Big head. Balding big head. Overweight with a balding big head. Overweight with a balding and graying big head: My life in a few unflattering pictures

As a toddler, I might as well have worn a hat that said, “C-Section Baby” to remove all doubt from anyone who cast their eyes upon my giant head and thought, “How did mom birth that kid?” On second thought, I would have to wear a T-shirt–they wouldn’t be able to find a hat large enough for my gargantuan grape. My small mouth only accentuated the problem. Growing and keeping my hair longish helped for a while until I began to lose it. Then, after I got married, I began to gain weight followed by my receding hair graying. So the images below are not intended to impress. “There but for the grace of God go I,” I suppose.

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Is this 1963? Close. That is me on the left next to my sister, Michele. It is amazing my neck could suspend that gigantic head!

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The early 60s. After my grandfather got the donkey and told my brother to get off of it, we settled down and watched 8mm home movies on my forehead.

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Two hopelessly square conservatives and one swingin’ progressive in or around 1966.

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1968, Third Grade class picture. I nearly flunked out of this one–as I actually did First Grade. I hate to say it, but I credit my promotion to Fourth Grade to my teacher’s serious car accident. Mrs. Pickett was replaced by a long-term temp who had more patience with me. Geez, look at me! I was a hot mess.

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Eighth Grade yearbook pic, I think. Check out the wave in those bangs!

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Sometime in the mid-70s, we saw Rich Little at a casino in South Shore or Reno, Nevada. Rich Little inspired me to become an impressionist, but like everything else, once I found out it took a lot of practice and hard work, I dumped it. Leasure suits? Good God! Were my brother and I feigning senior citizens?

1975
Because my father built boats for a living, I spent a lot of time on the Sacramento River in the mid-1970s. This pic might be from Folsom Lake, though. What a ham!

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1977 trip to Alcopoco, Mexico. Here my brother and sister and I pose for a picture.

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Senior Year Homecoming. I rarely went to school dances. I was as out of step with my schoolmates–and my date–as that leisure suit was in the fashion of the day. I should have seen it coming! Sorry, Jerri.

1976
I spent two seasons trying to shoot pheasants from the sky. On the last day of the 1977 season, we bagged three drakes. I never hunted after that. I don’t mind eating fowl; I didn’t like the feeling I got standing over mortally wondered birds lamely flapping their broken wings, then having the unenviable task of breaking their necks.

1980
This 1979 lad is beginning to bald, but can still rock a Calvin Klien oxford, Newman jeans, and a YSL belt.

1984
Party time after hours at the Tower Theatre. The year is 1985 because that was the release year of “Cocoon.” That’s me on the ground, my boss Gerry above me, my best friend and fellow floor staffer, Paul on the couch. Randy and Anne are the attractive lovebirds. They met at the Tower, fell in love, got married, and became successful in the film business in SoCal.

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This photo appeared in the now-defunct Sacramento Union in the mid-1980s. It was the main image in an article by Mick Martin about college students opting to stay home. (And, presumably, leave the housework to their mothers.) The picture was a big hit with the ladies. You missed a spot, Mom.

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I think this was taken in 1985 during my one-year relationship with Judi. My best friend, Paul is on the left. I don’t know what party we all went to that required name tags.

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1986: The end of my five-year stint as part of the Tower Theatre floor staff. I got a job working for the State of California. When I was put on furlough, I came back and worked for a couple of months. This photo was one of the last nights working with the old crew.

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In 1987 one epoch came to a close, and another one began. I graduated from California State University, Sacramento. (The Ten Year Plan.) Here I am with my mentor William A. Dorman. The new epoch started within a month of posing for this photograph: I got married.

peteI’m not sure if this was taken in 1987 or 1988 since I lived with my future wife and her kid, Peter, for a year. Call it a test drive. Of course, it worked out swimmingly. This is one for the images from a photo booth at either the Pizza Hut or the Time Zone arcade across the street in Old Sacramento. I spent countless hours and quarters on Peter at the Time Zone. First Pizza Hut then, when Ely was a toddler Chuck E. Cheese’s. I was once a pizza snob before this time in my life. Now, it was whatever Peter and later Peter and Ely wanted no matter how shitty the pizza. Parenthood.

