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Getting his Comeuppance
|This actually happened in 1998.
The kid in question is a senior in a Western Pennsylvania college prep school.
Back then, his parents had passed up the local high school option. Tommy,who had been bullied around by some of the public school jocks and clique yahoos, needed a more supportive environment, his parents thought.
He would be a perfect "Freaks & Geeks" character and, in fact, his facial appearance isn't all that removed from Frank Nill's. A very nice, studious, intelligent kid. Handsome in a geeky way.
He was 13 in 1996, just going into 9th grade at this exclusive school as the story unfold.
He's hopping out of his school's van when these three stains from the local high school decide to play "Toss Tommy". They'd done it through their Catholic school years together (obviously the Church's lessons were lost somewhere in transition!).
Somehow, they'd gotten ahold of the private school's transit schedule to his hometown 12 miles away and the three tormentors were there at the stop to torture Tommy again.
At 5-feet, 4-inches, 105 pounds, Tommy was no match for these 5-8/5-10, 150-160-pounders who had spent some time in the weight rooms.
Play got a little too rough (not that Tommy had volunteered for any of it).
His newly-bought suitpants were ruined. His books were in varying states of disrepair and his homework assignments, already finished, were gone forever!
"I look back on that and just sometimes wonder how I survived," Tommy says today. "I wasn't going to get the police involved. My father had told me this had happened down through the years, with my dad, with a couple of his friends...that I had to just work through it."
It wasn't easy, but that l-o-n-g afternoon, Tommy, half-dazed, his glasses scratched and his life half in tatters, made a decision punctuated with gnashing teeth that would produce one of the more spectacular 180s encountered by a youth.
"My dad was shocked when he saw me," Tommy says. "He called the other kids' parents and they began to understand about being responsible for their actions. I pretty much found ways to avoid them...
"I was dazed and upset. But I told my dad I wanted to go to the Gold's Gym right up the street and start lifting some weights. Whatever the cost. I had some money from cutting lawns. I'd pay for it.
"He said, 'Don't worry, I thought I'd never hear you ask. I'LL PAY FOR IT. You start tomorrow!' "
"Wow! I figured I'd be pulling teeth. My dad was my biggest supporter."
He is standing in the warmup area of the Teenage
Mr. Western Pennsylvania light heavyweight bodybuilding competition at Pittsburgh's Soldiers & Sailors Auditorium backstage as he says this.
Within a year, Tommy was up to 5-6, 145 pounds.
"Growth spurts ran in the family," he said. "Mostly upward, rarely outward. I was one of the first who started lifting. I've got one other cousin, who got out of M.I.T. a couple years back who still does it.
"When I first started working out, I had to use an EMPTY bar to do what I called deep knee bends. Just the 45 pounds. I didn't put plates on for two full months. Just got used to the movement and the coordination.
"I was working out with two tens on either side on the bench, just the bar for curls, presses, stuff like that."
Within a year, Tommy was doing 185 benches for 8 reps, 205 for 8 squats and easily doing 75-pound curls for 10-12 reps.
"My biceps, I found, responded pretty well."
The workouts unfolded at 5:30 every morning, in perfect coordination with his dad's daily 3K run around the neighborhood (or on bad-weather days, inside the gym).
In just a year, Tommy could pop up a pretty decent 14 1/2" biceps. Gone were the scrawny chest bones, covered now by hard, shapely pectoralis major muscle.
He also was picking up martial arts and wrestling and was a voracious learner.
"I wasn't what you'd call cocky, but I began feeling pretty good about who I was becoming," he says. "But my dad and my buddy Josh at school kept pushing me. Josh called me "puss..." and "Skinny" just to get under my skin and make sure I didn't slack off.
He kept grinding through his sophomore year. As his 15th birthday approached in December, he was up to 5-8, 168 pounds.
"I GUESS he know how powerful he was getting," Josh says. "But he kept himself under wraps -- he wore plastic wraps during his workouts. He says he never looked in the mirror. But I don't believe that."
Still, there he was, two weeks away from Age 15, camped under two hundred seventy five pounds.
"He just pumped that puppy up there six times!" Josh marveled. "Now he began getting some attitude!"
"Had to," Tommy says, standing by his second-place trophy and accepting congratulations from the winner. "I knew what I was becoming -- a whole new person. And I knew I was becoming NO one to f*** with."
