Love muscles

Note: I'm on vacation this week. The following was written by my studly friend Chan, who can come over and baste my turkey any time. Read on:

"Gay men's body consciousness is a major problem, and the result of that problem is a culture of gym queens," the host declared at a dinner party I recently attended. The guests nodded their heads and bit into their chocolate torte before someone sighed, "I can't believe I haven't worked out in two weeks."

So gay men can be image fanatics, but is that worse than being the minority with the highest rate of alcoholism next to Native Americans? Or that more than half of male teen suicides are gay? No way, Jose; because besides insecurity, gym culture offers a few plusses, especially in the areas of love and sex.

After all, what better place to find a date than the gym? You already know how the boy looks from head to toe: the Cary Grant-like furrowed brow as he curls that dumbbell; the chiseled calves; the birthmark shaped like a heart on his inner thigh. You won't need to guess through a smoky haze, a cardigan sweater, and a pair of baggy jeans whether he's as hairy as a bear (or, for you bears, as smooth as a seal). And body types aside, you can sample his personality by chatting him up: "Are you done with the shoulder press?" can communicate just as much as "Can I buy you a kamikaze?" In the gym, there's no alcohol bloating your gut or cigarettes subtracting minutes from your life; you're growing muscles, burning calories, and causing blood to circulate to more parts of your body than you might expect. . . .

Let's talk about getting laid. There's a fine line between some gyms and a bathhouse, and the tales dressing rooms could tell would make Arnold Schwarzenegger blush like a schoolgirl. My pal Gym Slut has his own cruising techniques: Start with the relentless "I could eat your underwear" eye contact, accompanied by "I'm your cock slave" nods of the head, and a wink like the flip of a switch. Discreetly follow him to the cardio area, the water fountain, and on into the locker room, sauna, and shower room where, like Gym Slut, you can go Greek to your healthy heart's content. Or, if you have tact, unlike Gym Slut, you can always exchange numbers and arrange a post-shower rendezvous. Be warned: That guy giving you the fuzzy eyeball could have a badge instead of a boner.

"Big deal," you say. "I could do that much in a sex club wearing nothing but a jock strap." But more than orgasm or romance, isn't it about sexual tension at the gym? Is he straight, gay, or bi? In a nightclub, the difference between a bi guy and a gay guy is three Rolling Rocks or two shots of tequila. In the gym, it could be a simple untying of a towel. The puzzle is for you to solve: Is he waiting for the medicine ball so he can smell your lingering scent? Has he taken the rowing machine next to yours to glide down love's canal with another? Is he peeling off that sweaty T-shirt because it's time to go home for the evening or because your night together has only begun?

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