Something very odd has happened.

You know the competition I entered at the gym when I walked in to lose weight and everyone was like “you should probably gain some weight” and so I joined the biggest gainer and have been working out harder than I ever have before in my life to gain tons of muscle mass?

 Why hello there. I see you’ve come to the gym to gain weight. Because why else would an obese creature like yourself be here?
(Also, personal mission: don’t have a cat photo in the next five posts)

Well, I’m winning the competition. By like, a lot.

Normally, this kind of thing would be really awesome in every way! But, I’ve been having some difficulties. It pretty much boils down to this: I have no idea how to respond normally to praise about athletic accomplishments. And it’s getting ridiculous. I think my trainer is wondering if I might actually be an idiot savant.

It’s easy to explain why this is happening. I mean, when I was in high school I was three Magic the Gathering cards away from being the kid who literally ran from class to class like a bull with his head down knocking people over as he went.(Clarification: I never actually played Magic the Gathering. But I probably should have. Because it might have taken me up the social ladder.) I just had so many strikes against me. I mean, I was a violinist who wrote poems and sang in the choir and was a lead(ish) in the school play and did not play sports and cried a lot and had a menstrual cycle and did I mention that I’m currently married to a beautiful woman? Because I think that’s important to emphasize at the end of that sentence.

When this is what high school (i.e. the glory years of youth) looked like for you, then when you start winning weightlifting competitions in your early 30’s you have exchanges that end up looking something like the following:

I am at the gym, working my butt off. I’m in the middle of flipping a tractor tire across the gym floor. I am not training with Brandon, my trainer, today but the results are posted in the entrance, indicating that I’m number one. Suddenly I hear his voice. 

Brandon: (whoops from across the gym) Who is number one!!!???? 

Me: (looks up like a deer sensing danger, unsure of how to react) 

Brandon: (bellows as he approaches, starts addressing everyone on the floor) That guy right there looks the type of beast that takes first place! 

Me: (looks around at everyone on the gym floor nervously)

Brandon: That guy over there flipping the tire? He’s the kind of guy that’s NUMBER ONE (hoots) 

Me: *curtsies daintily*


Me: *bows deeply realizing the curtsy was all wrong* 

Brandon: (now having gotten over to me) You’re doing awesome, man! Good job. (gives me a high five) 

Me: (Completely misses Brandon’s hand in the high five and stumbles forward due to the momentum while uttering) Top of the mornin’ to ya! 

Brandon: (deep breath, head shake)…So, you almost done working out? 

Me:  Thanks! 

Brandon: (stares at me in confusion)

(awkward silence) 

Me:… well, this tire isn’t going to flip across the entire gym floor itself, so I best get to it. (stumbles forward) 

Brandon: Hit it hard! 

Me: (actually hits the tire hard) 

Brandon: Your work out. Hit your workout hard. (Pats me on the shoulder) 

Me: (flinches like a girl at the shoulder pat) Oh, okay. Yeah. I totally will hit it hard. 

Brandon: (walks away baffled)

I’m pretty sure even the gym machines feel uncomfortable for me during such exchanges.

But what’s worse is I have no idea, whatsoever, how to talk trash. Apparently the guy right below me is some young punk who’s at the gym all the time and Brandon’s like “yeah, him and his trainer are talking a lot of sh*#, saying they’re gonna take you.”

I know my response should be something really bad-A, like maybe “you tell that young whipper-snapper that he’s certainly got his work cut out for him coming up against this jokester!” *jolly fist pump* but instead my brain short-circuits and has a fear reaction, and all I want to say is “TELL HIM NOT TO HURT ME. I don’t actually mean to be getting stronger. All this new muscle is just for decoration. You tell him to leave me alone.”

It’s all very awkward, and makes me subconsciously want to self sabotage and start eating ho hos like they’re going out of style. (NEWS UPDATE: ho hos are 100% out of style.)

