The Suit (or Just Clothes) Make(s) the Man

Last weekend I took the long weekend off work. All I did was read blogs and followed tons of links from there. Depending on your take, I got lost in either hypertext heaven or hypertext hell.

However, I did peel myself away from the computer on Saturday night and did something I hadn’t done in a while: I went to the bar. I was wearing my “Homo Depot” t-shirt that invariably makes a few people laugh, and that’s always fun. There I bumped into Stompin’Guy, the guy who’s living upstairs from me for a while and is taking care of my real neighbour’s cats. SG is actually really nice and funny as hell; he just walks heavily and it’s most annoying when he compounds the problem by walking around with his shoes on. But since he’ll be gone after December 5, I didn’t mention anything.

SW was chatting with someone I know from the beach. For our purposes here, let’s just call him PR for “Prudish Romantic” because he’s a self-admitted romantic who doesn’t bare all when other people are around for fear meaningless things might come up (pun intended). Still, I had to get right up to him to recognize him. You see, there’s a bit of a running joke when that happens among us beach people: “What!? You didn’t recognize me with my clothes on?” To be honest, that’s often the case, although not because of what you think (i.e., not because we’re spending all our time stealing glances at …well …not the eyes). For instance, PR’s first comment to me was, “Geez, did you lose weight?” And I hesitated as I tried to remember the last time I saw him. If it was more than a year ago, then the answer was obviously Yes, because 30 pounds is very noticeable on my frame. This autumn, however, I seem to have settled about 4 or 5 pounds less than what my average was this summer, which I don’t think would be so noticeable as to prompt him to ask me that question. But before I had time to answer, he cut in and said, “Actually, I think it must be that you look thinner in jeans and t-shirt.”

And you know what?

I think he’s right! I still wear the same shirts and sweaters at 168 that I did when I was flirting with 200, and lately I’ve been feeling that there’s a lot of give in my medium shirts. So, while I’m satisfied overall, it seems what I’ve accomplished is to go down to a hard-to-dress half-size. For instance, a few weeks ago, I splurged on a pair of 501s. (They were 40% off! I couldn’t pass that up!) The 33 waist fit and I didn’t have to hold my breath or anything. But I figured I might have to if ever I gained as little as 5 pounds. So I bought the 34 waist even though I can pull them off without upbuttoning them if I don’t wear a belt. I suspect the same thing would happen if I were to buy a casual shirt: small—I can’t breathe …rip!; medium—majorly baggy. Then again, especially with jeans and casual wear, sizes are all over the place and medium is likely what’s going to fit best most of the time.

The helpful and healthy solution would be to look at Damian as a source of inspiration. I’ll never have the gumption and willpower to train to run up 55-storey buildings like he’s now doing. That I know for sure! But I need to overcome my inertia and believe that I can become toned.

Actually, Damian called me about two weeks ago, and once again it was delightful to chat with my favorite—and happily partnered, I hasted to add—Auzzie. In the course of our conversation, I confided that I can trace my aversion to sport and physical activity right back to childhood. Because I’ve always been the kind of guy who refuses to do anything unless I’m good at it, and assuming I did really badly the first time I was asked to do something “sporty,” I started at a very young age to find every excuse imaginable to get out of physical activity. Only as a young adult did I learn that I have no depth perception, which explains why I suck eggs at anything involving a ball. But way too young, I closed off all phys ed stuff; I passed the year of mandatory phys ed in high school with a respectable mark only because I totally aced the theoretical portion. Once I reached adulthood, I had well below-average physical strength—so below average that I’ve been too embarrassed to sign up at a gym. I couldn’t bear the thought of me breaking out in a sweat with 2-pound weights at each arm while next to me a brick shithouse with muscles in places I don’t even have busies himself lifting the equivalent of a refrigerator. But that’s when Damian asked me if I’d ever spoken to one of those brick shithouses, and revealed that often they don’t feel anywhere as confident as one might think.

Not that I’m finding another excuse, but right now I couldn’t afford a gym membership. However, if I could—or should I say, when I can—what I think would work for me would be to have a trainer who would understand perfectly (and not judge) from how low I’m beginning, all the while taking into account my history of back problems. Indeed, both my chiropractor and my sister (a physiotherapist) have determined that I have two vertebrae in my upper back that are virtually immobile. When I asked my sister why it’s my lower back that snaps if those vertebrae are in my upper back, she explained that my abs are weak yet I’m having to rely on them more for support when my vertebrae act up, hence the pain shooting across me from the lower back. So all this to say that if at least I toned up my abs—and I don’t expect to ever be able to wash my clothes off them—I could be doing my back a lot of good at the same time. As for a trainer, I think I’d prefer a woman, not because I think she’d be soft on me, but simply because I just can’t imagine a straight male trainer, especially to start. I know my bruised ego is playing a lot into this perception. That, and childhood/teen memories of my unsuccessful phys ed career surrounded by boys—the snickering and always being picked last on all teams.

Actually, all this talk about physical training reminds me of another topic, so why don’t I post this entry and start a new one…