NYE with a Muscle Angel (part 1 of 2)

The moment Sebastian walked through the hotel’s tall glass doors, he immediately went to look for the bar.

“God, I’m so nervous,” he mutters under his breath. “I need a fucking drink before she arrives. I can’t stand it.”

He passes by a beautiful water fountain featuring several stone dolphins doing some sort of ballet dance together. It may not be the kind of art that he’d like sitting around his house, but at this particularly swanky downtown hotel, it’ll do. He amuses himself watching the water gushing out of the dolphin’s mouths, as if they have a perpetual projectile vomiting problem that refuses to go away.

Out of the corner of his eye, he sees a bright neon sign that says “Stratosphere Bar & Lounge.” Sebastian makes a beeline straight there and finds an open stool. Tonight, Sebastian is on a date. Even though he knows the woman he’s about to meet, he cannot help but feel a crippling level of anxiety at what’s about to happen. Not only has he not been in the dating pool for years (he and his ex-wife divorced a year ago after twelve years of marriage), but the lady he’s about to go on a date with is…

…a professional bodybuilder.

For the past decade or so, Alyson has been one of the country’s top competitive female bodybuilders. She’s won multiple contests across the world, earning accolades from celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ronnie Coleman and corporate endorsements from most of the top athletic apparel and vitamin supplement companies. She may not be a major “celebrity” in the traditional sense, but Alyson is well known if you pay attention to the niche little world that is professional bodybuilding. She’s a superstar within this community. Sebastian, who isn’t normally interested in the sport itself, has watched her career blossom from a distance.

Sebastian, to his credit, knew she was destined for stardom. They briefly dated back in high school. Back then, she was a swimmer. He interviewed her for the school newspaper (Sebastian was the editor-in-chief of the school’s weekly journal) and they hit it off right away. The moment he first saw her, he could not take his eyes off her finely sculpted body. And, after chatting with her for his newspaper article, it became clear that she possessed a determined spirit that few could say they have. Whether she chose to pursue swimming for the rest of her life or some other athletic pursuit, Sebastian knew she’d become a superstar no matter what path she travels. It was her destiny to achieve greatness.

One fateful night, a few weeks after they started dating, they even took each other’s virginities. It was the night before her family moved across the country to North Carolina. Alyson’s father was in the military and the post-9/11 War on Terror was in full swing. Knowing this would be their final few moments together before she moved out of his life forever, they decided this would be the time they “lose it.” Together. On their own terms. She snuck into his bedroom a few minutes past midnight and tried to make love as quietly as possible so Sebastian’s parents wouldn’t wake up.

It was an incredibly embarrassing moment for Sebastian – he came about twenty seconds after entering her – but nobody said life would follow a storybook formula. It certainly hasn’t for him, at least not of late. She didn’t come close to orgasming, though she still felt happy that she was able to lose her virginity to a boy she genuinely loved. After she moved to the east coast, they spoke on the phone a few times here and there…but they eventually moved on and stopped communicating once they both entered college. And that was that, as they say. Until tonight.

“What’ll it be, my friend?” The kindly bartender asks. This snaps Sebastian out of his trip down memory lane. His Eastern European accent is hard to pinpoint. Sebastian guesses he’s Polish, though he’s more than open to the fact that he could be dead wrong. He could be Russian, for all he knows.

“I’ll have some Glenlivet 12, neat, please.”

“Coming right up, sir. Are you with the party over in the ballroom?” The bartender points to a large banner hanging up over the ballroom entrance that reads “Blue River Group New Year’s Eve Party.” Sebastian shakes his head.

“No, sir. That’s not me. I’m here on a date. Yeah, it’s unusual to go on a date with someone on New Year’s Eve, but that’s the way it is.” He winks at the bartender, who has already turned his back to retrieve a clean whiskey glass and a bottle of opened Glenlivet 12.

“Good luck, buddy. If I see a lone lass walking in here, I’ll be sure to direct her to sit right next to you.” He grins at his customer.

