The Drinking Game

Joe Weider.

Joe Weider muscle builder.

Jow Weider muscle builder drink mix.

Yuck.

When you’re training to be a legendary superhero you have to make some sacrifices. I knew that going in. I watched plenty of television and movies, not to mention all the hours of reading novels and comic books. I knew the score. Training… It could be brutal. That one summer evening was no exception.

In The Hand You’re Dealt, I told about how much fun Cookie Poker is. What I didn’t tell you about was the third member of our party that night: Joe Weider. Joe Weider sat on the top, corner shelf of our kitchen cabinet, in a large container, taunting me every time I open the door. It was like he was saying to me, “Use me. Drink me. You know you want to bulk up. Come on, what could it hurt?”

The actual Joe Weider was a Canadian bodybuilder who did a lot of good things for the world of muscle and fitness. He also sold a container of muscle-building drink mix to my brother (not directly, it was at the store and the product was his—Joe’s, not my brother’s), who left it in our kitchen after he moved out (again, my brother, not the actual Joe Weider). The tub of drink powder was about the size of a human head. That’s a lot of drink mix—of anything. If I recall correctly, it was vanilla-flavored. That’s not particularly important, but, it did make a difference later on.

Once again, Erich was staying over to watch movies and play some Cookie Poker. However, before the games began we decided it would be a good idea to get some fitness training in while the evening was cool and before we became too tired to do anything. We also decided that Joe Weider would taunt us no more. This night we were going to try the drink mix.

Now, this was the age before online information superhighways. At best there was a digital Route 66, if you will. Erich and I were not on it. Back then you only knew something if you experienced it or somebody told you about it. Like how to do this, or do that, or when to drink a muscle-building drink mix in relationship to your exercise routine. So, not knowing anything, we decided to mix, drink, then exercise. What could go wrong?

Our first attempt in the taste-test arena was the appropriate size glass of water to powdered scoop mix ratios (as recommended on the package). Not only did it not really dissolve into the water, it clumped, and tasted awful. Especially if you got one of the dry powder pills that formed. You know those clumps of powder mixes that you sometimes get when you don’t mix them well, and they have a thin layer of water around the outside of a dry wade of whatever your mix is, then, when it gets in your mouth, and breaks open, you get a giant pile of dry whatever that makes you wanna dry-heave due to the intensity of the flavor of the dry stuff. Also, it’s dry and so you get like a cakey film all over your tongue and teeth once it mixes with your saliva. That’s bad. It was bad.

The next attempt involved milk. This went better. The flavor and viscosity of the milk helped wash down the aftermath of the dry pill bombs.

Blender.

We tried the milk again but this time, used a blender to mix the powder in. Our thought process was: That’s what a blender does, it blends! All this did was make massive bubbles with bits of Joe Weider clumped about them. We couldn’t drink it if we wanted to. You ever try to drink eight ounces of milk when seven and a half of it is bubbles coated in powder wads? Well?!? I didn’t think so.

Back to the drawing board.

I think it was my father who suggested making it into a shake. Or it coulda’ been Erich. I honestly don’t recall. Regardless, ice cream was used. Milk was used. Fruit was used. This was going to be good. We had bananas, blueberries, vanilla ice cream, milk, Joe Weider, and high hopes about to be dashed upon the rocks of reality with a dash of ignorance. But, what did we know? Nothing, that’s what.

As we were sure this would work, all the figurative eggs went into this basket. At some point, we also decided to add an extra scoop of Joe Weider mix into the mix. Our logic: If just the right amount was good, more had to be better. Well, as we scooped the ice cream, dropped in the berries, and sliced the bananas, I asked Erich to add the extra scoop.

“Are you sure you want to add another scoop?” He sounded unsure of this prediscussed action, but I just chalked it up to nerves. We had already tried drinking the Joe Wieder muscle builder with no positive results thus far. I could understand why he was nervous. I tried to assure him that all would be well and to go ahead with our plan. He did. Perfect.

