"Every day is a winding road
"I get a little bit closer
"Every day is a faded sign
"I get a little bit closer to feeling fine."
-- Sheryl Crow
Reality returned vividly to my household last month when my loving wife patted me on my stomach with the same relish that one would reserve for a plush animal or the wagging hind end of our pet Yorkie. With the forced retirement of many of our past activities, let's just say my abdominal area had definitely embraced the nightly Netflix and snack regimen. Emboldened by my recent vaccinations and a desire fit into my shorts as warmer weather returns, regular gym trips have become part of our new normal.
Which brings me to last Friday. We roll in at about 8 o'clock in the evening. The gym is open 24 hours, so we can go any time that suits us. The sign says masks are not required for aerobic exercise, so I head for one of the program bikes. My wife heads to the back to use the equipment there. Already on one of the bikes is one of the regulars, a trim, clean-cut young man of around 35 years old. He favors hooded sweatshirts while he works out. I don't know his name, but we are nodding acquaintances. I call him "Snapper" for his past penchant for popping his chewing gum at a sound level that would make Manowar (Google it) envious. Today, he's got no gum, but the cell phone is loud. He is explaining to a friend how he made $10,000 dollars in some investments. I tune the Hemingway documentary out and eavesdrop. But all Snapper says is to repeatedly keep shouting "Yeah" and soon Ernest pulls me back in. No easy money for me tonight. Time to move on.
I pass Mathew, another regular, by the arm press machine, where he is holding forth on the latest crime statistics in the area to an attentive young woman. A city policeman in his 30s, he seems always to be in the gym making his impressive physic even more impressive. Any sensational crime in the area, he is my go-to guy for all the lurid details. But it's Friday night, and I'm beginning to see that light at the end of the tunnel. I nod my head at him and move to the Smith machine.
A young woman dressed in leopard-skin tights, a semi-matching chemise and gold flip flops is half-heartedly doing some bicep curls while her companion, who is dressed in normal gym clothes, does leg presses. They both seem a little drunk but otherwise pretty happy. I like her style. I start to get some distant Friday memories of movies, dinner out, drinks with friends in my mind.
Finishing up, I rendezvous with my wife at the water cooler. I tell her about missing out on $10,000 and encourage her to buy some leopard-skin gym pants. She recounts that while she was on the treadmill, a skinny blonde woman wearing sun glasses, was on the one beside her, vaping away, possibly cherry flavor, as she worked out. We almost had a party.
No, it's still not like an evening at George's Majestic Lounge, but you know what? We're getting closer.