• Thomas DeVietro

The GYMRaT. A Rough Draft (1). - Thomas DeVietro

In the summer of 1993, my parents decided I start playing football in pads for the Clifton Heights Rams. I had played catch a couple times with my father in the back yard as well as in the street with my neighborhood friend across the street. A little toss and catch, football was fun. I was your average Italian American 8 year old momma's boy who loved a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs and to make my Mother smile. On my first night of practice the coach told my father I weighed too much and in order to play I had to lose 8lbs. I weighed 83lbs and needed to be 75lbs to play in the Bert Bell League. I can remember my parents discussing this on the way and when we got home. I remember my mother understanding what needed to be done but was not showing the most enthusiasm all while my father seemed to be irritated at me. The next day we went straight to North Jersey to visit my Uncle Larry and Uncle Allen. My father woke me up at 3 am and drove straight to L&A Forwarding, I can still smell his coffee and cigarettes as I type this. He told me on the ride up that I was going to learn what a real day of hard work was going to feel like and I was going to learn how to really toughen up. A day spent at my Uncle's trucking company with the laborers would Harden me up they thought. There was a Man who worked for my Uncle's, Elliot, his son Sam was the same age as me and he was over weight as well, so I was told we were working together that day. So we arrived just before 5am and walked straight back to the loading warehouse where all of my the workout equipment was. My Uncle Larry was a huge workout buff and so was his mechanic friend, Bobby. They would workout every morning pumping iron, it's just what he did and always did. My Uncle Larry was a tremendous athlete growing up in high school and college playing football, boxing, track and field. He took pride in physical fitness and had lots of self respect for the way he carried himself. My Uncle Larry and his main mechanic Bobby walked in. My Dad gave me a quick routine smack behind my head and said "don't touch nothin 'less I tell ya." I nodded with a quick head bow. My Uncle Larry looked at me and said " Ready to hustle today my man?" I smiled ear to ear. He was always so kind and loving to me when we got to see each other. I loved him very much. They walked away to get coffee. My Dad gave me a quick routine belly poke and said "don't touch nuttin." I looked over at the gym equipment and the Bench Press immediately caught my attention first. I took a seat on it and than proceeded to lay down. I looked up at the metallic rusty bar above my head and padded my hands on my belly. I told myself I didn't think I was fat, just maybe happy. I thought of my mother and agreed she would agree. I put my pinky tips on the rings on the bar very lightly, my feet couldn't even reach the ground. I thought of my father saying don't touch anything and poking my stomach. I grip the bar up and lifted it off the rack. It immediately fell on my chest, crushing my soul. I was shitting my pants. I wasn't supposed to touch anything, I was there as a weird punishment already, and now I had a 45lbs barbell on my chest I couldn't get off. I was trying so hard to get that dam bar off of me, the thought of my Father and Uncle walking in completely mortified me. Not following my fathers orders, embarrassing my father and my Uncle, starting the day on the wrong foot in general. I was sweating at this point and in pain ten minutes later. I wanted to cry out so bad but I didn't want to make any more noise than I already was from kicking and pushing. I heard my them approaching, my nerves kicked up and in so high! I gripped that bar so hard out of fear and launched it off my chest onto my thighs. I got up as fast as I could and got each end of the bar back on the narrow rack. I sat down as fast as I could just as they were turning the corner. I could smell my fathers cigarettes like they're here in this room with me. They knew something was up as soon as they walked in by looking at me. My father frowned at me with confusion while my Uncle Larry smiled with question. He than said "Ready to hustle Tommy?" I smiled and gave my quick head bow nod.

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