Category: Ken’s Life

Cheap Gyms are Bad

Normally, you would think that low prices are good. Deals are good. Deals are great, even. Haven’t you ever walked into a Costco, left $300 poorer, but still have a smile on your face because you’d probably have paid $500 for the same items if you weren’t buying in bulk?

A gym however, is not something you want a deal on.

At Equinox (and I assume other luxury gyms,) you will walk out over $140 poorer per month, doing the same ineffective workout you’d do anywhere else, but yet, it will leave you so much more satisfied than the $10/month + no commitment at Planet Fitness or whatever.

Cheap Gyms are Bad, But Not Because They Are Inherently Bad

A cheap gym can be compared to a classic economic theory, Tragedy of The Commons. For those of you who were browsing Facebook during your microeconomics lectures, this theory basically describes how when a finite resource such as fish, fossil fuels, or… a gym is available to everyone, it becomes overexploited. And bad.

For some backstory, a few years ago I was a member of a Synergy Fitness in my hometown of Merrick, NY. I paid around $20-25 a month for membership. It was a good gym with a lot of equipment, and was constantly expanding because they kept buying property around the location. A perk was that it was within walking distance of my house. On the other hand, it was also within walking distance of my high/middle/elementary school.

I hate small talking with people when I’m working out, and I hate having to even look at some of the goons I went to high school with. I ended up quitting Synergy, and only working out when I had access to the free gyms at college. Now that I’ve graduated, not ever being able to lift for the rest of my time living in Merrick was not something I was going to consider. Luckily, a brand new gym had opened, just half a mile further away from Synergy. Enter Crunch Bellmore, with beautiful brand new equipment, huge space, and an extremely attractive rate of $10 per month. And yet, I dread going there.

Now don’t get me wrong, Crunch Bellmore is actually a pretty great gym. When you go and there’s nobody there, you’ve got a lot of great equipment to get a good workout in with. This brings us back to The Tragedy of The Commons though. When a really great gym is $10 per month, there is never nobody there. Post-work hours, 7-8pm is disgusting at Crunch. You’ll wait half an hour to get some dumbbells because one of the benchwarmers from High School Football is trying to superset or some shit. I decided to start going at 9-10 PM, sometimes at the risk of not getting my full workout in before the gym closes at 11. And yet even at such an odd hour, I’d have to circle the parking lot 3 times before I found a spot, and would still probably have to wait for equipment and have at least one “Sup bro, how’s life? Working? Sick bro me too.” And since it was cheaper and probably even nicer than Synergy, everyone who I saw at Synergy back in the day… was now at Crunch.

My Free Trial at Equinox

The great Kanye West once said, “I need every bad bitch up in Equinox, I need to know right now if you a freak or not.”

Well, I suppose he actually said it a few times, but the funny part about this statement is that almost everyone in Equinox is a bad bitch.

Since October, I’ve been working for a Bulge Bracket Investment Bank, and I was recently informed of our discount at Equinox, which waives the $300 enrollment fee, and cuts the monthly fee down by $30 a month. (Which is still $140…)

I pass by the 50th Street location every day when I go home from work, since it’s placed right next to the downtown 1 stop. I’ve always had the itch to try a luxury gym, so I thought a free trial couldn’t hurt.

You can get a free trial by entering your email on the www.equinox.com website. This free trial period was the best and most painless out of any other trial I’ve done. Comparatively, Gold’s Gym would not give me more than one free day in the gym, and sent me 50 emails about signing up. Lifetime Athletic wouldn’t stop calling me for 2 weeks even when I said I wasn’t interested. Equinox called only one time, and allowed me to respond at my own pace via email.

The Equinox Experience

Here’s a list of things that make my experience at Equinox pretty great:

  • Less crowded at peak hours
  • Check into the gym/sign up for classes via iPhone app
  • Locker rooms with built in locks
  • Top of the line equipment, nothing is ever broken
  • More attractive people to aggressively stare at during your workout
  • Occasionally get free personal training sessions
  • Depending on location, some provide workout clothes for you
  • Elaborate showers, free Kiehl’s products

On paper, this may not sound like it’s worth 14x the price of my old gym, but it covers the most important thing when it comes to fitness: You’re excited about your next workout, and you don’t dread your next visit.

