Walking home in my bespoke business shirt, I encountered three young gentlemen coming the other way who had clearly spent their Friday bro-ing out hard. All three were in short-shorts and body-builder singlets – the kind which only sometimes cover the nipple – which was fine since it was 42c in the city and my artisanal bottled water only offered a jet of compressed steam to my pursed and parched lips. I would’ve killed to be in some form of business shorts and tank top, which I presume Kanye is working on. Two were in animated conversation with each other whilst the third had his bro dialled up so high he was high fiving every single person he came across whilst bouncing his head to some internal EDM.
As we approached each other – we two leaders of men – he raised his hand in askance of a high five. I couldn’t leave him hanging like some sort of monster, or a Swiss, so I fived him, and as palm slapped palm he triumphantly yelled “Seventy-Eight!” Apparently I was his seventy-eighth new friend that afternoon. Before we could take our relationship as deep as his v however, the happy trio were off in the direction of a party of Chinese tourists, in search of a seventy-ninth new friend.
Hyper masculinity – the sort perpetuated by 80’s action films where Arnie and Sly would stand in the open, shoot hundreds of henchmen and never get tagged themselves just by virtue of being really, really, really, absurdly, twitchy muscly – fascinated me through childhood, and never really went away. Arnie in particular. It wasn’t just his hulking enormousness, it was his easy charisma; casually chewing a cigar as he casually punched a volcano followed by a casual but devastatingly sick burn he thought up on the spot: “Stick ah-round” (after hurling a bowie knife at someone, impaling them to a tree), “Don’t dis-turrrb my friend… hee’s dead tahired” (to a stewardess, after snapping the neck of the guy in the next seat), “Kaitlyn Caussin is a fat whoore” (as Regina George, in a dream I had). In my head, absurd athleticism led to power, and with power came easy charisma. I decided, at the age of 11, to get all swoll.
I made for an odd jock in school. Getting swoll was surprisingly the easy part. “Do some push-ups, idiot” will be both the title, and sole content of, my upcoming best selling diet book and Instagram-based fitness empire. At age 13 and for years after, I was on the soccer team, the rugby team, the cricket team, the athletics team, the swim team, the knifey-spoony team and competitive ‘Guess which hand’ team. But the easy charisma never came. But WHY? During lunch times, whilst my jocular team mates were scalping themselves playing asphalt football, I was generally indoors with my fellow dweebies playing card games or chess. And I was fucking shit at chess. Even more damningly during cricket season, whilst our team was batting I passed the wait diligently manning the scoreboard, whilst various team mates were behind the scoreboard engaging in hand stuff with the fine young ladies from our sister school. “I didn’t know we had a sister school”, I thought bitterly beneath my sun hat, glumly sneaking an extra run to our total.
So not a jock off the field was I, that ‘real’ teachers were routinely astonished to discover that I never appeared to have my underwear yanked up over the back of my head. Occasionally, the rugby team would have a mid week game during school hours, thereby allowing us the inestimable pleasure of being able to just stand up mid class, and dramatically walk out like a squad of Navy Seals.
Sometimes, the teacher on duty would look at me kindly and with pity and say “Oh, Mr. Bost! Only the rugby team is excused, you sweet, sweet little cherub. Awww!” “But I am on the rugby team, Miss!” I would squeak, whereupon Miss would suffer through various facial spasms before finally allowing me to go. Miss would go on mental health leave that same year. And so high school passed.
We had a sister school?? Shhhhhit…
University life followed a near identical course: Playing college sport, and lifting bro. Occasionally I attended class. In my dorm, I once heard my neighbor through the wall – a hot girl who’d attempt to cover up the sounds of her sexy sessions with really loud speed metal, thus drawing the attention of the entire corridor and campus security (“What’s happening here?” “She’s boning Scott again”. Stevo walks out.) – remark to a friend “Guy next door? Yeah, he’s kinda weird.” In a year living as neighbours, I’d never spoken directly to her. It turned out that lifting isn’t the way to a girl’s affection, you have to talk to them too. They’re really superficial that way, man.
So I never got to become a proper bro. I was too “books”, too “going to the movies by myself”, too “video games”, too “Oh, god don’t call! Text!”. But eventually, I “found myself,” and I didn’t even have to take a series of Instagrams through Asia to do it. You just have to become 25 years old. That’s it. That’s when your remanent teenage hormonal, emo, angst dies down just enough that you’re able to say “fuck it”. What you like now is probably what you’ll always like, and unless what you like “is to be a racist,” no-one else is going to be able to change you. So I became: “The Nerd Who Lifts, bro.” With great lifting comes
obnoxious great mirror selfies. A man of action except when it’s Xbox time. The hero, the city doesn’t particularly need, and who surprisingly has a live-in girlfriend who likes him for him 🙂
Hashtag blessed. Hashtag I’m deep. Hashtag authentic. Hashtag hashtag.
In the next edition: Is your cult right for you? Join the Light of Bost instead and save!