Tomorrow I go in to see the newest results. I really want to win this thing because I want the $. But for reasons I think are obvious, there’s a part of me that kinda hopes the young whipper-snapper has taken his place at the top, and I can then feel comfortable back in my zone of mediocrity, totally out of the line of sight of anybody’s trash talking or high fives or loud bellows.

Maybe then I can have a conversation with my trainer that doesn’t end in him thinking he’s Tom Cruise and I’m Rain Man.

I couldn’t find a picture to go with this post, and wife looked up “awkward exercise” and uncovered this gem, which she insisted I put in because she somehow feels like it fits and I’m still not sure why.
(Any ideas on what the caption of the buffalo/little person in the kitchen photo should be, or how it relates to me winning a weightlifting competition?)


You might assume that I am referencing the fact that the Dow Jones just dropped 500points, but I don’t give a crap about that! That won’t affect me!

My news is even more important.

The results are in, and I’m still in first place in the competition. Imma take this thing.

Also, what I said to Brandon as I left the gym today: “Hey man, thanks. You teach me so much. How to have proper form as I do free weights. How to position myself for squats. How to give a high five that makes contact… you really go the extra mile.”  
Photo attribution here.


  1. Holy crap. This is the first post I've felt so awkward that I wasn't sure I could finish reading it. This raises the stakes, yet again.

    Maybe to ease your anxiety, you can change the leader board caption to something along the lines of "Most awkward blog post writer." This will then play to all your strengths. You might even have an appropriate response to the inevitable positive encouragement.


  2. Congrats and great work. You've got nerves (and apparently muscles) of steel.

    You and President Heber J. Grant (remember baseball?) will be in next year's Sunday School manual.

  3. @Mr. Wendel–My post made you feel that awkward??? Then my work here is done! (drops mic and walks off stage)

    @Mr. Wendel Again–Thank and thank you. And thank you?

    @The Onion–A satin sash would be very, very befitting, I must say. I'll go with blue, fo sho. So, I think the little person really is little, and the bufallo really is about to eat him. That's just my take, though.

  4. Clearly the buffalo is a metaphor for the brawny strength of thy muscles, sir. And the man dwarfed by the beast is your Inner Weed, unsure as what to do with this unexpected circumstance.

    Also, I think you can get away with grunting in response to any trash talk at the gym. Or at least that seems to be the primary method of communication at the gym I go to….

  5. I am jealous that you are so successful and that you are going to have gigantic muscles and an even leaner body next time I see you. Please don't hurt me. ( I think you are cool).

  6. I'm reminded of the scene in Birdcage when Robin Williams is trying to teach Nathan Lane to hold a manly conversation:

    Armand: Al, you old son of a bitch! How ya doin'? How do you feel about that call today? I mean the Dolphins! Fourth-and-three play on their 30 yard line with only 34 seconds to go!

    Albert: How do you think I feel? Betrayed, bewildered… wrong response?

    Armand: I'm not sure.

    Congratulations on how well you're doing in the competition.

  7. @melisathemuse–Why, your interpretation seems spot on to me. Especially the part about the brawny strength of my muscles. Also, I do plenty of grunting during the actual lifting. Not so much in the interim, however.

    @Jenni–I promise to never, ever hurt you. Like Michael Jackson (high pitched voice) "I'm a lover, not a fighter"

    @Mary Mary–I can tell you from personal experience of being fatter than that cat: yes, that is the way it is.

    @Paul Joseph–Hit it hard man. You're workout, I mean. Not a big tractor tire. Just in case that was confusing to you.

    @becca–Why thank you!

    @Wilma–Oh man. I just reminded you of the Birdcage. YIKES. (holds up limp wrist in protest, then z-snaps with a sassy head snake) I have no idea whatsoever what you might mean with that comparison! (grunts) Er I mean, what was that? I'm busy blasting my pecs. Dude, I just put up some serious frickin' weight over here. (scratches crotch) (Oh, and btw, thanks about the competition.)