 

Kith x Nike Pop-Up Pickups

As much as I love New York City Sneaker Boutique Kith, I rarely keep up with the various drops and collabs that they’re always up to, so if I find something cool there, it’s usually just by chance. Last time I stopped by KITH Manhattan, I was one day early to the Kith x Colette drops. Had I timed it properly, I would have no doubt dropped however much it takes to look like Fabolous:

But yesterday, I managed to stumble upon a Kith x Nike Olympic inspired pop-up shop. The presentation of the place was pretty incredible, with iconic shoes like Michael Johnson’s famous golden spikes from the 1996 Summer Olympics on display.

Continue reading “Kith x Nike Pop-Up Pickups” »

Losing the Gapcore Shorts + HUF Haul

Although I own tops from just about every major streetwear label, I’ve always skimped out on paying for shorts. I always figured, If I’m dressing to impress, I’m probably not even going to be wearing shorts, right? Wrong.

In the past I have opted for mostly plain Mossimo khaki/flat front shorts. (For the blissfully ignorant, Mossimo is the brand that encompasses like, 80% of the clothing sold at Targét.) My original attitude was that as long as I’m not wearing cargoes and keeping the colors basic, I should be okay. And I probably was, but certainly not for the obnoxious streetwear kid I aspire to be.

Continue reading “Losing the Gapcore Shorts + HUF Haul” »

The Strangest Fraternity Rush: “Barney Stinson”

“Are you a brother here?”

It was a question I probably had heard at least 80 times that week, always from freshmen who weren’t sure whether to suck up to me or treat me like another random dude. They were interested in joining my fraternity, or at least secure their invite to getting free booze for the rest of the week. No hard feelings, we budget for that.

But this guy was different. He was dressed in a full suit, and held a deck of cards in his hand. I wasn’t sure if he was a genius, or a complete fucking weirdo.

“I’m a brother, my name is Kenny, what’s yours?” I usually wanted to tell these guys to fuck off and to bother someone actually on the bid committee, but maybe we had a gem here.

“Barney Stinson,” He declared matter-of-factly.

“I get it, the suit, the magic tricks, that’s funny,” I laughed, ever-so-fakely. “But what’s your real name?”

“Barney Stinson,” He once again declared, matter-of-factly.

It cleared up any confusion that I had.

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Fall Rush Week is a magical time on college campuses where Greek Life runs the social scene. With no exams or assignments due in the near future, college is still basically a booze fueled summer camp where Monday and Tuesday are equally as poppin’ as Friday and Saturday. If you’re in a frat during rush week, freshman guys want to suck up to you, and freshman girls want to suck you off. It’s a shitshow largely fueled by cluelessness.

Freshmen don’t know any better. If you were like me as a freshman, you wandered the streets with your entire dorm floor and walked up to every house playing loud music. You asked the two dudes standing at the front if you could go in. They end up letting the 5 most attractive girls in your group in and send the rest of you packing. So once you finally get inside a house, it’s a blessing. This is so much better than when the high school lacrosse team threw down after raiding Carl’s parent’s liquor cabinet. Dancing girls, an unattended handle of fruit punch Burnett’s vodka, and you have no idea if you’re in Delta Sigma Phi or FIJI’s house. It doesn’t matter, the guys who live in this house are BROS, and you want to party with them for the rest of your college career.

Hundreds of people will come to your party during rush week, and they’re more than likely either not cool enough to hang out with you, or too cool to hang out with you. But they don’t know that yet, so you either want to scare them off by telling them how you had “unspeakable things done to you during your pledging,” or that there was “basically no pledge process at all.”

After refusing to reveal his real name,”Barney Stinson” was a clear case of, “guy you want to tell that your fraternity has the highest death rate for pledges, and that we were in the news for the Oklahoma chapter chanting the n-word on a bus.”

I watched “Barney” perform a card trick, was still not convinced he wasn’t a complete fucking loser, and then sent him off to fail at impressing other brothers. Probably so I could talk to some girls who wanted to make sure they could find alcohol tomorrow.

You don’t need to be a polo-sperries-croakies fratstar on your first day of fraternity rush. I still would never fucking wear croakies. I rushed in cargo shorts and thought that wearing a graphic tee was acceptable on a preppy campus, and burned all of my cargo shorts shortly after initiation. You’ll figure it out.

If you’re cool enough, a frat will bid you regardless of what crap you’re wearing. Just be natural and you’ll find the right fit. But if you’re trying to impress people, wearing a suit and doing card tricks is probably not a way to make friends with someone who’s house you snuck into.

 

Heyyyyy – A Crash Course In Textual Interest

Alright, so you finally met up with that girl from Tinder. You got coffee and made some good conversation, but you only met for an hour since she had crossfit or some other millennial female obligation afterward. You’re texting her and she’s texting back, but without being able to see her body language or tone, you can’t tell if she’s really that into you or not. Your first instinct will be to show your boys and see what they think. Don’t bother with this, because they can’t help you. One of your friends looks like Brad Pitt and he’s going to assume she’s interested, because every girl is interested in him. Your other friend has had sex one time ever, and will also tell you that she’s interested because he obviously knows what he’s talking about.

But in reality, gauging how interested a girl is through her text messages is a simple but precise science. This information contained in this lesson is not peer-reviewed or from an academic study performed in a controlled environment, but results should be fairly easy to reproduce these experiments on your own.

How Many Y’s Though?

You might have noticed that girls like to add extra letters to words when they text. Guys do this too, but it’s much more likely for a male to replicate the behavior of the person that he’s texting. Males texting each other are never “realllyyyyy exciteddddd” to go the bar tonight. The below two examples are essentially the same conversation, but one Male to Female, and the other Male to Male. It should be fairly obvious to decipher which is which.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see with the exclamation points, emojis, and extra letters, she was obviously enthusiastic about seeing me that night. On the other hand, if your texts to a girl look like more like the conversation I had with my good buddy Luke, she’s probably not that down.

Since “hey” is typically the most acceptable greeting for a text conversation, it is by far the best way to gauge interest. More y’s indicates more interest. A “hey” with only a single y roughly translates to “fuck off,” a “heyyy” with three y’s indicates some interest, and a “heyyyyyyy” with seven y’s indicates that she wants anal.

Now you might be thinking, “Whoa, slow down there! She wants anal? How could that be?”

Here’s an important fact that many who claim to understand y-theory fail to realize. Y’s are added to “hey” on a base ten logarithmic scale, similar to the Richter scale used to measure earthquakes. What this means is that each “y” is ten times more powerful than the last. Think of how a magnitude 5 earthquake will likely just move some furniture while a magnitude 6 can collapse a building. That’s what we are dealing with here.

heyscale2
Disclaimer: No amount of y’s is actually equal to consent. Don’t be a rapist.

Here’s a fairly typical example of a text where we have just exchanged numbers. Notice the “cute” comment with the extra letters. Even if she didn’t say that, I could fairly assume that I have something to work with here.

Here is an example of a text where the girl is my friend, but obviously not interested that way. Aside from her stating “i am not interested in you,” you can see that even though she is being friendly with me, she is not adding any extra bubbliness or emotion into her texts:


An important thing not to get confused with adding extra letters to the ends of words is the use of emojis, exclamation points, and maybe sometimes ~’s at the end of sentences from those artsy worldly hippie chicks. I’ve talked about bubbliness before, and here you have to gauge who exactly you’re texting. If you’re texting the recruitment chair of Alpha Chi Omega, she probably uses emojis all of the time. On the other hand, if you’re texting a deadpan Aubrey Plaza type girl, she probably won’t. But worry not, the “heyyyyy” can come from any type of girl.

So now, you should be a total expert in interpreting texts. Get out there and catch some y’s!

Tinder Stories: The Voice Actress

“Unless you’re like, already a celebrity, you’re not going to be successful in voice acting unless you have a variety of voices.”

I nodded my head at the grown woman who was speaking to me in a voice probably best suited for an animated dolphin. It was the fourth voice she had used so far, and we had only been at the restaurant for half an hour. I took a large sip of my beer. How could this have gone so wrong?

I had matched with a kinda cute girl on tinder, and after talking to her for a week, I suggested that we meet up. She immediately recommended a sushi place that had an unlimited beer special for $25. It was literally my perfect idea of a date. Even if she ended up having a bad personality or was a catfishing bridge troll, drinking a ton of beer is something I’d be okay with doing on my own anyway. Plus she had talked a lot about her voice acting job, which sounded super interesting compared to the usual accountant or law school student that I date.

Stella and I agreed to meet outside of the East Village restaurant. I was early, having to time the Long Island Railroad trip so I wouldn’t be late, where she was able to just hop on the 6 from the Bronx. The venue was quaint, definitely not too busy for a Saturday evening. When she arrived, we had the “wow you do/don’t look different than I thought” conversation that occurs every time you meet someone from the internet and both agreed that we got what we expected. She was a 23-year old Puerto Rican, skin tone matching mine exactly but with lighter, wavy long hair. I was feeling a good vibe from her, until the waiter informed us that they didn’t do the unlimited beer special anymore. Stella asked the waiter if we could have a moment and used her first voice of the night, Reggie Rocket. “I didn’t even really want sushi that much. This is a bummer.”

Up until then, I was thinking that having sex with a voice actress could be pretty hot. Like a slightly less weird version of people who cosplay at comic-cons, dressing up as characters and boinking in costume and persona in the hotel after. But what I forgot was that for every Jasmine from Aladdin, there’s someone out there voicing Diglett. Fucking Diglett.

Unfortunately for me, her voice acting repertoire was mostly children… and like, gremlins or something. She had a few okay normal voices, including (what i hope) was her natural voice, high and soft with an ever so slight Bronx Latina flair. But the voices she insisted on using throughout the date were things that would have me rushing out of the bedroom if she ever happened to talk dirty with them. I had asked her to try Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender which she did a great job at, but wasn’t practiced enough to hold a conversation with. So my “Let Quinn Dominate Me in The Bedroom” fantasies started to seem exceedingly unlikely to occur.

After some deliberation, we decided to stay at the sushi place but barhop around the Lower East Side since we wouldn’t be able to get our booze fix there. Stella’s voices were irritating, but I really did enjoy hearing about how voice-over unions worked and how she got her start, doing fan dubs of Japanese Anime. Maybe she took my interest in her career path as, “I definitely want to hear you speak like Finding Nemo for the rest of the night.” I was drinking a lot, thinking that maybe I was too uptight. If I got a stronger buzz, I would start laughing at her voices with her instead of taking them so seriously. But she was matching my drinks, and the drunker she got, the wilder her voices became. Bad idea.

She went from childlike teasy voices once every few sentences to loud, dramatic, monologues that couldn’t possibly be mistaken for her natural tone. People started staring at us. I began to think it was some sort of cruel joke. Stella couldn’t have possibly thought I was enjoying her voices. But after I strongly suggested that we find somewhere else to go after she probably convinced the patrons of the third bar that she was Steve Irwin’s replacement on The Crocodile Hunter, I realized that she was just super fucked up and definitely shouldn’t have been trying to keep up with an anxious fratboy who’s worried that people think he’s on a date with a freak.

Stella was stumbling drunk now, and I wanted nothing more than to go home, but there was no way I was abandoning a girl who at this point literally thought she was in an Australian Nature Documentary. I told her we should stop drinking and she agreed. She didn’t seem like she was gonna be sick or anything, so I figured it wouldn’t take too long for her to come back to her senses. So I walked with her north, along the 4/5/6 so at any time she could get on the subway and go home. I talked as much as I possibly could, to avoid hearing another of her voices until we reached 33rd street, where I told her that I’d have to turn to get home.

