This Man's Self-Image

Well, lads and lasses, I've lost some weight recently, 15-20 pounds in the last few weeks. Before anybody gets too excited, recall that I'm large enough to lose or gain ten pounds in a day, being all of 6'9" and weighing now right around 305 pounds. I started the year steady at 320+, but now am floating just above the "300 pounds of excellence" that my voicemail claims.

(Sidenote about my weight, which always surprises people, since it's hung on a frame nearly seven feet high. My driver's license claims that my weight is 225. I wasn't being vain...the clerk just wasn't ready to process 325 pounds that didn't look like they needed to crane-lifted out of a trailer.)

I'm not going to be spending any time in the gym. If I'm up early in the morning, all I can think about is coffee, and I've always been bored by weights anyway. I'd rather be trying to beat some guy at something. Running...well, running just isn't a big man's thing, we all hate it. And when I'm running in the morning, well, all I can think about is coffee.

Still, I've been getting in better and better shape these past few months. The first major factor in this has been a change in diet brought about by, let's say, "changed economic conditions". Less beer for pops. The second major factor is St. Andy's Rugby Football Club. We practice once a week, and play most weekends, and it's been enough to make a difference. The last rugby season I played, with another club, I never got any fitter at practice because they used the practice to push your fitness hard...which meant I was often knocked out early. This season, I'm running all practice and all 80 minutes on the rugby pitch on match day, so it's actually made a difference.

My personal preference in wifeliness involves softness around the edges. And that's what I have in Kimberly. We've been married for nearly ten years (I gained sixty pounds that first year), and we've both grown softer and rounder with each year. I'm very happy that my woman looks like we've been married for ten years, with all that comes with that, but (yes, unreasonably) I get a bit upset when Kimberly praises my for my round belly.

I'm happy I've been getting white hairs around my temples and sideburns, and can't wait to see some more make an appearance throughout the rest of the chin. I think they'll make me look the bow ties or pipes or hats I affect. I don't mind looking older or out of fashion; in fact, I relish it.

But the soft belly...I can't quite get past it. I enjoy being a huge powerful man, but I want to be that in a hard sort of way. You know, like a man. The wife thinks I'm silly. Besides thinking, of course, that I'm holding a to double standard. And it is true that I actively work to round out my wife, but resent her pointing out my own "rounding".

So I was flipping through some rugby photos online recently. There was a photo of me taking on a couple of young Furman players. To me it seems to say, "Get off me, little man, I have might deeds to accomplish." Yeah, I like it. A lot. I made it my facebook profile pic.

Scrolling on through the album, I find a photo of myself running down the sideline. I think to myself, "Yeah, I look good. Look at me. I'm big, I'm bearded, I'm strong. I'll have to thank whoever took that amazing action shot of an amazing man in action."

"Oh, and zoom in on that forearm...that's not bad. I don't even work out."

I keep browsing through the photos. Okay, so in this one I don't look like I'm traveling too fast, but I'm ready to hurt some people. And hey, check out those calf muscles. Still got some rope in those muscles, still got a little steel cording. Not bad, Joffre. Not bad at all."

Obviously I'm pretty high on myself, or at least on how these photos are making me look. I continue to scroll through, looking for other shots where I look good (there are plenty where I'm buried, or have my hands at my knees, panting for breath). "Sweet, sweet...that one looks good. Etcetera..." Kimberly is pretty uninterested in this exercise, until she sees this unexciting shot, no action, just the guys lining up for a scrum (click on it if you want to blow it up).

And this is the shot she focuses in on! From across the room, she spots me, and comes over making cutesy noises! The guys, according to her, look good, but I look especially cute, and here's why: she had zoomed in on my potbelly from the other side of the room. Now that's pretty rough. I'd spent all that time going through photos to find ones where I looked awesome and powerful and manly (WAR CRY! RAARGH!), but the only one that excited Kimberly was this potbelly shot.

I suppose I might as well give up thinking I need to be hard. Before I lose too much dignity and gravitas in a losing battle, I self-consciously choose to be a big comfortable teddy bear, ready to please his woman with big downy softness. *sigh*


  1. I can't believe I just kept reading on and on about how awesome and manly you look. I couldn't stop myself only because it felt like you were actually here. Or at least your ego was. I've missed you and all those great conversations we've had about how cool you are.

  2. Congratulations. You have overcome one of the greatest expressions of Paul Simon's self inflicted inferiority. You KNOW why you're soft in the middle, when the rest of your life is so hard. I salute you.


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