Loosing Weight

A moment ago I read several paragraphs from a personal essay by a woman who had gained a lot of weight over several years’ time. I’ll make a few remarks now about my 16th year when I was on the Pullman High School wrestling team (I was a junior that year), and my strategizing coach asked if I thought I could shed five more pounds by Friday when we would go up against first Moses Lake (the state perennial TEAM champion in wrestling) followed by Wenatchee High School on Saturday afternoon after sleeping on a steel-framed bunk at Job Core in Moses Lake.

A note of explanation must immediately follow. My principal opponent on my own team was Gunnar Olsen, a year younger than me and a sophomore, and he was just about as strong as me, but he couldn’t do what I was doing in those days to strengthen the muscles in my neck by using the Wrestler’s Bridge for a warm-up, followed by giving a push with my feet thus sending my entire body to a reverse position — not by spinning around on a horizontal axis, but by sending my legs and feet over the top of my head so that my feet wound up planted on the other side of my head, and I would flip-flop back and forth in this fashion to give my neck muscles a workout, a good and thorough workout which no one else on our team would even think of trying, let alone actually doing.

On Wednesday our coach, Mr Elmer Messenger, had us do a wrestle-off to see which one of us would go on that road-trip to Moses Lake and Wenatchee. For three two-minute rounds we went at it tooth-and-nail, each one of us trying to out-muscle the other and getting nowhere. Gunnar was surprisingly strong, almost as strong as me, and I was an assiduous weight-lifter in those days — in fact my favorite participant sport was Olympic-style weight lifting, at which I did alright. I could military press well above my own weight; I could also snatch well above my own weight (by thirty lbs, a fair lift for a teenager).

But Wednesday night Gunnar, whom I regarded as one of the dunderheads who rarely got more than C’s — especially in math, decided to throw his dieting to the wind and had himself not only a hamburger but a milkshake as well at the campus student union building, referred to by everyone as the CUB.

“Donnie,” Messenger says to me, “do you think you can drop five pounds by our match out to Moses Lake on Friday night? Gunnar went off his diet.”

“Well, what the hell did he do, Mr. Messenger?” I think it rankled him some that I never called him “coach.” But to me calling him coach sounded peculiar and I rarely did it.

“Wow, coach, I don’t know. I’m at one twenty-five right now. I’d probably have to use one of those sweat-suits and sweat off a few pounds in the steam-room.”

We called it the “steam-room” though it was hardly that, merely a long narrow room directly off the main gymnasium floor. I was already dieting; my step-brother, Ray, who was also on the wrestling team, had given me this diet in a magazine article he had found in some athletic magazine. He was a hotshot on the football team and weighed no more than one fifty-five soaking wet. He won the Athlete-of-the-year award that spring. And right after he graduated he enlisted in the Marines and went off to Vietnam, but that’s another story. Anyway, at lunch I always sat with the same bunch of guys who were all nerds, every one of us. None of us had girlfriends. And there among all these clueless lads I ate my freezer-frozen twelve ounces of yoghurt.

I was starving all the time, an hour after I ate a meal. Not only that, but I had to start wearing glasses that year since I couldn’t read the board from the back of the room anymore, which is where I preferred sitting most of the time, except in math class, a subject I happened to enjoy very much and still do to this day.

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Graduated from Pullman high school in 1970. Graduated from Idaho State University in 1988. Worked eight years in the printing trade. Lived 3 1/2 years in China

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Donald Gardner Stacy

Donald Gardner Stacy

Graduated from Pullman high school in 1970. Graduated from Idaho State University in 1988. Worked eight years in the printing trade. Lived 3 1/2 years in China

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