I am Lobo. I hunt alone. I need no one.
–Gus Kubicek (Steve Guttenberg)
from the film The Boyfriend School (1990)
Original Title: “Don’t Tell Her It’s Me”
I’ve never seen this film, but someone who did when it was originally playing in movie theaters told me the above quote and I’ve found it amusing ever since.
Anyway, to give you a brief synopsis so you know why it’s supposed to be funny:
Gus is a fat cartoonist that recently won a battle against cancer, which explains his baldness. But he is also lonely. Therefore, his caring sister tries to set him up with suitable woman. But to do so, she must turn him into an irresistible man. When he falls in love with Emily, Gus takes the identity of a mysterious biker from New Zealand.
In other words, a total nebbish who is shy and not good with impressing women takes on the role of his polar opposite, a “character,” a tough biker from New Zealand, named Lobo Marunga, in order to win the girl of his dreams.
This is actually pretty typical romantic comedy “fare” and it has been for decades. Everything I can find on this film says it was a modest success without making any lasting impression on the film industry or audiences…
…except for that one line.
Obviously if Gus Kubicek was desperate enough to adopt the role of Lobo in order to find a girlfriend, he doesn’t “hunt” alone and he does need someone.
But sometimes you’re the only person you’ve got and you’re alone regardless of what you originally desired.
That’s sort of how my presence in the gym has evolved. I went back to the gym several years ago with the idea that my son David would be my workout partner, but he hasn’t joined me, for one reason or another, in many months now.
While I enjoy working out with David, I find the presence of other people around me kind of annoying. I know that makes me sound pretty selfish, but I use a small gym with limited access to equipment. There’s only one squat rack and two bench press positions, and I need both.
Monday was great because it was a national holiday, the gym opened at an atypical hour for a weekday, and there was hardly anyone in the weight room, and certainly no one who was there to do squats and bench presses.
It was wonderful.
“I am Lobo. I lift alone. I need no one,” to coin a phrase.
Although I haven’t seen the Guttenberg movie, I’m sure it’s just like any other romantic comedy. Lobo’s identity as Gus (who his love interest knew and was generally avoiding…also, and she was engaged to be married) was eventually revealed, he was rejected, and somehow, at the last minute, maybe because Gus as Gus demonstrated some of Lobo’s up-to-then fake courage, endears himself to the woman in question, and they end up living happily ever after.
Of course, that’s fiction and probably rather poorly written fiction at that. Real life is rarely so tidy.
What might have happened if Gus had been a real person is that he would have adapted, just as I’ve adapted. Conditions changed, and rather than going to extremes to reverse them, he would have quietly adjusted over time until those changes became the “new normal” and, only after weeks or months, would he have realized that he was OK with how “normal” turned out.
I’m OK with working out alone. There are a few occasions when having a partner would be advantageous, but for the most part, I get along just fine. Partners take up time, energy, and equipment. When I’m alone, I’m free to proceed with my personal routine and make changes on the fly as I see fit.
It’s also easier to get done within a 60 minute time span if I’m working alone.
I sometimes think of one of my other blogs and why it was once important to me, and realize that I “hunt alone” in that area of my life as well.
That isn’t as difficult an adjustment as you might imagine, if only because I tend to be introverted and have limited social needs, even online. Social relationships require a considerable amount of effort to maintain and especially to help grow, and if the relationship is worth it, then that effort will be welcome.
But sometimes things don’t always work out. More than a few people have stopped going to church and even find themselves loving God but not church. So I left not only the “brick and mortar” congregation (more than once, actually) but its online analog, and for similar reasons.
I don’t think I can go that far, but I won’t deny that the gym has its spiritual aspects. Certainly a once sick and wounded person such as Constance Tillet has that sort of experience at the South Brooklyn Crossfit Gym, but then again, she’s found that through her social relationships.
For me, the time alone lifting and doing cardio gives me time to think if not pray. Even with others around me, within myself, with the barbell in my hands or across my traps, I’m alone, self-contained, a unit of one.
It’s in the simplicity of the lift that I can not only find something of myself but of God within me, strange as that may seem. It’s free from all of the religious posturing, theological jockeying for position, and exegetical minutia that plagues congregations and the “virtual” church.
I’m probably stretching my metaphor unreasonably thin, but certainly a spiritual life, even one consisting of just one person and God, can be found and should be found in all other contexts of life including the gym. If God can be found in your home, at your job, in your car as you drive, and in all your other daily activities, He can also be found at the gym in the squat rack, too.
I am Lobo. I lift alone. I need no one.