I don’t do well in gyms. They smell, and I hate the thought that someone didn’t wipe down the machine I’m about to use, but I’m also too lazy to wipe it down myself. Plus, these places are total germ factories.
It used to be that my biggest problems with gyms, though, were the change rooms. Call me prudish, but I’m not into looking at man-ass. And I’m definitely not into looking at ding-dong. But there they are, one after the other, ding-dongs flopping about, ding-dongs dripping wet, ding-dongs large and small, an Easter parade of ding-dongs where the only thing missing is the TV coverage. And weirder, I occasionally spot someone staring at MY ding-dong, and then the entire gym experience boils down to one simple, unanswerable question: do I look back?
But that’s nothing compared to what happened to me at the gym last week. I was minding my own business, bench pressing an astonishing 70 pounds, when I spotted a woman doing chin-ups on the bar in front of me. She caught my eye right away, mostly because of the rainbow-coloured very-tight one-piece she was wearing. But it was the way she was doing the chin-ups that was most amazing: she was doing them easily, as though she didn’t weigh a thing, as though that bar was insulting her with the suggestion that she couldn’t do chin-ups all day. And while I was a sodden mess of sweat and stink, she didn’t have a hint of perspiration on her.
I looked around. Others were having a glance, too, most of them out of the corner of their eyes, but some were a bit more obvious. One skinny twentysomething was literally drooling as he watched her.
I got off my machine and went to another one that gave me a better angle. Abdominal crunch. Never, ever have these abdominal muscles encountered this crunch thing, and they instantly expressed their anger that I would subject them to it. Up and down, over and over, everytime I came up, I had a look at the chin-up bar, where this woman was still going strong. I also started to cramp up, and after my astonishing sixth crunch, I was done. Panting hard, I leaned back and rested.
She was in front of me. There must have been almost six feet of her. This wasn’t just a woman you didn’t often see in the gym, it was the type of woman you didn’t see in your dreams.
“Like what you saw?”
“I’m sorry?” I said.
“You were staring. Did you like what you saw?”
“Um. Yes? I mean, yes. Absolutely. I did in fact like what I saw.”
“It takes a long time to get this good.”
“I bet. My name’s…”
“I don’t care. You owe me money. Twenty bucks. Go get it.”
“You were staring at me for almost fifteen minutes. So you owe me money. You owe me twenty dollars.”
The smile was gone. She leaned in. This woman was not kidding. I thought she was going to hit me, a proposition that horrified as much as it thrilled me. “I sold something, you bought it. Now we settle up. I’ll wait outside the guys’ change-room. You get the money. Let’s go.”
Ah shit, I thought. This is the fucking way a day at the gym goes: they’re all filled with varying levels of disappointment, differing versions of me not working hard enough or accomplishing enough, to be followed by the inevitable stop at the grocer’s on the way home to pick up some sweets that completely negate everything I just did. Rinse. Repeat. Ball your eyes out like a little dweeb. And now this, somehow the worst gym-related indignity of all: being shaken down by a woman who caught me staring at her. So what was I going to do?
What do you think?
“Okay,” I said, defeated. I got up. Immediately, my stomach seized. The extreme effort of those six abdominal crunches visited me with the ferocity of explosive diarrhea and the gut-wrenching pain of a kidney stone. “Ouch!” I cried, doubling over and hitting the ground.
“Oh get up,” she said, standing over me.
“I can’t! Help! Someone help!” I cried. I was in a fetal position, unable to unclench, my knees next to my throat, my privates scrunched up and screaming for release.
The scream did it. She bolted. The gym staff got to me eventually; they could only handle so much whimpering. It took three of them to turn me over, at which point a very large man began to massage my abs as he whispered into my ear that everything was going to be okay. He didn’t seem to mind the sweat one bit.
I half-expected to see that woman on the way to the change room. But she was gone. I put in a report at the front desk. No one had complained before. No one had heard of this scam. I figured everyone else just shut up and paid.
That was the end of my indignities at the gym that day. Well, at least until I got to the change room and very carefully went about undressing, lest I clench up my muscles again. It took twenty minutes for me to change out of my clothes and get ready for a shower. When I finally straightened up, there, in front of me, was the single largest ding-dong I had ever seen, a ding-dong of such size and perfect proportion that you could have imagined it being slung by a god; it was a ding-dong so incredible that it seemed to glow under the halogens. I swear I almost reached out to touch it, just to make sure it was real. Suddenly, I realized that the question wasn’t when or if you should look, but what the cut-off length and girth should be at which point you have no choice but to stare. Half-worried that someone was going to ask me for money again, I cupped my junk with a couple of fingers and made my way in shame to the shower.
I haven’t been back to the gym since.