Daddy muscle

By Richard Jasper 
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I started lifting when Jen was born. I figured in about 14-15 years she was going to be swarmed with high school jocks and that I’d need some muscle to fend them off. She was, after all, the most beautiful girl in the world, just like her mom, Julie.

I certainly had my work cut out for me. At 21 I carried all of 140 pounds on my 5 foot, 11 inch frame. At least it seemed I had something to work with, having nicely wide shoulders, narrow hips, a slender waist, plus nice forearms and calves, even to be such a skinny thing.

But I was also going to school part-time and working part-time in my father-in-law’s hardware store and even though he liked me well-enough and adored his granddaughter he was still pretty miffed that I’d knocked Julie up, even though (and, no, I never told him this) it was her idea and in fact I’d never had sex before then. Which just goes to show even a skinny doofus can knock one out of the park at his first time up to bat, it’s all a roll of the dice.

I was pleased, even so, that the gains came steady, 30 pounds the first year, 20 pounds the next. Julie certainly liked having a biggish, hunky husband and even the Old Man was beginning to think I might turn into a man after all. Certainly I was beginning to look the part. At 190 pounds I was all chest and shoulders, with nice arms, quads, and calves and still no more than a 30 inch waist. The Old Man still had a good 40-50 pounds on me but he was 50 and some of that was around the middle and I was nearly as strong, something the former football player in him seemed to admire.

At 23 Julie and I had both finished our bachelor’s degrees and the next big question was who was going to graduate school first. I was eager to get my MBA and out of the hardware business (and out of the Old Man’s house) but she’d spent two years at home with our precious Jen and needed a change. The Old Man was willing to change things up at work so that I could spend more time at home with Jen (and more time working out, I thought to myself) while Julie completed her master’s degree in library studies. Eighteen months later Julie had her MLS and I was 20 pounds heavier. At 210 pounds I was now noticeably stronger than the Old Man and guys at the gym were encouraging me to think about competing. Jen, now 3 1/2, loved it when I bounced my pecs; she told everyone her daddy was “goofy,” which I took as the highest possible compliment.

There are times of life when everything seems suffused with a radiant light. That was one of them. I’ve learned, to my dismay, that that’s usually when things are most likely to go wrong.


It was an icy November day. Julie was taking the Old Man to have his colonoscopy, while I covered for him at work. Jen was in pre-school. The semi lost its brakes coming down Patterson Pike, which has seen more than its share of fatalities over the years. The incline and the S-curve are treacherous on a hot rainy day, with freezing rain it can be deadly.

“Daddy,” Jen said when we were walking back to the limo, “I know I’m not going to see Mommy or the Old Man again. I know they’re in heaven. But I forgot to say goodbye!”

The look on her beautiful little face killed me.

“I know, baby,” I told her. “I forgot to say ‘goodbye,’ too.”

I held her close on the way back to the big, empty house.

“The thing to remember, baby girl, is that Mommy and the Old Man know how much you love them. They’re sorry they had to leave without saying ‘goodbye’ but they don’t want you to feel bad about it, they know you would have if you could have.”

That seemed to help a lot. So we went along.

There were so many things to take care of, wills and estates and all of that. I was surprised to find that the Old Man had a really generous insurance policy and that both Julie and I were listed as beneficiaries. It all went to me. I put half of it in a trust for Jen’s college education or whatever. Likewise, it turned out that the hardware store was doing better than I had thought and that the Old Man, looking toward an early retirement, had already begun talking to possible buyers. He had already figured out that my interests, and Julie’s, lay elsewhere and that it wasn’t something that he’d be handing down for future generations. Between the insurance and the sale of the store I had enough for me and Jen to live on comfortably for several years. I figured that under the circumstances being a full-time (or nearly so) stay at home dad was the best thing I could give Jen.

I went all out, of course, becoming a regular Mr. Mom, doing all that uber-Mom stuff (the cookies, the parties, the crafts, the projects) and at the same time busting my ass in the gym (Jen needed a social life outside of me and she was the darling of pre-school, kindergarten, 1st grade, and everywhere she went, and I took that as my gym time.)

