Mary’s Latest Hobby
A Short Story by Tim Josephs
Written using the suggestion "Routine"
Originally featured on 04-10-2007
As part of our series "Things you can live without, but most people choose not to"

The first round is Muscle Balance.

Bob’s smile is plastered to his face as he watches a large, oiled woman stand before the panel of judges. Her skin has an orange hue which makes her teeth look extra bright.

This part is about comparing deltoids to calves and the width of the chest, something like that; Bob hadn’t paid that much attention when it was explained to him. When the woman’s name is announced and she waves and starts walking off the stage, the crowd cheers.

The rowdy audience consists mainly of stocky men wearing tattered, sleeveless, denim vests and greasy trucker hats. Most of them have tattoos covering their thick arms.

I can’t believe I’m at another one of these things, Bob thinks as he watches his wife leave the stage.



Bob had always tried to be supportive of Mary’s hobbies. Over the years she had gotten involved in countless amounts of things: PTA meetings, Tupperware parties, the Girl Scouts when Becky was ten. And whatever it was, she threw herself in completely and actually got quite competitive; once at a school bake sale she made another woman cry when she gloated about how her peanut butter brownies had sold the fastest.

But since Becky had gone off to college and they moved down to Phoenix, Mary just seemed so restless all the time. They hadn’t officially retired (Mary didn’t even like to use the word; when people asked she’d say they were on a long vacation), but Bob had made a good living and saved well, so neither of them needed to work again.

He was content to sit around the house and read or watch TV and every now and again he’d go play a round of golf. But Mary couldn’t sit still. Since they had moved in, she had re-wallpapered both bathrooms, put in new cabinets in the kitchen, and moved the furniture around six times.



The next round is Presentation.

This one has to do with GPP—grooming, posture, and posing—as Mary would often repeat to herself during workouts.

After a particularly large woman exits the stage (to a loud, slurred “Yeah, Rita!” from someone in the crowd), Bob watches Mary came back. As loud music plays, she flexes and poses, all the while that 100-watt smile never dimming.

Bob wipes his forehead with his handkerchief again; the room is hot and filled with the stench of sweat.



One day, when Bob was watching TV, Mary came into the living room. With only a glance, he knew what she was up to.

“What do you want to move now?” he asked.

“Just the chair, I want to see how it looks by the window.”

Bob rolled his eyes and got up. He plopped down on the couch.

“Aren’t you going to help me?”

“Can’t,” Bob said with a smile. “Doctor’s orders: no heavy lifting for a week.”

“Isn’t that convenient. Okay, I can do it myself.”

With a lot of huffing and puffing, Mary tried to get the large chair over to the window. After a couple minutes she gave up and sat down in it.

“On second thought, I think it looks good right here.”

Bob laughed. “Hey, if you’re looking for something to do, why not go down to the gym? We have that free membership, might as well take advantage. Then you might be able to move that chair yourself.”

Mary gave him the stink eye. “Maybe I will, smart guy.”

As Bob expected, she soon began going to the gym regularly, sometimes more than once a day. At first he was happy she had found something to do. She had made a few friends and enjoyed getting into shape.

He got a little concerned when he saw the magazine sticking out of her purse one day.

“What’s that?” he asked, pointing to the shiny, muscled woman on the cover.

“Oh, that’s just Muscle Girl. One of the women at the gym gave it to me.”

Bob grabbed the magazine and started flipping through it.

“Wow, these women look…”

“Great, don’t they?”

“Well, I was going to say manly.”

“Manly? I think they’re beautiful, they’re just so fit. I wish I looked more like that.”

Bob frowned and tossed the magazine to the table.



The third round is Size and Shape.

This is the big category, as Mary had often reminded him. Again, she stands before the judges and poses and Bob can’t tell how this round is any different from the others. He gazes at his watch again; he can’t wait to get out of this stuffy, sticky arena.



As Bob was taking his golf bag out of his car one afternoon, Mary pulled into the driveway.

“Help me with this stuff, will you?” she asked, getting out of her Nissan.

She opened the trunk to reveal three large plastic containers.

“What’s all this?” he asked.

“There’s some glucosamine and some pycnogenal and that one’s protandim.”

Bob stared at her.

“They’re supplements, they’ll help me gain a little weight, add some muscle.”