  8. Only the description of the conversation reminded me of Birdcage, NOT YOU PERSONALLY–unless you have Neptune residing in your entry hall or you wear pink socks with your suit. *ducks and runs as fast as I can* Just kidding. 🙂

  9. @Wilma–Whoa, Wilma, I want you to know that while you were leaving a comment here, I was leaving a comment over on your blog at the exact same time. WHAT ARE THE CHANCES? I think we just shared something very special. Also, I don't wear pink socks, and I've actually never seen the movie. Though I've heard it's hilarious. (From what you've shared it sounds like a classic, ha.)

  10. Too funny! I answered you over there. It is odd. Might have something to do with being in the same time zone at this part of the year and both sort of being night owls? Maybe. You should watch the movie if you ever get a chance. It's so funny. Hank Azaria is a trip-and-a-half in it. We went to see it with a friend who is now a priest–he wasn't too impressed but we thought it was hilarious. Guess we weren't cut out for the religious life. LOL

  11. @Wilma–haha, I definitely have to do that.

    @AEBarks–All right. Step one: watch "The Birdcage." Step two: watch "Just one of the guys." Step three: grunt. I think I have an action plan. This is gonna be life-altering. I can feel it!

    PS–this just in, I'm still winning. Also, quote as I left the gym today: "Brandon, you teach me so much. How to have proper form as I do free weights. How to position myself for squats. How to give a high five… you really go the extra mile."

    I think I'm going to post that last thing as an update, cuz it's important news. Maybe even more important than the Dow Jones plummeting 500 points today. Kind of a toss up, really.

  12. Oh I thought of something else! All the psycho buff guys at my gym make these terrible noises when they lift weights. It sounds like pooping and maybe sex at the same time. Try an obnoxious grunt next time you do leg presses.

  13. So, I kind of wish I could just email you, but that's totally weird…ha ha ha (insert creepiness). Anyway, I like the blog, and you remind me of my mormon brother in all sorts of random ways…including the eye thing. I love the posts, and even though I am not LDS it reminds me of my roots in a good way.

    PS, I have a child, and the Bambi nuggets conversation was one of the most awesomely uncomfortable and hilarious things I have ever read. Also, my "sex" talk was incredibly uncomfortable, especially since it was also with my dad, but I am a girl. So…yeah. Extra awkward points.

    Kudos, and keep up the blogging!

  14. @Celestia–First, emailing me is officially not weird and I would actually love that because I'm all kinds of down with creepiness (insert even more creepiness). Second I'm honored that I remind you of your brother, and that I remind you of your roots in a good way. That's actually a really cool compliment, and I really appreciate you dropping a note.

    Also, are you saying I should defer the sex talk with my girls to Wife? *ponders deeply*

    In closing, you seem very cool.

  15. You know, at 26 I am the same way. I never know how to respond to enthusiasm when it's over something I'm doing or have done. I think I'm getting better, just smile (let yourself feel good about the positive) and yell, YEAH!!! Maybe add an arm pump.

    I did play sports when I was younger…and by that I mean I played soccer once, I think in 1st grade. I stopped after one "season" because I was on the chubbier side but the one time I jumped up to stop the ball with my chest like other teammates had done, I was called out for, get this, they thought I was going to use my hands. I may have put my hands above my head to give that extra little umph to jump as high as I did, but I never touched the ball with my hands. I felt like crap and never played again. I was decent at baseball though, I stopped after the league where kids pitch to each other.

    My awkward moment wen it comes to encouragement now? When I was an assistant scout master and young men's secretary, we were playing baseball with the young women at a local middle school and I apparently remembered how to stand, catch and throw pretty well apparently. Our young men's president, probably one of the cooler guys I know, commented on it and I answered his question about playing sports with an awkward yeah and silence….like a really long awkward pause that happened as he gave me a ride home because we carpooled. Sweeeet.

    So how'd the contest go?

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