I’m Not a Betting Man.

Yesterday I stopped by the office after my morning swim — I’m taking today off. My left arm needs some time to rest; the usually 500 yard crawl warm-up has been replaced by a full 1000 yards, and that leaves me sleepy-tired. Naturally, Paul was there, and when he heard me rustling through the mail, he called me up to the office. “What are you up to today?” I stared at him a full second for effect. “Math.”

“Can you do math here?” This caught me a little off guard. Next, I figured he’d ask to cuddle. But he didn’t. Instead, he asked and I agreed to watch the office a while, while he stayed. He had intentions, though. Gym intentions. It was nice out, and the office is a slow place with good air conditioning. It only made sense that I should stay there while he went on the treadmill for a few minutes.

But before he left, Paul has bet me, or his brother, or someone — the matter isn’t entirely resolved — to lose twenty pounds before his October 13 birthday.

“How much do you think I weigh?” he asked. Always a dangerous question. I was immediately reminded of that time at cross country practice when my coach asked how old he was. I still tense up just thinking about it. “Uh, I don’t know, 220?”

Paul is a tall man. His old roommate called him big bird. His blond hair and montrous stature do not belie the nickname. “Two twenty,” he said, almost disgusted. He looked down at the scale and then turn to me. “How much do you weigh?”

Since I compulsively weigh myself after each swim, and since I had just swum, I could rattle of my stats stat. “One fifty-five.” “What does that scale say?” Yes, we keep a scale in the office. I’m not sure where it came from. I’m not sure anyone’s sure. But it’s there and Paul was standing on it.

“Two fifty-two.” So I was off, but then again, I’m no good at these things. I didn’t mention just how tall I think Paul is, because I know I’d be wrong. In my mind, he’s just under giant. So that puts him between six-two and nine feet. “Do you think so? No. Read it again.”

It was a game, glad we both understand the rules. “I’m pretty sure it says two hundred fifty-two.”

“No, how about now. Stand directly over it.” So he was going to win. That’s fine. I’m not a sore loser.

“Okay, it says two fifty-four.” “Right,” he asnwer satisfied at having won. “I don’t want to lose twenty pounds and have you claim that I only lost sixteen.” He’s smart. He’s right. Now I can’t do it. But why would I, anyway? I’m still not convinced we’re even betting.

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