Let's begin with the usual weekday cast of characters. Keep in mind that the following will be just as my life, heightened for my own and hopefully your amusement. While the description of the people's looks will be accurate, their life stories are what I imagine as I watch their shapeless bodies pass my eliptical machine. What I love about my gym is that it's very low maintenance, not a lot of preening incredible hulks running around lifting weights the same weight as their primer gray El Caminos. There are lots of older people and a few younger people but they basically all keep to themselves. On any given weekday, the characters include:
- Harriet and Bob - they're slight of build and have been married for 45 years. They joined the gym when Bob retired from his job as an insurance man.
- Greta - yes, her parents named her after the Swedish film star that took silent film and then talkie Hollywood by storm. In her early seventies in complete face make-up, after a few minutes on a treadmill, she dons her Esther Williams worthy bathing cap and readies herself for water aerobics.
- Jenny - she was never popular in high school and now after having her four children she decided to do something about her physical health. Wearing her mom-styled sweat pants pulled too far up her body, showing every ounce of cellulite and the flatest, longest butt in recorded history the pilling of the polyester fabric is noticable from a mile away.
- Sue - an Asian thirty-something climbing the corporate and the mechanical ladder. She weighs all of 80 pounds at 4'11" in her crop top and tights she's adorable but hasn't dated in two years. As she climbs the stairs that keep coming in perfect succession, she sweats and turns the pages to Who Moved My Cheese, the book she's reading as she works out.
- John - A sixty-something huge black man who probably was a coach of something once. He seems at complete ease as he struts around the gym with his hooded sweatshirt on with a towel around the neck ready to sweat at any moment. He's kind of the mayor of the gym and has a jovial smile and wave for all that pass.
- Mike - His salt and pepper hair and slight build are made to look even more slight with his over sized t-shirt tucked into his nylon hot pink shorts pulled up to his nipples. I've never seen him actually work out but he always seems very busy.
- There are various other characters there, the high school boys, the high school girls, the tri-athelete who looks like he's about to pass out on the treadmill but on the whole they're a harmless bunch of people that I'm sure are nice as can be.
Now due to the fact the above characters are the norm for my gym there's no need to have my hair look right or worry about my appearance in general. As shocking as it may seem, it actually means that I can use the gym to work out without worrying about approval from passerbys - something I don't enjoy in any other aspect of my life.
January hits and suddenly every day there are all the people who have made resolutions, have watched the Biggest Loser or had a relative buried in a piano box after passing from a heart attack due to their weight at the gym when I want to work out. There are moms with overweight kids, men preparing for their mid-life crisis by trying to get the body they had when they ran track in high school 25 years ago and some people who I think are just there to be drinking out of the water fountain when I need a drink or clinking weights for no apparent reason. It's basically wall to wall neurosis. They'll all be gone by February, having given up on their resolutions but for now, they're in my gym and I'm not happy.
So I decided to go to the gym on Saturday afternoon to make up for the loss of a couple days in the middle of the week beacuse there was nowhere to work out due to the throngs. Sure my hair is all fucked up from sleeping and I'm wearing a ripped t-shirt but who's going to be there to care or impress, right? Well, somewhere along the way, the cast changed and no one told me.
I walked in and the mood was immediatley different, as I mounted my eliptical machine I looked to my right, my left, in front of me and as far as the eye could see, it was like watching the gay march of the penguins:
- Bobby and John - The Kennedy boys - they look almost identical in their Ivy league look and demeanor. No one would ever suspect under their matching work out outfits that they had the LaCoste alligator tattooed over their left nipples. It was a crazy thing they did in South Beach last season during a drunken night to symbolize their love for one another and mens better sportswear.
- Alex and Terry - the tiniest Asian boys you've ever seen. Slight in stature, saving a ton of money because they buy their clothes in the boys department, although they're in their mid-twenties they're a size 16 slim in boys pants. They weigh all of 70 pounds and are so feminine, that I suspect the reason they're here working out is to audition to be in the chorus of The Crying Game - The Musical!
- Steve and Tim - they're the captain and co-captain for their high school's LaCrosse team. Tim has no idea that Steve is gay and in love with him, it will all come out after they win the division championships, get drunk and Steve kisses Tim but for now, Steve spots Tim as he lifts large weights. Steve steals glances at the other penguin couples and dreams he could tell Tim his inner feelings when they stop for coffee at Starbuck's after their workout like they do every Saturday but for now only Steve thinks that this weekly workout tradition is actually dating.
There are a couple of gay singles at the gym but much like the sheep in Brokeback Mountain, they're needed for the plot but no one's paying them any rabbit ass mind.
- Bazooka Joe - he looks exactly like the cartoon character wrapped around a hunk of pink sugar. He's got the baseball cap facing to the side, freckles and seems awkward and out of place with the gay boys.
- Luiz - he was a gang member at the age of 12 before he realized that he was more interested in the bandanas and boys than the gang activities. So while he has his name tattooed on his neck, he's softened his looks with a pierced nose and creating a waif-like appearance. You still wouldn't want to meet him in a dark alley but all of those thoughts go out of your head when someone drops a weight near him, he squeals and clutches his pearls. Between every set he applies his chapstick like a professional drag queen.
- David - He's not too muscular but gives that Abercrombie athletic appearance. He's oblivious to the other boys working out and the sun tattooed to his right shoulder can be seen perfectly due to the sleeveless shirt he spent an hour picking out before he came to the gym.
There I was in the middle of all these couples and all I could think of was this was way too much pressure for me. So I may go back on the weekend to work out again but I'll be sure to have my hair done and at least one designer article of clothing on.
And as I left the gym to the strains of Ce Ce Penniston's, "Finally" playing on my Ipod I thought someone really needs to do a Showtime series based on the cast of the gym. Forget daytime television - these peope are MUCH more interesting however all future cast changes at the gym must be cleared through me - Don't Get Me Started!