628 words (2 minute read)

Chapter 3: A Wasteful Mansion on a Hill

August 29, 2009

The bathtub is sprinkled with what look like little mounds of dirt, but are actually made of hair—some red, some blond, others black and brown. I am shaving my body hair for a fitness modeling photo shoot later today. Shaving my back and butt is the hardest part, and is usually impossible without help from a friend. This is one of those situations when having more flexibility would help, especially since there is no worse question to ask a friend than: “Will you shave my ass?” Luckily, my friends are open-minded.

When I’m done, I wash the mounds of hair down the drain, then get dressed and eat some lunch before I borrow a friend’s car and drive down to San Francisco for the photo shoot. I will mainly be doing fitness modeling—my motivation for stepping in front of the camera. I have yet to make any money at it, but in building my portfolio I’m hoping to be featured on a major magazine cover like Muscle & Fitness, and at some point in the future, I want to be a fitness personality with my own TV show.

After meeting the photographer at Crissy Field, I hide behind his car and change into a pair of tiny, spandex shorts with sweatpants over them. Despite my fake tan, gently applied makeup, and smooth body, I aim to blend in with the other people enjoying their Saturday outings. The only problem is: I don’t blend in. There are two noticeable types of people at Crissy Field today—locals and tourists—and a half naked fitness model fits into neither category.

I ditch my flip-flops and sweatpants, then discreetly duck behind two industrial storage containers and strike a pose. The photographer gives me instructions and clicks his camera as I transform myself into a fabricated version of masculinity.

I hear footsteps around the corner. The photographer tosses me my sweatpants and we become just two guys inspecting the structural elements of the storage containers, one with a camera, the other without a shirt.

A family of four walks by without a second glance at the oddity of the situation. They must be immune to such spectacles. Between the Pride Parade, Bay to Breakers, and all of the other colorful events in the city, our guerrilla photo shoot probably looks quite tame to people passing by. If I get a dirty look today, there is a decent chance it will be because I’m not entirely naked. Another reason why I admire the free spirit of San Franciscans is that even shirtless on a cold and cloudy day, I blend in perfectly with the unpredictability of the city.

We arrive at the last location, Twin Peaks. I walk to the top of a steep hill and look down at the crowded city below. I can see breathtaking views in every direction—rows of tall buildings and the deep blue water surrounding them. Looking out over the city gives me the unusual feeling of standing on top of the world while only being a small part of it. I’m not sure whether to be intimidated or inspired.

Some of the houses, or mansions, in this area be gaudy, but Twin Peaks is still a special place. I have always wanted to live in a big house up here, a place of my own that everyone would want to visit.

Is that happiness? Is happiness having the castle looking down on the kingdom, the flashy car, and the chauffeur to drive you around? Is happiness achieving everything you’ve ever wanted, so it can all be taken away in an instant? That’s not happiness, not at all.

Next Chapter: Chapter 4: Just a Facade