1989
In 1988 we bought our first house. Here I am amusing my father (kneeling) and my father-in-law with my sophisticated jocularity while we installed tiles in our new kitchen.

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Then came Ely. I think this was when I started to gain the weight. A lot of time resting, followed by eating, then more resting.

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1989, I suppose. Ely is young enough to ride on my back. I don’t know where we are, but I like the look on Ely’s face, asking himself what the heck is his big brother Peter is doing.

1990
Christmas 1989, I think. I’m trying to figure out my kids’ Christmas toys.

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So in 1992 I messed up and didn’t do any of the parental hours I was supposed to perform during Peter’s Magnet school year. I was told I could make it up by spending the night at Sutter’s Fort with my kid and his classmates (and other slacking parents). We had to rough it: wear period-looking clothes, even sleeping on the ground at night. It’s strange hearing total strangers fart in their sleeping bags! My job was the class photographer. See that twine around my neck? Below it dangles a period Asahi Pentax K-mount SLR with a 55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. Very rustic! This is one of my many pre-smartphone selfies. They did that back in the day, no?

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In 1994/5 my wife and I took separate vacations. She went to Chicago and came back an ardent Cubs fan to this day. I went to the D.C. area where I stayed with our friend Mad Dog and became a passionate hockey fan–for well, about two years. (I’m not good at sticking with things.) I saw all the Smithsonian museums, and on the weekend Mad Dog and I  went to Gettysburg and Baltimore where we took in an Orioles game at the beautiful Camden Yards, John Water’s old apartment complex, and visited Edgar Allen Poe’s monument.

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My brother and I have always had to share birthday parties since our dates are only about two weeks apart. I used to think that was a ripoff. Since my youngest son, Ely, has a birthday within a month of my brother and me, my mother makes a big deal of celebrating “The Keaton Kids” birthdays together. I like the idea and other family members’ birthdays are celebrated in a like manner. Here is one of the dozens of Keaton Kids Birthday Cake Blowout pix my wife religiously takes. This one is from the late 1990s. Ely’s big brother, Peter on the right. Since his birthday is near Thanksgiving we celebrate his with Tommy Turkey’s death day.

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At the cabin owned by my parents and brother and his wife sometime in the 1990s. That’s my dad in the background probably saying something like, “Cut that selfy shit out!”

Jack & Peter
Not sure when this was taken, the early 00s, I suppose. I’m either in mid-laugh, mid-fart, or just trying to pull my now gigantic ass out of the chair. This time was also Peter’s long, unkempt, “What’s a rubber band?” hair phase.

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We’re at the in-laws here, Peter, Grandma Peggy, Ely, Grandpa Bob, and me. This was probably taken in the mid-00s.

2006
Martial-arts leaves grabbing in 2006. My all-time favorite pet, Casey is giving himself a bath on the hood of my neighbor’s Beemer in the background. I miss Casey.

2007
2007 Playa del Carmen, Mexico. I remember thinking. Boy, am I going to lose weight in Mexico! Last time I was there (1977) I got a severe case of dysentery and things aren’t supposed to be much better as far as the water goes. As it turned out, we stayed at an all-inclusive resort that had it’s own water filtration system. Outside of the resort, I drank nothing but cerveza and diet soda, so I ate like a pig and hit my all-time high in weight: 235!

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We took an Alaskan cruise in 2008. Best vacation I’ve ever had. The cruise part wasn’t all that great. Like the previous year in Mexico, I pigged out on the ship. What else do you do on a cruise? It was all the ports of call that made the trip fantastic. I’m not a hiker, but this glacier hike was great! To all readers of this post: Go on a glacier hike quick and remember to take plenty of pictures so you can tell your grandkids what they were like.