Still my progress was slower than it had been before, more maintenance than rapid growth. I was still putting on about 5 pounds a year but compared to what I was doing before that was really nothing. Even so, I was hard as a rock, with my body fat never creeping above 10%, and still strong as an ox. Five years on Jen was a happy well-adjusted 3rd grader and I was tiring of the stay at home dad routine. The investments I had made from the sale of the hardware store had done much better than I had expected, enough so that there was some left over to do something different.

I opened a gym and, in so doing, started a new and unexpected life.


About six months after I opened the gym, Jen came to me with a surprise proposition.

“Daddy,” she said, “it’s time for you to take a vacation. I have it all figured out. You go to Los Angeles for a week and I’ll stay with Meg [Jen’s 10 year old first cousin] and Aunt Sarah.”

Uh…

“Have you talked to Aunt Sarah about this?” I asked.

At that precise moment, the phone rang. Sarah, naturally.

“Roger, just do what she says. She and Meg have been plotting this for a while. It will be good for you and good for them. Besides, we’re outnumbered.”

I neglected to point out that there were two of us and two of them and that we were the adults while they were a couple of 4th graders. But in 30 years I’d never won an argument with my “big” sister (who was all of 5’2”) so I did what “little” brothers were supposed to do, I rolled over. A couple of weeks later I was on a plane headed for Los Angeles, sitting in first class next to a handsome fella who reminded a lot of the Old Man, if the Old Man had been in better shape and had a taste for expensive suits. Late 40s, beefy but broad shouldered, thick in the chest but not around the middle. Like I said, a handsome fella.

“Do you compete?” he asked when I woke – I didn’t realize I was dozing – from a mini nap.

“Compete…?”

He chuckled.

“In bodybuilding,” he answered. “You’re obviously very keen on it!”

I grinned.

“Well, as a matter of fact, no, I don’t compete, although I’ve certainly thought about it from time to time.”

“Well, why the hell not?”

I sighed.

“A couple of reasons, really,” I replied. “One, I own a gym and I really wouldn’t like to be in the position of competing with my patrons. Another, I have a 9-year-old daughter and the idea of being up there on stage in a poser while she and her little girl friends are out there in the audience just gives me the willies!”

He laughed, then turned serious:

You have a nine-year-old daughter? How could that be? You’re what, 22?”

“Just turned 30, actually, but thanks for the compliment!”

I told him the whole story, of course, about Julie and Jen and the Old Man and widowhood, fatherhood, being a stay at home dad, being a gym owner. Jim turned out to be a great guy, as well as a handsome one, and we talked the whole way to Los Angeles, trading names and then business cards and promising to stay in touch.

“For that matter,” Jim said, “are you planning to go to ‘Mecca’?”

“Mecca?”

He grinned.

“You know, Gold’s in Venice.”

I blushed.

“Well, yeah, I guess I’ll go check it out. I’m kinda nervous about whether they’d let a guy like me in.”

He snorted.

“Pfft, you’ll more than hold your own but tell you what – I’m a member there, as well as a couple of other places, and if you’d like I’ll come by tomorrow and take you there and show you around.”

I was flabbergasted – and thoroughly pleased.

“That would be mega cool!”

Los Angeles was pretty overwhelming. The hills and the cars and the palm trees and the skyscrapers and the people. I felt like Jethro in the first episode of the Beverly Hillbillies. Getting checked in, getting fed, finding my way around, giving Jen (and Meg and Sarah) and the gym a call, took all afternoon. I was happy to crash early. Next morning when Jim showed up I wasn’t sure whether to be more surprised by his cherry red Lexus convertible or the fact that the man was carrying some major beef, which his expensively tailored suit had done such a good job of covering up. He was just my height and at 230 pounds he was only a bit shy of my 240, with nice broad shoulders, meaty arms, a thick chest (totally covered in a glorious carpet of silver curls) and a trim waist.

“Jeez, man,” I told him while getting into the car, “you’re the one who ought to be competing.”

