One thing about being a serious wrestler is that an accurate scale is among the most essential household furnishings. Guesstimation is not tolerable when it comes to a wrestler’s weight, so having a scale that spits back a reading to the exact ounce is of utmost importance. Growing up, our scale was the most expensive item under our roof, worth more than the collective value of our television, china, and living room furniture, and it sat—at all times—ready for use in the middle of the kitchen floor. Mother uttered many-a-oath upon stubbing her toe on the ill-situated appliance, but moving it to a less conspicuous location was unthinkable. The scale must remain.
After leaving the house and moving to Nebraska to wrestle heavyweight for the Huskers, it would have seemed reasonable for a scale to no longer be among my primary concerns, seeing that, as a small heavyweight, I could eat whatever I wanted and never have to worry about missing weight. But old habits die hard and when making that initial Wal-Mart run to acquire dorm-room furnishings, I left the retail supercenter with a fold-up lawn chair in which to relax and read my books, a set of plastic Tupperware drawers in which to store my drawers—and the most expensive digital scale on which to make sure I never let my weight drop too low. All throughout college and the subsequent years, I would be in the habit of checking my weight seven, eight, nine times a day. I got to know my body so well that I could guess my weight within a pound at any moment, based simply on what I had consumed or what kind of workouts I had done during the day.
Well, it was a sad moment for me about nine months ago when my scale stopped working. It wasn’t sad so much that the scale had quit—I’d had to replace my scale a couple of times over the years—but, rather, it was sad that when this latest model failed to spit back a reading (and, yes, I actually did have enough common sense to check the batteries), I didn’t feel compelled to immediately go out and buy a new one.
Floating through life these last few months without really knowing what I weighed was—while unusual—going well enough for me until a recent succession of encounters started to make me feel self-conscious.
“OMG, Tucker! You look so thin! Are you okay? I hope you’re not sick. How much weight have you lost since the last time I saw you? Have you been under a lot of stress? You don’t look bad—just REALLY thin!”
While this post is coming perilously close to the realm of “humble brag,” it’s not entirely there yet, for telling a man—especially a man that once fancied himself a large, powerful individual—that he looks skinny is not a compliment, no matter how well-meaning the intent.
No longer able to smile and dismiss these observations categorically, I let my paranoia get the best of me, and I went down to the wrestling locker room this morning to check my weight for the first time in the year 2018. I looked around every corner to make sure that there were no witnesses present to see how skinny I had become. I stripped down to my underwear, held my breath, and closed my eyes, fully expecting to be less than 200 pounds for the first time since my sophomore year in high school. The scale beeped in signal of an accurate reading, and I slowly opened my eyes, wholly unprepared for the number that came into focus:
Humble brag be damned. This calls for the real thing.
I’m proud to report that I’m still a heavyweight.