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This one hurts. Yes, there was a time I liked Obama, and I believed in all that Hope and Change shit. The wife and I had left a restaurant in East Sacramento and noticed an Obama 2008 campaign office near our parked car with this standee inside. There was a short line for people wanting to pose with this chunk of cardboard. The time was obviously magical for more people than just me. Then the man was elected, and he called in the arsonists to put out the fire!

Flag
I took this selfie in 2009. I was in a church in Elk Grove, California and about to join a Bible study session. In the 1980s the right wing hijacked patriotism, the flag, the National Anthem, everything short of apple pie. I never had a flag to put out on Flag Day, but after all this shit I never wanted to be misunderstood! So, no flag on Flag Day or July 4th. Also, conservative churches began to associate themselves with the Republican Party and its candidates. I found this flag hanging in a hallway near the room where the study was being held. What’s a flag doing in a church? Where does it say to worship Ceasar? This selfie was intended to be slightly irreverent–as if to say, “This the way I salute the flag, my fellow Christians!” But after posting it on Facebook, a few of my conservative friends dished out some patriotic tripe. “Hell yeah! America!” and the strange, “All you need now is a cowboy hat, and you’re Toby Keith!” Huh?

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Me and my wife’s little mistake. We are cat people, but in 2009 Ely, her baby boy moved in with his girlfriend. I suppose my wife felt she needed a replacement–something more responsive than a cat. Enter Vivian, somewhat equal parts labrador, beagle, “Canine from Hell.” We were not prepared for this kind of dog. Nor were the two trainers who kicked my wife and her unruly dog out of each of their training classes. My wife says she will cry hard when Vivian dies. Then, after a respectable time of mourning passes and we’ve vacuumed the last hair of dog from the property, she’s going to get a litter of kittens and become “That crazy old lady with all the cats.”

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Keaton Boat Group, Stockton Ski Club, 2009. I’m in the floppy hat talking with Dennis Payton, a long-time family friend. My dad is in his boat. For decades we never had a boat of our own, always taking demonstration models and clients’ boats out for family outings on the Sacramento River. In his retirement, my dad bought a used Keaton from someone who most likely bought it from my dad. Then he modified it into a fishing boat with the ability to troll. Still, he complained he had to settle for a small block. We’re talking about fishing, and my dad still wanted to go fast! I miss him dearly.

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2010: The Year of the Scooter. I got a Vespa GT 200L in 2010. I launched the blog BurgerScoot and rode around town reviewing burger joints and dipping my toes into the local scooter subculture. Turns out you really should know how to cook if you want to write decent, informed reviews on restaurant food. Alton Brown, I am not. I had fun and officially ditched a diet that I was unofficially failing. I discovered food trucks around this time. MY GOD, FOOD TRUCKS! Here I’m at REI where Krush Burger (nee Mini Burger) parked.

Boring
In 2011 we vacationed in London, Oxford, Bath, and Paris. All fascinating places, especially London which I won’t mind seeing again, but I have found over the years that I like to stay close. Close like North America. Is Hawaii considered North America? What about Iceland? I’d want to go to those two places, too. Wait, Ireland, and Scotland! Oh, the Scandinavian countries, also…

2012
Springsteen at The Jewel, Oakland, CA., 2012.  Thanks to Annie and her brother Karl!

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One of the most exciting finds in recent years here in Sacramento is The Moon Lecture Series hosted by St. Mark’s Unified Methodist Church. St. Mark’s is a progressive-minded church and the Moon Lectures, which occur during the last four months of each year, features some of the most interesting progressive voices in the country. I have seen Morris Dees, Chris Hedges, Angela Davis, Michele Norris, and recently Jim Wallis (see below). I am very sorry I have missed past guests like Rev. William J Barber II, Amy Goodman, and Daniel Ellsberg.  Here I am with Advocate Dees, co-founder of the monumental Southern Poverty Law Center, doing my very best Jimi Hendrix impression.

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In 2014 I was diagnosed with Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a terminal illness–you’ve got it until your bones shatter like glass or you die of some other age-related disease, or you get hit by a truck. The closest thing to an Rx for the condition is staying limber. My physical therapist recommended yoga. It was one of the two most important pieces of advise I have received in my advancing years. The other being “Lose at least fifty pounds.” I’ve taken the first piece of advice very seriously and am struggling with the second piece.