“I appreciate it.” Sebastian takes a lone sip of his drink and savors the rich full-bodied flavor. “Oh, and trust me. You’ll notice her when she walks in. She, uh, hard to miss. To put it mildly.”

The bartender gives Sebastian a coy look of genuine curiosity. “Huh. What do you mean by that, friend?”

“You’ll see.” Sebastian smiles. This answer seems to satisfy the bartender, who resumes his task of slicing and juicing limes.

Wearing white khakis, a charcoal grey sports coat, and a bright white tie to match, Sebastian is dressed well enough so that no one can accuse him of phoning it in, but he’s not dressed so well that Alyson might feel awkward if she’s not dressed equally well. If he recalls correctly, Alyson isn’t the type who likes to play “dress up.” She’s more comfortable wearing sweatpants and a hoodie than she is dressing like a Brazilian supermodel strutting down the runway. Sebastian always liked that down-to-earth nature about her.

“Holy shit!” The bartender exclaims.

Sebastian looks up from his drink to see what the fuss is all about. He turns around and looks in the direction that the bartender is focused. His eyes take a while to adjust to the bright blinking Christmas-colored string lights that are still hanging across the bar’s entrance. But once they do, he sees exactly what the friendly bartender is reacting to.

An angel.

Not a literal angel, but she might as well be one. Sebastian’s eyes cannot stop looking at the young woman who just walked into the hotel lobby. Standing at an imposing 6’ 2” (with heels, 5’ 10” without) and wearing a bright flowy form-fitting red dress that shows off every single curve she has to offer, this woman is a marvel to regard. However, despite her gorgeous face, long blonde hair, and impeccably tanned skin – which is impressive for the month of December – there is one aspect to this woman’s appearance that stands out above all:

Her muscles.

Sebastian knows that this must be Alyson. Who else could it be? But in his vague memory, she wasn’t this strikingly beautiful. Or was she? His focus is only on her impeccable figure, not his foggy recollections of their past together. She’s built like a Greek goddess. Broad shoulders, bulging arms, a finely chiseled abdomen, and legs that look like they could easily crush a man’s skull – she’s by far the strongest woman he’s ever seen in his life. But not just bulky though…she’s curvy, super feminine, and carries an air of confidence of a hundred Fortune 500 CEOs.

Her walk is mesmerizing. Every soul in the lobby – from hotel staff to party guests to road weary travelers – cannot stop looking at this woman’s figure. Sebastian, a man who appreciates a female derriere just as much as the next fellow – stares in a trance-like state at the way her butt bounces with each step she takes.

Finally, Alyson spots Sebastian and approaches him. Sebastian can feel his heartrate beat faster and faster with every step she takes toward him. He gingerly stands up from his stool, remembering that he has to practice some semblance of courteous behavior. She prides himself as a gentleman, after all. The bartender, who now realizes what Sebastian meant by “she’s hard to miss,” nearly drops his cup of lime juice on the floor. Alyson, whose muscles seem to get bigger and bigger the closer she gets, lays a kiss on Sebastian’s cheek and hugs him. Her embrace is so tight, Sebastian is afraid she’ll break every one of his ribs. She may need to send him to the ER, if she’s not careful.

“Hi Sebastian! God, it’s been so long,” Alyson gushes. “Wow! You look great. You haven’t aged a day. Still as handsome as always.”

Once Sebastian regains his ability to breathe, he kisses Alyson back on the cheek, lingering there perhaps a few beats too long. She smiles at him as they both sit down. The bartender asks the muscle-bound lady what she wants to drink. She orders a dirty martini. The bartender, struggling to maintain his professional composure, proceeds to make her drink as efficiently as possible without staring perversely at her.

“Thank you. Wow, you look fantastic,” Sebastian squeaks, hoping his gaze remains respectfully on her face and not glued to her incredible body. “I always knew you were going to take the world by storm. Though I never anticipated you’d look quite like…this.” Impulsively, he traces a finger across her swollen left bicep. She playfully flexes for him so that the long vein going across the top pops out a bit. Sebastian struggles to keep his composure but is glad that she isn’t creeped out by his behavior.

