idea: Instead of wasting the tax payers' hard earned money on the forklift and the forklift driver, the doctors, the entire fucking system, man, why not just make free soap for the homeless out of these gargantuans? Welfare soap. Problem solved.
Then at the end of the movie Morgan goes to the doctor to see how unhealthy he's become from this TLC mega-marathon. The doctor places the stethoscope on Morgans chest and has him take deep, measured breaths, then asks him to say ahhh as he peers down his throat, then looks at the dilation in his eyes with a pen light, then grabs his bean bag and makes him cough, and then, finally, places a reassuring, fatherly hand on Morgan's shoulder as he gives him the news...
"I'm sorry Morgan...but you've got CancerAids."