fatmanSpotting the Fat Man

by Daniel DiFranco

I’m probably what you’d call a gym rat. I am in constant fear of the fat man. My mother is a rail, but my father was the size of a house. I’m not being hyperbolic. When he died they had to cut a hole in the living room wall. A giant fucking hole in the room where the TV used to be. Where I used to watch “Sesame Street” as a kid. Where I was forced to be a goddamn orderly after my father couldn’t move anymore.

We had to pay for a bigger casket. The crematorium wouldn’t have him, and my mother got milked out of an extra two hundred for ground at the cemetery. It was embarrassing.

When he died, I didn’t eat for a week. Everyone thought it was depression, but it wasn’t. Truth is I didn’t give a rat’s ass about him. I saw him get fatter and fatter over the years until he couldn’t work anymore. He somehow managed to get disability, but my mother still had to get a second job to cover our expenses.

Then he died. Of fatness. The death certificate said “cardiac arrest,” but it didn’t say “brought on by too much visceral fat surrounding the deceased’s vital organs.” But I knew. We all knew. I got to tell you, there was a relief in the house after he was gone.

Although I take after my mother, physically, and thank God for that, I can feel the genetic fat man lurking in the closet of my DNA, waiting for that one misstep, that one extra helping at dessert time, that one injury that puts me in a bed where I’ll only burn 2021.24 calories a day.

I’ve been going to the gym six days a week. 30 minutes of weights, 30 minutes of cardio—60 minutes of cardio depending on the day. When it’s nice out, which is most days, I’ll lube up my thighs and nipples with a slab of Vaseline and run and run and run. Not in it for the speed or distance, just for the time. Each footfall keeps the fat man under the bed.

Since I’ve started my regime, I’ve learned lots of things about the gym and working out that are useful. Here’s some free advice and just plain good etiquette:

If you’re at the gym and someone asks you to spot them, make up an excuse and walk away. Any excuse will do. I usually have headphones on, which helps me ignore most people. When I see someone approach me I put on my tough face, start moving my head with vigor, like I’m digging big time whatever song is playing, clap my hands once in a “let’s do this shit!” manner, and go to whatever machine is nearest.

If there is no machine nearby, and you have forgotten your headphones, you can tell them you have:

A) Diarrhea (this will get you out of nearly any situation).
B) A muscle spasm, which makes your hand inoperable. Then show them your clenched-up fist and proceed to work on your legs until they leave.
C) Or, ask them to spot you first. With this option you must put a low amount of weight on the bar, and struggle with it. I mean really fucking sell it. Don’t even do one. They won’t trust you to spot them after that.

The person that asks for help spotting is really saying, “Hey there, guy. I put too much weight on the bar, more than I can lift, really, but I want to show you what I did before I grunt loud and drop heavy shit on the floor or rungs. Look at all the weights. They go from big to small. I made them do that.”

This person can never do one by themselves. They want you to think they can do it. They know you can’t. But, they want you to think that this is normal for them. They’ll always ask for help on the lift before they hold the weight at arm’s length for a second or two before lowering it to their chest. This is when their face will turn purple, and they will squeeze out “spot” from their clenched mouths. This is where you are supposed to help them move the weight up and say encouraging things like, “You got this!” and “Come on!” and “Don’t give up on me now goddammit!”

They made themselves helpless and are forced to ask for assistance. Their survival depends on it. You have to adjust your life because of their needs and mistakes. It’s a big fucking drag when you think about it. Who needs that? Just walk away.


Daniel DiFranco learned the hard way there is no peanut butter in Europe, and he did things he is not proud of to satisfy this need. He can be found at danieldifranco.net and @DanielDiFranco…and nowhere else (don’t look).
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