Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The Fossil Speaks Again
I wasn't always the oldest guy in the room -- though it seems that I have been for a long time. Part of that is because I'm doing things that a lot of people dabbled with when they were young but left behind -- on their way back to the couch from the fridge ...
Now and again, being older than the room has its perks. Expectation confounded is one of my most fun games, and sometimes, it's not even intentional.
I have never been really strong, not like the yard monsters and serious iron guys who can bench a Volvo for reps and then go squat with a Mack trailer-tractor on their shoulders. But back in the day when I was spending quality time at the gym and working what was -- for me -- a fair amount of weight, I had a wonderful ego-warming experience that still brings a smile when I recall it.
I was doing bent-over dumbbell rows. For those of you who don't know this one, you stand next to a bench, bend at the hips and knees, put one hand on the bench and use that for additional support. You reach down with your free hand to a dumbbell on the floor, and using primarily the muscles of your back and shoulder, bring the weight up toward your torso and slightly to the outside. Works the lats, the rotator cuff, hands, arms., rear delt, some trap, like that.
Lower it, repeat, and depending on your routine, do a set of eight or ten reps, then switch positions to work the other side.
A pair of young men came into the gym. I'd have guessed them to be about eighteen or twenty, and while they looked fit, they also had the dress and demeanor of newbies to the weight room. I figured Coach must have sent 'em to bulk up some for whatever sport they played. College, maybe high school.
I went back to my exercise.
I finished one set, turned around to work the other side, and became aware that the two young men were looking at me and each other and having a discussion. There was a ... I dunno, skeptical tone to it.
I did a set on the sinister side, then a second set dexter, and one more on the left, and I was done.
The dumbbell I was using was as much as I could manage for two sets of eight reps. It was a hundred and twenty-five pounder. Like I said, not major weight, but what I could do.
I sat on a nearby bench to rest a couple seconds before I planned to re-rack the dumbbell.
Before I got to replace the weight, one of the young men came over, looking smug. He glanced at his buddy, bent over, grabbed the dumbbell, and tried to replicate the exercise.
The look on his face ...
First the smugness vanished -- Crap, this gray-haired old fart can do this? How hard could it be? -- to be replaced by the sudden realization that he couldn't get the weight more than a couple inches off the floor. Then came the strain of putting it down without looking completely stupid, and a combination of wonder and -- dare I say it? -- amazement as he hurried back to where his laughing buddy still stood ...
I treasure that memory. Mostly because I wasn't expecting it, nor looking for it.
Being the oldest guy in the room probably means you are going to be the first to leave it, but not always. And even if you are that guy, the little moments like this add a richness to the time you have ...