If you had asked me, say, a year ago to make a list of things I’d be least likely to do in my life, “Attend an amateur body building competition” would probably have been right up on top of the list next to “Become a Navy SEAL” and “Compete in the Kentucky Derby…as a horse.” But my fabulous roommate Brian’s great boyfriend Ken, in a moment of questionable judgment about 8 months ago, decided to train for one such event. Which is how I found myself a couple weeks ago at a casino in western Oregon with Brian, my friend Kara and some of Ken’s friends watching a bunch of VERY tan, rather oily and slightly frightening people flex their muscles on a stage decked with neon and black lights.
First of all, let me explain a little about what “training” for a body building competition entails. Ken has not only been working out daily, but he’s been rigorously dieting for the better part of a year. He eats every couple hours and consumes very strange things: plain chicken with mustard, giant scoops of cashew butter, olive oil by the spoonful. He drinks protein shakes and takes vitamin supplements like they’re going out of style. And whenever he has a “cheat day,” he gorges himself on carbs and then crashes on the couch for a while until his blood sugar gets back to normal. At one point last fall, he made a comment about how he doesn’t eat for taste… So, I took it upon myself to pretty much ONLY eat for taste whenever we were together. He’d order egg whites cooked in Pam for brunch – I’d get Belgian waffles with ice cream and extra powdered sugar. I think it’s important to maintain the world’s equilibrium.
When my friend Kara told one of her coworkers that she was going to Lincoln City to watch Brian’s boyfriend Ken compete, the coworker responded, “Oh, so you’re going to support Ken? That’s so nice!”
“No…” Kara replied, “We’re going to support Brian.”
And I think he needed it. I mean, when Kara and I got to Lincoln City and met the boys at the house Ken had rented for the weekend, we almost introduced ourselves to Ken because he was so tan we didn’t recognize him. Only a very talented airbrush artist can make this:
There were smudges of spray tan on all of the couch pillows, where Ken had taken a nap. Brian had a smear of bronze on his forearm where he had rested it on Ken’s arm during the night. And as Brian reminded us, “I’m Mexican! I don’t need this!”
The contest itself was surreal. We had to watch dozens of women with bleach-blonde hair and sparkly string bikinis flex their muscles and walk across the stage in VERY high heels (with clear plastic platforms) before the men’s competition started, but I think it just made us cheer even louder when we saw Ken.
His performance was awesome. So awesome, in fact, that he won First Runner Up in his weight class.
After each of the weight classes took the stage, the overall winners for both the men’s and the women’s competitions were announced. The female winner thanked her family – her husband and two teenage boys – for putting up with her throughout all of her training. “I know everyone’s here to celebrate the competitors,” she said, “but what we do wouldn’t be possible without our families and loved ones. They have to deal with our mood swings and crazy structured lives. They have the toughest jobs.”
So congrats, Brian. You did it. Maybe Ken will let you borrow his trophy for a few days.
Although you might want to wash it first, in case it still has spray tan on it.