As it turned out, he had competed a time or two in his 20s “but I love eating and I detest cardio – I’ve never been ripped, like you are, so I figured I’d just work on being the best muscle daddy I could be.”

I looked askance at that one.

“You have kids, too?”

He laughed.

“Not that kind of daddy,” he replied.

Gold’s turned out to be everything I’d imagined it would be, minus all the stars. (Well, in fact, I’m pretty sure that one guy was Tom Prince but he’s retired now and not nearly as big as he used to be. Still a handsome, extremely well-built fella, even so.)

Jim kept me from walking into things, reminded me that staring was often considered rude, and pointed out when my mouth had been hanging open too long. And did his best to keep up with me. For 48 he was one strong dude but he wasn’t doing 500 pounds for reps on the incline bench and doing hammer curls with 125 pound dumbbells either. For that matter, no one else was doing that, at least not when we were there.

“Shit, man,” Jim said, “you really DO have it going on.”

We finished our work-out and hit the showers. I noticed as I was changing that Jim had some major wood going on. Then I noticed that I had some major wood going on, too!

“Um….”


“You are gay, aren’t you?”

I gaped. There it was out in the open.

“Uh…”

Jim blushed.

“Oh, shit, man, I’m so sorry. I know you were married and I know you’re a dad but I just figured you were so into muscle…”

I sat down on the bench in front of the lockers.

“Jim, settle down,” I told him. “No need to apologize, it’s a perfectly reasonable question. I just….”

He sat, too, tears welling in his eyes.

“I really, really, really…” he started.

“No, truly, it’s okay. I just need to think for a minute…”

And there it was. I knew it was there all along but I didn’t think it mattered. My love for Julie was so intense I never really paid attention to the fact that it really wasn’t Julie I was thinking of when she and I had sex. I never really paid attention to the fact that after she died I never looked at another woman, not in that way. That all my looking had been at men, or—how vain was I?—at myself.

“You’re not going to believe this,” I told him. “But I never really thought about it until right now…”

He looked at me intently.

“And, yeah, now that I think about it, I guess I am.”

“You guess…?”

I sighed.

“Well, here’s the deal. I never had sex with anyone other than Julie…”

His sharp intake of breath was perfectly audible.

“Not with another woman, not with a man, not before, not since.”

I shrugged my shoulders.

“But God knows I’ve whacked off enough in my life, and now that I think about it, I was always thinking about a guy when I did, always a guy with muscles…”

You could hear the tension draining from Jim’s body. He chuckled.

“A guy like you, you mean…”

I blushed.

“Does that make me a pervert? Getting off on my own body…?”

He shook his head.

“Fuck, no! If I had a body like yours, I’d get off on it, too.”

I poked his big hard pecs.

“You do have a body like mine, you’ve just been around the block a couple more times…”

He grinned.

“In fact…” I began.

He put his finger to my lips.

“You know,” he said. “I think we need to take this conversation someplace else.”

And so we did.


In fact, we went to Jim’s condo in Santa Monica, which was every bit as nice as the convertible and the tailored suits, and had a glass of wine and…

Fucked like bunnies!

“Are you sure ” he asked at one point in the middle of the proceedings “you haven’t done this before?”

I flipped him over and held his big strong arms down on the 1000 thread count designer sheets while he bucked and squirmed and generally tried with all his considerable strength to get free—and failed and seemed to get that much harder as a result.

“Oh God no,” I answered. “Julie liked me on the bottom and if I struggled she would bite!

I don’t know how long we went at it but by the time we were done I no longer felt like a virgin, having explored every orifice (his and mine), having used every body part. Later on we were sitting on his terrace having brandies (he had a cigar, too, and even though I detested smoking in all forms I had to admit it looked sexy as hell as far as he was concerned.)

“Marry me…” he said. I snorted, hacked, gasped, wheezed—brandy up your nose is no fun but it’s sorta funny to watch and I didn’t hold it against Jim that he laughed. When I finally caught my breath…

“Oh, man, I thought it was only the lesbians who proposed on the first date.”

He looked somber.

