I’m a skinny, artsy type of dude, so for most of my life when I came across an hour or two of free time I figured to do what a skinny, artsy type of dude would do. Most often this meant working on some classical piano or reading or writing love letters to women who don’t know I exist. Yet it occurred to me that however committed I am to suffering and writing a long and sad and probably bad novel, I might as well work out and feel better while I’m at it. It’s easy to be cynical, you know? So for the past couple months I’ve split my writing/reading free time and workout time about fifty fifty. I think it’s a step in the right direction. I feel better, have more energy, look better, and probably even write better when I’m writing because I’m not forcing writing to compensate for lacking aspects of my life.
But, as many signs as there are to keep this wonderful trend moving, there are a handful of things that deter me each time I put on those gym shorts and tank tops.
1. The Starer – What are you looking at? There seems to always be some skinny, out of shape fella who keeps looking. He looks at you through the mirrors, by your side, or across the gym. It’s awfully, and more-so dangerously, distracting. Here I am lifting 130 pounds of weight about to fall on my face and break my teeth in if I don’t focus, and I’m wondering if that awkward kid is looking at me while I’m working out.
2. Do We Say Hi?
I have this cousin—excuse me, not my cousin—this guy whose married to my cousin’s cousin—sorry, I don’t know, some dude whose married to some cousin whose married to my cousin. In fact even as I write this I admit that I don’t even know his name, but I know were somehow related. If you’re Persian you’d understand how it is. Anyway, when I see him at the gym, I figure out of being polite I should walk over and give a quick bro-bump and get on with my day. We don’t know each other well, but we’ve talked at a few parties and why not grace each other quickly? Yet I find that upon each moment of eye contact he quickly darts his eyes elsewhere, and if in proximity geographically, he merely avoids looking in my direction. In a way I admire this cousin-whose-name-I-don’t-know for his mental prowess to keeping a fantastic physique (his arms look like legs), but I still do find it odd. What do we do the next time we see each other at a family event? Anyway, I’ve let it go. The funny part is that twice after seeing each other at the gym and not talking, I’ve proceeded to hit the shower. Who else do I see butt naked, walking in to the neighboring stall just as I am heading out? Lot of fun.
3. The hot girls who look
My legs get shaky when they look at me for what seems to be a moment too long.
All those times growing up reading about how girls “don’t care about looks,” how it’s “all about confidence and personality.” Could it be true? I look back at her—she’s still looking at me. I turn around, thinking there’s a bro behind me that she might be meaning to connect with instead. But no. It’s just me. She’s looking at me. My mind begins racing with potential lines to kickstart a nice casual convo. I know I’m not actually going to go over there and say something, but I brainstorm nonetheless. “Hey, how about those stair masters?” is perhaps the snazziest line I can come up with. As the day continues I ruminate over whether I made the right call not approaching her.
4. The hot girls who don’t look
In the split seconds I am granted, I absorb as much of you as I can, absolutely stunned from your unreasonable beauty—a tormenting game from God, it seems. I am invisible to you, and this makes more sense. I prefer it like this, in a way. I admire from a distance and accept it. Like art at the Getty.
5. Trainers looking for deals —You’re nice and all, but get away from me.
6. Former trainer — I had just come out of a fling with this other trainer, Tomer. He was a cool guy, but we just weren’t right for each other. He was too bossy, I guess, and I’m the type that needs his freedom. When I met Sean it was sort of meant to be. I got to know him for a little bit, as a friend, and at the end of our first meet he asked for my number and suggested that we meet up at a set time. “That cool? I mean, if you’re not too busy?” He was a little nervous, I could tell, but I was flattered and considering how hard it is to meet quality guys in LA, I gave it to him. We met up about a week later. I was a little timid about what to expect. Things went a little too fast for my taste, but it’s also good to surrender control sometimes. At the end of our session he advanced, asking if I’d like to stretch. “Okay,” I said hesitantly. I lay down on the table and he put two warm towels over my body. “Taking me to sleep?” I asked. “I’m going to lay you out,” he said, grabbing a hold of my calf and pushing it back, as his boulder-like frame mounted before mine and he said, “you won’t be able to walk after this.” Our sessions continued on like this for about three or four months, and when we were done, he said.
“Where do we go from here, Jeremy?” I gulped. I didn’t know how to say it.
“Sean… I mean. You’re a great guy. You really are. But I just don’t know how long we can keep doing this. I don’t see this as something that has a long future…”
“Okay,” he said. He understood.
When I see him now, it’s a little emotional. But I do my best to be nice. I smile, or I wave, and we understand that we’ve both moved on to new things. But I’ll never forget that relationship.
7. The Donk—this person makes me understand why my cousin-who-I-don’t-know doesn’t want to chitchat. You run into him, and before you know it he’s talking about what he had for snacks yesterday, the pros and cons of his current employment, and why he’s considering moving, his sink that doesn’t work. Listen, my friend. As it’s written, “To everything there is a season.” A time to talk, and a time to… I don’t know. But. The gym is not the place to get sentimental. Another time and place please.
8. Squats: Because they exist.
But, with all this on my mind, I still managed to make it to the gym today. I am currently sipping on a protein smoothie with bananas and strawberries which didn’t get dissolved enough. In turn, there are soggy chunks of strawberry and banana looming within the thick mesh of vanilla powder and milk—which is, to say, quite disgusting. Maybe that should have been #9.