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    A Little Bit Biff, A Little Bit Larry

            Biff is a buff, athletic, gym rat. He’s there every day for at least two hours. From across the room, he spots a guy he doesn’t know, but sees there all the time. He doesn’t say anything to the guy, ever, but the monologue in his head about him goes like this:

            Repulsive. Absolutely re-fuckin-pulsive. Fat droops everywhere, draping over you like an enormous, saggy, flesh cape. The very ground seems to grunt trying to support your mass. People practically scurry out of your way, probably afraid that they’ll be unable to avoid your girth and brush up against you. That can’t be pleasant. Even the air avoids you, appearing to rush away as you move, as though it were escaping from a balloon. Your movement looks unnatural, your very bones moving in ways unintended by God. I refuse to call that a body, and obese is too kind a word. Inhuman is more accurate.
            No self-control. No discipline. No life. You spend your nights gorging yourself on pizza and ice cream while watching Star Trek reruns. Then you call whatever few pathetic friends you have and argue with them over who’s better, Kirk or Piccard. Why bother coming to the gym? Save your money fatso. Spend it on ring dings. At least you’ll enjoy them. You can’t possibly like being here. And you have no idea what you’re doing. I watch you go through your half-assed excuse of a routine, barely breaking a sweat, not using proper technique or form. I hope you live close by. Any more than a twenty minute round trip commute would officially qualify your experience here as a colossal waste of time.
            And I can’t understand your expression. A peaceful smile plastered on your face, from the moment you get here to the moment you leave. Even while you’re working out, if you could call what you do here that. I don’t get it. Where’s the struggle? Where’s the pain and sacrifice? You talk too much while you’re here, saying hello, striking up conversations with the person next to you on the treadmill. You mock this sacred ground, where people come to work and change their bodies.

            Larry is a large, heavy, reluctant exerciser. He doesn’t like being in the gym, but he comes anyway, because he knows it’s good for him. From across the room, he sees a man he doesn’t know. He never talks to this man, ever, but the monologue in his head about him goes like this:

           Stop staring at me with contempt. I feel your eyes boring through me, struggling to get through all this fat and reach the other side of judgment. You probably hate me. You don’t even know me. But I know you. A thousand times. God smiled on you, blessed you with genetics and motivation, and physical fortune. Be grateful.
            My outsides appear hideous to you, but how I look is not who I am. I know that. But you don’t. So while the world is at your feet, you kneel before a false god.
            I did not choose this body. It chose me. My will power. My desire. My pain. None of it has been enough to free me from this biological prison. My prayers remain unanswered. But I still pray. For the act of prayer soothes my soul. I learned how to leave this body a long time ago. I learned to go away to a safe place where the words and the stares and the stones would not hurt so much. I still leave, but now I leave for a different reason. When I meditate. When I pray. I travel to a safe place within myself not to hide but to heal. And now I choose to go, instead of just suddenly finding myself someplace else without even realizing I’ve left.
            You move so stiffly my friend, as though your own body resists itself. Every movement seems strained and calculated. Every action reeks of pretense. Posing as a maverick, as a man who is beautiful and free, I see through the façade. I know your prison: unbridled vanity.
            I recognize your pain. I grasp your story. Because your story is my story, just turned on its head. An upside down quarter is still a quarter. I know that, but you don’t. Ego clouds your vision, and truth remains a hidden treasure.
            I will pray for you. I will pray that you see yourself, and free yourself. Then maybe you will see me.

           We're all a little bit Biff. We're all a little bit Larry.


    ©2009 Clint Piatelli. All Rights (and a Biff & Larry amount of Wrongs) Reserved.

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