The biggest change that Glen’s roommateship has made in my life, however, is that I now Go to the Gym six days a week. Though I’ve lived within walking distance to a gym since July, I never gave it much thought, mostly because gyms intimidate me. But with my metabolism slowing and my love of nightwine holding on strong, I figured it was a good choice to join up alongside Glen. After all, he would be able to educate me about rules of conduct that had eluded me during previous attempts at Going to the Gym. For example, where in the gym is the proper place to spit one’s chaw?
If you’re like me, the thought of Going to the Gym sounds awful and you probably won’t go until Glen moves in with you. No worries! Now I can share the experience with you, and you can vicariously Go to the Gym through me.
Here, then, is what happens to you at the gym.
- You will instantly perceive that everyone else in the gym has more business being there than you do. You are correct. This will never change.
- Upon leaving the gym, everyone else still inside will more than likely discuss the fact that you have little business there. They also probably make fun of the dumb way you walk (unverified).
- Looking in the direction of people while they’re working out will result in one of several interactions. None of them are appealing. You try harder to avoid looking at people than you will at attempting actual exercise.
- You avert your gaze toward a part of the gym where no one currently is, but that space promptly becomes occupied by a butt, usually clad in tight fabric. You are forced to avert your gaze in a new direction until that too becomes a butt (verified).
- The gym walls have mirrors on them to maximize the chance you will end up looking at a stranger’s butt. Did you think you were safe, here in this corner? Here’s a butt from across the room, twice reflected into the very spot you thought you could safely look.
- Someone looks at you. That’s your fault, however. You’re probably making an ugly exercise face. What’s wrong with your face, you weirdo?
- Unsure how to use a given workout machine, you casually watch another gym-goer sit down and use it, but only until he notices you watching, at which point you feel like an ugly weirdo. Seriously, what is wrong with your face?
- You work out in a machine that has you facing directly into a mirror, and you watch your face very closely. “What? That looks pretty normal, right?” you will say to yourself. “I don’t see what everyone is finding so awful about my exercise face.” But then someone behind you catches you staring intently at yourself as you work out and you feel terrible about it.
- Someone looking in your general direction starts laughing. You tell yourself it’s probably because they’re listening to some comedy podcast on their headphones. That has to be the reason, right? Right?
- You realize no one actually is sure how any of the workout machines are supposed to be used. One person just made it up and everyone else has just been copying them. The gym manager isn’t even sure where some of them came from. They just showed up one day. It’s probably a guerilla art installation.
- The machines are designed to work out specific muscles, you learn. However, the one muscle that all of them are designed to work out is the one that holds in farts.
- It’s everyone’s responsibility to wipe down the machines when done using them. You do this assiduously. You hope the people looking at you notice. “Oh, really cares about hygiene,” you imagine they all conclude. “What a thoughtful guy.”
- However, on the occasion that person before you doesn’t wipe down the machine, it’s your responsibility to mutter to yourself as you wipe down their disgusting sweat from all the cushions, even the butt one. You consider telling the manager but do not because you fear reprisal.
- You feel an oncoming sneeze. There are people occupying literally every direction you could sneeze into. With no other options, you sneeze into your gym towel — the one you used to wipe down that other guy’s sweat. This is the worst thing that will ever happen to you.
- “Is that Paul F. Tompkins?” you think. “That guy on the elliptical looks like Paul F. Tompkins. I really think it’s Paul F. Tompkins.”
- You conclude that it is not Paul F. Tompkins because Paul F. Tompkins wouldn’t have been so huffy about answering questions about that one podcast. Also, when you’ve seen Paul F. Tompkins on TV, he didn’t look nearly so sweaty.
- Of all the machines in the gym, you find you are are most adept at the thigh abductor, which does not steal your thighs as the name implies but instead hones your ability to squeeze your knees together, Xenia Onatopp-style. You never see other men using these machines. You wonder if they’re for women specifically. You use them anyway.
- Someone asks you if you want to “rotate in.” Unsure what he’s proposing, you flee to the other side of the gym.
- Two larger men are standing in front of the machine you’re suppose to use. In a frightened baby voice, you ask them, “Are you using this?” and every vestige of your high school self expects them to start pummeling you. They do not — this time.
- “What is that smell? Is that me? Is my deodorant failing?” You’ll never know.
- In the locker room, you see someone showering with bare feet. You never enter the locker room again.
- You struggle to place what the gym music most reminds you of until you realize: the young people’s section of Macy’s, circa 1994.
- The gym plays that song that repurposes the chorus from “Zombie” in the worst possible way and you decide, “Yeah, that’s about enough for today.”
- Finally, you walk home in your gym shorts, with your little towel flopped over your shoulder. You consider for a minute that the people on the street notice you and think, “Oh, look at him. He is someone who Goes to the Gym.” But then you realize that they’re probably thinking, “What the hell does he do that he has time to go to the gym in the middle of the day?”
- You realize you were accidentally signed in to Scruff the entire time. Number of new messages: zero.
Your results may vary.
A funny story, previously: