Like many of you I have always prided myself on my manliness.
I ate big, worked big, played big and shit big.
I ate three different entrees for breakfast when I went out with the guys. I played contact sports and loved chasing Thugs through city streets. I liked movies with Arnold Schwarzenegger, guns and explosions. I loved big dogs, the bigger and droolier the better. I loved working out. If 200lbs was good for me then 225, 250...300 had to be just that much better (which definitely explains my myriad of injuries over the years).
Throughout my life I played contact sports, not very well, but the more contact the more I liked it. I wasn't a finesse guy. If a hammer worked a bigger hammer worked better. I once attempted to repair a DVD player in college this way. Needless to say that didn't turn out well.
My favorite movie line of all time is when Conan the Barbarian is asked “what is best in life?” and he replies in his German/Austrian accent “To crush your enemies. See them driven before you. And hear the lamentation of their women.” Truly, what could be better?
My wife (yes, someone actually did marry me) called me big, hairy, dirty and smelly. Like some kind of feral animal. I loved it.
I credited a majority of my manliness to my testicles, in particular what they produced: Testosterone.
As a young boy I frequently got into fights around the neighborhood, vehemently defending my viewpoint or my neighborhood friends. One day I came home mudded and bloodied and when my parent's asked what happened I told them “It's tough being on the side of truth justice and the American way.” I was 6.
I was never a big kid. In high school I worked out religiously, studied and taught martial arts and played various sports; I wasn't very talented at any of them. However, my friends on the soccer team liked having me around, not for my talent (I refer you to my former statement) but because I was a defenseman and they liked my ability to slide tackle and the fact that I could hold my own in a fight if/when it came down to it at a game. No stretch of the imagination when, senior year the coach cut me. I wasn't exactly winning any games and we really didn't get into that many bench clearing brawls.
In college, I played rugby on our college club team. I refined my diet and workouts and gained about 15lbs of muscle. At night I continued to study and teach martial arts. In the mornings I worked out in the old dirty gym in the basement of one of our college buildings, with the college janitors and the maintenance men. Needless to say not many other guys worked out here. I loved it.
Yet, when it came time to choose a career, oddly enough, the choice wasn't clear to me. I was majoring in chemistry at the time and doing my undergrad research with a PhD chemist. I broke so much glassware during our time together he sat me down and said that “maybe chemistry isn't [wasn't] your [my] thing.” I think I spent a majority of his PhD grant money on replacement glassware.
So, I drifted a bit, applying for chemistry jobs at Merck, Lexmark, Pfizer, Bayer, etc. I didn't have much luck. During a trip that summer I took a tour of a federal law enforcement agency. An agent told us all about how as an agent you get to shoot machine guns, drive fast, wear armor, learn hand to hand combat and capture notorious criminals. I was hooked.
Fast forward two decades...
During my career I was afforded the opportunity to do a lot. I worked undercover buying guns from a known murderer. I ran an undercover sting operation on a large, multi-state, multi-million dollar, violent criminal syndicate. I became a firearms, physical training and close quarters combat instructor. I was trained by SEALS, Black Belt Hall-of-Famer’s, championship shooters, renown experts in knife combat, counter snipers, world class strength coaches and UFC champions. I tried out for and made it on our SWAT team. I trained agents at the academy and in the field in close quarters combat and firearms. I worked out religiously during times when we didn't have operations. I did hundreds of search and arrest warrants. I was afforded the opportunity to work with the best cops from vice, anti-crime and gang units in the three biggest cities in the North East. I tried to do it all; bigger, faster, louder.
And that, I believe was my undoing, at least in part.