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|It was a good thing that there was no real schoolwork left, because my mind was completely elsewhere. I couldn't wait to start musclebuilding with Jonathan, and counted the minutes until the end of the day. I met Barry in front of the school and we walked -- about as fast as you can still call walking -- to Jonathan's house. We came to the back door and knocked.
"It's open, guys! If I'm expecting you, just come on in and go right back to the gym."
We did so, and entered the gym. Barry was wearing the same baggy pants as yesterday and a big loose USC sweatshirt. "You made it! Let's get started. Stan The Muscleman won't be here, it's the rest day in his training schedule. We'll try to get you in synch with his schedule so you can all train together. Did you guys bring your gym clothes?"
Both Barry and I had done so; we would not be needing them for the remainder of the week, so it worked out pretty well.
"OK, you can change right here if you like, or you can use the bedroom in the house."
I shrugged. By high school, I had gotten over any particular modesty about nudity in the locker room, and I had discovered that I never got a boner when I knew that everyone could see it. So Barry and I changed into jock-straps and loose Hamilton High shorts. Barry went shirtless; I wore my green gym shirt.
"Leave the shirt off for now, Mike," Jonathan told me. "Before we start getting acquainted with the weights, let's keep a record of where you started. Trust me, you'll be glad to have it later."
He brought out a ten-second Polaroid camera rather like my Dad's, and pointed at the raised area in one corner.
He threw a wall-switch, and a very bright spotlight above the dais came on. "I just want to take some basic pictures. Barry, you first. First, just stand there relaxed facing me...good..." He took about six pictures of Barry, front, back, and side, posed and relaxed.
Barry may not have had much of a physique, but he really liked posing and it was a lot of fun watching.
"These came out pretty well," Jonathan said as he applied the plastic fixer to the pictures. "OK, Mike, get up there, it's your turn."
I hesitated. I was always camera shy, and posing like this...
"What's the matter, Mike," Barry taunted, "afraid you're gonna break the lens?"
"Stop that, Barry!" Jonathan barked. "Mike, this is just for comparison with later. Nobody will ever see them except you and me." I hesitated again, and then walked over to the dais. "Good, Mike. Now just stand relaxed. Good..." I felt really silly standing there, especially flexing my puny muscles for a camera, but it was over quickly.
"Alright, now I'm going to take some measurements. Someone once said, 'When you can measure something, and express it in numbers, you know something about it..."
"Lord Kelvin," I interrupted.
"Lord Kelvin said that. He was a physicist," I explained. I had seen the quote as part of a deck of computer cards at City College where I sometimes did computer stuff on Saturdays. When the deck was printed out, a picture of a naked woman appeared, with the quote. I always found the quote more interesting than the woman.
"Uh...OK," Jonathan said, "I didn't know that. Thanks. Anyway, taking your measurements regularly will help us track your muscle growth, and it'll let us catch sticking points and problems. Barry, flex your right arm...now hold it..."
Jonathan wrapped a tape measure around Barry's arm, then wrote a number on a card that he had brought. He measured Barry's arms, his expanded chest, his waist ("don't suck it in..."), his calves and his thighs. This last measurement was taken right at the top of the leg. I prepared myself, resolved not to let Jonathan's touch make my dick get hard when my turn came.
I watched as Jonathan took my measurements, focusing on the numbers, trying to work arithmetic in my head and keep my mind away from anything that would excite me. If my arm grew 10%, then in September it would be 13.2 inches... I watched as he filled in spaces on my card in rows marked BICEPS(L) and so on. 12-inch biceps. 36-inch chest. 31-inch waist. 19-inch thighs.
12-inch calves. I looked at Barry's card, and saw numbers that varied only slightly from mine, with a smaller chest but heavier thighs. He weighed us on a balance-type scale like you see in a doctor's office. I was 137; Barry weighed 132.
"Good. We'll put the cards and pictures away for three weeks and then check again. Mike, you can put your shirt on again if you want. For the first few workouts with the weights we're going to use light weights, so that your muscles can get used to the movements so that everything is balanced and stable when we start getting heavier." He brought out another pair of cards for Barry and me, this time with rows marked SQUAT, B. PRESS and so on.
Over the next hour or so, Jonathan showed us all the basic exercises, marking the weights we were doing in the appropriate spaces. B. PRESS: 3@65x10 he wrote. Sometimes I was particularly awkward with an exercise and made nervous jokes like, "Well, what do you expect from a computer Poindexter?" Barry thought my comments were funny, but Jonathan didn't even smile.
By 4:30, we were pretty tired. As we toweled off and changed back into our street clothes, Jonathan clapped each of us on the shoulder and said, "That was a good first day, guys. Now, you might be sore tomorrow, because you're using muscles you never used before." I thought irrelevantly to my own 'never used these muscles before' experience of the night before.
I wasn't sore from that... "Even if you're sore, come in tomorrow and we'll do a little more training and talk about your eating. Barry, if you go into the kitchen, I made a couple of bowls of tuna salad for you and Mike in the ice box. Go and have one; I want to talk to Mike for a couple of minutes."
Barry looked a little surprised, but went out into the kitchen. I was alone with Jonathan. I looked at him, a little nervously.
"What the Hell is with those jokes?" he asked harshly.
