So, I have a gym membership, and I work out a few times a week at lunch (because I won't work out after I get home from the job--that's beer time--and I won't work out in the morning--that's writing time plus I'm physically incapable of working out before 11 am--so lunch it is.)
Although evidence points to the contrary, I'm not bragging about this. (Sure, in my mind I look like a more ripped version of that Alcide guy from 'True Blood' but I know that I in fact look like a bald version of Will Farrell. Know thyself.) When my first son was born I made a quick calculation (age x size of beer gut / heredity) and realized that I should do my best not to die. There are very few factors I can control in this inevitability, and 'taking care of my body' is one of the two or three.
The problem with attending a gym on a regular basis is that you see a lot of the same dudes over and over. And whether you want to or not, you learn their stories without really ever communicating with them. I, of course, don't know their actual names, so I've named them myself.
Before I get started, a note to my female readers: I have purposefully given all female gym-goers a pass. Your poor gender is forced to share space with me and these characters while we grunt, preen and perspire, and you have thus suffered enough. On behalf of the universe, I apologize for what we've done to your eyes and to your sense of smell.
INAPPROPRIATE POLITICAL DISCUSSION GUY: Why yes, there are TVs on the wall, and at least one of them is airing the news. You'll notice that most of us are gasping too hard to spit out some political pablum, but not you. Oh no. How you are able--on a near daily basis--to bring up the many failings of Obamacare for all of us to hear is something akin to a Superpower. Oh, and you're wrong by the way, but why should I waste my depleting breath. Neither of us is going to change our minds you Ann Coulter worshipping wannabe.
OVERLY INTENSE WORKOUT GUY: I have seen you and your Popeye arms outside of the gym--yeah, that's you in the t-shirt and short shorts strutting the streets in freezing weather--and you don't seem to ever shut off the crazy. You're the guy who manages the one-armed handstands while pinioning your body against the wall, which is impressive. You're also the guy that I never make eye contact with. And wherever you might be in the facility, you'll find me far away from you.
OVERLY EMOTIONAL COMPLICATED RELATIONSHIP GUY: Yeah, you're the guy who plants himself on a piece of equipment and holds inappropriate cellphone conversations and weeps while your lover demands to change your relationship from an exclusive one to an open one. How do I know this? Why do I know this? You reported it to everyone in the free-weight room. You asked for advice, even. Between us, I think you should give it a try.
STRUTTING CONQUEROR GUY: Oh, yeah, I did. I did totally see you kill it on the elliptical. And what you did to that Stair Master. Wow. So yes, you totally deserve to strut in slow motion with head held high, shoulders back, pasty arms thrown out John Travolta style, somehow managing to walk slowly AND effectively block any means to get around you. Yes, let us all take a moment and bask in your magnificence. Thank you. Thank you for letting me breathe the same fetid air that you do. You, sir, are a marvel of physical perfection.
STINK-EYE GIVING LOCKER HOG GUY: You sure do like your personal space. And you sure do act like no one else is around. But we are around, and we're sharing tight quarters. And when you pick a locker RIGHT NEXT TO ME and then proceed to give me the poo poo pout, you have elevated assaholism to new heights. Even better, out in the gym, you're the only guy who circuit trains. Do you know why the rest of us don't? Because as much as we'd all like to change machines between reps, we are SHARING. And most folks work one machine at a time as a gesture of courtesy. So we don't circuit train. None of us. Except for you. You and that fucking stink eye.
There are more of you gym dudes, and many more stories. And I suppose you could just as easily write about the middle-aged bald guy who can't manage more than five pull-ups and who winces with every foot plant when he runs as if he were jogging on tacks. But you don't, as far as I know, have a blog. So I win. Now excuse me while I strut away from this computer.