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Big wasn’t Cuban  By  W. Bruce Watson
 
     —Sigsszz ... S’vennnnn ... Eightuhhhh
    The barbell settled back onto the supports as the lifter lowered his arched spine back onto the bench and exploded in exhalation.

     —Why the fuck didn’t you take the goddamn weight, Corvid? Couldn’t you see that I was dying down here?

     —Ahh, I knew you could do it, he said stepping back from the bench, his back visibly stiffening. He was not used to being criticized. He knew he should’ve helped, but wasn’t quite sure in his own mind why he hadn’t.

     —Siento en mi corazon, he crooned along with the CD, for he was a crooner by inclination. His name was Corvid, but among themselves the guys at the gym called him “Big Fidel,” because he wore a goatee and claimed he was Cuban. Geoffrey Corvid was not from Cuba but was merely of Cuban extraction, a grandmother or something having fled along with her family to Miami when Castro took over.

     —Cut the corazon crap, Corvid! I asked you to spot me, and you said you would.

     —Yeah, but you did it. Right?

     And Geoff wasn’t big either. But he looked big, or almost big. He was the trainer during one shift at a gym dedicated to keeping the members of the city’s SWAT team buff. Geoff was buff too. Geoff had pumped iron during his own workouts, and during the idle moments of being the trainer, or when demonstrating a technique or a new piece of equipment to his SWAT charges. Geoff had pumped his insignifican 120 pound body into a 180 pound, bulging mass of perfect buffdom. Every inch of his body was covered with rippling muscle, with definition within definition.

     —Yeah, shit. You don’t tell somebody you’ll spot ‘em and then not do it. I better have not fucking hurt myself.

Geoff stared back blankly. This was not a totally idle threat and was after all a trainer’s first and only nightmare.

     —Una desilusion y deseo llorar, he mouthed almost inaudibly.

     Geoff wasn’t big. And he wasn’t totally buff—his neck was scrawny, and reminiscent of the puny 120 pound body it used to be connected to. Vultural. Behind his back, the muscled men of the SWAT team referred to him simply as ‘Big’. Big Fidel, after his own workouts, liked to sit around the gym without his shirt on. And when he wasn’t actually pumping iron or talking shop with the guys, he would be singing along with the CD player which always played his Latin CDs during his shifts. He knew all of the words to all of the songs by heart, and had a good ear for melody. He appeared to be blessed w/ perfect pitch with his natural range being a high tenor or alto even. He had a raspy kind of voice, sort of like a Hispanic Louis Armstrong castrato. Not only wasn’t he Cuban, he neither spoke nor understood Spanish.

     —Siento dolor Siento perder tu amor, the CD droned, but now unaccompanied and uninterrupted, both men having fallen silent.

     Big wasn’t Cuban. Big wasn’t big. Big didn’t belong. For all of his efforts at trying to be one of the guys, trying to be a guy’s guy, a guy’s trainer, he just didn’t belong. He gestured w/ his hands when he talked, but these gestures seemed contrived and too earnest and put the guys off, the inevitable result of trying too hard. His shaved and rather spherical looking head bobbed around giving the appearance of being too big for his scrawny neck, and together both appeared alien and out of place on his bulging body. His thin, raspy, falsetto voice pretty much guaranteed he’d be forever excluded.

     —I’m sorry. My mind must’ve been somewhere else. Geoffrey Corvid never stopped trying. Never content to just sit behind his desk and idle away the slack moments, he was always out there with the guys, making small talk, trying to act like he cared what they thought or said or believed. But they knew, and when they did bother to talk to him, he never looked them in the eyes. Rather, he stared intently, almost in consternation, at their mouths, at their moving lips, with his own mumbling lips silently echoing their words a split second after each was uttered, as if he were singing to himself. He was. Their song.

     And later, when the last of his charges had left the gym and he was alone, he would weep silently, his cheeks glistening with the few tears shed. And later still, back in his apartment as he fixed his protein smoothie, Yvonne, his girl friend, would invariably take him to task.

     —I thought you swore off of this shit, she ranted pointing to the large bottle of nandrolone, and the smaller one of Dostinex sitting on the counter next to the whirring blender along with the usual collection of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty and amino acids, thermogenics, etc.

     —This crap is going to kill you. Is that what you want? To die?

     —As long as I’m big, I won’t mind dying, he responded trying to take the sting out of her remarks by being flippant.

     —Pretty soon you won’t have any balls at all, she came back at him. Doesn’t that worry you in the slightest? Doesn’t that tell you something? She was growing vicious.

     —And itchy tits is only the beginning, she went on, forsaking viciousness in favor of downright brutality. Pretty soon we’ll be buying tampons for two.”

     —I can still fuck, he mumbled with a shrug.

     —You think! She shrieked. And for how much longer?

     She had tried reasoning with him repeatedly over his use of steroids, at first arguing that their use was impacting his health, but lately, seeing as how that had no effect, she zeroed in on what they might be doing to his sexuality, and each time it would seem that she had finally succeeded for he’d agree to give them up, but that was just to get her to shut up. He had no intention of giving them up, and in fact would spend endless hours each evening on the Internet researching them, trying to find the ultimate blend at the best price. Packages would arrive at his apartment at regular intervals. Given that fitness trainers weren’t exactly rolling in money, their expense was not insignificant. Each spring, he would write it all off on his income tax as a necessary professional expense, a fact that Yvonne was not privy to.

     At his last physical, his internist had warned him that his red blood cell count was dangerously high, and that were he an older man, he’d definitely be at risk of a heart attack, or worse, a stroke. It was then that he began to give blood at several blood banks and at every opportunity, but of course Yvonne knew none of this either. In this way, he managed to lower his red blood cell count to near high normal. His visits to the Red Cross blood donation centers soon settled into his routine.

     —Just one more thing, he comforted himself, that I have to do in order to be big. One sunny day Big Fidel stopped breathing, the apparent victim of a massive heart attack. After someone finally noticed he was dead, it took four men to pry his fingers loose and lift the barbell off of his huge chest.

     — ¿Le gusta este jardín? ¿Que es suyo? ¡Nos desalojar a quienes destruyen!

    Someone turned off the CD player.
 
 
The truth is, after much furrowing of brow, I can't think of anything to say by way of preface to my blog. Along the way I wondered what it's purpose might be and maybe I should say a few words about that and would, except that I don't know what its purpose is, or could be, or should be. I only know that my clock is winding down and I'm so desperate to have my mind known that I could just spit! Maybe my blog could be about that. But how depressing and pretentious that could be! But hold on a second, maybe not—my therapist commented the other day how in late adulthood (AKA elder years), one is forced to deal with the sense of loss, all the time, it's always there, and it's painful, it takes great faith to live on even though one knows it's going to end and that whatever they accomplish, if anything, is not going to matter all that much. How does one find meaning or a sense of fulfillment in life knowing that it’s coming to an end? Psychologists have not written much about this if anything. It's sort of an unexamined part of adult life. It takes a lot of self-discipline to function in spite of this sense of loss—it's so easy to give up on the constant struggle, on life. A lot of people do—drinking, TV, drugs, electrosex, So, if you'll bear with me, let us examine this unexamined part of adult life.
 
 
 
 
 
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