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I Was a 90 Lb. Weakling

Updated on August 8, 2015

Anybody remember the old Charles Atlas "90 lb weakling" ads in comic books? Good, I’d hate to be the only “old fogey” here. I’m sure you guys remember the one with a 90 lb weakling on the beach with his gal while a muscle bound goon kicks sand in his face. That hapless character was me as a young teen.

My older brother Tom on the other hand was the muscle bound goon type. I envied him and the continuous parade of girls he dated. Finally, I decided I was going to be like him. No more bullies were going to push me around. I asked him to be my trainer and he agreed.

Tom began getting me in shape. I soon realized my goal was going to take some hard work and dedication. Our daily routine began at about 5:30 a.m. with warm-up exercises followed with weight lifting and a mile run. In a few months I began seeing changes. The “baby fat” disappeared and my muscles begin firming up. This regimen continued for the next few years. I was no longer a 90 lb weakling but I wasn’t like Tom with his rippling abs either.

However, I was solid. Tom explained not everyone was going to develop a sculpted “Greek god” physique. So, I accepted that fact and concentrated on just doing the best I could…which wasn’t bad considering I was only 5’4”. I still am, by the way. And I never got the parade of women either, mostly because when they met Tom, I didn’t stand much of a chance. But, I did alright in that department I guess, although it wasn’t much to brag about.

A New Talent

Then, I found something that set me apart from the average guy. I was an excellent arm wrestler, short arms and all! My fellow Marines fell defeated one by one under my onslaught. Some of my friends even constructed a professional arm wrestlinjg board for me which I took with me to my different duty stations.

Unfortunately, this was a part of my life I’m not too proud of. I became an alcoholic. I used my skill in downtown bars arm wrestling for drinks. I was always able to get drunk. I stayed an active alcoholic even after being honorably discharged. Rehabilitation while in the Corps didn’t last too long.

In civilian life I continued plying my arm wrestling talent to get drinks. I did well…until I went home to Arkansas. There are some awful big “Okie’s” and Arkansans in that neck of the woods. It didn’t take long for me to learn there is a big difference between being “city fit” and “Country Boy fit”. These men had been raised working hard out in the fields tossing bales of hay and carrying tree trunks.

Learning the Hard Way

However, this was something I had to learn the hard way. One night at a local country bar called “The Branding Iron” I was running short of drinking money…again. So, I began my usual routine of drumming up a few challengers. Oddly, this crowd didn’t seem the least bit interested. I guess they didn’t lack self confidence. Getting desperate I finally goaded an overall clad giant into a match. The proprietor insisted we take it outside.


Once outside we went to the front of his old red pickup truck and faced each other across the hood. There was no audience to cheer me on. We grasped hands and I hardened my body in preparation for the match. A friend of his did the honors of being referee. “Ready, Set, Go” the referee ordered.

The next second I was promptly and effortlessly dragged across the truck hood like a paper doll. My opponent just smiled and asked if I wanted to do it again. I declined the invitation as I paid for his drink. Then I humbly exited the premises not believing what had just happened. The next morning also found me with an aching fractured finger. A doctor encased me in an arm length cast that caused me to also miss two weeks of work.


These days, I’m much older and wiser. It doesn't matter so much what your physical body condition is in. What you are on the inside counts for a whole lot more. By the way, I’ve been sober over ten years now.

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