“I’m serious.”

I pulled him up from his chair, wrapped my big arms around his big body, looked him right in the eyes from a nose length away.

“I’m very flattered,” I told him.

“And you’re not interested…”

I shook my head.

“It’s not that I’m not interested. Hell, I’m very interested. It’s just that I’m not ready.”

I told him about life with Jen in my small hometown back east. How I didn’t think I was ready to give that up for a high rise condo in Los Angeles. How I didn’t think Jen was ready to leave Meg and her Aunt Sarah and all her friends and the house she’d (literally) been born in.

“And you’re not ready to give up all of this, are you? To live in small town flyover America with the kid and the dog and the white picket fence.”

He sighed.

“You’re right. But…”

I grinned.

“But I would love for you to come visit. And now that I’ve done it, I kinda like this vacation idea! I think maybe I should take it up on a regular basis.”

His face lit up.

“Maybe you should…”


“Daddy, daddy, I’m soooo happy you’re home….”

“I’m happy to see you, too, Punkin, did you miss me?”

She laughed.

“Not a bit, silly, Meg and I were much too busy to be missing anyone. Boy, you got some sun, didn’t you? I told you put on sunscreen!”

After she and Meg went to bed Sarah and I had tea and cookies. I told her about meeting Jim, about going to Gold’s, about all of it. (Well, most of it!) She put her hand on mine.

“Well, about damn time,” she said, surprising the shit out of me. “I wondered when you were going to figure it out.”

As usual, my jaw dropped.

“I probably ought to suggest vacations to Jen and Meg more often,” she continued. “Hell, maybe I ought to take one of my own!”

It occurred to me that big sisters do, in fact, have their uses.


Jen’s first boyfriend, if you could call him that, was Randy. She was 14, he was a year older, both at the same high school.

For a 15-year-old he was tall, an inch taller than I am, in fact, although it turned out that like me he was one of those kids who gets tall fast and then watches the other guys eventually pass him up, height wise. At 150 pounds he had a nice rangy build, too, with wide shoulders, narrow hips, a slender waist, plus nice forearms and calves, even to be such a skinny thing. He and Jen went on two or three dates, over the course of a month, then she broke up with him.

“He’s a good guy, Daddy, I just don’t want to be tied down, ya know?”

I’m sure my eyes bulged.

“You talk to him, okay? He really likes you!”

So I did. I could tell he was a bit nervous talking to me. I was Jen’s dad, for one thing, and I was, well, huge for another. By then I was routinely weighing in at 265-270 pounds with my chest closing in on 60 inches and biceps a solid 21 inches cold. When I was totally pumped up, they were closer to 23 inches—a bit bigger than Randy’s thighs. He said basically, well, nothing, but I got the impression he was listening to me and taking it all in. He at least nodded a few times, although he couldn’t really look me in the eye. But how many 15 y.o. boys do? Funny thing was…

He and Jen never stopped hanging out. He was over most nights and every weekend, even when Jen was dating (sporadically) someone else.

“The thing is,” Jen told me one night after Randy had gone home, “his dad’s an alcoholic.”

Oh…

“I mean, he’s not violent or anything but he’s apparently one of those weeping, self-pitying drunks. Randy told me once it just sorta sucks his soul dry to be around him when he’s like that.”

Poor kid.

“Well, he’s a nice guy and I like him, Jen,” I told her. “He can hang around here as much as he likes.”

In fact, it turned out that Randy, who, like me, was no jock, was interested in “beefing up,” as he called it. “I mean,” he added, “I’m the biggest guy in the chess club but that’s not saying a whole lot, ya know what I mean?”

I gave him suggestions on how to get started, eventually persuaded his mom, poor mousey thing that she was, that I’d be happy to give Randy a free membership to the gym.

“Think of it as free advertising,” I told her, even though I could tell she was kind of suspicious. “There are a lot more Randys in the world than there are football players. I want them to get the idea that they can join, too!”

