I don't hate going to the gym because I don't like exercise, I don't like to go because there are people watching me! There is something very vulnerable about walking up to a new machine and trying to figure it out while sweaty men wander around flexing their muscles. The women don't bother me, I feel a sort of kinship with them. Most of them. Not the ones that look like they have been sculpted from marble and never birthed any children. Those I try to avoid.
My husband looks at me kind of strange when I tell him why I hate the gym.
Nobody is watching you, he assures me.
Really? But I watch everyone. Like that guy over there that every few minutes whips his towel in the air with one hand to quickly wrap it around his palm so he can wipe the sweat from his face. He must have grown up lassoing cows on his family's ranch. His parents sold the land to a developer to retire to Tahiti leaving their son to find a boring job sitting in an office. He no longer gets his exercise on the range so he must come to the gym during lunchtime to stay in shape. The towel roping is his only reminder of what used to be.
Husband shakes his head. Where do you come up with this stuff? No one is watching you.
Really, because everyone here has a story. Like that 80 year old man over there on the weight machine. See how he is working the circuit. He does a machine for a few reps, then stops and rests. Then does a few more. He spends about 10 minutes on each machine then slowly moves to the next and sits for 5 more minutes before beginning the new one.
And why is that? My husband looks at me skeptically.
Because he is a widow and lives by himself. His wife had a long battle with cancer and he spent nearly every penny of their retirement savings paying for her medical treatment. In desperation he made some risky investments and when the stock market crashed he was left with very little.
So he comes to the gym to drown his sorrows?
No, no. Because this is the hottest time of day. He can't afford to run the AC during the day, so he comes here. It is air conditioned and he can stay cool. Oh, and his shower is broken too. Don't ask, that's another sad story. So when he is done in here he goes to the showers in the locker room. Then he heads home in the late afternoon when his house will begin to cool off. But not before stopping by the grocery for a free cup of coffee that seniors get and to check out the samples for a little snack.
It's a wonder you even have time to worry if people are watching you? I promise people are not watching you!
Your wrong. See that guy in the very back corner on the treadmill?
He's a writer.
How do you know?
Because he has positioned himself in a place where he can see everyone in this gym. He's not walking very fast and looks more bookey then bulky.
I don't think bookey, in that sense, is a word?
Whatever. He is a writer and right now he is trying to figure out our story. It's probably along the lines of Beauty and the Beast...
People watching, it's what we writers do. Where is your favorite place to people watch?