I looked blank, and a little scared. I didn't have any idea of what he was talking about, and said so. "When you're training. You're always going on with the 'four-eyes' this and 'skinny guy' that! What sort of trip is that?"
"They're just jokes -- it's not like I'm putting anyone down..."
"Yes you are -- yourself! Tell me something. When you visualize how Barry will look come September, what do you see?"
"Well, I imagine him maybe a little leaner, with bigger chest and arms..."
"You can see that image in your mind's eye?"
"OK, now: when you visualize yourself at the same time, what do you see?"
I saw what he was getting at. I was quiet, so he said it for me. "A skinny four-eyed honors student with pale skin." I nodded, embarrassed, and Jonathan sighed. "Look, man, it's time to forget that whole trip everyone's been laying on you. Because you're the smart guy, everyone tells you that smart guys are puny little weaklings, four-eyed nebbishes whose life stories are filmed starring Arnold Stang or Wally Cox. Every comic book tells you that the guy with glasses is inevitably a complete wimp or, at the best, a mild-mannered reporter." I smiled at the reference. He continued, "But seriously, you've heard it so long that you believe it yourself. You've been repeating it here all afternoon.
"I have to tell you right now, that if you don't really believe, and I mean *really* believe, all the way down to your guts, that there's a strong, muscular, confident guy inside of you waiting to get out, nothing you do in here will change it. I knew a guy in high school who had the same hang-up as you. He lifted weights for a while, saying, 'well, maybe I'll get bigger.' He gave up after six months."
I felt like I'd let Jonathan down already. I mean, maybe queers just aren't cut out to be bodybuilders. I looked at him, and said quietly, "But I've never been strong or..."
"Fuck that! Look at Barry. His physique isn't any better than yours, and he's up there posing and flexing and showing off like he's Dave Draper or someone. He works out without his shirt; you want to wear yours. Remember Stan? 'Stan, the Muscle Man, that's me!' from someone who weighs less than 120 pounds!" He looked at me; I looked at the floor. "Mike, listen. You and I both know that there are guys your age who get as much food and exercise as you do, and their physiques are much worse than yours. I'll bet you can think of a guy in your class who's got biceps that look like your wrists, or guys who are so fat you can't tell whether they're vertical or horizontal." I nodded. "OK, then, you have to figure that means that your body responds pretty well to food and exercise and has at least average potential to grow -- otherwise you'd look like them. You think you're puny and skinny, but really, you're in pretty good shape for someone who only gets the exercise that's forced on him in high school gym classes. And when I took your pictures today, I noticed that your shoulders are really naturally wide, just from the bone structure. You're going to get a really nice V-shaped torso when those muscles start growing. Mike, dammit, look at me when I'm talking to you!"
I looked up, murmuring, "Sorry," in a quiet voice. He started to reach out towards me, as if he were about to grab me by the shoulders and shake me or something -- he really seemed upset. With a frustrated look, he pulled his hands back and closed his eyes, as if trying to control himself.
"Listen to me," he said. "You have the potential to build yourself a strong, muscular body. Better than Barry's. Probably better than Stan's. Maybe, after three or four years, better than mine!" I gave him a dubious look. "I'm serious. But starting tomorrow...no, starting today, you need to see yourself as MuscleMike the Bodybuilder. You need to flex in the mirror and see not just the body you have now, but the strong muscular body you're building every day. You do that, and the rest will be easy. What do you say?"
"Can't I still be Mike with the brains?"
He gaped at me in what I took to be surprise, then laughed. "Of course you can! Haven't you been listening? You've swallowed a big lie all your life. We have a news bulletin coming in for you, Mike...a guy can have brains *and* muscles! And you're that guy. So, you need to get into a head trip like Barry and Stan. From now on, you're MuscleMike, dig it?"
"Show me, don't just say 'sure'. What's your name?"
"Say it like you mean it! It's just like all that four-eyes crap, the more you say it, the truer it becomes. Even if you don't believe it now, you have to play the part as if you do. What's your name?"
I was sort of feeling what he was trying to tell me. His enthusiasm was contagious. I smiled in spite of myself, partly because this whole thing seemed kind of silly, but partly because I was genuinely inspired by his confidence in me. I shouted, "MuscleMike!"
"OK, MuscleMike, shirt off! Give me a double-biceps, and this time it's MuscleMike posing!"
With genuine eagerness, I pulled off my shirt and flexed both my arms as hard as I could, pulling myself up to my full height and expanding my chest as best I could. Jonathan beamed at me and squeezed my flexed arms.
"Awright! There he is! MuscleMike's going to be giving Barry and Stan a run for their money this summer!"
I was getting another boner, but for some reason I didn't feel embarrassed about it, or even give it any thought at all. Hell, maybe if *I* was the one with muscles, other guys' muscles would stop making me hard. I just grinned at Jonathan and did the side chest pose for good measure. "Y'know," I said, "I could learn to enjoy this."
Jonathan patted me on the back. "You will. C'mon, get your shirt on; you still have some food to get into your system."
When we went into the kitchen, Barry looked up. "Hey, Mike, what were you two guys doing back there, hmmmm?" I looked at Barry and pulled my shoulders back a bit. "That's MuscleMike to you," I told him. "And you're in for some competition."
Barry looked curiously at Jonathan, who only shrugged and looked innocently at the ceiling.
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