Such a simple word and yet so versatile. Complimentary: “Your abs look great!”
Predatory: “Check out the abs on that guy.” Envious (and possibly homicidal): “I’d kill for abs like that.” Macho: “I’m on a killer abs routine.” Depressed: “I’ll never have abs like that.” Narcissistic: “Look at my abs!”
Narcissistic = Gay with a capital G. Don’t believe us? We guarantee that every gay man reading this is having a hard time following along because of the illustrations.
Oh sure, men and women of all sexual persuasions spend their time in pursuit of the elusive visible abs, but only gay men have turned it into a culture-wide obsession. Every porn star, underwear ad and guy-at-the-gym-
that-we-desperately-want-to-see-naked has them. And every one of those guys exist solely to make us feel inadequate for not having them. Which is strange, because there’s no good reason for anyone to walk around with a midsection that looks like an insect’s thorax. Seriously, did you ever have sex with a guy who had ripped abs? It’s like touching a warm, self-involved mannequin.
Lemme tell you something, we did that ab thing a couple years ago. Starved ourselves down to Nicole-Ritchie levels, pumped ourselves full of bullshit supplements and fat-burners at a cost of about half our rent every month and obsessively crunched. All day. Every day. At one point, we proudly (and quite foolishly) announced to anyone within earshot that we were up to a thousand crunches a day.
And you know what? It worked. In about 6 months we both had what we’d wanted since we’d seen our first Calvin Klein underwear ad back in the frothy days of our adolescence: the killer set of abs. It didn’t matter that none of our clothes fit us properly anymore or that the loss of bodyfat in our faces aged us by about ten years or that we now had stretchmarks that would make a post-partum woman laugh hysterically. No, all that mattered was that we now finally had the ability to lift our shirts at cocktail parties and say “Look what I’ve been doing!”
Yeah, we were hungry all the time and we couldn’t figure out why we were so cranky (complete lack of carbs and alcohol) but hey, the A-list guys at the gay coffeehouse suddenly started talking to us after years of ignoring us. It was like we were in a secret brotherhood. Of course it’s not much of a secret if every member constantly walks around shirtless as if their nipples weren’t getting enough air.
But here’s the thing: in all the time we were indulging our little obsession we never once thought about what we needed to do after we reached our goal. And you know what we needed to do? KEEP GOING. There’s no finish line. Unlike a diet, where you can relax slightly once you reach your goal and figure out how to integrate better eating habits into your life, there’s no relaxation point with abs. If you want to keep them, you’ve gotta keep starving yourself, keep crunching as if your life depended on it and keep taking those fat-burners. Abs infinitum.
When that realization settled in, we both unconsciously said “Fuck this. I want my life back.” And what took us six months to achieve was gone in about two. For the most part, we were fine to settle in with our Ben & Jerry’s on the couch, secure in the knowledge that yes, we had achieved ab-dom, but in our wisdom and go-against-the-grainism we had decided that it was a foolish pursuit.
Then we turned 40.
Oh please. This can’t be happening again. Please tell us that we are not becoming self-conscious at the gym again; that we are not really thinking things like “If I just get up and do 300 crunches first thing every morning, I can go to the beach next summer.”; that we are not lingering over the bottles of Hydroxycut at the drugstore thinking “What’s a little heart palpitation when you look great in Speedos?”
No. We will be strong. We will resist the porn and advertising imagery that has been relentlessly pumped into our brains from adolescence. We’ll define male beauty however we like, goddammit. We are trailblazers and we will say no to the absorthodoxy running rampant through our community.
Just as soon as we do a quick “Abs of Steel” workout and maybe take a laxative or two.