“Well, life certainly takes you to unexpected places, doesn’t it?” Alyson, keenly aware the power she has over him, decides to break whatever tension is in the air. If she doesn’t, who will? “I’m really glad to see you. I feel like it’s been forty years since we last were together. Even though it was actually, what, eighteen years?”

“Nineteen,” he politely corrects her. “Nearly twenty. God, that’s hard to believe. Time sure flies. I’ve been through so much during the past couple of decades. Judging from your celebrity status, the same clearly applies to you too. We could spend all night catching up. Well into 2022, to be sure.” As captivating as her muscles are, his gaze is fixated on her beautiful face. Her kind smile, bright eyes, and glowing complexion can put a spell on any man. Sebastian considers himself under the strongest spell possible. They spend the next two hours chatting endlessly about their lives, careers, ups and downs, and hopes and dreams for the future. He admits that his life hasn’t been the same since his divorce. Battling for custody of his children took its toll. Alyson, who for whatever reason seems shy about revealing whether she has kids or not, listens intently with the level of care usually reserved for a professional therapist.

As time goes on, more people start to trickle into the bar. The time is now 8:36 p.m., which means it’s going to be midnight on the east coast soon. NYE revelers who want to watch the ball drop in Times Square on television begin to crowd the bar. No matter who walks in, they cannot help but stare at Alyson. It’s not every day that you see a gorgeous statuesque muscle goddess sitting at the bar chatting with one lucky chap. The bartender, who tries to slip a quick glance at Alyson’s long thick legs whenever possible, struggles to refill everyone’s drinks and keep his cool at the same time. He’d never admit it, but he’s a closeted fan of female bodybuilders…and knows who Alyson is. She may consider herself a “minor C-list celebrity,” but as far as the hardworking bartender is concerned, she’s a mega superstar in his heart.

“It’s getting awfully crowded in here,” Alyson observes. Sebastian looks around and nods his head. He’s feeling slightly tipsy (he’s lost track of how many times the bartender has refilled his glass with Glenlivet 12) but cognizant that their privacy is getting encroached upon. He’d like nothing more than to move to a more discreet location, if possible.

“It sure is. Damn. I guess watching the ball drop in Times Square is still exciting to folks, even though it’s the same shenanigans every year,” Sebastian laments. “If we had something like that over here, that’s where everyone would be.” Alyson downs the rest of her lemon drop cocktail, wipes her mouth with a napkin, and places her right hand suggestively on Sebastian’s leg.

“Do you want to go somewhere more, uh, quiet?” Her piercing brown eyes could burn a hole through his soul. A few of the guys sitting within earshot of them immediately turn their attention to Sebastian, as if to say without words, “Do it, you idiot! Because if you say no, I’m going to jump in and say yes.”

“I’d love to,” Sebastian quickly replies. The bros who thought for a split second that they might have a chance to swoop in and score with this blonde muscle goddess turn their backs the moment it becomes clear Sebastian wasn’t going to drop the ball like a moron. Alyson fishes in her purse for something and takes out a room key.

“Great. Let’s go. I’ll pay for our drinks.” As fast as lightning, Alyson leaves a few $100 bills on the bar counter and grabs Sebastian’s hand. The bartender nods to her, appreciating both the generous tip and the remarkable eye candy that she’s provided him during the past few hours. Walking hand-in-hand like old lovers – making the drunk bros around them even more envious, if such a thing were even possible – Sebastian and Alyson exit the bar with the pomp and circumstance of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman leaving Rick’s Café. This Hollywood moment may seem like the end of a great epic romantic drama, but Sebastian gets the feeling the plot is about to thicken.

“Hold on, you’re staying at this hotel?” he asks.

“Yes, I don’t live around here anymore. And whenever I’m back in town, I prefer to stay in the best place possible,” she boasts. “This is it. The best this city has to offer.”

