So... what is Michelin?
Michelin is one of the most known tyre brands launched in France towards the end of the 19th century. According to Wikipedia, Michelin’s revenue was worth 17.89 billion Euros three years ago. Alongside Bridgestone (created in Japan in 1931) the two are the biggest manufacturers of this commodity in the world.
I have always found the image of Michelin funny. A tough smiling guy with rubbery valleys of muscles. For the business and advertising student a remarkable lesson to humorous branding. No wonder Michelin tyres have been around since 1888.
So... I was in the Gym and saw this chap who reminds me of Mr Michelin. There are all sorts of body builders. Some aim to be like legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger (pictured), winner of numerous international trophies including Mr Olympia in the 1970’s.
By the way it is not true he was just muscles and no brains. Otherwise how would Mr Schwarzenegger become such a highly paid Hollywood actor and eventual Governor of California? And how would he win votes with a foreign accent (Austrian- German) in the USA? You tell me.
Lifting weights and taking whatever stuff that accentuates and builds muscles, is therefore, just one side of the coin. Majority bodybuilders want to feel and look good. Looking good means thinking clever, as we shall see. Let us agree to call him Josephat.
Josephat is like a God fearing religious preacher; come rain, come sun - the man is in the Gym, everyday- “pumping iron” as body-building Gym vocabulary says. I personally make sure I have at least two day breaks to ease off ( tension in the veins)- but our friend, Josephat has no single day off- he believes that to bulk up (like Arnold Schwarzenegger) means 7 days a week training.
Walking in slow steps, legs apart (because his thighs are quite thick) arms on the side, barely waving, slow and confident, the athlete is Mr Michelin Man per excellence; King Kong, minus the horror face. You kind of get the feeling that were he to grab and squeeze you, coffin makers would have trouble fitting your broken skeleton properly. Foolish joke aside, Josephat is a wonderful fellow.
Always says hi, shakes your hand without pinching palms, extremely polite and well mannered.
I never realised he had a life outside the training establishment since he is always here amongst dumb bells, bar bells, kettle bells (see pic below) metal plates, Swiss balls and so on. These, if you are unfamiliar with Gym vocabulary are some of the major items used to create the Michelin tribe. The other day I met Josephat in the supermarket. He was dressed in casual jeans and a light blue jumper, pushing a baby in a pram; tagging along was a pretty lady, who Josephat introduced as the mother of his one year old son.
It was actually shocking seeing this Gym going priest in a domestic setting, carrying a baby. Then a few days later, I saw him- again- this time he was not only pushing a baby in a pram, but accompanied by a three year old girl too.
The versatile Kettle Bells can be used anywhere. Pic by Telegraph...
“So you are a committed father, Joe?” I mused.
“Of course. You think I just pump weights all the time don’t you?”
“I know what you blokes think of me. I do weights to keep myself strong so that I can take care of my loved ones.”
“Protect your family.”
“Correct. That is what we men are here for. In the old days, we hunted and killed and guarded the family. Then came the feminist revolution that made us men look like villains. Fact is, we don’t want women to become like us; to be she- men. We want men and women to live side by side, helping each other. Each to keep their gender the way it is. Some women don’t get it. They think liberation means turning into a man. I am a man. I don’t want to become like a woman. And I don’t want to mistreat any female. Neither do I want to see a woman who behaves and acts like foolish men or jerks, as Americans say. Drinking, pissing around like louts and rats. Look. After all I have a young lovely daughter, here. I don’t want to see her missing the point of life when she grows up and having identity problems.”
Our conversation goes on for a while until baby in prams starts crying. Josephat bends down to stroke the poor chap then hands him a bottle of milk.
So...next day at the Gym I don’t see Mr Michelin, or a bad Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonator. I just see a guy who likes himself and whoever he lives with. Which is what life is all about.
Published in Citizen Tanzania...last week.