“And why exactly do you need to gain some muscle?”

“For the competition, silly.” She grabbed one of the containers and went into the house.

The competition, as Bob found out, was an over-40 women’s bodybuilding contest that Mary had read about in one of her magazines.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” he asked, looking at the beaming, glistening women on the full-page ad.

“Sure,” Mary said, dropping ingredients into the blender. “It’ll be fun.”


But it wasn’t. Competing with women who were much bigger (except for one who looked like a midget) and obviously more experienced, Mary came in last place. And there weren’t any “participant” medals either.

She wasn’t happy, especially when the midget said “better luck next time” as they were leaving, and didn’t say much on the ride home. Bob hoped that Becky was right and Mary would soon be back to rearranging the furniture or onto something else.

But for the next week she really didn’t do anything. She started sleeping late and moping around the house. When one morning Bob asked if she wanted to join him for a round of golf, she only shook her head and went back up to their bedroom.


At first he only mentioned the steroids as a joke—he remembered his doctor telling him the pills he had prescribed for his back contained a small amount of steroids—but then he saw how excited she got.

“Aren’t these illegal?” she had asked when he showed her the bottle.

“Not if they’re from a doctor. I can get another refill of this too. I don’t want you to start looking like Barry Bonds or anything, but they might be able to help you out. Just go easy with them, okay?”

She took the bottle from him and smiled.



The fourth and final round is Separation and Definition.

This has to do with muscle detail and “tie-ins” and “cuts” and other things Bob knows nothing about.

Again, Mary poses and preens in front of the judges. She looks like she’s put on another coat of paint and she shimmers under the spotlights.

Bob watches her nervously.



The steroids began working almost immediately and Mary quickly added muscle to her body. Feigning more backache, Bob was able to get additional pills.

When she got out of the shower one day, he was stunned. She looked just like the women in one of her magazines—her arms and legs were huge and her stomach was completely flat; it didn’t look as if she had an once of fat on her.

“Wow, Mary, I guess those pills really work.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” she snapped, reaching for her robe. When she turned around, Bob noticed a small patch of brown hair across her shoulders.

“Uh, nothing, you just look good is all,” he stammered.

She glared at him for a moment and then left the room.

A few days later when she screamed at the terrified-looking mailman over a wrinkled letter, Bob started getting worried. When he confronted her, she had yelled until the veins on her neck bulged. Then she burst into tears and admitted to injecting herself with other steroids she had obtained. Bob was shocked.

“I’m sorry, Bob, I’m so sorry,” she said, walking towards him. He took a step backward and she stopped. “I promise after the next competition, after I win, I’ll stop with the steroids, I’ll stop with everything.”

After she wins? he thought nervously.

Realizing at that point there would be no talking her out of competing, Bob told her he wanted to help her train and she gladly agreed. He figured if he could control her dosage and keep an eye or her, he might be able to keep her from hurting herself or at least a postal employee.

They developed a routine: Bob would mix her health shakes in the morning and then she would go for a long jog. When she returned, he’d inject her with Mesterolone and then she’d lift weights for four hours. After another health shake and jog, he’d inject her with Oxandrolone. After dinner, he would shave her.



As Bob waits for the results to be read, he prays Mary will stick to her promise; honestly he’s a little scared of her now and doesn’t know what she might do to him.

The host, a tall man who was nonetheless dwarfed by the monstrous women, walks out onto the stage holding a card. After a couple moments of inane chatter, he starts reading the results. Bob closes his eyes and crosses his fingers. After what seems like an eternity, he hears Mary’s name announced as the winner and exhales loudly.

She walks to the center of the stage where a sash is placed over her immense shoulders and then holds up her prize, her sheen just as bright as the trophy’s.

As Bob looks around at the cheering and applauding crowd, he is suddenly struck with an odd sensation. He’s relieved of course, but there’s also something else. It doesn’t matter that Mary cheated and now resembles a Hulk-like Oompa Loompa; she’s still his wife after all. He starts clapping and cheering loudly. When she spots him in the crowd and blows him a kiss, he feels the tears welling up.

God she looks incredible, he thinks as she waves to the hooting mob. And even though now her genitals are bigger than his, he’s never been prouder.

Read More By Tim Josephs

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