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A Bodybuilder Is Born: Episode 22 - Use Your Super-Powers For Good, Not Evil!

In this article Ron explains what it is like to be a part of the bodybuilding subculture and how the average joe can react to and treat bodybuilders in an offensive and sometimes even derogatory ways...

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The Roxy is the nightclub in Boston where all the meatheads from Massachusetts go. Understand that when I use the word 'meathead,' it is a term of endearment for my fellow bodybuilders. Of course, if anyone other than a bodybuilder were to call me or any other bodybuilder by that term, we would take offense.

You can think of 'meathead' as having the same loose meaning as the 'n' word does to African-Americans. Only we bodybuilders can call each other meathead, otherwise it's a slur.

Anyway, like I said, the Roxy on historic Tremont Street is where the jacked-up guys from my area of New England like to hang out. A few years ago the unofficial uniform for us was spandex T-shirts with a zippered collar. Though it has been out of style for quite some time, you will still catch some guys having fashion flashbacks and sporting the painted-on shirt look.

Personally, I don't like to wear tight shirts anymore because they attract too much attention, some positive but more negative. Actually, the two most common reactions from what I have witnessed are amusement and jealousy. Girls usually think it's fascinating to see a big muscle guy, in much the same way as it is to see a dog walking around with two heads - in other words, a freak or oddity.

Guys are worse, because they tend to get threatened or intimidated at the sight of another male who is far more muscular than they. This mostly stems from their erroneous belief that women salivate over bodybuilders. I think if a woman were drooling in the presence of a bodybuilder it would only be because he was offering her a Prada bag in one hand and a box of Godiva chocolates in the other.

My wife and I had never been out anywhere with my now occasional training partner Randy (his job as a car salesman meant our schedules were rarely in sync). Mostly this was because he rarely had a girlfriend for more than a few weeks.

And when he did, they were usually under the age of 21 and thus couldn't go anywhere we wanted to. But lately, Randy had been dating an 'older' woman, 25-year-old Mara from the finance department of his dealership. She only had two years on him, but I still liked to bust Randy's chops about how he was her Boy Toy.

It had been close to two months that they had been seeing each other, which I am fairly certain was a record for commitment-phobic Randy. Recently we all went out for a night of dancing at the Roxy. I would say dancing and drinks, but the damn drinks are eight or nine dollars each these days, and I am too much of a cheap-ass to spring for more than a couple on any given night.

When it comes to bodybuilders and how much skin they show, there seems to be an inverse relationship between the size they carry and the skimpiness of their tops. In other words, the smaller guys are usually the ones who still wear the spandex shirts, while the bigger dudes cover up more and tend to wear looser-fitting shirts.

Randy, who was taller than me and weighs around 190, had the spandex going on, while I was 235 and in Clark Kent mode. We hung out together for a while near one of the three bars, where a round of drinks for the four of us came out to roughly the same amount of money as a lease payment on a BMW.

Janet felt the urge to dance before Randy and Mara were ready to trip the lights fantastic, so we left them. As it turned out, the place was pretty packed and we didn't see them again until two A.M. when the lights came up and everyone had to get the hell out. He sidled up to me as I waited in the coat check line, scowling. "Don't tell me you two are breaking up," I said. He just shook his head.

"Some jerk was trying to start some sh--," he informed me in a growl. "He kept trying to dance with Mara even though I was right there with her. Then when I asked him what his problem was, he said something like, ooh, don't hurt me, big muscle man. I swear I would have cracked him in the jaw if he didn't take off right then. I wonder if he's still here?"

Randy was scanning the milling dance club patrons like the Terminator seeking out Sarah Connor.

"Forget about it, kid, it's not worth it." He tried to argue but I shushed him, telling him we could talk about it on the drive home as I had been there and done that before.

With the women in the backseat chatting about girl stuff (makeup tips and brownie recipes, no doubt), I shared my own experiences with Randy in the area of troublemakers.

"Two incidents stand out clearly in my mind. They both happened at The Roxy, because that's the club I like. The first one was two years ago. I was a few weeks away from a contest and probably shouldn't have even been out in the first place. Anyway, I was dancing with Janet and she started undoing some buttons on my shirt, being in an amorous mood.

Being all tanned and ripped at around 215 at the time and being that my chest is among my best features, I didn't stop her. That's when I noticed this young guy standing there staring at me. He was a juiced-up little twerp with a red, puffy face, and from the way he was swaying like he was in the middle of a hurricane, he was pretty drunk.

He obviously had no female companionship, either, and Janet was wearing this red lace bodysuit that is actually illegal in twelve states. I am sure he was eating his heart out. The kid was saying, 'real big bodybuilder' in a real sarcastic tone and grinning at me like a punk. I said excuse me, what was that? He repeated it, and I was thinking that he had a death wish.

