Do you think that Rocky, after ascending the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and triumphantly pumping his fists, thought about how many precious calories he burned to get there? That’s my worry right now. It takes several flights of stairs to get to the third floor of Victoria College. In addition to each of them spiting me for yesterday’s leg workout, my carefully calibrated diet of 3750 calories, 250g of protein, 300g of carbs and 88.5g of fat has been ruined. I reach the top with my heavy bags (by anyone’s standard) and protein shake as a dejected Sherpa. The numbers will have to be crunched again later.
I make an attempt at composing myself before class. This consists of straightening out my skin-tight v-neck and tucking away the last, deviant strands of a haircut I had my stylist emulate from a cover model of Men’s Health magazine. My peer mentor says that Bay Street doesn’t hire anyone with a faux hawk. The learning curve to use “hair finishing paste with flax seed” has been steep. A combination of 7 scoops of pre-workout stimulant and refusal to do any form of exercise beyond lifting things up and putting them back down has made my heart into the cardiac equivalent of Coltrane’s Giant Steps. Seriously, this must be what love, and/or the early onset of a stroke feels like. When my pulse slows down to a not life-threatening pace, I try to find a seat. This is the most difficult decision I make each day. Due to extreme levels of muscle-generated body heat, my options are limited. I’ve heard rumours that, in the bygone days of Flavelle, classrooms were not furnished like confusing modern art installations or shaped liked convex ovens. The upper years tell me I don’t know what “bygone” means. My usual seating strategy is to find a spot away from the other large individuals and, optimistically, next to someone with an iron deficiency. This is, of course, difficult when seating arrangements in Vic are comparable to using wooden church pews for an economy class Air Canada flight. Sadly, I fail to find someone who could otherwise act as a human heat sink. With resignation, I sit down next to a member of the varsity rugby team. He gives me a look of sympathetic acknowledgment. It is only a matter of time until both of us are incinerated in a supernova of bro-sweat and thermal energy.
During class, my Facebooking and neurotic e-mail checking is balanced by small intervals of actually paying attention. I simply do not understand how village cricket, lacking any feats of strength whatsoever, can be to the delight of anyone. I want to type this thought out, but my fingers are too sore from doing chin ups. At this point I have no other option than to bang my calloused hands against the keyboard in jesus-take-the-wheel fashion. This ends predictably. Later on I’ll have ask the person in front of me writing the War and Peace sequel in four different varieties of bullet points for their notes later. The nervous look I get from Leo Tolstoy, who has now turned around to face me, indicates that they think I am a gunner. I should allay their fears by showing them the several pages of incomprehensible numbers, letters and wingdings my hand-banging has produced. Instead, I make two finger pistols and do my best Shooter McGavin impersonation.
Back to my e-mails. Law games is coming up, apparently. Of course bench press is conspicuously missing from the list of athletic events. It shouldn’t be. Naturally I daydream about it. I imagine winning the inaugural Law Games bench press competition. My classmates celebrate my victory, the other bros get jealous and Western Law admissions sends me a letter of acceptance. After the big win we celebrate. During the after-party I drink, like, 13 beers, a bottle of wine, 3 red bulls and probably 7 shots of jaeger, man. I try to do the universal “make it rain” gesture only to have various change and my Scotia card fall through my fingers and into a pint glass. Drunk texts are sent out. I’m good for about a dozen of those a month, though. And so, in this way, the “dead dream fought on as the afternoon slipped away” as I finish the remnants of my strawberry-banana protein shake.
When I snap out of it, the heat is, somehow, even more intolerable. I’m dehydrated and there’s no protein left. The existential nausea I feel from this realization can only be understood by Sartre and those worried about losing their precious gym gains. The spring rattling around in my empty drink container is to the annoyance of everyone. The caffeine and “proprietary blend” high of the pre-workout stimulant is gone. I find myself comfortably nestled on the rugby player’s shoulder. He smells like grapefruit. As the professor dismisses us, I remember the floor I am on. The thought of going back down the stairs and the necessary lower-body pain and caloric arithmetic involved is depressing. I long for the days of Flavelle and bungalow-style legal education. Facing the rugby player in despair, I whisper, sotto voce, into his ear: “please, carry me.. I did legs yesterday.”