That’s what they used to call me. But nowadays, Fury just pats me on the belly and shakes his head whenever I flex my biceps in front of him. Cyborgs aren’t supposed to jiggle, apparently. And cyborgs don’t find an upside-down imprint of their belt buckle on their belly after prolonged stretches of sitting (you have to stop and think about how that happens, but it has something to do with gut overflow).
I ain’t as good as I once was.
Back then, I believed the measure of a man was his ability to vanquish his opponents in hand-to-hand combat. Or at least hold his own, win or lose.
And I loved it. I’ve made the best friends I’ve ever had training, punching, kicking, choking, bleeding and sweating alongside them.
And then this guy came along.
And for a while, the father lion instinct kicked in. I have to protect my boy against all the bad people out there who want to physically harm him, and hell if I’m going to let that happen to my Simba, right?
He was my motivation, my inspiration.
And it was the shot of encouragement I needed. For a while, I was better than I ever was – and I was in my mid-thirties. My Muay Thai coach coined the nickname Cyborg and I was damn proud of it. At least it was better than his first choice, “Tony Roma” because of my tender ribs.
Cyborg was relentless. Tearing through endurance drills, running, calisthenics, sparring, competitions, seminars, and even watermelon (2nd place, eating contest, 2007 team picnic, yo). Cyborg did come in dead last in the 3-legged race, but that’s because the judges didn’t allow him to just sprint and drag his partner along.
But other than that, no one ever questioned his ability to simply power through without hesitation anything thrown at him.
No roving band of ninjas ever came to kidnap Fury... but he did want to tell me about his day at school.
No crazy escaped convict ever broke into my house... but Fury loved the homemade pesto pizza I would make him for dinner.
No agent approached me to star in the remake of Enter the Dragon, catapulting me to fame, fortune and Fury’s college tuition... but Fury did want me to videotape his latest homemade Hotwheels catapult.
That 2 hours that I could spend being a man in the gym was 2 hours that I couldn’t spend being a dad at home. Something didn’t measure up. So Cyborg picked up a cold beer, sat next to Fury and they laughed and snorted at Spongebob getting his face ripped off.
But old personas die hard. And although I’ve had a great time playing the puffier, jollier, 20 pounds heavier BusyDad who gets winded taking out the trash, I miss Cyborg. And when Fury patted my belly the other day, Cyborg didn’t like that.
“Should I return to Muay Thai?” I thought. No. I cannot possibly go back into Muay Thai. I have an ego problem. It took me years to get to the level I was, and to walk back into my old gym in the decrepit shape I’m in now would kill me inside. Also, I cannot realistically put in the time or effort to fight competitively. And to see the young lions training for fights when all I could realistically do at this point in my life is just train to get in shape? That would kill me a lot. A LOT.
Then just the other day d Wife got back from a shopping trip to her favorite store in the world next to Nordstrom: Lululemon. “Hey I saw a flyer that they opened a Crossfit in Monrovia.”
Open any thesaurus and you will find this word as the 5th synonym for “Are you frickin insane? Do you actually enjoy collapsing in a pile of sweat and puke at 6 in the morning 5 days a week?”
Yes. Yes I do. But then again, Cyborgs weren’t programmed for logic.