Over the next three years, Jen went through a succession of boyfriends, every one of them a jock, every one of them bigger than the last. She started with a swimmer, then moved to a gymnast, a soccer player, a baseball player, a wrestler, and finally up to a linebacker. They were all very handsome, in great shape, reasonably civil, and…

I didn’t like any of them. All of them acted like they were doing Jen, who bore a fairly striking resemblance to a very young Elizabeth Taylor, were doing her a favor, when in fact she had been approached more than once about modeling, which she thought was the stupidest idea she’d ever heard. As I said, they were all reasonably civil but it was also clear that on some level they were disdainful towards me, whether it was because I was a bodybuilder or because there were no women in my life (other than my daughter, sister, and niece) I could never quite figure out.

Jen and I had the talk early on. Being her mother’s daughter I figured it was more likely that she would get one of these studs in bed than the other way around.

“I think you should wait, like your mom and I did,” I said, trying not to notice the way she rolled her eyes, “but if push comes to shove, make sure that a condom and a spermicide are involved.”

I’m sure I shook like a leaf when she came back to me a year later and asked me to remind her just exactly “what IS a spermicidal gel, anyway?” Even so, it was clear that Jen had zero interest in getting knocked up. She told me she was going to med school, that was that, and she’d think about babies after residency. Meantime, Randy kept coming over and every year he was bigger than he was before. He took to weights like duck to a water. By the time Jen’s 17th birthday rolled around, Randy was 18 and on the eve of graduating from high school. Still no more than 6 feet tall, he was up to a solid, extremely fit 210 pounds, all muscle. I’m pretty sure there’s never been a studlier president of the Van Buren H.S. Chess Club, before or since.

And then came the night of Jen’s 17th birthday, a revelation for all of us.


Jen’s latest boyfriend, Curtis, was far and away the biggest. A member of the high school football team, he was a senior—and I didn’t like him a bit. Maybe it had to do with the fact that he was a good 6’3 and I was jealous of his height. Maybe it had to do with the fact that he had a bad attitude and a big mouth. Certainly it didn’t help that he parroted every stupid right-wing platitude every espoused by his anti-abortion creationist dad, the worst thing who’d ever happened to the local school board.

“Have a nice time,” I told them as Curtis took Jen out for her birthday dinner.

I was surprised when I heard them on the porch again only a couple of hours later. I couldn’t tell what they were saying but it sounded furious and intense. I was just about to stick my head out the door when I heard Randy (where the hell had he come from?) exclaim:

“Take yer fucking hands off her, you big oaf.”

Whump!

I tore open the door, only to find Jen there sobbing, her dress ripped and one booby exposed, while Curtis and Randy were wrestling on the front lawn. Randy, I’m afraid, was getting drubbed. He was built like a brick shit house, yeah, but Curtis was three inches taller and had a good 30-40 pounds on him. Which was fine for Curtis except that I had another 30-40 pounds on him. At 290 pounds I’d recently set state records in the bench press (910), deadlift (930), and squat (950) and I was mad as hell. I literally lifted Curtis off of Randy, held him at arm’s length in front of me, and shook him like a rag doll.

“Just what the fuck do you think you’re doing, asshole?”

He lashed out with his foot and I threw him on the ground; he landed with a sickening thud, and a craaaack, and he let out a wail.

“You fucking faggot,” he yelled, cradling his possibly broken wrist. “You and that fucking boy-toy of yours. No wonder Jen is such a fucked up bitch.”

I loomed over him and saw fear in his eyes. You don’t really want to mess with a guy whose arms are 24 inches cold, especially when his hands are clenched so tight that it looks like they’re about to explode.

“Jen,” I said, “pull the car around. We’re taking this asshole to the ER.”

We stuffed him in the far back of the minivan, him cussing and moaning and puking (and, yeah, he reeked of beer) the whole 10-minute drive. While they were doing the paperwork, I called Curtis’s asshole father, who showed up with a cop.

“What have you done to my son, you bastard!”

Like Curtis, he was a big boy, probably 6’2” and 250, but half of that was around his middle. It was stifling in the waiting room, the hospital’s steam heat still on despite the fact spring had arrived the week before. I figured it was time to shuck my wind jacket. I had on a skin tight tank top, which did nothing at all to hide my 62 inch chest, my insanely wide shoulders, the mountainous traps, the gorilla neck.

