Gentlemen, It's Gut-Check Time

June 18, 2000

I finally found the one thing that will bring me peace, happiness
and deep satisfaction.

Rock-hard abs.

I know this because all men's fitness magazines scream it at me
from their covers. They beg me to be gutless.

The cover of Men's Workout: GET RIPPED! KILLER ABS. Muscle &
Fitness: FREE GIANT GUIDE TO ROCK-HARD ABS. MuscleMag
International even put out an entire issue on abs. That's 210
pages, all abs, all the time!

There's always a 22-year-old Swede on the cover with abs you
could cut slate on. To get abs like that, these guys must do
crunches 16 hours a day, including at stoplights. They must do
sets of crunches between sets of crunches. Many will expire in
the butterfly crunch position.

Priest: And so we return thee, Lars, to ashes--

Altar boy: Hold on, Father, we can't get the lid closed.

Abdominal showman Frank Zane said he did 1,000 sit-ups a day to
get his ripplers. The abnormal model in Men's Workout, Leonardo
Pacheco, says he eats no oils, no salts and no sugars. In fact he
even eats baby food. "It's got no salt, is bland and pure,"
Pacheco says. "Try it!" And why not top if off with a refreshing
glass of ipecac syrup!

Still, the magazines all said I could have the same abs. This
was surprising to me, because I hadn't even seen my abs since my
first-grade Minnows swimming class. Actually, none of my friends
have twisted-steel, rock-hard abs, either--except for the
lifeguard at our pool with the pierced nipples, and I know he's
sucking his gut in, because he hasn't exhaled for 12 minutes.

Why do we relish washboard, twisted-steel, rock-hard abs,
anyway? In many developing countries rock-hard abs translates
into haven't eaten in two weeks. You think the folks in East
Pangladoon are proud of their rock-hard abs? Hell, no! What's on
the cover of their magazines is a fat guy in Peoria plowing
through Chee-tos and a case of Mountain Dew. LOSE YOUR ROCK-HARD
ABS IN 72 HOURS!

We deserve this, of course, we men. For years we've objectified
women by their breasts. Now women are judging us by our abs. We
catch them snickering as we come out of the tub. We pull up our
T-shirts to wipe our faces, and we catch them sneering. Sure, we
put our shirts down and go right back to our Wendy's Big Bacon
Classic, but inside we're hurting.

So, what you have now are a lot of men walking around,
constantly inhaling, feeling insecure about not having
cobblestone, washboard, twisted-steel, rock-hard abs. Worse,
because we don't, we're quite sure women will soon beat the holy
bejesus out of us. We know this from watching 7 a.m. women's
aerobics shows.

First, women did simple, gentle aerobics. Then they did aerobics
on a ridiculous $49.95 footstool, which they called "step
aerobics." Then they put headphones on and started hollering at
their steps. Then they started stepping on each other's steps.
Then they started getting on the top of the steps and kicking
and punching at some unseen enemy (us), chanting scary things
like, "Kick! Punch! Reload!" Soon there'll be roving bands of
leotard-wearing women barging through doors and throwing steps
at men, who will have to take cover behind their Chee-tos.

Gentlemen, it's gut-check time. We've all got to get us chiseled,
cobblestone, washboard, twisted-steel, rock-hard abs. So, as a
service to my gender I've spent the last six months figuring out
how, exactly, to do that.

Here are my findings: Forget about it.

I bought the AB-DOer (don't). I paid $119.95 for the Body by
Jake Ab Rocker. (The hardest workout is trying to figure out how
to unfold it.) I used Original Doctor's Ab Cream. (These were
the actual instructions: "Apply lightly to target areas at least
once a day. For best results apply twice daily." And to get
perfect abs in a weekend: Apply 7,072 times daily!) I even tried
the BodyVibes abdominal belt ($49.95), which basically buzzes
you every time you don't suck in your stomach. My wife does that
for free.

So I've come to the conclusion that there's no way to have
killer, chiseled, cobblestone, washboard, twisted-steel,
rock-hard abs without quitting your job, leaving your family and
doing nothing but crunches all day, every day, except, of
course, when enjoying a delicious dinner of two jars of Gerber's
exciting new Cream of Swiss Chard. In other words, I abdicate.

Now please stand back. I'm going to exhale.

COLOR PHOTO: DANA FINEMAN/SYGMA

For years we've objectified women by their breasts. Now women are
judging us by our abs.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)