By LEVI ROGERS
illustration by Melissa Narrance - baldbastardart.com
1. The thing I love most about you, my body, is also what I hate about you: It’s strength, but also, it’s bulk. “You’re just husky,” my mom would say, as I tried to button the well-fitted jeans in high school. I guess that’s the most accurate word. I’m not fat, no, that would be unfair to say to those who are fat. I am muscly! Thick. But with a gut. And heavy (240) with a very medium height (5’ 10”). My friend Mike once said he could bounce a quarter off my ass.
2. In middle school football I was big enough in that they put me on “the line.” I wanted to be a tight end or wide receiver, but no, those positions were for the skinny dudes. I was the right offensive tackle. It's shit being on the line. You spend your time crushed against the stink and butts of teenage boys. Yet I started lifting in high school and haven’t stopped since. I appreciate that about you, body. You turn fat into muscle fast. But then the weight stays, like a stray cat you feed in the night (or my actual belly, which I also feed in the night).
3. For many years my only form of transportation was a bike. My calves turned into grapefruit. That’s when I was in my best shape, finishing up college riding my bike everywhere, hitting the gym after class. God, the free time—not married or with kids--I wasted so much of it(but what is youth without waste?)
4. The thing I hate most about you are my triangle nipples. No matter how much I can bench or how many pushups I do, my pectoral muscles still coalesce to form a singular point that makes them look the incoming breasts of a junior high girl. On Tik Tok, the omniscient algorithm has decided to send me ads for t-shirts that are, and I quote, “like push up bras for men.” The algorithm knows that I pause for a second, or two, thinking of purchasing, before I scroll to the next video.
5. I like that I have never broken a bone in you, my body. Strange especially considering all my years of snowboarding, skateboarding, biking, and climbing. I’ve had a few concussions though. Sometimes I wonder if this is why I can’t find my keys.
6. The #1 thing my wife appreciates about you, my body, is how I do not have a hairy back. The reason I know this is that she has said it multiple times, as if it was her worst fear, (to find a man she loves only to realize there was a forest of hair covering his broad shoulders).
7. I like the genetic ability possess to grow a full beard. I dislike my predisposition to lung cancer and a rare blood disease. I am also grateful, I suppose, while we’re at it, that my penis is exactly average—size-wise. I do think it’s better looking than other penises, however. More handsome (for reasons I can’t quite explain).
8. I hate that my stomach looks like someone snuck a basketball underneath the skin. I eat a balanced diet, but I still consume a lot of calories (and carbs). Pizza, bagels, sandwiches, pasta, alcohol. Portion control is my downfall. I once quit drinking because I thought I was an alcoholic. Turns out, I’m just a glutton. Doesn’t matter if it’s a salad or a pizza or a cold beverage. I will eat leaves of lettuce and pepperoni and malt until the empty holes inside of me are filled (at least for an hour or so). Food and drink are my coping mechanisms, my self-medication. Yet exercise is my salvation. These are the contradictions inherent within you, body.
9. And yet, body, you have taken me to the tops of mountains and climbing routes and bike trails. You have survived pandemics and outbreaks and seasonal colds and flus. You have survived the darkness of my mind. So far, you have beaten away those invisible malignant things that go creep in the night. Yet one day I know we will probably succumb and turn back into dust (but that’s okay too).
10. My body is perfectly imperfect, as all of ours are—those of us who have not the time or money for personal trainers, multiple trips to the gym, all the health food many can buy. So therefore I say: My body is flawless. My body is true. (And your body is too).
Levi Rogers is a MeowMeowPowPow web editor, a writer, and a former coffee roaster currently based in the land of the Chinookan and Multnomah people. He has an MFA from Antioch University and his debut novel Utah! A Novel is available from Atmosphere Press. He lives with his wife Cat, their two daughters, dog Amelie, and two cats-Chicken and Waffles.
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