“I was kind of crazy, wasn’t I,” Stella said in her normal voice.

I blinked. “You’re a really convincing Australian.”

We kissed goodnight, and told I her to text me so I know she got home safe, which she did.

I never spoke to her again.

 

My 5 Favorite Songs of 2015 (That don’t include Drake or The Weeknd)

What kind of music do you listen to? This question always stumps me, because the real answer is pretty much “Just Drake and The Weeknd,” but I do occasionally dabble in female-driven pop, post-hardcore, EDM, and whatever happens to be playing on Hot 97. So here, I really struggled to find 5 songs released this year that I like, that do not include either of those artists.

5. Meek Mill – All Eyes on You

After the entire world has been shitting on Meek Mill for attempting to beef with Drake, and getting him *cough* Charged Up, *cough* I can at least appreciate that Meek Mill collaborates well with other artists, especially when he doesn’t use his angry voice and works with Nicki Minaj and Chris Brown. On this track, I’d actually say that Nicki Minaj stood out to me the most. I think this is her best verse since Monster, although there is still a pretty large gap. Anyway, I’d say all three of them gave above average performance resulting in a pretty nice song to bump in the whip.

4. All Time Low – Something’s Gotta Give

Good ol’ pop-punk. All Time Low has been one of my guilty pleasures, but sometimes it’s so guilty that I had the chance to see them live at a music festival and ended up passing on them. I ended up seeing a hardcore band I don’t remember the name of because the crowd was full of preteen girls and their mothers, which was pretty unappetizing after I had been in a dozen mosh pits earlier that day. Most old All Time Low fans don’t keep up with them lately, but this song is rather catchy, and if you still bump Dear Maria or Weightless, this song is probably worth checking out. If you happen to really like the riffing in this song, I also recommend checking out Cartel’s Sympathy, since this song totally ripped off of that. (I was mad about that for like, 2 weeks but I got over it)

3. Phoebe Ryan – Homie

Honestly, Phoebe Ryan probably has way better songs than Homie, but there’s something so great about the word “Homie” and the whole message behind the song. What’s the point of being anything more, or anything less. Right now you’re you’re exactly who I need you to be, so just get undressed. It represents the move away from dating culture and taking relationships too seriously, and I’m pretty much fine with that.

2. Carly Rae Jepsen – Boy Problems

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFT8FIPnumM

This song is so poppy and peppy that there’s a good chance you’ll internally combust on your first listen. A Katy Perry-esque poppy bassline paired with Carly’s sweeter-than-sugar voice created pure cocaine in the form of a Carly Rae Jepsen song. This song makes you want to dance, but you’re most likely going to feel really bad about it after the song ends. So you just end up listening to the song again. And again. And again.

1. Dance Gavin Dance – Eagle vs Crows

Honestly, I haven’t kept up with Dance Gavin Dance, and the first time I listened to this song was last night. However, unlike all of the 4 above songs, I’m in no way embarrassed to listen to this song. If you don’t appreciate it, you can at least tell it’s something that music snobs would like since it’s got a nice blend of complex guitar, and the mix of harsh/soft vocals and is catchy WITHOUT sounding anything like A Day to Remember. I can already tell that I’ll be listening to this song for years.

Lessons Learned from “Buying U A Drank”

Part I. Jedi Mind Tricks

If there’s a piece of advice that I’d give to any inexperienced guy trying to pick up a girl at a bar, it’s that asking to buy a girl a drink without even really talking to her isn’t a sure way to get laid, but instead a guaranteed way to drain your wallet. Thankfully, I learned this painlessly, a fantastic night as I third wheeled with my roommate and his 18-year old girlfriend to Cornerstone Loft & Grill, right off the campus of The University of Maryland. My roommate Luke’s girlfriend was named Erin, and even though she wasn’t even legal to drink, she was already a professional con artist at tricking dudes into buying her drinks.

