The largest human being I’ve ever seen just took his pants off in front of me. I didn’t plan for this to happen. A few minutes ago I was on a treadmill watching him leg press 800 pounds. On the last rep he let out such a roar I thought his perineum exploded. Now he’s standing next to me in the locker room undressing. What makes it even weirder is that he’s my neighbor. I’ve often fantasized about watching my neighbors undress but none of them have been named Gerald.
“Hey how’s it going?” he asks me. This violates the unwritten code of male nudity. You don’t talk if you’re naked. For most men the larynx is connected to the underpants. Underpants on, go ahead and talk. Underpants off, no talking. All naked communication between men is by head nodding. Nod up means, “I acknowledge you as a friend but there will be no talking until we are fully clothed.” Nod down means, “I don’t know you personally but if you want to start a fight we both agree to get dressed first.”
What complicates the conversation is that at the same time I’m watching Gerald undress I’m also watching Larry King on the television in the corner. The television is there so no one has to make eye contact. Unfortunately, I don’t feel comfortable watching Larry King naked. It seems like I’m engaging in some kind of pornography that there isn’t even a name for. The only way this could be more uncomfortable is if I was fully clothed and Larry King was naked. For some reason, I would not feel this way if I was watching Tom Brokaw.
Tearing myself away from Larry’s suspenders I look at Gerald’s shorts on the floor. Nothing this big should ever be called a short. They’re enormous. It looks like a clipper ship came through here and dropped a sail. The pockets are so big they’d give a kangaroo pouch envy. This must be why they’re called cargo shorts. Anyone this big probably calculates his weight in gross tonnage.
“I’m doing good,” I answer. I want to say more but I don’t trust myself. I don’t want to insult him but I’ve got a lot of questions. I’d like to say, “Did you mean for your neck become wider than your shoulders?” or “When did tearing phone books in half become a goal of yours?” He did this for me once in the parking lot of our apartment house. He saw me get out of my car and said, “Hey watch this.” And then he tore a phone book in half. At first I thought he was mad at the alphabet. Now I think it was just his way of saying he likes me. I’m just glad he didn’t leave a dead bird on my pillow.
I like to think Gerald lifts weights just for the joy of lifting them. I also like to believe he’s not on some kind of nut shriveling muscle juice. No one else in the neighborhood believes this. They think that he’s either on steroids or he’s the last of a race that was killed 165 million years ago by a giant asteroid. I don’t know what steroids look like but I do know he’s got a gym bag full of supplements. He’s only in his 20s but he’s got the pill intake of an 80-year-old. Some of the bottles didn’t even have English labels. Apparently his nutrition plan includes powdered rhino, hippo lips and desiccated badger balls. Gerald would suck the bugs out of an elephant’s trunk if he thought it would give him an extra inch on his chest.
What fascinates me about Gerald is that he keeps trying get bigger. Unless you’re flying through the sky with a magic hammer there’s no reason to weigh 350 pounds. The World’s Strongest Man competition only happens once a year. What are you doing in the meantime, punching moose? I’m all for trying to improve yourself but when you’ve got the lats of a lowland gorilla maybe you should take a week off from the gym.
The thing that irritates me about Gerald is all the women he gets. I understand it might be a fantasy to be taken from behind by Ferdinand the Bull but do you really want to be seen with a guy whose idea of dressing up is putting on the one pair of pants he owns that has a zipper? Ladies, do you have any idea what you’re doing to the gene pool? You’re humping us back to the ice age. I know the poles are melting and the seas are warming but that doesn’t mean we’re going back to hunting mastodons. Pretty soon there won’t be enough cows left to feed the lumbering land mammal you’re dating and you’ll have to start talking to clever bald guys with degrees in communications.
Another thing I don’t like is that physically Gerald can do anything he wants to me. It’s like sleeping in a catapult. He could have a bad reaction to protein powder and throw me off the stairs without even thinking about it. I have no idea what all those pills are doing to his impulse control. How am I supposed to relax with the possibility of getting an adult wedgie?
On some level it comes down to what it means to be a man. Women see a big man and feel protected. Men see a big guy and think, “That’s the alpha male I have to beat up so I can get all those females with the red butt.” I just wish everyone wasn’t so big now. I walk through the mall and see 12-year-old Asian girls bigger than me. In India most Americans would be considered sacred animals. Years from now when archeologists dig up Gerald’s bones they’re going to think his ancestors ate krill and gave birth in the sea. They’ll probably name a new species after him, Homo Hipposapians.
I’m keeping my eye on Gerald for now. Until he lifts too much weight one day and gives himself an accidental vasectomy I see this as a fight for survival. I’m going to do whatever it takes to gain an evolutionary edge. If you don’t see me for a while it just means I’m at the gym developing my vertical leap and neck frill.
11 months ago