2015 Rogers Centre Toronto
In 2015 we vacationed in Toronto. It is a beautiful city. Here I’m in the CN Tower. By the scowl on my face, you would think I knew that the A’s would get their collective ass handed to them by the Blue Jays later that evening. No, that’s how I usually look. If you get a chance, visit Toronto and don’t miss taking in a game at the Rogers Centre. It’s a great ballpark, even if the otherwise amiable people of Toronto turn into complete assholes when they are in that massive stadium!

2016 A's v Pirates
2016: A’s host the Pirates. Guess who won?

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Late in 2016 my mom and I saw Anthony Bourdain in San Francisco. It was a fun night. The chef turned author, TV personality, and activist along the way was funny, crude, and gracious. I realize this addition may come off as obligatory after hearing of the man’s death especially considering I never watched his shows on a regular basis. Still, his Kitchen Confidential is one book that I think of every time I walk into a restaurant, glace at a menu, take a slice of complimentary bread, and use the restaurant’s bathroom. Bourdain has been called one of the greatest storytellers of our time and one of the most influential cultural figures of his age.

2017
Last year Mom took me to a Giants vs Nationals game. One condition, though: I couldn’t wear my A’s colors. I couldn’t abide by wearing anything with the Giants on it, so I met her halfway and bought a River Cats cap. The Sacramento River Cats is our local AAA team and, alas, a Giants affiliate, so purchasing and wearing the headgear stung a bit. When I pulled the cap out of the shipping box, I frantically perused it to ensure it didn’t have any Giants markings or that “Stronger Together” bullshit slogan on it. I enjoyed the crab sandwich, a dugout-clearing fight, the Nat’s shutting out the home team, and the excellent company!

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June 23, 2018: My mother’s 85th birthday party at Raley Field, home of the Sacramento River Cats. My mom popped for a corporate suite! Sweet…
Another Moon Lecture at St. Mark’s Unified Methodist Church in Sacramento. This one on
November 2, 2018, with Jim Wallis: preacher, activist, founding editor of the independent news and faith magazine Sojourners. Wallis is also the author of many books including his latest America’s Original Sin. I went with my co-worker and friend, Tom. I think he liked the political activism of the man but wasn’t crazy about the Christianity part. To me, Wallis embodies the best of both worlds, and as you can see by the selfie, he’s quite a sport! Chris Hedges wasn’t so amiable when I asked for a picture together here a few years back.

The Bitter Incongruity of Old Man Problems & and the Triumph Bonneville in the Window

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Mike, my now retired scooter mechanic, once told me, “Most of my customers have owned a bike (motorcycle) sometime in their past. They are usually the ones who later buy a scooter and stick with it. It’s the ones who started out on a scooter that usually step up to a bike.” I was inquiring of this dusty old Triumph parked among the scooters at the Barber’s Automotive, the place I used to go to get my Vespa serviced. Mike might have thought I was pining for something bigger, faster. I wasn’t. I was just curious. Even with its equal parts rust and dust, the old Street Twin still looked good–better than some bikes when they are on the showroom floor. But I am content being a scooterist, and yes, I have had motorcycles in my past, albeit that was forty years ago and none of them were Triumphs. I have to admit I have a love for Triumph motorcycles. Any model will do, but I have an affinity for Bonnies. Will I ever graduate to a motorcycle? I seriously doubt it. Perhaps, if I someday win the lottery and become obscenely wealthy and can have a mini version of Jay Leno’s garage. Then I can buy me a Bonneville. I would probably take it out about one-tenth of the time I ride. The other ninety percent of my riding time would be split between a half-dozen or so new and vintage Vespas and Lambrettas. Even with my Triumph’s low odometer value, it would hold a special place in my garage. The spot that would remind my guests and me that I’m man enough to straddling a Tramp, but confident enough in my sexuality to prefer riding scooters most of the time.