“You got a problem with me, Sanders?”

I was quiet, I was cool. I didn’t need to raise my voice.

“Yo, Roger, man, good to see you,” the cop said.

“Oh, Frank, hey, dude, how’s it going? I haven’t seen you much in the gym lately. How’re Shannon and the twins?”

Frank Novelli was just 26 but he’d been on the beat for four years and his wife, the best dental hygienist on the planet, had just given birth to twins, Mark and Amy.

“Oh, ya know, they’re great, that’s why you haven’t seen me, no time for that now…”

I could see Sanders was very unhappy that Novelli and I knew each other.

“Maybe you need to check on your son,” Frank suggested.

I filled him in on what had happened.

“And the wrist?” he asked.

I shrugged.

“Landed on it wrong, as far as I could tell. He’s been wailing like a banshee.”

Sanders came back and reported, a bit sheepishly, that the ER docs had splinted the wrist, but it was a bad sprain, not a fracture. Novelli pulled him aside, asked him a few questions. Sanders was beet red by the time it was over.

“Well, Roger, thanks to you and Jen and that young man for getting Curtis here and taken care of. Unless there’s anything you’d like me to do, I think I’m done here, don’t you?”

I nodded. Jen had already told me she had zero interest in pressing charges, that it was mostly overenthusiastic, unappreciated, and sloppy groping, and that Randy had intervened before things could actually get out of hand.

“Frank, I think a sprained wrist, split britches, and kaka down his front are enough punishment for the typical drunken lout. I think you need to head home and give my love to Shannon and the kids.”

The three of us headed back home.

“I can’t believe he called you a ‘fucking faggot,’ the asshole,” Jen said.

I sighed.

“Well, Jen, we’ve talked about this stuff before, you…”

“Dad,” she interrupted, “Knock it off. I was talking to Randy, not you.”

Blink

“Uh…”

I heard Randy shift uncomfortably in the back seat.

“Ya see, Jen, I told you…”

This time she interrupted Randy.

“It’s okay, Randy, it’s time he figured it out. How one man can be so blind is completely beyond me…”

So she explained. A lot. She and Randy had broken up all that time ago when Randy told her that he was gay. That he’d never done anything about it (still hadn’t, in fact) but he was totally clear about it. And that he wanted to be a huge muscleman like, well, like me, in fact!

“I figured, heck, I’m an only child,” Jen continued. “Plus Randy has such, I’m sorry Ran, you know it’s true, a crap father. I figured he could use a Muscle Daddy. And who better than you?”

I was speechless.

“For the love of mud,” I said finally.

And then we were home and on the front porch and Jen was inside and up the stairs before I could think of what else to say.

“Randy,” I said, turning to this kid who had for all intents and purposes been my son for the past three years. And what a fine, handsome, strong man he had turned into!

“Son…”

He threw his arms around me, sobbed, then said words I’d never expected to hear:

“I love you, Roger, I love you more than life itself.”

Then he fled into the night.


“I miss Randy,” Jen said one day, soon after the start of her senior year of high school.

I sighed.

“I know what you mean, baby doll.”

We hadn’t seen him since that night with Curtis and the ER a few months previously. His mom called to say that he was fine, that he was taking the year off to travel around the country. He said he would be back in time for Jen’s graduation.

“Ya know,” she added, “the reason I dated all those jocks was that I wanted someone like you.”

I had to laugh at that.

“You can do a lot better than that!” I pointed out.

She crossed her arms, not a good sign.

“Seriously.”

I sighed.

“Well, darlin’, there’s something, for once, that you haven’t figured out.”

She glared at me.

“And just what could that be…?”

“That I’m not really a jock. I’m way more like Randy than Curtis or Jeff or Zeke or Chad or whatever those other guys’ names were.”

For once, she was the one looking slightly stunned.

