Gym of Dreams: Mike
|Armstrong pulls up and hops out his truck. I notice thereís a bunch of stuff in the back covered with a tarp. I smile and greet him normally with our punches and half hug. Armstrong then turns to Mike and goes to give him some gentle punches but Mike backs away. Armstrong says, "Yeah, you donít know yet. See what me and Sam do? You need to do that to. Thatís how we say Ďhií to each other wherever we meet." Mike nods and he greets Armstrong. Armstrong gives him a few taps around the chest then picks him up and puts him on his shoulder. Mike doesnít know whatís going on, but I grab his bag and mine and we hit the gym.
As usual, weíre greeted at the door by Joe. We roar again, "Every person in here better be giving it their all!" I then look up to Mike and say, "We do that every day too. Psyches people up for their workout." Armstrong leads into the weight area and I follow after waving to Joe. He stands in the middle of the floor and clears his throat loudly. Everyone stops what theyíre doing and looks at the giant. "This hereís Big Mike," he bellows as he points to Mike on his shoulder, "heís with us. Treat him like the big man he is." Mike turns a slight shade of red as our gym mates stand up and start calling him "Big Mike". I can tell what Mikeís thinking right now and I laugh inside, but weíve got to build his confidence up a bit too.
We change in the locker and return. Todayís leg day, so we warm up real quick. I do my warm up set while Armstrong explains the physics and such behind the various exercises before he follows suit. Mikeís taking it all in well and we give him some warm up sets to do. As weíre lifting, one of the other guys yells, "Hey Big Mike, can you toss me that 45lb weight near you." Mike beams with pride and lugs the weight over to him. "Help me put this on the bar," he says and Mike does a good job helping out. Armstrong and I smile as we see him stand tall and proud, getting used to being called Big Mike instead of Little Mikey.
We finish our leg workout at around 9 p.m. Weíre condensing our workouts so we can get Mike home in time. We shower up and change, Mike getting more and more comfortable around us. Joe has our usually ready for us and we head out. I say to Mike, "Drink half of that shake now, half after you eat tonight." He nods and hops into Armstrongís truck. "Heís doing real well. He will go far," I think to myself as I watch them drive off.
Iím enjoying my shake as we pull up into my yard. Armstrong punches me on the shoulder and says, "See you tomorrow Big Mike!" I love that name: Big Mike. It sounds so good. I punch him back and say, "Sure thing big guy!" I hop out of his giant truck and head into my house. As I come in, Iím trying to decide what to have for dinner.
"My parents probably have left some leftovers. Maybe I shouldíve asked them what I should be eating. Damn, why didnít I think of this sooner? I probably canít eat just anything. Crap, what if I screw up something."
I walk into my house and smell the aroma of freshly grilled steak. "Damn it smells good in here," I think "Can I have steak? Damn. If it tastes good, itís probably not good for me. Maybe Iíll find some celery or something." My dad is at the kitchen table when I turn the corner, sitting with a empty plate in front of him and a full one next to him.
"Evening son, how was the gym?" he asks.
"Real good dad, Iíll tell you about it soon as I find something to eat." I say as I head toward the fridge.
"Why are you looking, your food is right here," he comments.
"I donít know what I can and canít eat. I didnít ask the guys, so Iím going to have some veggies or something"
My dad laughs a bit and stands up. "Donít worry. Sam told me all about what a big man like you needs to get big. I went out after I dropped you off and went to a wholesale store Sam told me about. I picked up a bunch of stuff he suggested: Steak, brown rice, veggies, a steam cooker, a rice cooker, some boneless skinless chicken, some vitamins and a ton of other stuff." He motions his hand around and I see tons of supplies scattered about. There is stuff all over the place. That wholesale store must specialize in selling in bulk.
"So, donít worry about what to eat. Sam told me exactly how you should be eating and your mom is helping out by cooking for you and making your lunches each day."
I stand in awe of it all. These guys are truly amazing. I run up to my father and hug him. "Thanks dad!" "We know youíre serious son, so weíre here to help," he whispers to me. My mom walks into the kitchen and I hug her too. "I love both of you so much!" "Go wash up for dinner" my mom orders, and I put my shake down and run up the stairs to clean up for dinner.
The steak was excellent and Iíve never had steamed veggies and rice before. I scarf them down like a ravenous wolf. My dad starts the conversation off, "Slow down boy, Iíve never seen you so hungry!"
"Yeah dad, I donít know what it is, but Iím almost starving"
"What kinda stuff is going on at the gym?"
"Man dad, itís awesome. Sam and I waited outside the gym for Armstrong and we talked and talked while looking at the sky. Then Armstrong got there and they punched each other and hugged then Armstrong did the same for me and then Armstrong carried me on his shoulder like you did, and we went in the gym. They roared really loud about everyone working their best and then Armstrong introduced me as Big Mike. Then everyone started calling me Big Mike. It was so cool!"
"Sounds like these two are really nice guys," my mother comments.
"Yeah mom, theyíre so cool and big and strong and impressive and nice. Theyíre easy going but they work hard and they make me work hard too and I feel good when Iím around them and I wanna work hard and be big like them and dad. And Iím gonna do it too! Iím gonna be big and strong and tough just like dad and them and then Iím gonna play defensive lineman and break your record dad and put my new trophy right next to yours in the case downstairs."
"I know you will son," my dad says.
I continue to devour my food and my dad says before I finish, "When youíre done, I have something to show you in the basement." I finish up and polish off my shake. We head down and he turns on the light. I look ahead to the trophy cabinet and I canít believe my eyes.
Where the cabinet was full with pictures and trophies, it now stands half full. My dad tells me to look closer. I walk up to it and I see on the top shelf screwed in the center is a nameplate that says "Mike Evans". My dad walks up to me and says "I know youíre going to do great things. This is for when you do." I feel tears welling up in my eyes and I run and hug my dad again. "Thanks dad, youíre so awesome."
"Anything for you son. Now letís watch some T.V."
I sit down with my father, lay my head in his chest and fall asleep watching SportsCenter.
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