Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fifteen Cheeseburgers

So, I've been to the gym again today, and I'm beginning to appreciate the subtle messages of the locker room. I don't mean that people actually talk to each other, and, frankly, they look at me like I'm yelling in a library when I say something to them, or even acknowledge that they're there, but there are some valuable lessons to be learned in there.
Firstly, I've been so surprised by these women's lack of social response, not only in the locker room, but in the gym at all, that I've been seeing it as kind of creepy. But today I started to wonder if they all feel as bulgy and droopy and sloppy and stinky and hairy and sweaty and unworthy as I do, and that this is why they try to be as invisible as they can. There are the exceptions; As you walk in to the locker room, you turn a corner into the blow-dry, primping area, and sometimes there is a woman there, all thin and perky, naked as the day she was born, blow drying her hair like she's in some kind of naked hair commercial. And there are those who stride, nude and purposeful, to and from the shower. These are probably the same woman who weigh themselves on the scale that's right in the middle of the locker room; I cannot do this. If I'm going to weigh myself at all, I have to be completely alone, except for my demons. Mostly though, women scuttle around the locker room like shy little mice, in and out with minimum fuss. Like me.
Then, there are all the cautionary tales walking around the gym. I walk past the pool area, and there's a window along the hallway looking onto the hot tub and the indoor pool, and I often see people getting in and out. There are many older women who labor to pull themselves out of the hot tub and get to their walkers, and they're bent forward at the waist, and I think, "that could be me in thirty years." Then there are the naked chicks, and they are all shapes and sizes. The first couple of times I went, all I could see were the perfect ones, but now they are the exception, and there are droopy butts and hangy boobs, and pasty white skin every where I look, and I am feeling much more at home. There are two kinds of older women in the locker room: the ones who are fit and thin and sparky, and the ones who are there because their doctor is making them go. I can clearly see which kind I want to be when I grow up.
I'm still in my thirties, and its not too late. I don't have genetics on my side, and I don't have any natural disposition toward exercise or health food, but I can choose it.
Here's another thing, though. I go to the gym, I work out, I sweat like a pig (incidentally, do pigs sweat at all? Or do they pant, like dogs?) then I shower, then I get dressed and then I blow dry my hair. While I'm blow drying, my head and neck and face get all sweaty again! I put the blower on cold when I'm done just to dry to dry the sweat on my scalp. This is annoying. I want to be completely sweat-free when I leave the gym. I want to feel clean and dry and fresh. God, I'm so middle aged. I never used to sweat. In fact, one day about 10 years ago, I was having what I realize now is a totally inappropriate conversation with a co-worker about the fact that I didn't ever sweat. He didn't believe me, so I told him to call Rob at work and ask him, which he did, and Rob confirmed to him that I didn't sweat or ever have B.O. Of course, I was usually dehydrated and tried to move as little as possible, but it was still true. Later, I asserted that I could eat fifteen McDonalds cheeseburgers, and my co-worker had to call Rob again, but this time Rob said there was no way I could eat fifteen McDonalds cheeseburgers, and that I'd probably be puking after three.
But now I sweat. I still don't have B.O. but my I sweat right under my lower lip all the time.
I have to go clean up now. Again. Always.

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