GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND — It finally happened, and I would like to think it has to do with the shape of my body (don't I look better?), not the cachet of my island hideaway.
I have finally been lusted after and attacked in a most friendly way--a couple of incidents in a very short period of time, not a mere passing moment of potential sin.
The events started on a morning walk. I picked the day for a walk, incidentally, because I have just received a batch of the latest pictures of my slowly changing body, and the progress revealed gave me courage.
Because my walks have been the subject of a good deal of interest, and because I have openly confessed to cheating on my last walk, I decided this one had to be judged as objectively as a Miss America beauty contest. (Those things are objective, aren't they?) So I asked Christopher Scott, Body Worry physiologist, to witness whatever might transpire.
His Scantiest Bikini
I put on my newest and scantiest bikini. Before walking to the beach, I pumped up with some dumbbells and a Z-bar loaded with 80 pounds of weights. Then I rubbed oil all over myself. Although oil-based suntan lotions make me burn quickly, they also make my muscles look bigger, and I needed all the help I could get. Vanity rules over sense in swoon walks.
Chris wanted to pump up, too, incidentally, but I stopped him. Walk strategy always dictates that you do away with competition.
We walked for about two miles along the beach, Chris slightly behind me, his eyes on other people. I had asked Chris to confirm each "hit" as it happened. A hit, in the vernacular of these so-called swoon walks, is a definite look of interest, appraisal of the flesh. Looks at your face don't count. Less-than-handsome bodies can have handsome faces attached to them.
We had not walked by three people when Chris muttered under his breath, "Remar, there's your first hit!" My chest started to pump up even more until I saw the swooner. A guy. Thanks a lot. We walked on.
And then, from the corner of my eye, I saw a middle-aged and very pleasant-looking lady staring at me. "Chris! Do you see it? Do you see it?" I muttered, trying my best to look disinterested. He had. That was a hit, a legitimate lusty look if I have ever seen one. (The thrill may have lost a little of its edge as I saw her reach down and put on her glasses after she had undressed me with her eyes. But I think she needed them for reading, not swooning.)
The casual comments people now make about me seem as meaningful as a swoon walk used to be. My good friends accept the fact that both my body and my life style have changed. They speak of the changes as casually as you would speak of the time, but their words, to me, are like unexpected flashes of lightning: They make my flesh tingle.
One or two, seeing the progress of my body, asked me about a face lift and hair transplants. At the beginning of my remake I did think about these, and I'm not against either procedure. But I've decided they're not right for me. I have worked for all my changes so far, and though they may be minimal in some people's eyes, they are all mine, part of my body.
I'm not trying to say foreign hair and surgical procedures are more vain than my own pursuits, either. As a matter of fact, as my looks have improved, I have discovered mirrors. For much of my life I've avoided their reflected truth with the determination of a vampire avoiding a wooden stake. But now I kind of like them. I have found a way to flex my right biceps as I shave, and after a shower I dry off in front of the full-length mirror rather than a blank wall.
I have even decided ABC newscaster Paul Harvey's headline, written at the beginning of my new year, may end up being a little prophetic rather than simply funny: "Fat Man Invites Us to Watch as He Transforms Himself Into Bronze God." I have always wanted to be a bronze god.
I have always wanted this next thing to happen, too. I was sitting in the Tide's Inn talking with a group of college students from Georgetown University. The group had been to one of our island's famous beach parties, perhaps a mitigating circumstance in the incident that follows, but I like to think not. I had just regaled the group with juicy details about a television appearance. As I started to pick up my soda water, one girl, perhaps 20, beautiful and rather wild looking, without any encouragement on my part, lurched from her chair, threw her arms around me, grabbed my head with both hands and planted a kiss on me. I will not tell you how passionate the kiss was (this is a family newspaper), but I will say the young lady was very strong, for I had trouble pushing her away.
This incident happened in front of at least 10 people (I have their names, if you need proof). And do you know what? I wasn't that surprised. I mean, my body looked better than it had in 45 years. And then one of the girl's friends (the one taking her feet as they lugged her down the stairs) said, "She likes older men who really look good."
Well. I have never been ashamed of my age, just my body. And though I have wanted to believe someone could really be attracted to the reality of my flesh, I haven't really thought that dream would happen. Maybe all this work is worth it, don't you think?
Beginning 32nd Week Waist: 43 inches 34 inches Right biceps: 12 3/4 inches 13 inches Flexed: 13 inches 13 3/4 inches Weight: 201 pounds 170 pounds Height: 6-feet-1 Blood pressure: 128/68 118/58 Pulse: 64 58 Bench press: 55 160 Hunk factor: .00 .60