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Sometimes Randy would wait until we were done training or at least well into it before hitting me with whatever was on his hormone-soaked mind. At other times the lad was so excited he couldn't make it that long. This was clearly one of those days. Before he had even taken off his jacket, he set his gym bag down and produced a flyer.
"I want to do this show," he pronounced, thrusting it into my hands. I scanned it briefly, mentally noting that the promoter must have been on a pretty meager budget. Two of the guest posers were local guys who hadn't yet made the top ten in national competition, and the featured performer was a pro known more for the oil lodged in his rear deltoids than the high placings he had enjoyed several years ago.
He probably wasn't getting more than food, lodging, and a date with the promoter's ugly sister for flexing his smooth off-season bulk to the tender strains of AC/DC for the delight of the audience. The date of this event was roughly three months away.
"What do you think?" Randy chattered, a big grin on his mug, "can I get in shape for it or what?" I already knew the answer to that. The kid was a naturally lean type and probably could get properly shredded in half that time if we upped his cardio and took some carbs out of his diet.
Bodybuilders Are Like Good Wine
"Yeah, I'm sure you could no problem, but this leads us to the Jurassic Park question."
"Huh?" Randy obviously saw no connection between deadly Velociraptors and the situation at hand.
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Randy Oviously Didn't See The Connection
Between Velociraptors And The Situation At Hand.
"Just because they could clone the dinosaurs didn't mean they should have." I waited for this to register, but I was still being too vague. His face was a blank. "Let me try another pop-culture reference I know you are too young to remember. There used to be this guy Orson Welles, who at one time was probably the most brilliant writer-director in Hollywood. When he got old and gained about a hundred extra pounds, the only work he could get was doing these commercials for Paul Masson wine."
"Wine, okay..." I had better get to the point soon or I was going to lose him.
"The catchphrase for the commercials was when he said, 'we will sell no wine before its time.' Do you understand the concept of wine needing to age and mature?"
"I don't really like wine, I had a whole bottle at my cousin's wedding and was throwing up for two days."
"Well, I don't like wine either and I would be at a loss interpreting a wine list at a restaurant, but the point is that it gets better the longer it sits in some dark cellar. The best and most expensive wines have been laying around like that for twenty years or more. On the other hand, you can walk into a liquor store right now and buy some wine that was just made last week for five bucks a bottle. The good stuff can go up to five hundred dollars a bottle and up. Think of your physique like a bottle of wine."
Randy eyed himself in the mirror across the locker room and hit a biceps pose, his eyebrows knit in concentration.
"The longer I work on it, the better it gets?" I almost saw the light bulb flash over his noggin. Good thing there wasn't, since he had enough gel in his hair to start a flash fire.
"You could do the show, enter the Novice division, and probably walk away with a trophy," I assured him. "The Men's Open would be a terrible idea, you would get your ass handed to you."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence, Ron."
"Sorry, I have to be honest. Look, I started competing at nineteen years old, long before I really had any business being on a bodybuilding contest stage. I did three shows by the time I was twenty and only made the top five once because there were only four other kids in my class." It was true. I had even embarrassed myself further by telling one of the guys that beat me in my best Arnold tone, 'if you didn't come to win you should have stayed home.' I was the one who should have stayed home.
"I'm not that bad, though, am I?" Now I was planting seeds of doubt in his fragile ego.
"No, don't get me wrong. I never said that. But two things make this a bad move for you at this stage. First, you are making awesome gains right now. You get bigger and stronger every week. If you go on a strict diet and lower your calories and carbs, those gains will stop dead in their tracks. Secondly, this is not the body I know you can bring to the stage in a year or two from now. Ever hear of a guy named Dorian Yates?"
"Yeah, he was Mr. Olympia before Ronnie, the guy from England with the tattoos who never smiled."
"Dorian didn't compete until he had been training for two years, which isn't very long really, but the gains he made in that time were what most bodybuilders see in ten or twelve years of lifting. The point it, he waited until he knew he was good enough to win, which he did. Then later when he turned pro, he took two years to make the improvements he knew he needed to take second in his first pro show, which he did. The guy took his time and did everything the right way."
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Dorian Yates At The 1994 British Grand Prix.
View More Pics Of Dorian Yates At The 1994 British Grand Prix.
"So I can't compete now, you're saying," Randy mumbled, dejected.
"You can if you really want to. It's a whole lot of fun and I really don't regret starting as young as I did, but you have the advantage of me to guide you through this. You listen to me, and you can win your first show. Can you imagine what that would be like?"
"Pretty sweet," he said.
"Not only sweet, but it would help give you more of that champion mindset. You would expect to win, and you would think of yourself as a winner. That type of confidence shines through and everyone picks up on it."
Randy was looking at the flyer again and scowling.
"What if we go to this show and it turns out I could have won?" This had happened to me before, but I didn't think Randy was going to experience that particular frustration just yet.
"If that happens, and who knows, anything is possible, I promise me and Janet will take you and whatever girlfriend you happen to have at that time out for a lobster dinner. You can even order some fine wine, how's that?"
"Okay, but I don't really like lobster," he said.
"That's fine, you can have the chicken salad and water to drink." Yes, I am a generous bastard. I paused, wanting to make sure he wasn't too disappointed. "You alright? You won't go home after this and set up a Ron dart board in your room, will you?"
"No, you're right about all that. I just wanted to get up there and hear the crowd cheer for me."
"Next year, Randy, next year. And they will cheer a lot louder for you when you win the whole damn thing."
Ah, the impatience of youth. I wondered how the young Ron would have taken all the older Ron's advice and recommendations. Thinking back to how stubborn I used to be and how I was convinced I knew it all, I probably would have told the older Ron to go screw himself. Luckily for Randy he was a little more receptive to well-meaning guidance from those who have been in his shoes before. Because of that, this kid would someday become ten times the bodybuilder I ever was. And that's cool with me.