The Story About The Dude At The Gym

So there’s this dude at the gym I go to and he’s freakin’ hilarious. He fits no stereotype whatsoever, which makes his unintentional comedy act that much more impressive.

If you were to take a glance at the dude knowing nothing about his personality, this is what you’d see: a fit, spry Asian man in his forties standing roughly six-feet tall and appearing to be fairly well-put-together. If you saw this man in his element, however, you’d know that he is in fact so much more than this.

The first time I saw the dude, he was playing a game of half court one-on-one against a chubby kid who couldn’t have been more than 12 years old.

Digest that last sentence for a minute…and now let’s continue.

So here he is going hard against this poor, overweight Justin Bieber wannabe. And when I say going hard, I mean really going hard. Dude wasn’t shooting jumpers. He was ball-faking, head-faking, stutter-stepping, then going full blast at the cup from the top of the key. Like he was playing against Michael Jordan in the NBA Finals. Kid barely had a chance to get out of the way of dude’s thunderous layups. And dude was no slouch on defense, either. He spent the entire time ball-hawking kid like Gary Payton, giving him no room to breathe, shutting his sh*t down more or less. It was epic.

At first I thought maybe dude and kid knew each or something. Maybe dude was here as a mentor to kid. Maybe dude was kid’s coach. Maybe dude and kid, in spite of their vast ethnic differences, were somehow related. That theory was later shot down, however, when kid came walking into the weight room and told his mom about the old guy that had just whooped his ass on the hardwood. So much for that hypothesis.

The social awkwardness surrounding a game of one-on-one between two strangers who happen to be separated in age by three decades or so can make both parties look foolish. Kid, for instance, will have his game undressed in spite of giving it a Mark Madsen-esque effort. There’s no denying that. Dude, on the other hand, has three options:

1) He can flat-out refuse the challenge of playing kid, knowing that regardless of how the contest plays out, this is a lose-lose situation.

2) He can opt to play kid and do what most people would do, which is play it casual, go easy on the opponent, let kid hang around, then ultimately beat him in the waning moments.

3) He can opt to play kid and absolute destroy him, which is precisely what he chose to do.

My initial thoughts on dude after witnessing this total massacre were as follows: tries too hard, suffers from little man’s complex, insecure about his own shortcomings, cut from the high school junior varsity team, had his heart broken by at least one or two women, never been married, rarely involved in coitus.

I may have been right about a few of those prognostications, but dude threw me a curveball after his beatdown was complete: he went over to the sideline, pulled a laptop out of his bag, and started doing work on his computer. Seriously. Right there in the gym. Whilst wearing a brightly-colored sleeveless t-shirt, a brightly-colored pair of shorts, a pair of Jordan sneakers, a knee brace, and a titanium necklace. Yes, he was even playing ball in a titanium necklace. Making his legend grow further.

The second time I encountered dude at the gym, he was once again taking on a juvenile in a game of one-on-one. The kid he was playing this time was probably 17 or 18 years old, however, and resembled a much shorter, much portlier version of Luol Deng. That’s the way I saw it, at least. Oh, and on top of donning a brightly-colored outfit and sporting that same titanium necklace, dude was also listening to his iPod this time, too. Listening to music while playing an actual game. Fascinating.

After giving short portly Deng a taste of the Asian invasion, dude hit the weight room…with a copy of Muscle and Fitness magazine in his hand. He also had his laptop nearby, along with a sheet to track his lifting regimen. Later, I noticed that he was carrying a copy of Wired magazine, as well. I never once saw him read either of the publications he toted around. He simply held onto both magazines as he worked out.

And then there was the workout itself. Naturally, it was glorious.

I watched as dude went over to the seated leg press machine and threw 140 pounds on the rack. A fairly light load. I’ll admit I was expecting much more from a champion like this. But when he got down and started doing his reps, the weight didn’t matter. Dude’s form was awesome.

First of all, he made his entire body rigid. As if thousands upon thousands of volts of electricity were coursing through his veins.

Secondly, he tilted his head back, closed his eyes as tight as nature would allow, turned his face into the ultimate grimace, and proceeded to give off a look of pure, unadulterated agony. I actually felt worried for the guy. Like maybe he was causing unnecessary pain unto himself as he lifted.

Thirdly, he pressed the rack at hyper speed. I mean it. He was kicking that rack like a horse on cocaine. I thought he might bust a knee or send a weight plate flying through the wall with the ferocity he was displaying. It wasn’t just me that noticed this, either. Other people throughout the room had paused their own workouts to watch dude in action. He was that intriguing.

By the time I was ready to leave, dude was still doing his thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if he spent all day working out. He seemed that committed to his own cause.

You’re probably waiting for a moral to this tale or some grandiose conclusion. Fact is, there isn’t one. This is what I consider to be a developing story. I fully expect to see dude every time I go to the gym. My goal is to get a picture with him at some point (note I said “with him,” not “of him”…I want the full effect) and possibly sit him down for an interview. He’s like Jet Li, Chuck Norris, and Rain Man all rolled into one oddball package. I love it. The world needs more people like this.

Stay tuned. This could be a lot of fun for all of us.

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