My body aches. My thighs are in so much pain it takes me a few minutes just to get situated in a chair. Flights of stairs may as well be flights of fancy, it just ain’t happening. My arms are not moving above my chest. But what’s bruised more may be my ego…
One of the greatest movies ever made, in my never-so-humble opinion, is “Jaws.” It is a film I have seen countless times and is what I consider a “stopper” –when the surfing ends, the remote is put down, I have to watch. I have about a dozen movies that are stoppers.
I contend that the real story of “Jaws” takes place below deck when the three characters, three very different kinds of men, drink and relate to one another. Everything leading up to that moment is merely a device – the plausible reasoning to get these men to have this one moment. In that moment the three compare battle wounds, as if the scars left on their skin are trophies of manliness and the biggest one wins.
On my second day of shooting at the gym, I found myself in a similar discussion with Ray, the owner and trainer. Ray is a goddamn, muscle-bulging, rock solid mountain of a man. His shoulders look like furniture for a home-theatre set-up. Though not tall, my height, Ray is the equivalent of Mount Rushmore sculpted. Aside from repeatedly abusing my body from the workouts, my job is to interview Ray and his clients, to dig into the psyche and find out why people not only perform these intense, excruciating exercises, but pay Ray for it.
“Do you want to know why I do this?” Ray asked me as the cameras were setting up.
“I do,” I responded, “but save it for the camera. I want it to be off-the-cuff, unprepared.” However, looking at his arms, which are bigger than my thighs, I noticed an odd shaped scar and curiosity took over. The scar was just off the elbow, rounded and I thought immediately that it was from a gunshot.
“That?” he said. “That was when I was 11-years old and fell off a bike.”
Not as exciting as I had hoped. It triggered my “Jaws” moment. I pointed down to my leg, which was hidden from the baggy sweats I was wearing so as to conceal my lack of muscle. “I still have a scar that goes down my leg that I got when I was a kid.” Mano-a-mano! I was playing with the big boys now!
“What were you doing?” Ray asked.
I related my short tale of how my dog pulled me on a leash through a thorn bush. My dog was not very big, the thorn was.
“How did you get yours?”
“I was doing jumps on my bike and crashed.”
So while Ray was doing extreme sports at a young age, I let my little mutt and an oversized plant get the better of me. In our “below deck” moment, Ray was clearly the winner. I was Sheriff Brody, searching unsuccessfully for my world-weary scar.
As Ray walked away, rightfully unimpressed, I tried to exude more manliness by shouting out, “One summer, on my bike, I got hit by three different blue Camaros!” True story. But it sounded like an implausible, desperate plea for acceptance. It was that too…