Not everybody understands my love of the scooter over the cruiser or the sportbike. While receiving a food delivery at home one Saturday afternoon about five years ago, I was going over the invoice with the driver. He was a formidable looking guy, over six-feet tall with forearms the size of my calves. He had on black jeans that had seen plenty of action, tucked into knee-high steel-toe, black boots, and a waffle thermal shirt I would call heather but don’t tell him that. The sleeves of the shirt were pushed up revealing some busy, thick black tats.

At one point he gazed over the motorcycles in my garage: a Kawasaki Vulcan 800 Classic cruiser, a Suzuki SV650 sportbike, and a Vespa GT200L scooter. He told me he had a Harley Hard Tail and rode with an MC (Motorcycle Club–I don’t remember which one). I swallowed hard knowing what was coming next. He asked me which bike was mine, implying, I’m sure, the cruiser or the crotch rocket. I told him the scooter was mine. I finished the self-castration by saying that my son rides the Kawasaki and my wife rides the Suzuki. “Oh come on, man!” He exclaimed backing up a half-step as if he was afraid some of my pussy would rub off on him. I wish I could remember exactly what he said next, but it had something to do with being a man and “representing” or something like that. As if I had a duty to let everyone know who had the stones in this house or on the road. Before the delivery was finished my son and wife can out to the garage dressed for a very rare weekend spin together. They mounted their rides and took off leaving the Vagina GT200L there with its cuckold owner and an intimidating, Harley-owning, truck driver. The guy then handed me the clipboard and shook his head in a half-mocking disgusting manner. This guy was what I would call a typical Harley rider or at least a typical motorcycle club member. He had a very narrow idea of how masculinity should be exhibited and that there is no room for a feminine element for anyone with a Y chromosome.

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Only James Dean could make sitting on a front fender backward look somehow cool.

It’s true that Harley-Davidson has one-uped Triumph and all other motorcycles in the macho department when the manufacturer is closely associated with tough-looking MCs–especially the 1%ers, but in the youthful macho/stylish department, the Triumph is matchless. Hell, Paul Newman rode a Triumph, for Christsake! You know, the guy in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid who opted to pick apples with Katherine Ross rather than half sex with her. Triumphs have always conjured up youth, freedom, and a fair enough amount of machismo. “Tramps” as my dad and others used to lovingly call them are without a doubt the coolest motorcycles on the road. My father rode a Triumph, and so did my uncle–the sexiest, manliness man I ever met. I’m not sure about my uncle’s ride, to be honest. I’m saying he rode a Triumph for the story for convenient continuity, but my uncle may have actually ridden a BSA–which were nearly as sharp as Triumphs, but the now-defunct motorcycle company’s product has been relegated to vintage-bike collectors’ objects.) I can’t find any pictures of my dad and my uncle on their Triumphs. The only vision I have of that is contained in an 8mm home movie of my dad and uncle wearing their badass black t-shirts, Newport soft packs sticking out their breast pockets, cigarettes dangling from their lips as they manhandle their top-heavy thumpers through some dunes. Neither of them looked very graceful, but there is plenty of machismo between the two of them! A few years later my dad would get into two-cycle dirt bikes. He would show far more finesse in the dirt with these lighter bikes, winning himself an impressive trove of trophies to go with his boat- and car-racing trinkets.

Perhaps my dad and uncle got the idea to ride Triumphs from the movies–there sure were a lot of examples of cool guys riding them. My dad was in Marlon Brando’s and

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McQueen in “The Great Escape”
James Dean’s generation who rode Triumphs on screen and (at least for Dean) off. But my dad seemed to have the highest degree of respect for Steve McQueen. McQueen raced cars and dirt bikes and in The Great Escape did virtually all of the tricky motorcycle work short of the famous jump and spill which. Due to insurance regulations, his off-road racing buddy Bud Ekins performed those stunts. The motorcycles used were not the historically correct BMWs, but more nimble Triumphs. McQueen indirectly sold a lot of Triumphs. Triumph Motorcycles Ltd. returned the favor and named apparel and even one of their motorcycle models after him.

