I once wrote a post titled “The World’s Skinniest Linebacker” when I was still playing football, which might have been a stretch, but not by much. Were do I get off calling myself the strongest (skinny) volunteer you ask? Keep reading and find out. This is a cautionary tale and I highly recommend you do NOT try this at home, or anywhere else for that matter.
It all started last week when I came up with another one of my hair brained schemes. It involved building a monkey bar set somewhere on the premises “for the kids,” but not so deep down I was thinking of using it myself. I told my host day about this great idea of mine and he said it would be a production (and expensive) to gather that kind of steel. After a little give in take, we ended up with a new, more economical idea; building a pull-up bar out of bamboo in back of my house. Works for me!
It took a few days and a bit of a search, but we found two semi-straight pieces of bamboo that would be thick enough to support an adult-child (me). My host dad had to go out on his own for the cement and steel bar. With all the necessary materials in place, we were ready to roll.
Right, so we’re under way and it feels good to be doing a
little hard labor, though digging with a tire iron is highly overrated, in fact, I wouldn’t rate it at all, but there’s no shovel, so you make due. I’m on my knees, slamming this iron into the ground and my host dad, who is really just an armadillo in a human shell, scoops out the rocky dirt handful after handful; heave hoe and away we go!
Two feet deep and we’re done with the digging. Now it’s time to set these mothers in the ground, so we put the steel beam through the two holes Pak Sumono chipped out earlier with his grim reaper knife and then, carefully, pick up and place the three meter bamboo sticks into the dug out holes. We then step back, take a few ‘eye measurements’ to make sure it’s straight, make a couple of adjustments and it’s time to pour the cement, my old nemesis!
Thankfully, Pak Sumono likes working with this stuff, so I was more than happy to let him dig in. I have a love/hate relationship with cement in that I love to hate it, as the saying goes. It’s like that feeling some people get when a sadist drags their finger nails across a blackboard. Anyway, we mixed a couple of batches of the crap and poured the holes. Unfortunately, we came up a little short, so we’ll be needing another session later today, but for all intensive purposes, the hard part was done, or so I thought.
We cleaned up the work area and congratulated ourselves on a job well done. Pak Sumono went back to the house to wash up and pray before dinner, so I did the same here (minus the praying). On the way to the mandi I dropped my britches off in the dirty hamper with the rest of my soiled clothes and grabbed the towel my friend Pallavee gave me during training (I’ll never stop thanking you for that cotton dream!). So I’m standing in the mandi and I throw my towel over this bar we nailed up in there, only it doesn’t quite make it and falls right into the f’n basin! Wonderful. So now I have to prance back to my room butt naked and dig out my old travel towel, which isn’t much bigger than a large kitchen towel; fine, things happen.
So, I’m back in the mandi now and I have something to dry off with. I reason that this mandi is going to be extra nice, because I worked for it and furthermore, I was more than ready to
get the crusted cement of my body. This time I make sure the towel isn’t going anywhere before I let it out of my hand and then I reach for the mandi bucket and freeze in my tracks. I’m staring outside at the sky and trees, as I do, and notice that the pull-up bar is not as straight as we originally thought. As a matter of fact, it’s pretty damn lopsided and, in addition to my weird issue with concrete, I have this thing about balance, so this isn’t going to work for me at all. I know full well that I won’t be able to relax until this thing is taken care of. But wait, Pak Sumono is already back at his house and all my clothes are filthy. What to do? The way I see it, I have two options at this point. 1) Put my nasty threads back on and go disturb him while he’s praying, most likely, to be rid of me, or 2) try and sort it out myself. No suspense here, I chose the latter.
Now picture if you will, a grown naked man wearing nothing but what is basically a ‘shammy wow’ around his waste, attempting to pull up a three meter long bamboo stick that has already been set in cement. Then, picture that same lunatic using another piece of bamboo to try and brace the big piece up until it’s semi straight and you’ll have a clear image of me. I can honestly say that I haven’t put out such an intense performance in years. I half jokingly told a friend here that, had that bamboo been a loaded barbell instead, there’s little doubt in my mind I would’ve broken the world dead-lift record, at least in my weight class. My grandfather always used to tell me to work smart….”measure twice, cut once,” that type of thing, but I’ve always had a knack for doing things the hard/dumb way; “double work” he calls it. Well, Goerge’y boy, I may have outdone myself this time.
P.S. I’d like to wish my dad, Skip a Happy Birthday! Hope you enjoyed yourself!