Thursday, February 2, 2012

Behind the scenes of a Firefighter calendar.

What is it with Firefighter calendars? I was selected as a finalist for the state wide calendar a few years ago. I was very excited to be in the hunt. I had just completed a divorce from a fellow firefighter; she had become distracted by another firefighter and was at a very low point in life.

My self-esteem had tanked and my alcoholism had come to visit again after a seven year break from the juice. Although trapped in the throes of my disease I was really in the best physical shape of my life ironically. I am 6’1” and at that point in time I was a very dedicated gym rat. My weight was just over 230 lbs. and my body fat was as low as my self image. I was also 50 years old.

The calendar selection was going to be held in Denver on a Friday night. So being newly single and not deeply entrenched in my disease yet. I decided what the hell go to Denver and see what would happen. I had never been before but I was aware the fairer sex found these things appealing and why not enjoy a little attention I knew it couldn’t make me feel worse about myself, so I thought.

Knowing I was probably going to get drunk and hoping I might garner the admiration of a lady I decided to get a room in the hotel where the event was being held. I could go up the day before, stay the night and not risk driving.

The event organizers encouraged the contestants to use a tanning salon in Denver free of charge and get a little color on us. This should have been my first clue I was in over my head. Having more than a tan face from skiing in the dead of winter in Colorado was the luxury of world travelers and apparently firefighter calendar models.

Now I had done some modeling in my youth, ramp work and hand modeling, I have great hands. So I wasn’t really worried about the whole “fashion” show aspect of the event. What I was unprepared for was the sheer magnitude of this happening. Having been happily married for most of my firefighting career I had never considered a calendar appearance before. This contributed to my naivety about the occasion.

I got to the hotel, a huge one in the tech center and went to check in. This was early morning and the actual show wasn’t until I believe around six that evening. As I checked in I noticed that there was already a considerable population of women in the hotel. I asked the clerk if there was some other convention or something going on.

He asked why I was there. I said for the firefighter calendar thing. He said so are they, with kind of a pissy tone. It’s not until tonight I said as I looked over my shoulder at the now obvious line of women, they weren’t milling around; they were on line for good seats. Second clue I was in over my head.

“Really?” I asked. “Yeah dude, they do it every year. You lucky bastards, just because you wear a badge, chicks throw themselves at you.” He was pissed.
“Yeah dude! It’s the badge. You want one? I got one of those sticker badges we give kids. If that will improve your shitty attitude I’d be happy to give you one.” Now I was a little pissed and easily a good 200 lbs heavier than this kid.

He handed me my room key without further comment or eye contact. As I walked to the elevator I began to become more aware of my environment. The women were all dressed for a Friday night on the town at 9:00 am and now I spotted my first couple of competitors.

Oh shit I thought, what the hell am I doing here. These other guys were serious. They were already performing working the crowd hours before the actual party. They bounced through the women like chinquapin balls. Tempting the women.

I had firefighting boots older than the ones a saw. I realized with absolute clarity that there wasn’t a whole lot of airbrushing being done on these calendars. These boys were tanned, ripped, manicured, coiffed and just out of diapers. Suddenly I was old, fat, slow, and as undesirerable as my ex had made me feel.

I wanted to run, just give up and go find a bar. But then I was cornered by a very attractive business woman.
“You one of our guys?” she asked. I’m guessing the phony tan gave me away.
“Yeah Tim Casey.” She stuck out her hand and I took it. I think she could see the terror in my eyes.
“This is your first time isn’t it Tim?”
“And last.” I said.
“Hey don’t worry you’ll be fine. Remember why we do this; it’s for those children you guys save from fires.”
I couldn’t believe she was dropping the kid thing on me. It’s for the kids. I thought if I’m staying I’ll need some help, I needed and old friend to hold my hand, the one that had always been there for me. Johnny. Johnny Walker.

I’ll finish tomorrow.


Jenn said...

I had to chuckle at the part where the kid behind the counter was a "good 200lbs lighter" than you!! Perfect image of a hotel dude in my head!! And 'its for the kids' yep--more chuckling and a shake of my head. I'm looking forward to reading the next part tomorrow!! Thanks for sharing this with us!! Cheers, Jenn.

Fireman said...

Thanks Jenn yeah the little shit knew the "Boys" were in town and we tend to make our presence known. So much testosterone

Karen said...

I like the way you write! Great story telling! I am really looking forward to reading more about this!

Fireman said...

Thanks Karen.

November Rain - k~ said...

I can imagine the shift from excitement, and self-esteem boost, to anxiety in a crowd like this! Great write Tim!

Sondra Crane said...

This is great. It stopped just when I wanted to read more. I also just wrote a few new articles, if you have the time check them out. Thanks

Fireman said...

Thanks Sondra, I'll look