Monday, January 26, 2009

What is your definition of hell?

My hell is a vast warehouse filled with piles and stacks and shelves of crap that nobody needs. The warehouse is populated to the point of being a fire hazard with masses of slow-moving people who are completely unaware that there is anyone else in the warehouse but them. They all look in one direction while pushing giant wheeled carts in another. They let their children run untethered instead of keeping them drugged and complacent the way polite people do. Occasionally they park their carts diagonally in the middle of an aisle so they can carefully ponder whether or not they need one or two 36-pound containers of table salt.

My hell is Costco. And I survived two hours of Costco Smackdown! on Saturday.

For all its post-apocalyptic charms, Costco does have delicious pre-marinated chicken breasts. And the domestic partner and I are nothing if not Public Enemy #1 to large-breasted chickens everywhere. Plus it sells industrial-size containers of low-fat cottage cheese, pre-cut broccoli florets, frozen blueberries and other tools of culinary deprivation in the name of gay-cruise-related vanity. On Saturday's smackdown, we also discovered human-head-size containers of roasted edamame that boast more than twice the protein and a third of the fat of peanuts, which have been my stave-off-hunger snack of choice for the last few months. Of course, roasted edamame has all the flavor and texture of salty dust with the added bonus of looking like sun-bleached dung beetle carcasses. Toss them in a salad!

While I’m giving you a vanity update, I want to explain why I’m walking like a stabbing victim today. I did legs on Sunday, see, and I made up a new superset that has proven to be as embarrassing as it is effective. I’m squatting 225 now (four 45-pound weights plus one 45-pound bar)—a milestone that’s actually something I’m pretty jacked to be able to announce. But four sets of 10 squats, while certainly giving my legs and butt a solid workout, just wasn’t giving me that elusive trembly, rock-hard, hot-to-the-touch muscle pump that all self-obsessed little gymbunnies live for. Thankfully, I was hit (quite literally) with an inspiration this weekend. After each set of 10 squats, I re-racked the bar and promptly did 10 jumpy squats with no weight. I hugged my arms to my chest (I had no idea where else to put them) and squatted as low as I could go and then jumped as high as I could go for 10 more reps. And it did the trick! It made my thighs burn like a peeing hooker, it kept my heart rate up and it turned everything below my navel into poorly set gelatin. Everybody wins, right?

Not so much. In all my jumpy enthusiasm, I forgot that the squat rack I was using has a pull-up bar across the top of it. And in the middle of my fourth set of leaping, I jumped my head right into the damn thing. And all the other guys in the gym who had to this point been politely not noticing the Incredible Jumping Homo in the corner had no choice but to look up and see why he was suddenly clanging like the belles of St. Mary’s. (The Gymbunny Code of Honor mandates that you at least look up when you hear a weight-related calamity because even if you think a fellow gym member is a complete social misfit, if he dies on your watch you might have to give a statement to the county coroner, in which case you’ll almost certainly lose your pump.)

Miraculously, the head-clang hurt my social standing way more than it hurt my head. In fact, the pain was completely gone by the time I limped home. Then again, walking four blocks in sub-zero temperatures can distract you from a lot of things. Except maybe Rob Blagojevich’s hair. But it was still all worth it. I got my precious pump. The burn stayed around for a couple hours. And now, the morning after—which is the true test of whether or not a workout caused loser pain or winner pain—I came this close to deciding it was easier to pee on myself in bed than to crawl to the bathroom to do it. And that’s the way winners wake up. Beefcake!

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