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Cat and Mouse and Grasshopper

I’d like to say everything was OK until the grasshopper showed up. But it wasn’t.

(Yes, I’m still thinking about it.)

Saturday August 13 2011 – Cheat Day
Breakfast: baked lemon-garlic chicken breast, sautéed spinach
Workout: Incline Bench 165lb 3 sets of 5, Weighted Pull-up 65lb 3 sets of 4
Post-Workout Recovery: 2 small sweet potatoes, 1 scoop whey protein
Emotionally Unstable Gorging: 1 grilled cheese sandwich, 1 chicken burrito, 1 red velvet cupcake, 1 pint coconut gelato, 1 pint chocolate gelato
The House Party: 1 scotch, 1 Jager shot, 2 glasses red wine

Sunday August 14 2011 – Recovery Day
Breakfast: 12-egg omelet, bacon strips and bacon strips
Coffee and water the rest of the day

My weekend of mental anguish started at a store opening I was invited to, for high-end fitness apparel. There was the promise of seeing a bunch of old friends from the gym and having my pick of a bevy of fit, attractive girls, the kind who could afford to buy such things as $60 tanktops and $90 pants. Alcohol would flow and music would blast. I *did* catch up with a few folks from the old gym who I hadn’t seen in ages… and that’s where the fun ended.

I was overwhelmed by the crowd. There were beautiful women everywhere, their muscles bulging through their yoga tanktops and summer dresses. I mean, unfairly beautiful. And I put them on pedestals, admired them like they were marble statues from Greek antiquity. They were better than me. Every single one of them. I believed that. I convinced myself of that. Why would they possibly tolerate being approached by dumpy old me when they were so busy laughing with friends, trying on clothes, having the times of their lives? I would be an unwelcome damper on their evenings, simply by saying hi. That’s what I convinced myself of. They were better than me in every way imaginable.

I tried to shake the negativity out of my head like it was water from a swim. I would test my theory. I spotted a cute brunette looking at T-shirts. “Hey, how’s it going?”

“Fine,” she curtly replied, not turning to look at me. She power-walked away as if she were nonchalantly trying to hide from a wasp or a hornet. I had my evidence. I didn’t talk to anyone else the rest of the night. I quietly joined a couple of my old friends at a table for dinner and sipped away at my tequila as I enviously watched everyone else enjoy themselves. Having texted The Killer earlier with my plans to head to a bar to check out a band, and not hearing back from her, I abandoned those dreams and called it a night much earlier than I had anticipated.

I thought about ways to empower myself. Make a list of positive things about myself. Maybe a few cheerful notes to myself to keep in my pocket when I was feeling down. Hell, I start up random conversations all day with patients, why should I approach socializing any different? Or should I view the whole thing as a scientific experiment, and I’m simply recruiting subjects for the Get Me To Hook Up With You study? With all these paradigms to change my thought process and get my out of my own head, I swore I’d never let myself get intimidated like at the store opening ever again. That vow lasted for about 24 hours.

Saturday morning, I had what turned out to be (for better or for worse), the highlight of my weekend, a great workout that my well-rested and anxious muscles were hoping for, followed by a slow drowning in ice cream. I haven’t done a squat or a deadlift in a month, and I’m slightly concerned that I’m not at 445lb-deadlift capacity anymore. Maybe I’ll try next weekend. Catch is, I can’t drop a barbell at the Y if I repeat my uber-scary too-heavy squat bailout technique (it involves actually letting go of the bar, clutching the squat rack for dear life, and letting 295lb roll down my back – not smart). Such are the hazards of not being a CrossFitter.

The Killer called me in the afternoon but I let it go to voicemail, wanting to seem somewhat busy and not desperate. She left a message about going to buy a new air conditioner, which I totally could have taken advantage of had I answered the call (me being a very good appliance tinkerer and heavy thing carrier), underscoring the fact that every decision I make is wrong. More on this whole weird cat-and-mouse chase next time, if one of us actually catches the other, or if the mouse tells the cat to leave her alone because she’s just not attracted to him.

Saturday evening, a bittersweet going away party for a good friend of mine. I’m calm, I’m in my groove, I’m drinking, I’m watching baseball. I’m not chatty, but not quiet either. I cringe and get uneasy anytime anybody mentions dating, or picking up women, or hooking up with women (it’s a conversation I yearn to be a part of, but never can, like trying to talk music with a roomful of classical composers). But I keep my cool. And then comes the grasshopper. By the way, this is totally getting embellished into a publishable story, as soon as I can start laughing about it. I’m reminded of the killing-the-spider scene in “Annie Hall”:

I’ll set the scene. I’m walking upstairs to make myself a drink. All the girls are upstairs, chatting, some of whom I know very well, some I don’t. One of them notices a grasshopper on the wall. Panic ensues. The grasshopper flies. All hell breaks loose. Someone yells at me to kill it. I search in vain for a flyswatter or a newspaper and go to another room to find… something. Meanwhile, a friend of mine walks in the kitchen, sees the grasshopper on a cabinet, casually cups it between his hands and tosses it out the door. One of the girls, who meant it jokingly, cuts to the heart of the issue when she summarizes it thus: “You just lost major points.”

I’m MORTIFIED. I’m nauseated at the thought of myself. I want to shrink into a corner and become invisible. My self-esteem is immeasurable by the most powerful of electron microscopes. I see the moral of the story being written in front of my eyes. Men, real men, men of action, men who are dynamic, men who will ever in their lives be viewed as powerful and decisive and sexy, do *this*. You, on the other hand, intellectualize under pressure, don’t take action, don’t come to the rescue, do *that*, and are as desirable and attractive as the fucking grasshopper you didn’t kill.

And that was the little crack in the door that my brain needed to step in and start Operation Shutdown. You will sit on the couch and sulk. You will answer in one-word sentences. You will not drink anymore. You will not play pool or sing along to any songs you know. You will not introduce yourself to anyone, cause what would be the point? Operation Shutdown sucks. Occasionally (all the time?), I get held hostage by my brain, and very rarely do I get to do the things I truly, instinctively want to do. There’s a fun, exuberant, attractive person stuck in here that would love to get out, and can’t.

But why not?



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