Erin was an attractive, but not super attractive blonde. Like, the average dude would definitely say yes to sleeping with her, but It would take more than just a simple request to get a guy to buy a round of drinks for her friends. I swore that girl was able to pull some major Obi-Wan Kenobi shit. That night, she was able to convince random guys to not only buy drinks for her, but for her boyfriend as well as me, her boyfriend’s roommate through pure trickery. She would start up a conversation with random girls while simultaneously trying to eye down guys who were already trying to buy drinks at the bar. Once they had locked eye contact, she would approach them, and talk about how her friends were trying to meet some new people, and that they’d also love to have some guys buy them drinks. The guys are thinking that they just scored themselves some friendly conversation with the decoy girls, if not a partner in bed that night, so there was a 100% success rate of 3 drinks being added to that tab. She’d take the drinks, say she’d bring them to her friends and come back, walk right past the decoys and right back to us, her actual friends.

I would watch her scurry away from her prey after snatching the goods and see the looks on their faces when she didn’t bring them to the girls that she was talking to earlier. The guys would just shrug, and maybe laugh at the guy who just put the drinks on his card. As if that shit happens all the time. Which it does. Erin was definitely a special one though. That girl managed to fool some poor group of dudes TWICE IN THE SAME NIGHT. Like, they had already saw her run away with the drinks, come back saying something about her friends being shy or something and said one of the dudes was really cute. And she’d just run away with the drinks again. And once again, a shrug and some laughing.

 

Part II. The Legend of the Five Dollar Bill

Sometimes, approaching a girl can go horribly wrong. But thankfully, one incident I’ve witnessed that has made sure that I can never feel that bad about looking creepy or awkward ever again, because it will NEVER be as bad as the time Geno tried to buy a girl a drink. In the prior section, I discussed magical Erin, able to charm guys into buying drinks for her imaginary girl friends. Geno on the other hand is anything but magical.

Before I can rush into this incredible story, you have to learn some backstory on our friend Geno. I’m not even sure how I came to be friends with Geno. He hails from Upstate New York, which might as well be on an entirely different planet from civilized, Actual New York. He essentially grew up in a trailer park, living a rather sheltered life, but was suddenly thrown into the real world, where he finally got to interact with people who weren’t rednecks. On top of all of this, his voice LITERALLY SOUNDS LIKE MICKEY MOUSE. Talk about unfortunate. Geno was always around, and considered “one of the gang,” but nobody was ever sure how that came to be. He’s the kind of guy who would just show up when you made plans with your friends to meet at a public place, but would suddenly show up. Everyone knew him, but nobody would ever admit to inviting him. It seems strange, but it was pretty fun to have him around due to his social ineptitude and the unintentionally hilarious situations his shrill Mickey Mouse Voice would create. This is among his best stories.

Geno was an entertaining drunk. He was already loud and unnecessarily aggressive while sober, but it’d be taken to an extreme with alcohol. Add an extra dose of clumsiness, and the dude is knocking over chairs, making a mess, but also making sure everyone else around him was having a good time. I suspect he knew he was a social punching bag, but secretly took it in pride, as he knew it would affix himself as a member of the gang, and would keep on getting him the invites to hang out. For the most part, these drunk shenanigans happened within the confines of somebody’s home, but this legendary tale occurred during a night out at the bar.

So one crowded night at a fairly popular bar, he lets us know that one of his coworkers is present and that he’s got a crush on her. This excites just about everyone. He was the type to suck up to girls in our little group all the time. With the earlier description, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Geno isn’t quite a casanova. Girls in our group have mentioned that he’s kind of cute or got better looking over the years, but just about all of them were entirely repulsed by his personality. We all wanted to see him in action with a girl who isn’t one of us. So his plan is to buy her a drink.

Cue the T-Pain music. Buying a girl a drink is a classic Hollywood move to cold approach a girl, and I’ve stated that it’s a terrible idea, but even more terrible performed by somebody who doesn’t know how to execute it properly. Think about all of the ways that buying a girl a drink can go wrong. You will not guess Geno’s messup correctly. Buying the girl a drink but having no drink for yourself? That’s kind of awkward. Nope. The girl tries to take advantage by ordering a shot of Blue Label? Erin could probably pull that off, but nope, that wasn’t it either. Something as simple as stuttering? Well, maybe he did that too. In fact, he PROBABLY stuttered while doing this. But that was not the mistake that Geno made.

