Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson is my spirit animal. My daughter’s too. I suppose I should explain.

It is February on the Vineyard, when the blues have a habit of climbing in the basement window, skulking up the stairs and sneaking under the pillow like a malignant tooth fairy. Suddenly you have way too much time to take stock of yourself and usually it is not a pretty sight.

Take me for instance. I was once a college wrestler, a sub-three hour marathoner, a guy who could take getting a root canal in Thailand, frequently, with no anesthesia. But now the guy looking back at me in the mirror is a puffy faced 53 year old, gone soft around the middle and encased in dad clothes surrounding a dad body while nursing dad feelings of despair with bottles of lethargy.

I was definitely in a bad way. But then one evening, while sitting at the kitchen table with my 10-year-old daughter Pickle, she suggested a movie night.

“Sure kid, I could do that.”

“Want me to check the internet for choices?” she said. “I’ll look up father/daughter movies for 10 and under.”

“Perfect,” I said.

A few seconds later Pickle gasped and called me over. “Um, Dad, I’m not so sure about this.”

I looked at the computer and gasped too. The list of movies involved a variety of incest parties and worse. I lunged forward to close out the screen but at the last moment we both noticed another list — one that actually included Hollywood movies. The Rock was featured prominently.

I had of course heard of The Rock but had never seen any of his movies. Honest. He had arrived long after I had become an adult, and I couldn’t imagine an adult wanting to see his movies. Sorry Dwayne, it’s true. I was on the outside not even trying to look in.

We watched a few trailers and settled on The Game Plan, an innocuous story from early in his career, back when he had hair and his muscles weren’t quite as huge. He plays a narcissistic quarterback in love with himself and Elvis Presley. Then he finds out he has an eight-year-old daughter and although there are some tough times at first, he regroups, finds his inner dad and all things are perfect at the end. He even dances ballet in a purple leotard.

We loved it. The next night we watched Baywatch. We that loved too, and I didn’t worry at all about what I was exposing my daughter to.

I also found myself leaning in, rather than back on the couch in my usual slothful position. I checked out my biceps and found them lacking, my pecs and thighs too. Anyone would, when face to face with The Rock and to a lesser extent the near feral designs of Zac Efron’s body. But instead of being resigned to my fate I felt my pulse quicken.

“Hey Pickle,” I said. “Mind if I pause this and do a few pushups.”

“Can I do some too?” she asked.

We pushed out 20, rested, then did 10, rested, then did 5 more. “That’s a reverse ladder,” I told her. “The Rock would be proud of us.”

From there we set up a pattern, much like a long ago drinking game I enjoyed in my 20s while watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Back then we had to drink every time a Vampire was killed. Now Pickle and I did pushups whenever The Rock flexed his arms. We did situps when he gave his famous smile, and pounded out burpees when he smoldered.

By the time Baywatch ended I was dripping sweat. I flexed. “What do you think?” I asked.

“Not bad,” Pickle said. “But maybe you should shave your chest hair. It’s getting gray. And get a huge shoulder tattoo.”

I nodded. “I’m down for all that. You’ll back me with mom, right.”

Pickle flexed her biceps in solidarity and we turned back to The Rock now starring in Rampage. Within minutes we had to press pause to do a series of spider pushups and then a ladder of dips. And if anyone is looking for us, we are still in the basement working out while The Rock smiles down on us, leading us through the dark thickets of February with a flex and a smile, and maybe a brand new tattoo.