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ATOMIC DOG
Crisis of Faith

The Atomic Dog is a weekly feature that isn't necessarily about weight training or bodybuilding. Sometimes it's about sports in general, sex, women, or male issues of some kind. At times it's inspirational, but it can also be informative, funny, and even a little weird, but hopefully, always interesting and a little controversial. We hope it reflects the nature of Testosterone magazine in that, just as no man is completely one-dimensional and only interested in one subject, neither are we. If it makes you think or laugh — or even get angry — it's served its purpose.


I left work early the other day because Tim had chosen Celine Dion as the featured artist in his weekly lunchtime "Employee Music Appreciation" class. To spare myself, I feigned a bout of cholera and went home. I grabbed my stomach, fell on his desk, and started convulsing like a cockroach that’d just taken a bath in Raid. I even started chewing on his "Murder She Wrote" mouse pad for added authenticity, chewing off a piece of Angela Lansbury’s nose in the process.

The poor sap bought my act and urged me to take the rest of the day off.

And that’s how it started. That’s how my crisis of faith began.

I went home, heated up a nice bowl of Beanie Weenie’s, took off my shoes, and sat down to bask in the glow of daytime television, blissfully unaware of the imminent danger my psyche was in. It didn’t look like too much was happening on "The Bold and the Beautiful" and the whacky lesbian world of Ellen DeGeneres wasn’t on for another couple of hours, so I began to channel surf.

I soon found what looked like some kind of diurnal cousin to Jeopardy. The show is called Street Smarts and it features two panelists and a younger, hipper, goofier version of Alex Tribek. However, instead of answering questions themselves, the panelists were asked to predict whether three random contestants chosen from the street could answer the questions.

I girded the loins of my brain and got ready to wax their tails. Then came the first question:

Huh? I’m thinking that there’s got to be a trick here. There’s got to be more to the question than there appears because…well, because the alternative is unthinkable.

But no, there wasn’t more to the question, and what’s worse, only one of the three contestants got it right. The other answered "England" and third said he didn’t know.

My jaw dropped so low that some of those little nappy pieces my dark socks leave on the carpet stuck to my unshaven chin like pieces of felt on Velcro.

And then, my psyche wobbling, pawing at the ropes for support, the emcee delivered the K.O. punch:

And again, only one out of three could answer correctly.

It was then that I lost consciousness. I didn’t wake up until the following morning and only then because Maria, my housekeeper, started mopping my face (she mistook me for an inordinately large dust bunny). I thanked her and walked to the bathroom so I could rinse the taste of Mr. Clean out of my mouth. While glancing in the mirror I noticed that I looked a lot like Jack Nicholson in The Shining after Wendy clubbed him in the head and dragged him into the freezer.

I’m functional now, but I’ve suffered a psychic concussion of sorts. My mind is numbed by the revelation that we’re truly a nation of morons. I mean, I knew we weren’t exactly a cerebral society–all you have to do is look at what television shows rank at the top of the Nielsen’s; see that "The Cat in the Hat" is the number one movie; or see that entertainers get paid about a quadrillion times what scientists make, but I at least thought most of us were smarter than tree moss.

What’s truly scary is that these dumb people have the right to vote, drink, have kids, and own guns. Case in point, last week, a group of white supremacists were having an initiation or mock lynching of some kind down South when one of them fired a gun into the air for "authenticity." Trouble is, he fired it straight up into the air. A minute later, courtesy of Mr. Newton, the bullet came back down at a considerable velocity and entered and exited the skull of one of the participants, killing him daid.

I kinda think that fella’ would fare poorly on Street Smarts.

Hell, pick up any newspaper and it’s not hard to find evidence of this epidemic of stupidity. Just for the fun of it, pick up today’s paper. Look, what we’ve got here, it’s a story about a woman who went berserk–screaming obscenities—when her cheeseburger came through the drive-through window without mayo.

When the manager was unable to pacify the mayo-loving customer, she instructed one of her employees to hustle outside and record her license plate number.

The irate customer saw the employee and ran over her, dragging the minimum-wage worker across the parking lot and fracturing her hip in two places. Ms. Mayo later allegedly claimed that she thought the employee was, get this, a "speed bump."

Sign her up for Street Smarts…when she gets out of jail, of course.

And there are times that I look at our own forum and I feel a wave of nausea. Granted, most of the participants are intelligent, but there are those truly disturbing threads where two or three modern-day members of the Algonquin Round Table have an exchange similar to the following:

This kind of lively discourse sometimes goes on for pages. I can only hope that some T-Nation newbie doesn’t stumble on one of these threads and assume that we’re all the intellectual equals of toasters.

Let’s take a look at the political scene. I’m a freak for politics, so I read about a dozen or so mags and newspapers and watch political TV shows. And, as such, I follow elections and specifically, election tactics. I’ve noted with interest that the campaign for Presidential hopeful Wesley Clark focuses merely on his career as a general.

They continually talk about him being former NATO Supreme Allied Commander and how his body was turned into a shooting gallery in Vietnam, but nary a word is said about his education. I mean, the man was first in his class at West Point and got a Masters degree in philosophy, politics, and economics at Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar, but that info is largely buried.

It’s almost as if they’re embarrassed about this kind academic achievement. After all, who wants a smart guy running for political office? Americans don’t want to feel inferior or deficient in any way so it seems they seek out the company of fellow simpletons. Either that, or intelligence is seen as a feminine quality.

Hey, I love macho. I love tough. But blend macho and tough with brains and it’s a goddam thing of beauty.

I think…I hope…that there are hundred of thousands of guys like that out there, a whole new breed that I call warrior nerds. Call us a nerd and we’ll take it as a compliment, but get any more personal than that, threaten our family, or try to take away our personal rights and you’d better hope your dental insurance is all paid up; either that or hope we don’t hack into your computer and distribute all your penis-puppet pics all over the Internet.

But I don’t hear from too many of these warrior nerds. That’s why I’m asking you for help. If you’re out there, please pull me out of the morass. Please send me some intellectual healing. Please restore my faith.

I’m asking you to write me and tell me about something you did that didn’t involve your dick or your muscles. I don’t care if you just got an "A" in a spelling test while completing your high school equivalency, tell me about it. Tell me about a book you read that didn’t have the words "hot" or "throbbing" in the title. Tell me about a promotion you got at work, or how you completed The New York Times crossword puzzle in ink. Working on a degree? Please tell me.

In short, if you’ve accomplished anything lately that took some smarts, I’d really like to hear about it. If I get a decent response, maybe I’ll put together a T-Nation "Honor Roll" that contains the names of smart T-men and women. Furthermore, it might restore my faith in man—or at least the man or woman who belongs to T-Nation—and convince me that I’m not shouting into an empty cave, or, more literally, an empty skull.

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