Geno technically didn’t even buy his coworker a drink. Instead, he handed her a five dollar bill, and told her it was for the drink she had purchased for herself just before. This is the most cringeworthy thing I’ve ever heard in a pickup scenario, and I doubt I’ll ever hear anything more embarrassing. In his mid-twenties, this man did not know that it wasn’t proper bar etiquette to give somebody money for a drink that they had already purchased to “pick them up”. This isn’t even to mention that she was drinking a margarita-type drink at a rather ritzy bar that probably ran at least $8. Not only did he just hand the lady a five, but it wouldn’t have even been enough to cover the price of the drink.

There are two lessons to learn from this story. Buying a girl a drink is probably a bad idea if you’re not sure that she’s actually chill, and that there is never a reason to feel embarrassed about messing up with a potential romantic interest after you’ve heard this story.

The Beating Up Small Children Award, First Place

There are a lot of people out there who think that participation trophies in youth sports have played a big role in making the millennial generation “useless and entitled.” After all, why put in any effort to win if you know you’re going to get a nice piece of plastic at the end regardless? When I think about the any negative impact that trophies caused in my life, one award particularly comes to mind, and it’s not the coed baseball participation trophy I received for picking grass in the outfield and striking out every single at bat.

shiai
/ˈʃiːaɪ/
noun
1.
a judo contest
Word Origin
Japanese

 
This was Jiu-Jitsu rather than Judo, but the Shiai was a yearly fighting tournament at my dojo with a single elimination bracket. Considering the students at the competition ranged from 1st graders to high schoolers, we had to be separated into different divisions based on size and skill. To make things fair, right? I was excited, expecting that I would be able to compete against my usual training partners, Nick, Danny, and Hunter. We would finally get to see who was deserving of bragging rights among our tight-knit training group. Nick was typically the best of us, because his dad did Jiu-Jitsu too. Nick ended up being a counterpunching Floyd Mayweather before any of use even knew who Floyd Mayweather was. But I had been doing better in my sparring matches lately, and I was ready for that faceoff. That was, until I looked at the divisions.

 
Nick, Danny, and Hunter were in the same division, as expected… But I was placed two divisions lower, with smaller and younger people. I was a green belt, and they were all orange or worse. The only name I recall from that group was Elizabeth Toro, and I instantly knew I didn’t belong in that group. She was good, but she was a small little girl. I already knew that it was going to be the two of us in the finals.

I did weigh less than my three training partners, but it still didn’t make any sense. I should have at least been in the division below them. I was at least half a head taller than the next biggest competitor, and had much longer reach, which was huge in these kinds of fights. They obviously weren’t going to let a bunch of kids beat the crap out of each other, so we all wore plenty of protective gear, and the fight would end after a certain number of clean connections. And for good reason. If this was a no-holds-barred fight, I would’ve killed every single one of them. I think in the 3 or 4 fights I had before the finals, I had like a total of 2 punches land on me. I was a monster. I was way too big for my competition, and Elizabeth was a fan favorite and made short work of her opponents as well. To nobody’s surprise, it was us in the finals. As I said, she was good. She got a few punches on me, but in the end, I destroyed her, because it simply wasn’t fair.

There’s an awards ceremony, I get the biggest trophy of my life, and then I sit there and watch Nick beat the crap out of Hunter in the finals and he gets awarded an even bigger trophy than me.

“I would’ve killed you too,” I told Nick. After seeing what he did to Hunter, I didn’t truly believe it, but hey, I had a first place trophy and Hunter didn’t.

#LoopLife

I’ve been parading this picture from the last day of my internship all over my other social media accounts and getting tons and tons of likes, so I might as well show this off here too.

 

Photography by Tommy Vo