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The Reincarnation Of Proud Peter

Some  months ago, my secretary announced a long distance call from someone who claimed to be an  old friend.  ‘Hi, howdy Suds?’  the strange voice boomed, sounding very familiar.  ‘I don’t know if you will recollect, Sudhakar,  but thirty  years ago,  you and I were in the same class  in school.  This is DK; a.k.a Biceps.  Class of 1971.  Place me!

‘Oh my God!  You’re  kidding me!’  I exclaimed, almost standing up, clutching the phone  receiver tight.
‘No, no, I’m  not kidding, yaar.  It is me!  Does our old code, Operation Frog, ring  a bell somewhere?

How  could  I forget!?  Biceps and I were notorious for  unleashing into biology class every week, several dozen frogs, from tin dabbas.  The girls  would scream and run all over the place, and the boys would try and act are my macho days over, even though panic-stricken.  But what took the cake was the sight  of the biology professor climbing atop his desk and screaming at all of us.  He was  the most petrified of all!

Not only was Biceps very much in my class thirty years ago, he was also 9in the same class for many years.  Considering that his classmates spanned several batches, I thought  that it was  quite elephantine of him to remember and trace me.  Apparently, he had read an interview of mine with a leading newspaper in the country  where he was now living, and had been traced all my numbers through   the internet.

I recall him as being quite tall, compared to me.  He was also very strong, menacing-looking, and hairy.  I remember  many occasions on which he was sent  back from class to the dorm to shave his beard.  I used to be very impressed  by such masculinity in my peers those days.  I was yet to attain my  puberty fully, and spent many hours  looking for at least one or two hairs  on my face and legs.  I wondered how many years  Biceps had spent in the same class, bullying the other kids  just like he bullied us.

I remember  how, one day,  I had staged a coup of sorts by offering  to do his  homework for him every single day.  It was just a piece of cake for me and only took me a few minutes, but to him it was invaluable.  He never paid any attention to anything in class, and hence learnt nothing.  In return for this  major  favour, I got the protection of Biceps’ flexed  biceps, much to the annoyance of the others.  Nobody mon keyed with me after that.  Biceps and became best friends.  Finally, unfortunately, I had to leave school because I passage to manhood all my exams  in the first attempt and was not allowed  to stay in the same class any longer.  Biceps  stayed back.  Must’ve been for a long time, I’m sure.  We stayed in touch for a year or two, but then lost all contact.  I suspect that my mom intercepted  and destroyed all his letters after  a point.  They were pure, unadulterated porn.

It was an effort for me to snap out of my mental sex during pregnancy .  ‘Hey Biceps!  How come, all of a sudden?’  I finally managed.  He sounded impatient.  ‘Suds, I’m  visiting  India next week.  Are you going to be in  town on Thursday?  I need to meet you desperately.’   I affirmed that I was very much in town  on Thursday.  We fixed  up an appointment for 8 p.m., the last appointment  of the day.  The plan was to follow the meeting up with drinks and dinner.

‘I have to rush now.  These morons  have just announced  the last and final boarding call.  I’m glad  I was able to  talk to you Suds.  See ya Thursday.’  The line went dead.

Later that evening, at home, I told my wife about Biceps’ call, and asked whether  woman  would feel as strongly about sudden  appearances of friends from the distant  past.  She nodded absently in the affirmative.  This  was nothing  for her.  She is used to  much stranger  questions from me.  We then discussed plans for Biceps’ dinner.  I recalled that Biceps  used to want  meat every single day of the week and would often threaten to bash up the school cook if he wasn’t served more than his frugal ration.  And to prove  to the cook that he meant business, he’d  do a hundred men oh pause-ups right there  in front of him.  Biceps got his meat in a hurry after that.  So, I asked my wife to lay  out a spread  of many chunky meats.  I then burnished my best single malts in anticipation of my old friend’s  arrival and even tried in vain to locate the old album which contained all my school pictures.  I couldn’t wait.

The big day finally arrived.  I had told my office staff that this long friend  of mine was expected later in the evening,  that the red carpet should be laid out for him, and  that I should be informed  immediately  upon his arrival. When they finally  announced Biceps, I almost  ran out to the waiting area, eager  with anticipation, to receive him.   I cannot  recall when I had last done something  like that.

