The Gas Crises
by, 07-25-2009 at 10:08 PM (2269 Views)
The Gas Crises
Back in the mid 1970’s as in this past year was a gas crises. I wasn’t a driver back then, so I was mostly unconscious of prices. But that’s not really what I wanted to write about.
I was a teenager in the 1970’s and like many teenage boys growing up in Brooklyn I tried weightlifting. It seemed like the thing to do as guys tried to be macho. My friends and I joined a little gym owned by someone older than us, say around his early twenties, a muscle bound guy who actually competed in body building shows, the kind where you flex your muscles and they judge your physique. His name was Robert Maf--- (not going to identify his fully last name) and while he wasn’t the tallest person as far as body builders go his bulk and muscles were impressive when he kept in shape. He had a tendency to put on fat, so when he wasn’t training, he was kind of bulky big but not particularly sculpted. I remember he trained for a competition and actually placed. When he was serious, he watched his weight, worked out hard and intense, shaved his body of all hair (yeah, we poked fun at that) put on a good tan, oiled his body up, and threw flexed poses at us.
This was the time Arnold Schwarzenegger was popular in the US and Lou Ferrigno, who went on to play the Hulk in the TV show with Bill Bixby and who was a native from my Brooklyn neighborhood, was the biggest named bodybuilder in the country. I guess in Brooklyn bodybuilding was in the air and I think, though I don’t know for a fact, that was the golden age of bodybuilding. Perhaps I was just conscious of it then and ultimately out grew it. Who knows? But we were into it. Maf--- (we called him by his last name - actually we called lots of guys in Brooklyn by their last names, half of my friends, I have no idea why) was a brutish sort of guy, a guy used to throwing his muscles around, and making you feel his strength. But he was ready to teach us too, showing us the proper form of the exercises, generating a workout plan for us, and giving us encouragement.
Really his gym was no bigger than a small store. He had a couple of benches, leg curl machine, weight racks, dumbbell sets, a couple of small specialty equipment, and an air conditioner in the window. You would never even know his place was a gym. The front was just a door and a window with the air conditioner. You could walk right by it and not know what it was. It was not on a commercial street, though that block did have a few stores. And I have to give Maf--- credit, he was an enterprising fellow. All the weights and equipment was his own that he had kept down his basement. He just rented this unused store, collected our monthly fee ($25 I think), worked out with other guys, and must have done pretty well. I think afterwards Maf--- went on to be a plumber, at least that’s a vague memory. But he also had a female cousin who I went to school who was absolutely gorgeous and was I believe the captain of the cheerleaders. My friends and I used to talk about her but not in front of him.
I was in pretty good shape back then, with all that working out. It’s hard for me to imagine I had a 28 inch (71 cm) waist back then and I could power bench press 150% of my weight. Even though I’m in pretty good shape today, I don’t think I could do 75% of my current weight. The first time I did bench presses in my life, I was warned on how sore my pecks would get, and whoa were they right. The next day I could barely move my upper body from the soreness.
Working out in that gym was not for pristine ears. Brooklyn guys can probably as a rule teach sailors how to curse, and while you’re in a masculine environment of weight lifting, and while you’re still a teen, and while you’re struggling with weights, grunting and gasping, metal clinking, the profanity just rips off the tongue. And working out was not for pristine noses either. No question we smelled. Especially Maf---. When he was working out hard, sweat would literally drip off him as if rain was coming down on him. And if he asked you to spot him (spotting is standing by as the guy lifts so when he reaches a point he can’t lift, you either help him along for a few more repetitions or you safely take the weight from him) you got a real whiff of his body odor. Spotting him on military presses (a shoulder exercise where sitting down you lift a barbell from your shoulders up above your head), pressing his elbows up in the spot, his underarm odor could knock you out.
And he wasn’t shy about farting. Actually he was proud of it. He had a theory about it. He claimed that weightlifting induced farting, that the extra protein one needed to build muscles built up as gas, that the steroids he shot up (yeah I know, illegal) sucked the protein from one’s hair (he was balding) and generated flatulence. He would pop up from a particular exercise, say a Scott curl chair (that’s what we called it, some call it Preacher curl chair), swagger over to the window, and with a sway of his hips let out a percussive toot. “Ah, protein,” he would say, smiling, and we would all cover our noses and curse him.
Which brings me to the gas crises. The last two and a half years I’ve been working out regularly again, not for bodybuilding or strength, but just general conditioning where weights are less than half of my workout exercises. Along with that my wife has really been cooking healthy, sending me off to work with yogurt and fruit in the morning, a second fruit for an afternoon snack, and having lots of vegetables alongside a lean protein dinner and a glass of red wine. Well, I’ve been feeling very gassy. When I come home from work and after the gym, I’ve been passing a lot of wind. Loud wind. Robert Maf—type of toots, long spear thrusts of jabs. It doesn’t seem to happen at work, but only when I come home. It’s beginning to get my wife angry. She can only tolerate so much of this, but after the third salvo of the night, she’s mumbling and cursing.
“Will you stop that,” she says.
“I can’t help it,” I say. “You’re feeding me too well.”
“Don’t give me that,” she insists. “Yes you can.”
“How?” and then I’d rip another long one.
“Oh,” she responds, “you’re becoming a vile old man.”
I guess you can take the boy out of Brooklyn, but you can’t take the Brooklyn out of the boy.