Not that I'm Bruce Lee or anything, but I could have mopped up the floor with this kid no problem. Luckily, Janet stepped in and told him to get lost and called him a loser. I'm pretty sure she flipped him off, too. That did it, he was humiliated and skulked away.

"Didn't you want to hit him when he was saying that to you?" Randy asked.

"Yeah, but what then? If I did that, I would have been arrested for assault, and probably sued too for damages. I have a nice house and two kids, and I don't need to deal with anything like that."

"You said there were two times this happened, what was the other one?" Randy inquired.

"That was only a few months ago. Janet was sitting on one of the little sofas waiting while I was in line to get our coats. This little greasy, skinny guy sits down next to her and starts leaning into her ear to give her his best rap. I turned back and saw this, and started yelling to draw his attention.

With the music still blasting, he couldn't hear me. I was impatient to get our coats and get over to them, and just as I did and tipped the coat check girl, I saw the guy try to slide his arm around Janet while she pulled away.

That did it. I rushed over and stood in front of them. I am not the biggest man in the world, but I probably had four inches of height and eighty or ninety pounds on this slick would-be Romeo. I leaned right into his face and snarled, "can I help you with something? This is my wife, jackass!"

He jumped up and took off like the Roadrunner. He may have even done the 'meep meep' sound effect. Janet told me she had told him she was there with her husband but this creep didn't even care.

"Why didn't you go over and blast him when you heard that?" Randy demanded.

"Why? Because for one thing, it was a total mismatch. I could have broken every bone in his body and tied him into knots like a human pretzel if I wanted to. But it wouldn't have been right."

"What do you mean? He had it coming, being so disrespectful like that."

"Maybe so, Randy, but at the same time, we have a special responsibility that comes with being bigger and stronger than regular men. I have a corny saying that goes, you should only use your super-powers for good, not evil. The absolute worst scumbags are the guys who get big and strong and act like bullies, starting fights to prove what tough guys they are.

That kid on the dancefloor was like that. I wish I could take away his gym membership and ban him from lifting again until he smartened up and lost his crappy attitude. People have the idea already that we bodybuilders are mean and hostile. You can't feed into that or else we all look like a-holes.

Luckily, being big does discourage a lot of would-be troublemakers from starting anything with you. Had I been the same size as that creep macking on Janet, he may have tried to start a fight."

"So what, I have to take crap from idiots like the one tonight? I can't ever stand up for myself?"

"I never said that. If someone continues to be disrespectful after you have either ignored or warned him, or if they invade the personal space of you or your woman, then it's on like Donkey Kong. Light his ass up like a Christmas tree. But fighting should always be a last resort. This isn't fifth grade anymore. Fighting when you are an adult has serious consequences, mostly legal in nature. Unless you are fighting in the UFC or K-1, you will most likely wind up in some kind of trouble afterward. One thing I would recommend is to not be so conspicuous. I wouldn't wear a shirt like that out again."

"Aw, come on, I can't show off my hard work in the gym?" he pleaded.

"No, 'show off' being the key phrase here. Seeing you flaunting your muscles pisses off the regular guys and makes them feel insecure. A few of them will react to that by trying to show that they're tougher than you, in spite of your build. Put a few drinks into a guy like this, and he might even get the bright idea that beating you up would make all the other guys in the place respect him, and all the ladies want him."

Randy chuckled at that. "That's crazy!"

"I know, but male pride is a powerful thing that doesn't have much to do with reason and logic. But like I said, dress a little more modestly and you will rarely have a problem. Another thing I can recommend is to try to do at least some of your clubbing at the after-parties that follow the big bodybuilding shows like the Arnold, the Night of Champions, and the Olympia.

When the club is packed with meatheads, you no longer stand out as unusual and you can relax and have a good time without worrying about offending some jealous dweeb with your buffed body."

Randy was silent now, and appeared to be nodding off. I know he was putting in seventy-hour workweeks lately and was probably exhausted. In a minute he started snoring lightly. I turned the radio down and whispered toward the back.

"Mara?" She and Janet stopped talking.


"Do me a favor. I assume I am dropping off Randy at your place since he still lives with mommy and daddy?" It was dark, but I think I saw her blushing in the rearview mirror.

"Uh huh," she replied. I caught a glimpse of Janet glaring at me. That glare meant that if I came out with a crude sexual remark right now, my own plans of ending the night properly could very well be jeopardized.

"That shirt he has on. When you get a chance, I want you to rip it up. You can blame it on your dog."

"But I don't have any pets," she said.

"Then just tell him you hated it," I offered.

"Well, I do."

"Ron had them in every color a few years ago before I tossed them all in the trash," Janet piped in.

"Yes I did," I remembered fondly. "Those were the days."

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