So Triumphs are closely linked to men like James Dean, Steve “King of Cool” McQueen, and, on a personal level, my dad, and my uncle. I might enjoy riding a Triumph Bonneville, Scrambler, or Street Twin, but I wouldn’t be forwarding the brand any, and that’s okay. My love of Triumphs is more of unfulfilled love–a shiny object in the window I look upon from time to time with a distant longing. So, when I literally saw a gun-barrel grey Triumph Bonneville T1200 in the window of the store where I buy my calcium and vitamin D (pills I’d rather not take, but I need to because of my old age) the irony stung a bit. And, with return visits, it is the sting that kept on hurting.

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Bob Dylan–a Triumph owner–could have drawn me to a Tramp, but I had just sold my Yamaha for a car when I “discovered” Dylan. Here, in this famous photo, he is representing the brand.

First, it reminded me of how unobservant I am. I have been getting my supplements at that place for a couple of years now, and it wasn’t until about six months ago that I noticed the 450-pound motorcycle in the room. When I first started buying my supplements there, I immediately saw the bright-yellow Fuji road bike hanging very high in the shop. The shop’s owner gave me a reason he hung the pricey road bike in the shop, but I quickly forgot. That’s fine, I guess. I ride a hybrid and have never felt I needed a road bike, so my envy was checked. I’m such a selfish bastard that if I wanted a road bike, it would have drove me nuts looking at that nice bike up there every time I walked into the shop. He introduced himself as Gabriel and said he recognized me walking my dog in our neighborhood. (It turns out we live on the opposite ends of the same street.) During a later visit, I even noticed the yellow LeMond Fitness spin bike right next to the still unnoticed Triumph. I never asked him why his spin bike is in the shop. I would like to think if I had that bike in my house I would use it, but you probably know how that story goes, right? It would end up a coat rack. I could see Gabriel moving the LeMond out of his house and into a store that pushes pills and potions that are or claim to be beneficial for you–like regular workouts on a spin bike have proven to be. That would be a good sales hook. But it took me months of return visits to realize “The Bike of My Dreams” was less than two feet from that spin bike.

I don’t recall why Gabriel placed his Bonneville in the window. I know he gave me a reason because I shot him a heavily filtered version of, “What the fuck are you doing with a Triumph Bonneville in the window of a supplements shop? Are you crazy? You could be riding that Tramp to work every day. There’s free motorcycle parking right across the street, too!” Whatever the reason he gave me, I recall thinking the answer was grossly insufficient. He was especially nuts ruining the iconic logo on both sides of the gas tank by adding black decal lettering “Total Body Nutrition.” I also wanted to weep when I saw he added in decal lettering “Est. 2015” on both battery covers. Sacrilege!

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My doctor. Just kidding. Heidi Klum on a Triumph.

While I could see he cared more about pushing Ginkgo biloba than riding his motorcycle I just felt pathetic. I was in this joint because my body is disintegrating and the stuff I needed from this shop was kind of the opposite of a Triumph Bonneville. The spin bike or the Fuji road bike would have been more appropriate window dressing for this kind of shop. The discovery of the motorcycle was a surprising slap in the face. Like going to see my doctor about my low T levels only to have Heidi Klum bust through the door on a black Triumph wearing sexy underwear and telling me, “I got your Testosterone test back. Not good. Poor little man. Well, I’ve got to go. I have a date with my boyfriend. He’s a stud, not like you.” and then peel out the door.  When I was first diagnosed with Low T and requested hormone therapy, my doctor at the time (a man about ten years my senior) told me that we should “enjoy this phase of our lives. The eunuchs lived for a hundred years. They were happy people…”

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Another image of McQueen. This time he’s on a Triumph Scrambler. No Low T here!

