Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Feat of Strength & The Barroom Booth: Champaign 1988

This was when I spent the summer in Champaign working concrete. I really liked Champaign back then. I had not really lived in the midwest for quite a spell and I enjoyed my time in Illinois. Some of the nicest people I have ever met lived in Champaign back in 1988. I'm sure some of the nicest people in the country still live there now. Despite my own personal misgivings, it's a nice town. A good town. One that I wish more towns were like, sometimes.
Anyway, it was some evening after a day of work and we--the gang, Doug, Kurt Strube (Kurt--pronounced "Strew-bee"--has one of those names that I just have to give the last name), Elroy, maybe Steve or "Foot" (the train-riding hobo guy who liked to be called that)--were at a bar. Pia's. On Springfield, I believe. The west side of town . . . So, we were there drinking copious beers after a hot hot tired day of slinging concrete and pulling concrete and puddling concrete and finishing concrete and talking concrete and thinking concrete. We sat in a booth in the side room where the dart boards and such were and--for whatever reason--some roughhousing ensued.
What was it about? I have no idea. But we began to push each other over something or another. Leroy was across the table and I was pushing him. Kurt was next to me, on the inside of the booth, and he began to press me. He used his arms and his thigh to try and push me out of the booth. But I resisted. He pushed and pushed, but I didn't even nudge in the opposite direction. I held him at bay, then pushed him, forcing him towards the wall. And then, it was over. It was just joking around, but it was also a show. A show of strength I guess (and thus a show--ultimately among males--of dominance).
"You're strong," Kurt said.
Kurt, though not a big guy, was a concrete worker from way back. A good worker. Strong.
"I was bracing against the wall and I still couldn't move you," he said.
To be honest, I knew that. To be honest, yes, it made me feel good.
I did feel good.

What made me think of this is that I weighed myself today. Came in at 220 pounds. Now, to me, my ideal weight is 195. But, I can carry 200 with no problem--I'd settle for 200. But 220! Ouch. I realize this sounds very self-referential or just self-boring, but you know I used to work construction, I worked concrete and landscaping and house painting jobs. I was physical. I haven't done that in so many years. And while I don't think of myself as old, I'm not young. So, this is not good. So, am I ready to settle in with a heavy weight, little exercise and be comfortable each day? I mean, I see this type, all around me, with men my age. I mean: be moderately healthy and moderately lazy and eat a good dang meal. But, am I ready for that?
Or do I want to be the guy who can still push Kurt Strube into the wall from a barroom booth at Pia's in Champaign, Illinois?

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