Whatever it is that makes him burp a deep and gritty bass note every three or four minutes — aerophagia? Indigestion? a misplaced sense of theatricality? — it does not interfere with his lifting like a trooper, despite the grizzled nap of his hair and workout clothes that look as if they have been lovingly curated since the 80s.
Those clothes. Today he had on a matching ensemble whose zip-front jacket was engrossed across the yoke with a neat, well laid out but oddly customized-looking applique: “Mr. Fitness Pro.” I have been around a lot of gyms and never encountered a line of gear by that name. I have a disturbing feeling that he made it himself, or had someone with a certain level of design skill do it for him.
You run into this sort of thing from time to time. Back in my well beloved Weight Room — my first iron gym, a haunt of tattoo-clad bikers, misfit combat veterans and steroid-saturated muscleheads — there was a balding twerp who clearly lifted seriously but was, well, still a twerp. He used to work out with an even more twerpish character, almost devoid of noticeable muscle, who followed him around worshipfully. He wore a series of not very expertly custom-lettered tee shirts with mottoes like “Bodybuilders are the New Gods,” all of them attributed to one “Joe Tiger.” I came gradually to realize that when he entered I was, in fact, beholding the veritable Joe Tiger. I hope it was his real name.
I really hope I don’t come across this way to anybody. I have a slight affectation for coordinating the colors of my workout clothes, and a smattering of oddball habits like dangling upside down from stationary equipment, but I try not to quote myself reverently, or emblazon sobriquets, on articles of attire.
And I don’t burp. OK, if you are going to perform deep squats or back bridges, every so often you are going to pass a sizable gust of wind, but I try to control the embouchure so that it doesn’t startle anybody.