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COLUMN

Clash Of the Titans

Akshay Patil

Tonight my dorm is holding an arm wrestling competition, and I know of no better way to make me feel like a puny, insignificant weakling.

Sure, whenever I go to work out, it doesn’t help to walk into the room and find some gargantuan male with biceps the size of Montana curling what appears to be the Green Building. I’ve gotten used to the fact that there are people in this world who can bench-press twice my weight, while I still remember the ecstatic euphoria of benching 135 lbs. for the first time in my life like it was last week, which, strangely enough, is when I benched 135 lbs. for the first time.

What makes the arm wrestling tournament even scarier is the fact that I qualify as a “heavyweight.” It’s not that I don’t consider myself heavy -- I had to spend my summer trying to shed my freshman 9 -- but setting 155 as the cutoff for the divisions seems a bit unfair. I’m not that much over, and an annoyingly significant amount of that weight can be attributed to parts of me that make me feel like the Pillsbury Doughboy. In my humble opinion, a much better division criteria would be “muscle t-shirt” vs. “baggy-I-hope-my-gut-doesn’t-show-from-under-this-t-shirt.” Then we’d get some fair play.

Not that I’d have much better luck in the “lightweight” division. But at least it wouldn’t hurt as much. Plus, there’s something less ego-crushing about being getting beaten by Mr. T than by Mini-Me on steroids. Let’s not forget the fact that competing would be like a sloth crossing the Indy 500 speedway in terms of possible bodily harm. I can just imagine my maiming defeat:

Announcer #1: “Well folks, welcome to the First Annual Next House Arm Wrestling To the Death Competition. It looks like a festive crowd here in the Tastefully Furnished Lounge, awaiting an entertaining hour of humiliation, torture, and certain pain.”

Announcer #2: “I agree Jim, the fans are looking particularly bloodthirsty tonight. Oh, it looks like the tournament is beginning. The first match of the tonight is in the heavyweight division, where we have Akshay Patil against what appears to be The Incredible Hulk.”

Announcer #1: “Whatever it is, it definitely looks like a rather muscular mean green fighting machine. Akshay certainly has his work cut out for him.”

Announcer #2: “The referee has just blown his whistle... And it would appear that not only has the Hulk already won, but he has ripped off Akshay’s right arm in the process. That looks pretty painful Jim.”

Announcer #1: “That it does. Oh my! It now seems that The Incredible Hulk has decided to eat Akshay alive.”

Announcer #2: “Ouch. He’ll be feeling that one tomorrow.”

Faced with the threat of almost certain dismemberment, I’m proud to say that I’ve decided to relinquish my manhood and not compete. The competition hasn’t happened, and already I feel like a worthless human being. My chances of winning are null, non-existent, not even countable. The probability that I’d even make it past the first round are no better than those of finding a llama in Antarctica. Yet, for some reason, I feel like I’m chickening out of something.

Tonight, I think I shall content myself with watching the gladiatorial combat from the stands. From there I can content myself by knowing that I have avoided the disgrace and pain that I shall see before me. But it will be little comfort as I nurse the shattered remnants of my manliness.