Arm-wrestling agony! One writer's crushing defeat and subsequent redemption
Bring it on, world. I've got numbers on my side.
In the grand tradition of pugilists like Rocky Balboa and, to a lesser extent, Rudy Ruettiger, I have a demanding workout routine: Every morning, I get up, eat four steaks, drink a dozen raw eggs directly from the blender, oil myself up and stare at my imposing delts in the mirror for at least 45 minutes. I don't actually engage in any physical activity besides steering my car and speed-typing, but I figured with the whole delt-oiling thing that I pretty much had my bases covered just in case, some day, I might be forced to prove my manliness in that most manly of contests, arm-wrestling. This weekend, I was proved wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong.
When I showed up to the first qualifying round of the Denver Nationals Championship Arm Wrestling, I took a moment to survey my meager competition and immediately declared myself the winner; there were a couple of pretty skinny guys, one guy who was wearing sunglasses even though it was night, another guy who was pretty good at ring on a hook and a guy with a large scar on his tree-trunk-like bicep from when, I was told, he broke his arm in actual, professional arm-wrestling. That guy wasn't participating -- he was just there to survey the scene -- but I figured if it came down to it I could take him. I took off my cardigan sweater and rolled up my sleeves for extra intimidation. "You Shook Me All Night Long" was playing on the jukebox, and I was about to shake this motherfucker. All night long.
After catching up with photographer Kate Levy, purchasing my lady a glass of the bar's finest Yellowtail, watching a few dudes go head-to-head and making sure everyone in the place had seen my biceps -- which were bearing a positively uncanny resemblance to coils of rugged steel -- it was time for the winner to take the spoils. I reared back and demanded a challenger.
The first to approach was ring-on-a-hook guy, and it was obvious he was intimidated; he seemed comfortable enough to the casual observer, true, but it was a hollow comfort. Squaring off on the regulation arm-wrestling table, we prepared for the bout. My steely gaze rivaled my steely biceps.
And then, the unimaginable happened: I lost.
I'd gotten overconfident. Like Apollo Creed in Rocky 2, I'd arrogantly allowed myself to see victory as a foregone conclusion. True, my next challenger approached with wolf-like hunger in his eyes and neatly dispatched me -- but in the end, my real opponent had been my own hubris.
I spent the next 18 hours weeping.
It wasn't until Sunday evening, while I was eating the last of an econo-size box of choco tacos and watching March Madness through an endless sheet of tears, that I realized the truth. A victorious basketball player was doing a post-game interview with an attractive woman and telling her that his team had won by giving 110 percent -- and it came to me: My problem was, I had only given 100 percent, foolishly assuming that my limits and the limits of mathematical possibility would coincide.
It won't happen again. And though I did not qualify to participate in the championship round at the Bannock Street Garage on April 2, I'll be back again, and I will win. Not with heart and determination like Rocky -- that shit is for chumps, I realized -- but instead like George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election: with questionable mathematics.
And let the winner take the fucking spoils.
Get the Arts and Theater Newsletter
Weekly information keeping you in the know when it comes to the art and theater scene. Find out about upcoming performances, exhibitions, openings and special events.