As you have inferred from recent Splorpist photographs and from my Flickr set (actually two), last week I attended one of those firefit competitions through which one would ordinarily channel-surf on TV.

Five firemen, two of them shirtless, standing around talking

The strange thing was that my bike is out of commission (I am an engineering graduate who can’t change a flat tire), otherwise I would have spontaneously ridden past it in the Beach on Saturday AND TOTALLY PLOTZED. I found out about it the old-fashioned way (I saw it on the news) and, by gar, I was so there the next day.

I knew I’d be surrounded by college or university graduates who have all sorts of practical skills, many of which involve saving your life. (I go to the fire academy’s open house every year.) As this is a fitness competition, only the crème de la crème would be there, and very few of them would be girls. (Yes, wymmynz in firefighting. Terribly important. I talk to every one of them I meet. I maintained a file on the issue in the 1990s. I know all about it. Terribly important. Just not relevant to my day at the firefit competition.)

Running an obstacle course in full gear on a fine summer afternoon (your second consecutive day in most cases) is sure to evoke the line “Whew! Sure is hot out here!” So there’d be lots of jolly competent fit firemens wandering around unabashedly, Mike Rowe–style, in sodden T-shirts, or none. What’s not to like?

None of that is the best part. The best part is the complete lack of maladaptives in that environment. Nobody studied fine art, nobody back in high school had a crush on the boys who went on to become firemen, nobody assibilates. Nobody’s skinny and really expressive with their hands. Nobody was first in line to see Sex and the City: le film. Nobody knows what a best-chest or best-legs contest is, despite the fact any of them could win one. Since Keith Maidment wasn’t there, I know for a fact there wasn’t a single out gay fireman on the Toronto team, nor was there observably another one anywhere. I was the only gay in the village, and boy-oh-boy was that a great place to be.

It takes an engineer who can’t change a tire to tell you there actually is such a thing as a real man.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2008.07.12 13:58. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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