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I didn't understand it then. Heck, I'm not sure I understand it now. What it means to be a grower, that is. I guess more than anything it means—but I'm getting ahead of myself. Better to start at the beginning. It'll make more sense that way, won't it? Maybe.

I'm Leo. Just your typical mid-20s gay boy. Middle class background, supportive parents, decent college education. A description that equally applies to Jack, my partner. We're the same age (I'm a week older), nearly the same height (he's an inch taller), I'm kinda hairy, he's mostly smooth, and we're both hung like fire hydrants. (Well, maybe that's not TOO typical but that's another story—) Mine's a little longer, his is little thicker, but what's an inch or so when you're talking about 9 x 7 and 10 x 6? Exactly! The difference is that I'm a grower, he's a shower. And, no, I'm not talking about dicks.

We knew each other all through college (we went to Archer up in Port Wainwright) and we both kinda knew the other was gay. And thought each other attractive but never did anything about it. Until relatively late in our senior year, that is. We found each other in the MGS chatroom, of all the unlikely places. Nobody believes that kind of thing ever happens but it does and more by design than accident, something no one is willing to admit. I had been chatting with him about this particularly hot story idea I'd had and he was all over it—and THEN we figured out we knew each other and THEN we figured out we lived at opposite ends of the same apartment complex.

The rest, as they say, is history. We were both hot for muscle but neither of us had done much about it. For whatever reason, the weight room just didn't do much for me. With me it was swimming. At 5—11 and 160 lbs. I had the classic swimmer's build, even though I really wanted to look like Matt Duvall or at least Aaron Maddron. I had the nice shoulders, the thick triceps, and the lean waist but no bulk to speak of. Jack was 6 ft. and 180 lbs., a rangy baseball player with great shoulders, beefy forearms, and a somewhat incongruous bubble butt. Not Jean-Pierre Fux, by any means, although that's who he secretly lusted after.

But the weight room didn't work for Jack any more than it did for me. Neither of us looked like guys who dreamed of being not only huge but BEYOND huge. Then we were together in the gym every day, all the time, and it turned out we fit together like some supernaturally well-oiled machine. I knew what he was doing before he did it. He adjusted our routine so precisely that to others it looked like we were doing ballet. Instinctively I knew exactly what he needed to eat and when, how much and in what proportions.

The results for both of us were staggering. In our first six months together I gained 35 lbs. of solid muscle. He gained 50. “Shit,” my friend Fred said one day watching Jack head to the shower. “What's he on?” A good question. At 6 ft and 230 lbs. Jack was amazing. No bodyfat, perfect proportions, skin as smooth and supple as a greyhound's with the mass of a pro bodybuilder. “On?”

“Don't be coy, Leo,” Fred replied. “He's obviously doing steroids or creatine or something. Just look at him.” I swear he licked his lips. “He's not on anything,” I said. “I promise. We're just in it together. What do you think I'm on?”

And with that I flexed my rock-solid 17 ½ inch bicep, the one Jack liked to suck on while he slept, like a puppy with a chewtoy. That's probably the first time I saw it happen. Fred's mouth opened, his eyes got big—and then they just kinda clouded over. “Yeah right,” he said.

It was about that time I realized the other difference between me and Jack. No matter how many suggestions, critiques, comments he directed my way, he never PUSHED me. Encouraged, yeah. Down in my face yelling at me to pump out that last rep, yeah. But I never felt a PUSH, that urgent command that said, “GROW for me, dammit.” The PUSH I was always giving him. So what is the PUSH? Some kind of psychic mind-body connection? Something in the copious amounts of bodily fluids we were exchanging? I still don't know the answer. Maybe someday Roman will tell me—but again, that's getting ahead of the story. One week soon after my conversation with Fred I decided to try an experiment.

For a whole week I stopped giving Jack the PUSH. At that point he'd been adding something like 2 lbs. every week for six months, all of it solid muscle. He never weighed less when he got on the scales. Until I stopped pushing, that is. In seven days he lost 7 lbs.—and I lost 10! “Dammit, Leo, what's happening?”