In the meantime, I started seeing targeted online advertising for products like Nugenix, HighT, Steel Libido, T-Up, T-Blast, everything short of Mr. T. WTF? Did my HMO sell me out? I incidentally got the soft sell from Gabriel when, by accident, I bought a bottle of Vitamin B Complex, thinking it was my calcium fix. (Same company, similar box color, and design.) When I brought it back for an exchange, Gabriel tried to sell me on the stuff. “Are you sure you don’t want to keep it? You know B is the sex vitamin and for guys like us getting on in age we can use all the help we can get.” He also started in on the wonders of Zinc, Ginger, and stuff I doubt I could pronounce back to him if I gave a shit. I wanted to snap, “Hey, who’s the one treating a Triumph Bonneville T1200 like it was a box of ginseng tea?” I exchanged my unwanted Vitamin B for calcium and walked out glancing at the big, firm, erect, sexy, seemingly self-confident Triumph as I exited.

To be fair, adding the words “Low T” and “Overweight” as tags to this post will only intensify the targeted advertising. What can I say, it comes with the territory of being a whore for hits on my blog!

Some experts say that low T also brings on weight gain or is it difficulty losing weight. Yeah, I like that excuse! I am at one of my heaviest. I’ve long forgotten the post-marital epochs; times where I would mount the scale in my 53rd Street bathroom, my wife standing there to officiate the new high and offer support with a dash of criticism. I only remember one time when my youngest son was running around in diapers, and I knew the pregnancy and infancy of the new addition had brought on a lot of joy, but also a lot of food consumption especially late-night snacking. I also was becoming more sedentary than ever before. After the analog scale whirled like the tach on a revving Street Triple, the number rested on 222–like Room 222, the 70’s TV show that was a belated answer to To Sir With Love. I began sardonically humming the theme song during weigh times.  The only correlation here was that I felt as big as a room. I would love to inform the reader that this was the all-time heaviest, but I only got out of the zone about four times in the twenty-five years that followed: two times after vacations when I weighed in at a whopping 235 and two times I somehow, some way dropped slightly below two centuries.

My relationship with Gabriel and supplements is not all frustration. There is also some hope, albeit most likely false. I like to think while walking the back aisle of the little store I will discover something that will be the cure to my ails including my chronic weight problem. You know, a shaft of light from the heavens shone on a golden box beckoning me to pick it up. Alas, it never happens, but on one sad day, feeling the waist of my jeans tighter than usual, I blurted out in faux humor, “Is there anything in your shop that will make me skinny?” God, did I just say that? Take it back, take it back! Shit, too late. If Gabriel were brutally honest his reply would be, “Yeah, these magic words: Eat Less, Exercise More” but he didn’t say that. “Hey, I’ve got something for you,” disappearing from the other side of the center aisle. I walked around the corridor with dread, expecting some herbal weight loss gimmick in a pill with green tea extract or cactus. He hands me a book. I sighed with relief (at least I wouldn’t feel pressured to buy refills.)

He first called the book a loaner, which was a drag. I didn’t want responsibility for the book. Whenever this happens, I visualize bringing back whatever was loaned to me looking like a dog’s chew toy or with a conspicuous coffee ring on it. It’s not that I treat other people’s property like shit, I just stress over the responsibility. I planned to take it back to my cube glance over it. Take a picture of the cover (in case I actually liked it) then returned it to Gabriel before I accidentally dump iced tea on it or something. Just before I left the store, he changed his mind and said I could have it. That was probably a business investment towards a regular customer, but Gabriel is really a nice guy despite my complaining here. Regardless of his motive, his change of heart changed things with me and the book. I tucked it under my arm and thanked Gabriel and took off before he started chucking ketones at me or some other diet “solution.” Outside of the shop, I glanced once again at the Triumph. What the fuck is that doing there. What is the connection between a classic motorcycle and green tea tablets? The more I want to look at that beautiful bike the more it frustrates me. And hey, I wasn’t this fixated on Tramps until I saw the motorcycle in the window. I’m sure (I hope) time will pass and I’ll ignore the window dressing and stop looking up Triumphs online and how much they cost (too much, by the way).

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A look from the outside. Good god, those Jump Bikes are everywhere!