Sebastian feels a bit self-conscious walking alongside Alyson through the hotel lobby. Every man, woman, and child stops to stare at them. Specifically, they’re staring at her. It’s not too often that you see a woman with the beauty of a movie star and the musculature of an NFL linebacker gracefully walk past you. But tonight is that night for all of these folks. One small child felt compelled to ask his mother if the lady in the red dress is a boy or a girl. She doesn’t know how to answer that question. No doubt, many similar conversations were happening simultaneously around them.

Just breathe, Sebastian tells himself. Don’t make yourself look like a fool, for God’s sake.

He wouldn’t want to pass out right here in front of all these people before he can get to her room. As the newly minted power couple move toward the elevators, Sebastian senses that he’s about to get supremely lucky.

As fate would have it, Alyson is feeling the exact same thing.

Halloween is Every Day for Female Bodybuilders

Dena Westerfield wants to suck your blood!
Dena Westerfield wants to suck your blood!

Every October 31 we celebrate a very odd holiday. People of all ages dress up in costumes, artistically carve up pumpkins, attend spooky themed parties and/or wander around their neighborhoods begging strangers to hand out candy.

No candy? No problem! Unless, of course, you don’t mind your house getting egged, toilet papered or surrounded by flaming piles of dog feces.

The concept of Halloween, according to experts in folklore, dates back to Celtic “pagan” traditions of welcoming in the harvest season. Halloween also might be rooted in Festival of the Dead-type traditions where people honor their dead relatives and usher them into the Afterlife. In the United States, a Catholic-inspired Cajun tradition began in the early days of North America to spend a nocturnal Mass at graveyards to bless the souls of the deceased.

Getting a creepy vibe already?

But today, let’s face it. Halloween is all about having a socially acceptable reason to dress up in silly costumes, watch scary movies and eat too much sugary candy. Plus, Halloween sort of officially kicks off the “holiday season” which includes Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

Some costumes range from the innocent to more “adult.” Some people will go as doctors, firefighters, kittens or Spider-Man; while other will choose the more family-friendly route and become a stripper, dominatrix or slutty nurse.

Whatever. Your choice of costume is your choice alone, as long as the company you work for doesn’t have any strict policies against publicly embarrassing yourself.

Now this is one Halloween party I'd like to attend! Here we have Annie Rivieccio, Aleesha Young and Alina Popa.
Now this is one Halloween party I’d like to attend! Here we have Annie Rivieccio, Aleesha Young and Alina Popa.

We dress up because it’s fun to pretend to be something we’re not, even if only temporarily. As kids, we wanted to be Superman and Wonder Woman. So if we dress up like them, isn’t that close enough to living out our dreams?

Perhaps, but there’s another reason why we dress up: to celebrate Halloween’s macabre roots. Zombies, vampires, serial killers, ghosts, goblins, ghouls, monsters and politicians are all par for the course. Who doesn’t like to channel their inner Jason Voorhees or reenact a scene from Night of the Living Dead? Whatever is most frightening is often the most fun.

These two reasons might explain why, as absurd as this may sound, for a female bodybuilder every day is Halloween. Every day is their chance to “dress up” and become something different. To become something superhuman, unworldly and strange. Many fans of female bodybuilders may not consider the presence of a muscular woman to be “ghoulish,” but unfortunately some people out there do. So let’s celebrate Halloween this year by paying tribute to the ladies we love 365 days a year.

Her body is her costume

Every single time an FBB goes to the gym to train, isn’t she essentially creating the “costume” that she’ll wear every single day of her life? Except in this case, her costume is her own body. It doesn’t consist of hats, tights or capes; but instead muscles, veins and sharp angular curves.

It takes a lot of work to achieve the physique of a Katka Kpytova or Alina Popa. Strict dieting, strenuous weightlifting, supplements, drugs, mental toughness, hardcore dedication and sacrifices are necessary to reach that level of muscularity. Not too many people in this world are that dedicated to their craft. But those who are should be very proud of their work.

When a woman builds bulk on her body, she’s making a decision to sculpt a better version of herself. She’s changing her identity. She’s breaking the mold of convention and embracing the nontraditional. Whether she intends to compete or not is irrelevant. The desire to gain maximum muscularity is a statement unto itself. It says “I’m reinventing myself, whether you like it or not.”