The academic side didn't suffer one bit. Tommy was in the top 10% of his class and was getting letters from Stanford, the Ivies, Notre Dame, Boston College, Villanova, Michigan, Northwestern.
By summer, 1997, Tommy was up to 5-9, 184 of the hardest pounds of any 15-year-old in America.
He was in the local mall, clad in loosely-fitting Tommy Hilfigers and who should come calling but the three Goon-sketeers.
"Why helllloooohhhhh, Tommeeee," the biggest howled. "Where've you been all our liiiiives???"
"Oooooh, around and about," Tommy said, playing right into what the three goofs thought was their trap.
"Reeallly, Tommeeee? You're a regular man about town? A regular Big Man?"
"Ooohhh, you might say that," Tommy said.
"Why is that?" Mr. Toughest Guy, the dude who ringled the Tommy Throw competion a couple years back, asked insistently.
"Wanna go somewhere out back and find out?"
"What???" Tough Guy asked incredulously.
"Whooooooooooaaaa," the other two chimed in.
"I think," Tommy said, "I'd like to give you the chance to find out if I'm a big man -- your words, dude."
"Dooooooooode?" the others howled.
"So what do you say? There's a field out back, what say you and me get it on. Dude."
SuperGoon was still skeptical ... but wore a quizzical look. What was inside those Hilfigers. Naaahhhh, this is Tommy. What am I thinking?
"Look, Mr. Wheaties, I don't want to hurt you. I know I did last time and I'm sorry. But I don't think this'd be a very good idea..." "Try me, b----!"
The area is directly behind the gym. But hidden from general public view. The two antagonists stripped. The chief antagonist was a nice, athletic physical specimen, went about 5-10, 170, with decent arms, shoulders, an honest 285 bench. He was a defensive back on the football team.
Tommy took his time. But when he unveiled, the look on his three antagonists' faces would have lit up a Norman Rockwell painting.
"He had this huge V-shape weight-room back, the abs six-pack, the big traps and shoulders ... and 17"+ biceps...plus huge, powerful legs," Josh said. "The complete package...
"What a psych-out."
"Let's get it onnnnnnnnn, dude," Tommy screeched.
His tormentor went right for Tommys privates, but when Tommy stuck out his huge right leg, instead, he wound up in the soft, sandy dirt.
Tommy pounced on top, locked him hard into a torturous scissors hold, his blocky, explosively powerful thighs crushing away at Mr. A's middle.
"Yooooo, he's turning purple!!!" one of the antagonist's allies hollered. "You're suffocating him!!!"
Tommy relented. Mr. A turned away and upchucked, more determined than ever to put the wood to this snooty sonuvabitch.
He grabbed a board and started to swing, but Tommy almost literally chopped the board in half, hooked his angry foe to the ground and hammerlocked him.
"Fwmmmmmfff," Mr. A pleaded.
"Fwmmmmmf," he repeated.
"I could make you a quadriplegic for life, Tyler," Tommy said in a husky dialect reminiscent of Scott "Cool Poppa Pump" Steiner.
"I could snap your spine. I could put your lights out. You understand that?"
"Why should I?"
He applied the hammerlock to near-choking proportion.
"I give, but give me a chance to put those holds on you," Tyler demanded.
"Bring it on," Tommy bubbled.
Tyler's well-developed 16" guns seemed well in control, but with one nuclear explosion, Tommy blew Tyler's dominance apart, visibly hurting him in the process, hooking him viciously to the ground and standing menacingly over him.
Tyler's waving hand said the rest.
"I'm only gonna get stronger," Tommy said to his one-time nemesis. "And if you EVER dare to threaten me, anyone in my family or my friends, you'll be my personal slave for life, is that understood?"
He flexed the biceps that would grow to the nearly 19" he displayed this past August at the Teen Mr. Western Pennsylvania.
He placed his demands in writing and demanded Tyler's and his two mates'signatures.
"You're ----ing with a MAN, Tyler, do you understand that now?"
Cowering, Tyler nodded weakly.
The postscript: As he approaches his 17th, Tommy camps under three bulging 45 plates on either side plus two 25s, pumps out 8 bench reps. For his max squat set, he puts 5 of those big boys on either side, a 495 total, and grinds out sets of 8 twice a week to top off a spectacular workout.
At 5-10, 194 contest pounds, 210 off-season, he is a far cry from the neighborhood nerd of 3 years, two months ago, know what I mean?
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