“Just because I’ve got the muscles,” and for good measure, I flexed my hulking right arm, “doesn’t mean I’m a jock. Aside from bodybuilding and weightlifting, I’m really not into sports, you know, and I just don’t have the mindset.”

She sat there blinking.

“So…”

“So if I want a boyfriend like you he needs to be gay?”

I snorted.

“Darlin’, there are plenty of straight guys who are not jocks. Go take a look at some of the nerds sometime. They’re plenty of them and lot of ‘em are, well, ya know, really hot!”

She told me she would think it over. A couple of weeks later she brought home Prasad, a Hindu kid with a doctor dad and a microbiologist mom.

“Jeez, Mr. Morgan, she told me you were a big guy but you’re just incredibly huge!”

I liked the kid from the moment he opened his mouth. At 5’8, Prasad was a nicely proportioned 145 pounds He liked swimming and tennis and track and hanging out with the guys and singing in the choir of our local Presbyterian church and jamming on the saxophone with the high school’s jazz band. He was totally into Jen, made mean sushi, had pretty much zero interest in lifting weights, and by Christmas it was pretty clear they were fucking each other’s lights out.

“Would you mind very much if I became Hindu?” she asked me one evening over supper.

I snorted my protein shake.

“Uh, well, you know me, I believe every religion has something to offer but to tell you the Mother Goddess’s honest truth I don’t know a thing about Hinduism.”

She smiled her mysterious smile and left it out that. A few weeks later I was quite surprised to see that Prasad was joining the church, his parents (in traditional Indian garb, no less) at his side.

“Are you sure…?” I started to ask them.

“Oh, my, yes,” Dr. Patel, replied. “He’s his own man, after all, and it’s what’s on the inside that counts, don’t you think?”

I liked Prasad’s parents a lot, I realized, which was cool because with Jen and Prasad spending all their time together and no Randy around I was beginning to feel a bit like a social outcast. We started hanging out together and as it turned out they each had a gay brother and the brothers were a couple in West Hollywood, a fact that continually kept the extended family in an uproar and Dalit and Comal in stitches and me, too.

“And how about you, eh? Just when are you going to find a man and settle down? Not that you could really be more settled than you are for heaven’s sake, but Jen will be going off to college next year and that big old house is going to be a bit lonely, isn’t it?”

I nodded sheepishly.

“There was a man,” I pointed out, “a mighty fine man, for that matter. His name is Jim and he lives in Los Angeles. And, well, I suppose he got tired of waiting. He found himself a husband, or Ricky found him, I’m not sure which.”

I didn’t point out, of course, that Ricky was just as happy to play with me as he was Jim and that my annual Los Angeles vacation was now in some ways twice as fun as it had been before. But I knew I was a visitor—an honored guest, they insisted, and I believed them—in their relationship.

“I miss Randy,” I told Jen one evening.

She sighed.

“You do know, of course, that he’s madly in love with you, right?”

I squirmed.

“Well, he did allude to that a moment or so before he completely disappeared from our lives for nine and a half months but I figured I must have heard him wrong…”

She rolled her eyes.

“He loves you madly, you didn’t imagine it, you didn’t hear him wrong…”

I shrugged.

“Well, yes, it’s clear that I’ve been a father figure and he certainly…”

She interrupted.

“Oh, for crap’s sake, Dad. He loves you as a man! He spent years and years jerking off looking at your pictures, your posters, on occasion even when you were sitting there at the dining room table…”

My mouth dropped open.

“And, no, he never told me that but, unlike you, I have eyes. I could see what was going on….”

I shook my head at that.

“Jeez, I really did not need to know that, I mean, he’s just a kid…”

Jen through her roll at me.

“Hey, what’s that for?” I could tell she was steamed. “I mean, c’mon, I’m twice his age.”

Her tone brimming with fury, Jen bit off her reply.

“He’s a grown man, Dad. He’s 19 years old. You’re 38 years old. Big Whoop! How much older than you is Jim?”

Uh…

“He’s 58, right? 19 fucking years older than you are. Old enough to be my grandfather. And yet you won’t look at Randy who is nearly the same age you were when you had me.”