The concept of reinventing one’s self through the lifestyle of bodybuilding is fascinating. If our “traditional” idea of femininity includes slender arms, lush curves and a small frame, a female bodybuilder tosses all of that out the window. Her rebooted identity defies these norms while at the same time creating new ones. “Feminine” doesn’t have to be a euphemism for “weak.” It can mean so much more.

Her muscles are what define this new identity. Because muscles are not typically associated with femininity, women like Debi Laszewski are not seen as traditional women even though their womanhood hasn’t changed one iota. Deep down inside, Debi has always been Debi. Even before she took up bodybuilding, Debi was Debi. Now that she’s a world class athlete, she’s still Debi.

You don't want to get on Maribel Barnes's bad side!
You don’t want to get on Maribel Barnes’s bad side!

Think of it this way: the mere presence of muscles on a woman’s body doesn’t change anything about her. Whether someone changes their appearance for the better or for the worst, who they are intrinsically doesn’t change. Yes, an FBB may gain more confidence during her training, but her inherent identity hasn’t been altered by a single degree. Everyone has an identity. Your body’s appearance is just one facet of that.

In this respect, a female bodybuilder’s muscles act as her “costume” or “uniform.” To put it another way, a football player becomes a football player once they put on their pads, helmet, shoes and protective gear. When it’s not game time and they’re dressed in “street clothes” out in everyday life, they’re no longer a football player. They’re just like you and I. Sometimes, the uniform makes all the difference.

Likewise, an FBB’s muscles acts as her professional uniform. It informs us about who she is and what she does. But that’s not all that there is to her. She’s so much more than her appearance. Her thoughts, feelings, beliefs, actions, relationships, opinions, interests and everything else encompasses her entire identity. Her body is just the uniform she wears as a result of her chosen profession.

Like other self-revealing occupational uniforms (a construction worker’s hat, a doctor’s smock, a radio DJ’s headset, etc.), a female bodybuilder’s muscular body is an instantly identifiable clue as to what she does for a living. It’s her way of announcing to the world what she’s passionate about. It’s an outward expression of self-identification. Her muscles are her costume. Her muscles are her uniform. Her muscles are not her entire identity, but it’s a very important part of it.

Her body as a grotesque costume

It’s maddening. It’s ridiculous. It’s blatantly sexist and stupid. But this train of thought still exists: Muscular women are gross. They’re disgusting. They’re not real women. They’re women who are trying to become men. They’re revolting to look at. They shouldn’t look like that. Blah, blah, blah.

While the previous point talks about a female bodybuilder’s muscles being her living costume, this point discusses her muscles as other people perceive them. Unfortunately, not everyone perceives them in a positive light.

For many people, an FBB’s muscles make her a monster. It makes her a freak. It changes her identity, but not in a good way. It’s scary, frightening, disturbing, repulsive and lots of other synonyms that would tear a thesaurus in half. Her Halloween costume resembles that of a horror movie villain rather than an elite athlete. These perceptions explain why more women don’t lift weights at the gym and are afraid to pick up a dumbbell heavier than 8 pounds.

I've never seen the film "Blood + Kisses" starring Denise Masino, but I'm sure she's very sexy in it!
I’ve never seen the film “Blood + Kisses” starring Denise Masino, but I’m sure she’s very sexy in it!

Thus, another reason why every day is Halloween for female bodybuilders is because for many folks out there, an FBB is a walking and breathing humanistic monstrosity of distorted femininity. Her Halloween costume is her “man-like” muscles that obviously make her so unattractive. Whether her motivation for gaining muscle mass has anything to do with a deliberate attempt at reorganizing her gender identity has nothing to do with this perception. For far too many people, a muscular woman is nothing more than a woman pretending to be a man (or to put it another way, she’s “unnatural” for looking like that).