The book went from my armpit to my bag, then to the trunk of my bicycle. It wasn’t until I got home that I got my first good look at the cover: “You on a Diet” by Michael Roizen and [Dranatic silence here] Mehmet Oz. Dr. Oz?! The guy who is beloved by overweight housewives everywhere and hated by anyone who makes even the slightest attempt to research his latest “miracle” weight loss drug. The guy who, in 2016, was rightfully raked over the coals by Dean Heller and Claire McCaskill, among other U.S. Senators, during a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation subcommittee hearing.

My wife has been railing against this guy for years for peddling snake oil. The fact that he is an M.D makes it far worse in her eyes. He’s in it for the cash, apparently. When my wife came home that night, I made the mistake of showing the book to her in the spirit of a joke. She wasn’t amused. After I told her about how I got it, she thought I should not patronize that store anymore. (I never got to the part about the Triumph in the window.)

Now nearly every time we are in a grocery store, she will point out the supplements section and tell me in a humorless tone, “You probably could get a better deal on your vitamins here.” Months after I showed her the book we were shopping at Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op. As we walked by what probably is the most expensive aisle of supplements in town she said, “Maybe you should buy your vitamins here.” Damn, women don’t forget! Yet I still buy my “bone pills” in Gabriel’s shop. I’m not sure why I’m loyal. I know there are a few places I could get cheaper pills while staying true to supporting independent shops. Maybe it is because we are neighbors and I want to avoid the awkward moments of running into him.

IMG_0674I finally got around to browsing the Dr. Oz diet book the other day. It is long-winded and speaks almost exclusively to women. I even looked up “Testosterone” and “Low Testosterone” in the index. (As stated above there is supposed to be some correlation between low T and weight gain.) No reference to Low T and only a few references to Testosterone, but exclusively on how it relates to women. I brought the book back to Gabriel, making sure to conceal the title on my walk to his shop to prevent any cracks like “It’s not working!” from any smartasses on the street who thinks a fat guy holding a book that says “Diet” on it is fair game. When I placed the book on the counter and said in so many words thanks but no thanks, it’s more of a diet book for women he understood. I then turned to the Triumph and asked why the iconic bike was in his shop window. He told me he is a collector of motorcycles. He has a couple Hondas one or two other bikes that I can’t recall and a Ducati. A Duck? Damn it: “the Ferrari of motorcycles.” He told me placing the Triumph in the window is for business purposes. He also added, “while the Triumph depreciates in bluebook value it increases in collector’s value because it’s a Triumph.” I wanted to scream, “Yeah, but it’s in the fucking window of a supplements store! Deface one of your lousy Hondas and put it up there among the tablets of fish oil, chromium, and Omega-3 Fatty Acid, but not your Tramp”! He continued that placing a motorcycle in the window is a tax write-off. “Macy’s and the other big department stores have been doing this for years and saving money.” Okay, so you’re a shrewd businessman, but Macy’s isn’t placing Triumphs or Ducati’s for that matter in their windows. (Well okay, I haven’t been to every department store in the U.S. Maybe some stores do, but they are faceless, impersonal corporations. You are a cyclist, man! Act like one!) He, apparently, doesn’t think of the bike the way that I do.

We continued to chat about motorcycles then he wanted to talk about our neighborhood and local real estate prices, how he recently set up a trust fund, and how trust funds are better than wills. He’s talking about death and I’m stealing glances at the gun barrel grey Triumph Bonneville T1200. He says he sees me walking my dog from time to time. “She’s slowing down now, isn’t she.” “Yes, my dog is a senior citizen, just like me,” I reply sadly. One day he might quit the elderly talk and I’ll see him riding a wheelie down our street on that Ducati of his. Or better yet, after freeing his Big Twin from its Protein Shake Purgatory, I’ll see him ride by my house (sands the advertising on the tank and battery covers) when I’m watering my lawn in my old-man shorts. Just a passing glance. Pull in the clutch and let’s hear that throaty rev! Yeah, that’s the Elixir of Life!

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A final pic of a Bonnie in front of my gym. This one someone is actually using! Damn, I should have used a flash. Oh, but wait, look how you can see that brightly lit Jump Bike! Wow, the sun is indeed shining on those red bikes these days! Mercy!