“Eh, don't worry about it,” I offered back, trying to reassure him. “We’ve probably just hit a plateau.”

“Shit man,” Jack said, “this is no fucking plateau, it's a goddamned trough—something's missing!”

The next week I reversed the experiment. Instead of NOT pushing, I tried pushing twice as much. In seven days Jack gained back the 7 lbs. he'd lost and added another 5 lbs. on top of that—12 lbs. of Grade A muscle in just one week! As for me, I gained back 7 of the 10 lbs. I'd lost. It was another two weeks before I was back “on schedule,” as I'd begun to think of it.

Six months later—coming up on our first anniversary—Jack entered his first bodybuilding contest. The owner of our gym (“a personal friend of Milos Sarcev,” he always liked to point out) had been after Jack to do it for months. And why not? By the time Jack entered that first contest he weighed 280 lbs. of solid muscle—a world class physique that totally blew away the regional competition and had Weider himself waving a contract under his nose.

I stood in the wings and watched. “On schedule” had held for me, as well. At 5—11 and 230 lbs., I was 70 lbs. heavier than I'd been the year before. I had a 52 inch chest, 30 inch waist, 28 inch quads and biceps that were 20 inches cold. Not very impressive standing next to Jack's “Mr. Olympia material” body but pretty damned impressive, even so—and totally fucking amazing compared to what I'd been 12 months earlier. Jack took his first place trophy with the audience screaming for more. He gave them pose after pose, displaying his earth-shattering muscularity.

The gargantuan 24 inch biceps, the mountainous 60 inch chest, the mind-blowing girth and vascularity of his 32 inch quads. I sighed, half in lust, half in jealousy. That was two years ago, of course, and unless you’ve been living under a rock you know the rest of the story, at least the public portions of it: Jack hit the bodybuilding world like the proverbial ton of bricks. He received a special invitation to compete in the pro-qualifying event scheduled for the very next month.

He won hands down, of course, especially after I decided to give him some extra doses of the PUSH. It was enough to get him in the history books as the first person to get his pro card while appearing on the contest stage at 300 lbs. There have been two Olympia trophies since then and in some ways both were non-events. Everyone knew he would win. No one had his mass, his symmetry, his vascularity, his cuts. The big question was “how big will he get?” followed by “how will the second tier shake out?” and “who will retire next?” Coleman, Ray, Levrone, Cormier, they just couldn't keep up.

They all retired, some gracefully, some (guess who?) not. Jack's nearest competitors were Fux and Dennis James and another newcomer Ty Blaylock, all of whom took the stage that first fall at 300 lbs. or thereabouts. Jack weighed 350. The fans wouldn't stop screaming. Hell, when Jack flexed those 30 inch biceps, James and Fux and Blaylock literally got down on their knees and THEY started screaming. It was pandemonium. Again, I was in the wings.

At 290 lbs., I was bigger and harder and better built than Coleman or Dorian Yates or Nasser El Sonbaty had ever been. My 24 inch biceps made little kids cry or squeal with delight. Old men and women literally wept when they saw me walking through the aisles at the supermarket, my oversize tee shirt doing little to hide the vast sweep of my yard wide shoulders. Everyone in between? I finally had “MEGO”—“My Eyes Glaze Over”—emblazoned on all my tee-shirts. It occurred to me that I could put much nastier things there and no one would notice. But I didn't want to upset the kiddies.

As I had done before, I stood there and sighed, some ineffable combination of gut-wrenching lust (“He's mine, all mine!”) and heartfelt disappointment, the envied softened by the fact that Jack, at least, totally SAW me. “In every fucking day and in every fucking way, you're getting hotter and hotter, Leo.” Once more I chewed over what had become the endless puzzle: “So why can't anyone else see it?” I nearly jumped out my skin—I didn't know I'd spoken aloud—when a deep, rumbling voice replied. “Because, my son, you're a grower, not a shower—”

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