Saturday, May 13, 2017


My life is now a tug-of-war, between my creaky old body and my obnoxious conscience! Unfortunately, my conscience is starting to win.

As I awaken in the morning, I debate whether to get up or not, do I move from my spot in bed that took me so long to perfect, the temperature and resting under the blankets a perfect blend of bliss and comfort? Facing me is my gym gear, waiting for me to don and go off to the gym, where I will sweat and gasp for at least 30 minutes, swearing I am coming down with a heart attack! I don't want to get out of bed, I don't want to go to the gym and see all those young bodies, exercising, working out, lifting weights, striding on the treadmill, annoying me to no end.

I decide to see if there is any pain I can't determine the origin of, if some issue has developed overnight that precludes my attendance at the hall of horrors I call the gym, any excuse to rid me of my obligations to the torture of being in the gym.

Gingerly I throw my legs over the side of the bed, and pause, waiting for the pains to kick in. This is a signal to me that I am still alive, that aches and pains lie ahead. I don't want to move, but I have to. I dress in my gym clothes and avoid the shower since I will work out and return home to the shower. I take my morning meds with orange juice and my first cup of coffee. The pains remind me I am still alive, but why?

Then I make my move… I put my two feet down and place one foot in front of the other, moving toward my gear and then the front door. I salute the Little Woman and promise to return. Out I go toward my car. I think: "do I really want to do this?" But I don't hear myself, as the warning beep of the reverse gear screams through the morning dew: "YOU CRAZY BASTARD!"

I turn on my cellphone and as it lights up, I drive through the deserted streets at the ungodly hour of pre-dawn and run the two miles without catching a red light. Pulling into the parking the lot, every conceivable car and truck is parked. Every morning as I pass the large section of handicapped parking spaces that occupy the front of the gym, I wonder who needs a handicapped parking space who goes to the gym? By now my phone is on and I open up the gym app and get the scan bars up and proceed to open the heavy doors of the gym, where behind a counter stands a young woman. She is healthy looking alright and greets me with a smile and a ‘hello', boy this gym stuff is getting better.

Descending the steps of the gym I pass people with their workout for the day done and heading to the parking lot. I quietly plead that they take me with them, as I head for the locker room. Now the locker room is where friendships are made. You see the same people enough times and you get the nod first, then the tidbit of conversation that develops into something about being retired or what the Yankees did last night (I don't care) or the workout routine. (I don't care about that, either.)

Being a creature of habit, I choose the same locker every morning, this makes it friendly for me like it is a home away from sanity. There are some people that I have observed over the course of 2 ½ years that make it interesting. There is the math teacher, a nice guy who talks too much, the Mets fan who quietly goes through his routine and insists on saying hello, and there is the "Nightmare Cowboy" a dude who is a dud. He is muscle bound, wears sleeveless shirts to show it, a big stomach and wears a cowboy hat. This guy does not smile, seems to be angry and carries a large bottle of colored liquid. He is usually accompanied by a hit-man or at least someone who looks like a hit man. This guy has shaved his head and looks like Jonathan Banks (Better Call Saul) in the role of Mike Ehrmantraut. Wears a NY Yankees jacket in the winter mornings, but greets me with a hello every time I see him.
That's me, you can't tell because I'm wearing a hat!

The workout becomes something else. Now I close off my brain, tune out the surroundings and get to work, determined to do what needs to be done, usually 30 minutes on the cycle that takes me nowhere, where I have to cover up the little screen because if I don't, it becomes a very long thirty minutes!

It is halfway through this heroic workout that I start to feel the heart giving out, the lungs collapsed and a real need to stop. But I continue, and suddenly the workout is over. I get off the cycle and try to walk. There are others around me who I think are watching, as I slowly try to move once again, without looking pathetic like I feel. I climb those steps and as I do, someone is coming down them to start his or her workout and I think: "Poor bastard!"


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