Or, wanting to become a man. Short of undergoing gender reconstruction surgery, adding muscle bulk to her body is the next best option. This opinion is far from being the most popular reason why women decide to pursue bodybuilding. Most do it for the sport. Others do it for self-empowerment. For many, it might be a “hobby,” but one that they take a bit more seriously than knitting or collecting postage stamps.

For the men and women out there who are genuinely sickened by muscular women…well, that’s life. There’s very little that will change overnight. They might view her like a sci-fi creature from a mad scientist’s laboratory, but the rest of us know better. It’s only a matter of time when women like Lisa Cross are celebrated as much as mainstream female celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence.

If Tina Chandler wanted to arrest me...yeah, I'd let her.
If Tina Chandler wanted to arrest me…yeah, I’d let her.

Trick or treat?

Just so we don’t end this discussion on a sour note, imagine this scenario playing out in your actual life:

You’re going out trick-or-treating. Let’s say you’re an adult, but you live in a neighborhood where it’s socially acceptable for grownups to knock on doors and ask for candy. It’s getting late, so you know it’s about time to start wrapping up this confection excursion. You have one house left to visit. It’s nearing 9 p.m. (your self-imposed bedtime is 9:30 for whatever boring reason) and your bag of candy is still not completely full.

You knock on the door of a strange brick house standing on the top of a steep hill. It’s covered with moss, ivy, chipped paint and cobwebs. You’re alone. Your heart races but you’re still insisting on gathering as much sweet loot as possible. You approach the house cautiously. You knock once. No answer. You knock twice. Still no answer. You knock thrice. Once again, there is no answer. You wait a beat. Then two beats. Then three. Several more beats pass by, then you finally give up and start to walk back to the main street. Then, out of nowhere, you hear the door open. It creeks loudly. You turn around. And you see who answers the door.

Monica Martin. MEOW!
Monica Martin. MEOW!

It’s not one, nor two, nor three, but seven gorgeous female bodybuilders having some sort of a spooky soiree. They’re all in costume, ranging from Elvira to a cannibalistic Nazi zombie stripper to a trial lawyer. Seven tall, thick, highly muscular women with the most beautiful faces you’ve ever seen. They seem intrigued by you. They look you up and down at your wimpy frame and even wimpier costume. A glow-in-the-dark cartoon skeleton? Seriously? That’s the best you could do?

The host FBB speaks first.

“Are you here to trick-or-treat?” she asks. Her low, gravelly voice seems to shake the foundations of the Earth.

“Uh, yes. That’s why I’m here ma’am,” you answer timidly.

The seven start to laugh. You might have heard laughter from several other female bodybuilders inside the house that you can’t see. The leader raises a hand to hush everyone up. Everyone becomes silent. But their gaze is still exclusively on you.

“Good,” she begins. “Then you should come on in. We’ve got a very big treat for you.”

The seven FBBs move to the side of the door, inviting you indoors. You can clearly see that the house is infested with beautiful muscular women, all of them more muscular and more beautiful than the rest. There must be several dozens of them in there. Their costumes are very sexy. Everyone is scorching hot beyond description. You’re speechless.

But you go inside nevertheless. The door closes behind you. The party commences.

Happy Halloween!

2013 in Review – The Adventures of Ryan Takahashi

Happy New Year! I leave you with this photo of Larissa Reis. No particular reason, other than the fact it's an awesome photo of a gorgeous woman.
Happy New Year! I leave you with this photo of Larissa Reis. No particular reason, other than the fact it’s an awesome photo of a gorgeous woman.

Happy New Year, dear readers! I sincerely wish 2014 will be a blessed year for all of you.

Personally, 2013 was an awesome year for me. Yes, I had my ups and downs, but who didn’t? All in all, I can honestly say that I had moments in 2013 that I will treasure for the rest of my life. I’ll make sure to share some of these moments in a future blog post.

So, I wish all of you a tremendous 2014. Thank you for reading my writing in 2013. I am continuously humbled by how many people from all corners of the globe stumble upon my blog on a daily basis. I had no idea my blog would be this popular when I first started this thing back in May of 2012.

Peace be with all of you. I leave you with my 2013 in review, thanks to WordPress.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 92,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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