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Yuletide Meanderings

Draper Bomb Squad
Back logo of the old Draper Bomb Squad tee shirt

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There was a time (last year) when I could say Merry Christmas without fear of being shackled and placed in stocks in the town square as a chastisement for treason or witchcraft or inferring a religious association. Some, a miserable few, would like to restrict you and me from goodness in the name of freedom. So... I guess I’ll have to say happy holidays, dear friend, that is, if the term "dear" is not too suggestive or intimate, and happy is a state of mind we ought no longer experience 'cuz it is too easily confused with joy, an emotion frequently interlaced with the birth of Jesus. Oops! I’m in big trouble now... said the "J" word.

Ho ho ho. Just jokin' around with the world's greatest assortment of magnificent people -- that would be you. I cannot believe the goofiness that’s whirling in the winds when it’s time, more than ever, for us to embrace.

Weightlifting is a generous and playful partner bestowing us with riches too numerous to tally. Iron knows no prejudice, that’s why we respect it. Steel does not deceive and for this we love it. Gravity is pure and offers us far more than we can give in return. The lifter understands there is poetry in form, solitude in focus and vitality in pace. He seeks and finds excitement in reps, exhilaration in sets and fulfillment in a workout completed. Worldly woes fade in the midst of training, and stress disperses as its fuel. There’s sanctuary in a good gym, a gathering of like spirits beholden to similar truths.

Naturally, little of worth comes without hard work and time, pain and sacrifice, monotony and disillusion. These, stern teachers and advocates in disguise, prepare us for life’s more serious and raging battles beyond the thud and thunder of the metal hitting the lifting platform. The good life here on earth isn’t free; you’ve got to earn it and learn it, love it and deserve it.

Since we’re only three days before Christmas, there’s hardly enough time for one last cheery pump. Who’ll be making it to the gym -- garage, basement, spare room, bedroom corner -- on Christmas Eve day? I plan to. I’m desperate. I’ll be there with about a dozen desperate friends, or Desperados, as we prefer to be called. We’re a tough bunch of hardcore and mean (insecure and guilty) lifters whose hands itch to grip the weights and toss them heavenward. On the Big Day itself we, like regular people, sit around and feast and converse and visit... and we doodle on the back of our training logs, drawing pictures of dumbbells and benches and stick people wearing tank tops and doing Zottman curls. We’re also artistic and deep.

Have you noticed or is it just me? Time has a particular effect on us this time of year. Obviously! It’s the end of yet one more year, 2004 becomes 2005. One entire year is inexorably, absolutely gone in a split second, a second we anticipate with strange hope and enchantment, regret and relief, guilt and loss for days. In the very next second -- zoom -- we’re overwhelmed with... what? The bigness, boldness and newness of the New Year; joy, expectation, promise, tradition, liquor, fireworks, party time as usual, real New Year’s resolutions and commitments? It’s another man-made mystery.

Furthermore, back in October we were reminded by everyone invested that Christmas was just around the corner. Sixty-six shopping days left till Christmas, and the countdown began. Swell, but what happened to summer? I’m still working on my tan. The year... no, the years... are flying by and I’m just a kid. I don’t know whether to hurry or slow down. I’m getting -- no, no, not me, us -- we’re getting old... not old, but older, or rather, we’re adding a few strong and wonderful years to our lives. Phew. That was a close one.

Yes, time screams in our ear this time of year. The gifts under the tree are different, also. No more cross-bow, hiking boots, kayak and chain saw for me; it’s a huge warm parka in which moving fast is impossible, a marble chess set (I don’t know a king from a pawn), slippers and a set of adjustable exercise bands for training at home in the bedroom. It’s scary just joking about this stuff. If ya don’t mind, I’ll stop right here.

I expect my workout on the 24th to be a collection of choice exercises to cover the whole body. Just keep moving and enjoy myself, no pressure. Actually, I’m due for a strong leg workout, which is what we did traditionally at the Muscle Beach Gym. Zabo and I would hit 20 sets of squats and drink a gallon of milk and watch the spiders eat away the plaster. That was 40 years ago; today, I’d rather do shoulders and arms, my favorite combination, and blast away for two gluttonous hours -- pumping and burning. How about you? You know what’s fun? Slumpbusters. Maybe that’s what I’ll do... find a partner in the mood for madness and do a selection of everlovin’ slumpbusters. We’ll get crazy, get ripped.

Can’t wait!

Can you imagine this stuff is free? People complain about trivial things -- bicker, cause trouble, fight, start wars, terrorize, when all they have to do is go down to the gym, lift weights and everything’s alright. It’s better than alright, it’s grand; it’s full of hope and splendor and understanding and forgiveness and life and happiness.

I’m gonna wear my dandy Bomb Squad T-shirt to the gym the day before Christmas. Pick them up tomorrow in San Jose, where I’ll carefully cut out the neck at the seam, drag the rag onto my body and get it fully saturated, stretched and friendly.

Merry Christmas, Bombers. I’ll catch ya before the New Year.

God’s strength forever...

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