Great news: I lost a weightlifting contest. It wasn't even close. I got out-bench pressed by 40 pounds and couldn't be more pleased.

This test of brawn went down at Black Butte Ranch, that fancypants resort in Central Oregon near the charming and kind-of expensive village of Sisters. They have a 12 Dollar Store in Sisters. Not a dollar store. Twelve. Really. I wouldn't joke about something like that.

Some buddies of mine got together at a condo in Black Butte owned by our amigo Cyrus. Last time we'd been in the same room together playing poker all night, it was out in Washington D.C. That time we were quartered in a hotel room attached to a hospital wing.

Over in that hospital wing, our friend Mike Jordan was all tubes and hospital gowns, jello on a tray, recovering from a surgery nobody would wish on anybody. There was talk going into it of the percentage of patients who might not survive such a procedure. But after that horrid scalpel overhaul, Mike's test results keep coming back cancer-free. That was two years ago. So it meant more than all the poker chips on every poker table to have Mike there, healthy, with us this time.

Walking out after swimming at the Black Butte recreation place, we found the weight room and stopped for an impromptu benchpressing tournament. I've been rowing boats down Hells Canyon all summer, so I thought that must help.

I confess I was feeling pretty good about my chances. After all, Cyrus has been working for years as a Starbucks manager guy. I mean, c'mon.

We started at 170 pounds and worked up. I made it to 250 pounds. And I have serious doubts about the units of weights and measurement on that piece of fitness equipment, because the only way I'll ever lift 250 pounds is if it's English currency. In large bills.

It turns out that lifting expense accounts and mocha fuertes for Starbucks must be a decent upper body workout, because Cy advanced to the final round and managed to lift 270. It fought back, but he got it up there. When I tried to press 270, it just lay there while my arms shook and wondered what I thought I was trying to do.

Mike got 270 up just fine. Then Cy ran into trouble with 290 and called it quits. But good job, coffee man. Mike didn't have too much trouble with 290 and managed it just fine. So he won. Then he waved us off when we tried to change the pin to 310. Nah, he said. He didn't think he could manage it.

I know this guy pretty well. He wasn't struggling with 290 as much as he was trying to make it seem. What a liar. And 310 wouldn't have been a problem, I'd wager. I suppose he figured there would be no point in rubbing in that he's stronger. Perhaps he thought we wouldn't care for that.

Well, Mike, you're wrong there. From reclining on a hospital bed to reclining on a benchpress at the gym, where you easily out-lift myself, Cy, Darren, Scott and Jude.... That's, uh . . . well, losing that contest doesn't bother me. At all. Not a bit.

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