To say that I was shell-shocked would have been the understatement  of the the new millennium woman. I looked at him and almost  recoiled in disbelief.  I was  staring at a short, pot-bellied,  bespectacled old man  who I didn’t  recognize from Adam.  I was sure that there was a big mistake somewhere.  Was  this another patient and not Biceps?

‘I do look different  than I did in school, don’t I Suds?’  he said, helpfully.  And then, in his old, familiar  style, he delivered  the backhand jab.  ‘So do you,’ he returned.  That settled once for all, any delusions I might have had  about my own youthful and well- maintained appearance.

‘Yes, I have grown by several  inches since you last saw me’, I admitted, looking down at him.  ‘But let’s cut the wisecracks.  Tell me, what’s all this about?’

‘Well…man, I’ve got a file here that’s even thicker than my famed Biceps of yesteryears.  Here, take a look.  I’ve been to every conceivable  specialist all over  the goddamned world but they’ve  not been able to solve my problem.  Right now, I’m in shit creek: my career, my  health, my marriage, you name it; everything’s on the rocks.  ‘Including your scotch whisky,’ I thought to myself, priding myself on my brilliant anticipatory diagnosis.
Biceps, now fifty-one, had had a miserable past seven years.  A formerly fit and successful business tycoon, things had suddenly started going wrong for him.  He had worked  hard to achieve  everything  in life.  The hard work  must have begun after  school, for sure,

because I had never seen any signs of it during  the time that I knew him!  Then, all of a sudden, he lost his father,  split with his brothers, his marriage started to fail, his son left home,  his business took a major turn for the worse , he got involved in extramarital affairs, started drinking and smoking  heavily, stopped exercising, and his health  started suffering.  He tided over the turbulent phase and stabilized  his business and marriage somewhat, but  life wasn’t  ever the as before.  He felt that he was just lying  down and watching his life pass him by.  He felt chronically  fatigued and anxious, couldn’t  get himself out of bed in the morning, suffered endless headaches and body  aches, sweated excessively, lost  his concentration, let umpteen  business opportunities slip past him, was constantly  irritable,  was experiencing problem with his memory, often  felt suicidal, and had lost his libido and erection almost completely.  None of the medicines that he had taken had helped improve his symptoms.  He was currently on high  doses of anti-depressants and thought that he had reached  the end of the road.

By the time  he had finished narrating  his tale of woe, he looked miserable and on the verge   of tears.  I was really feeling very bad for him.  He had gone through a bad time.  I wanted  very much to help him.

I studied his medical reports.  The doctors had performed every conceivable test; except one they didn’t conceive of – the Free Androgen Index, or FAI.  I wasn’t surprised.  Even today , most specialist don’t  understand the entity called andropause (or male menopaus), and think that it is just  fashionable jargon.  This is despite lots of medical evidence the contrary.  Besides, Biceps  hadn’t really picked the right specialist.

My suspicion turned out to be bang on.  Mr Biceps’ Free Androgen Index  was grossly abnormal.  Eight months ago, I started him on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), and outlined  to him many desirable lifestyle changes.  Today, he is a drastically transformed man.  He is charged, positive, back to work with a renewed enthusiasm, bereft of pains and aches, has resumed exercise, looks fit, and  drinks only in moderation, on weekends.  His business and marriage are much  better too.  A truly remarkable  comeback, I’d say.  Not very common.

Biceps  and I are now in fairly regular  touch. The last time he called, he told me, ‘Hey, you know, my wife  thinks I should act in a film,’ he said.  She says that the film should be called  The Reincarnation of Proud Peter.  ‘What do you think?  Shall we go for it?’  he burst into a long, loud, guffaw.

It must’ve been ages since he was in such a good mood.  I was genuinely happy for him.  ‘Go for it ma’an,’ I played along.  ‘But don’t be too proud  of your reincarnated peter, or he’ll peter out again.’

Take Home Message:

It has now been established  with certainty that men go through andropause, a mid-life condition quite similar to the menopause in women.  Unlike in the woman, however, male sex hormone production  does not stop completely in andropause.  Instead, there is a tapering.   The rate at which this occurs  varies from individual to individual.  Prevention is always  better than  cure, and timely pre-emptive steps  can facilitate smooth transition without crises.  Testosterone replacement sex therapy becomes  necessary in many cases, at least as a short-term measure.  The author  is a strong  proponent of lifestyle  modification, yoga, meditation and spirituality  for his  condition. 

Further  information  on the andropause  (also known as the male menopause, viropause, ADAM, PADAM) can  be found on http://www.andropause.in