The blender whirred and the mix looked grand. There may have been some strawberries also, however, I can only recall the bananas and blueberries. The bananas because of the slicing, and I knew they would dull the flavor of the Joe. The blueberries because that’s when I learned I don’t like them. I really want to. They are so good for you. And I hate them. I have tried them in almost every form, and each time I almost vomit. I love imitation blueberries (apple bits colored purple), and sometimes in a blueberry muffin (however, the fake blueberries taste better in a ‘real’ blueberry muffin—I know what I wrote). Otherwise, I gag. I can’t eat them. My point was this: Blueberries were in the mix.

Once the smoothie was smooth, glasses were filled, a toast was made, and the drink was downed. Almost.

Almost instantly we both spewed the viscose fluid all over each other and my mother’s kitchen. The only reason we did not white-wash my mother’s kitchen was because she would have killed us on the spot. So, we spit the first mouthful into the sink.

“You too?”

“Yup.” Our faces were a twisted, morbid rictus of disgust and self-loathing. We had intentionally done this to ourselves. we only had each other to blame. Later, we would.

Joe Weider and snot ran from our mouths and noses. It was bad but we were determined. We wiped up and tried again. Chug, chug, glug, glug, gag. Nope, it wasn’t happening—at least for me. I looked over and Erich’s face was warped and pained. Still, he was going to down it all. Meanwhile, I had two-thirds of a glass to go and was about to puke all over us both. There was something about the viscosity and flavors that was putting my desire to finish in a headlock.

I tried again.

No.

Again.

No.

The next time I brought my lips to the edge of the glass my body already knew what was going to happen and let me know on no uncertain terms that if I continued with this attempt, I was going to vomit it all back up.

What’s the point of all this you may ask? Well, I guess it’s about change. In Matthew 25:14-30 there is the parable of the three servants who, after receiving talents from their master, do two very different things. One goes out, works hard, and doubles his resources—as does the second. The third buries his talent and in the end, has it taken from him, while the first two are granted great rewards for their efforts.

As a youth, I didn’t really understand this concept. Admittedly, as an adult, there are times that I forget about the subtleties, and grandeur, of the message as well. Still, I understand that when we are given something, even at times, things that are uncomfortable, we have basically two choices: Deal with it or run away.

In dealing with something new, we are forced to change. We can adapt, we can struggle, or we can ask for help. Regardless, we have the opportunity to become more than we once were. Maybe only by a little, or maybe by leaps and bounds. It doesn’t really matter because the end result is that we are more than we once were. And, like in the parable of the talents, sometimes were are given more than we could have ever expected to receive.

Also, like in the parable, we have the choice to do nothing, or worse yet, hide from the challenge. Granted, challenges may not always be simple, or grand. Sometimes we must have help from others, but if we just walk away, ignore, or worse, do nothing, then we are not only not growing as a person, we are regressing. If we are not moving forward, we are moving backward by default. There is no standing still. Sure, we can stagnate as individuals, but if we are not progressing, we are regressing.

The way I see it, the real trick to this is understanding what talents we are to develop more and which ones require less of us. Everyone is different—that much is certain. When Erich and I drank the same Joe Weider sludge, we both almost puked, however, Erich choked it down while I just choked. Do I know why? No. Should I have tried harder? Maybe.

I don’t have all the answers. What I do know is this: We can do more than we think we can. I think most of us undersell ourselves when it comes to change and personal growth. I also know that God wants us to be better. He wants to help us become more than just what we are now. He, the creator of all, has given to each of us, differences for the benefit of each other. We are to develop those gifts for not only ourselves but for those we encounter. We never know when our skills and abilities might be called into action.

God loves us, watches over us, and wants to bless us, and for us to bless those around us. It is my hope and desire, that when the time comes, we will be ready because we worked, struggled, persevered, and overcame. May you find the blessings of the Lord in your life as you develop your talents.

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