Gulp.

“You’re a hypocrite, Daddy, plain and simple. I never thought I’d say it about you, I thought someday you’d see the writing on the wall.”

She left the table. I sat there stunned. Was I? Did I? I could feel another moment of clarity creeping up on me, like that one in Gold’s Venice so many years before…

The doorbell rang.


It was Randy, of course, head hanging down, looking at the ground. And looking damn good! The boy had put on at least 20 pounds of muscle, it looked like, all of it in his chest, arms, shoulders.

“Well, don’t just stand there ya big goof, give the Old Man a hug,” I barked.

He flowed into my arms, his face wet with tears.

“Don’t ever leave again, okay?” I whispered in his ear. “Not like that.”

And then he was kissing me or I was kissing him or something. Finally I broke apart from him.

“Umm, well, ya know…”

“It’s okay, Dad,” Jen said from the top of the stairs. “Prasad will be here in five minutes.”

Randy gawked at Jen, as if to say, “When did you grow up?”

“About five minutes after you left,” she said, reading his mind. I tell you, that girl is scary. Then Prasad was there and he was meeting Randy and they were geeking out about something to do with computer games and then Jen raised a finger and they looked at her like eager puppies and she and Prasad were gone. Leaving me and Randy.

“You’re looking good,” I told him. “Fucking huge, in fact.”

“Still not as big as you, Big Man.”

I shook my head.

“I don’t think it’s gonna take you twenty years to catch up, not at this rate,” I pointed out. “Now show me what you got.”

He took off his shirt and I let out a low whistle.

“Damn, boy, you oughta compete.”

He laughed at that.

“Look who’s talking and don’t,” he said, as I started to interrupt, “give me that crap about not wanting to compete with the customers.”

Still, there he was, 19 years old, 6 feet tall, 240 pounds of solid muscle. Still no more than a 30 inch waist, 52 inch chest, 21 inch biceps, the whole package.

“You’re going to do some serious damage on stage,” I told him.

“Who says I’m gonna be on stage?” he asked.

I looked at him.

“I do,” I growled.

I carried him to the bedroom and gave him what he wanted.


That was 10 years ago. Randy moved in with me and we’ve never been apart since.

He won his first contest that fall, earned his pro card at 20, competed in his first Olympia at 22, won the title at 24. Last month he won it for the sixth time, coming on stage at 350 pounds of shredded muscle, a good 30 pounds heavier than his closest rival. He’s far and away the biggest Mr. Olympia ever. Off season he tips the scale at 400 pounds although even then he usually runs no more than about 10-12% bodyfat. He’s got 50 pounds on me and he’s finally stopped squirming and blushing when I call him “my muscle daddy.” He still calls me “Daddy Muscle,” though, and that’s fine by me, especially since it turns out I’m still stronger than he is.

It turns out I was interested in competing, just in powerlifting not bodybuilding. At 350 pounds I go head to head with Ryan Kennelly, even though he’s 20 years younger than I am, and win as often as I lose. The question is usually “who’s going to set the next record, Ryan or Roger?” If Ryan is the Brad Pitt of powerlifting (and yeah, he’s that hot), I must be the Pete Kuzak or Carl Hardwick. Big muscle, handsome face, furry as fuck. We’re a popular couple, as you might imagine.

Jen and Prasad married the week after graduating from college. I gave away the bride, Randy was best man. They went to Harvard, Jen to medical school, Prasad to Law, and now Jen’s doing her residency at Stanford while Prasad stays home and takes care of the twins, Julie and Will (their middle names are Prasad’s parents’ first names.)

And, yes, I’ve finally sold the gym for a tidy profit and Randy and I are moving to Palm Springs, partly so that he’s closer to the bodybuilding scene, partly so that we’re closer to Jen and Prasad and the twins, mostly because we just love the desert and the mountains.

Life’s a funny thing. I think most of us don’t have a clue where we’re headed or where we will wind up. Perhaps that’s just as well. It might be very hard to get out of bed in the morning, otherwise.

Here’s to enjoying the journey!


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