As Strong as a Woman
I must have been around 18 at the time, living at home with my parents and younger sister who was 15. We had our arguments but were just your average family. About a year before, my mom had been involved in a car accident and had suffered partial loss of sensation in her right arm and so had to attend regular physio sessions. This working with weights grew on her and now that her arm had recovered, she had started to work out for fun. This was a bit of an ongoing joke with my mates, but she wasn’t a bodybuilder or anything, just aerobics and light weights.
We were sat watching Gladiators one Saturday night and I made some comment about the women on it being rubbish. My mom took immediate offence to this.
"I’d like to see you up against any of the women gladiators" she snapped.
I laughed this off by saying that I would fancy my chances, "after all they were only women". In reality, these women were big muscular athletes who could have easily beaten me at any of the events, but I knew I had my mom wound up and so I continued to push the issue. We continued the argument for a while when suddenly she completely shocked me by placing her arm on the coffee table and challenging me to an arm wrestle.
After my initial shock, I burst into laughter. I was 6 feet tall and over 165 lbs, she was maybe 5’7 and 150 lbs.
I joined her at the table and we began. I must admit, that I expected to win in a matter of seconds, yet strangely she seemed to be holding her ground. I knew what her game was. She wanted to hold out as long as possible, to give me a scare, maybe even catch me out if I used all my strength up. Knowing her tactics, I decided to slow my effort, and leave some in reserve; it was only a matter of time before she would buckle. After a couple of minutes I decided that her energy must be about spent so I went in for the kill. To my horror, I still failed to budge her arm back more than a couple of inches. She had seen in my face that I had just upped my efforts, and her expression was a look of puzzlement. She seemed to be confused, didn’t know what to do. After another minute or so had passed my arm was on the verge of buckling, surely she was the same, but no, she sensed my aching and started to apply more pressure. Within seconds I had completely gone and she slammed my hand down.
"What the hell happened there?" she said in genuine shock. I was bright red through embarrassment and exhaustion. Words failed to leave my mouth, I had no answers. She asked me if I had been trying my hardest. "No, of course not, I didn’t want to hurt you" I said unconvincingly.
"I don’t mean to be funny Andy, but I wasn’t giving my all either. I was sure you would beat me easily but I was holding my ground at half effort".
I rubbished this, how could she be so much stronger than me. I was bigger, even my arms were bigger. She had no noticeable bicep at all.
We then had a silent half hour before mom broke the eerie atmosphere.
"Look, Andy, I don’t believe that you can have been giving your all, so lets do it again. No tactics, just both go for broke"
I couldn’t refuse. We locked up again and began. Immediately I was in trouble, she began her steady progress and all my strength was being used just to resist, I had no concept of an offence at this time. Around 40 seconds of resistance was futile, as I had been beaten again.
Mom was as embarrassed as I was. She refused to believe that I could be so weak; after all she was not particularly strong. She promised to keep the arm wrestle a secret, and so I felt a little easier about it.
A couple of days latter, the whole family were sat at the dinner table. I reached for the bottle of ketchup but couldn’t manage to twist off the lid. My sister grabbed it and immediately popped it open. She joked at how she was stronger than me and did a brief bicep pose. We all laughed about it, but deep inside I knew that there was a chance that she could be. As we approached the end of the meal, my sister unwittingly brought up a subject that was to change the course of the evening.
"Andy, do you think you could beat mom in arm wrestling?" I went cold. Did she know what had happened or was it just a big coincidence? "It’s just that I nearly beat her the other week"
I was struggling to answer, so mom saved the day by changing the subject.
"Go on then, do it now" piped up my sister. Again mom saved my bacon by making out that she had a sore arm and that she couldn’t arm wrestle today. My sister left the room and mom quickly came over to speak to me.
"Just be careful Andy, I can see where this thing is heading". I was confused. Surely mom didn’t think my 15-year-old sister could beat me, did she?
"Look Andy, your sister and I had a match a few weeks back, and she had me worried for a while. She did much better than you did the other day."
This was my sister she was talking about. 3 years younger, a good 6 inches shorter, and at least 25 lbs lighter.
O.K. she did keep fit once a week, but she didn’t do weights or anything.
"So what are you saying exactly mom?" I questioned.
"To be blunt" she went on, "I am saying that your little sister is a lot stronger than you and you should be careful".
I wasn’t having my mom thinking like this, so I did what I had to do. I marched up to my sister and said to her, O.K. lets do it, lets arm wrestle.
As soon as we began, we both sensed that she was strong for her size. I was wound up and wanted to win quickly to show my mom, but all my efforts were doing nothing. My sisters face was a cross between strain and pleasure. She was winning and she knew it. She kept asking me the same thing during the match, "Are you really trying?". I refused to answer. I needed all my concentration. I closed my eyes and gave my all, but when I re-opened them, my arm had not budged. Her arm had become tensed like I had never seen before, she had a small rounded bicep which was pumping bigger and bigger. All I could do was hold on, but she was getting closer and closer to victory. I held on for 3 minutes but to no avail. Eventually the inevitable happened and I was beaten.
"YES YES" she jumped up from the table. "I am stronger than you" she gloated. As earlier, she posed a bicep flex, but this time there was something there. "Look at this muscle Andy, look at it".
I couldn’t look; I was staring straight at the floor.
Suddenly she pushed the bicep in my face. "Come on Andy, admit that I am stronger and feel my muscles"
I remained seated in silence. It was then that I felt a sharp pain in my neck. She had grabbed me with her left hand and was applying pressure to my pressure point.
"Stop sulking Andy, admit that I am stronger" I was in my own home on my knees in front of a 15-year-old girl being ordered what to do. I still remained silent.
Again she demanded my acceptance of her superiority. "Don’t make me humiliate you Andy, because I will"
I glanced over to the door and there was mom and dad stood watching. I have no idea of how she was going to humiliate me, but I didn’t want to find out what she was capable of.
"O.K. Sam, I admit it, my 15 year old sister is stronger than me".
It was the hardest statement I had ever spoken. She released her grip and I returned to my seat while a shocked and ashamed set of parents left the room.