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Thursday, March 17, 2005

Weirdness Magnet

If I were to join the X-Men, my mutant power would be the ability to attract all sorts of weirdness and freaky people to me. Not exactly a useful power, but it seems to be something I’ve been cursed with. Strange, random shit seems to happen to me on a regular basis. And it’s not imagined. Friends that have known me for years have noticed this, too, often remarking “John, this shit always seems to happen to you.” None of us can figure out why, either.

I’m polite, I follow rules, I hold open doors for ladies, I smile and say “Hey” to strangers. Maybe that’s it. Maybe I look like an easy mark.

Take last night at the gym, for example. I grab a flat bench press, lay my nice, clean, freshly bleached towel down, put my weights on, and do my first set. I then get up, leaving my towel on the bench which is the universal gym sign for “Someone is using this bench,” and get a quick drink from the water fountain. When I walk back, I see a strange, Borat-ish Israeli or Paki type guy wearing a grey tank top, hideous gold chain and ‘70s style short shorts sit on my bench, look at my towel, give it a disgusted look, THEN SWEEP IT ONTO THE FLOOR. He then begins to Not Do Bench Presses, but faggy triceps dips, using the bench for support.

There are five empty benches next to this one.

There are not one, but two dip machines nearby.

This man is in his early 40s, about 5’9”, maybe 140 pounds. Maybe. His overly hairy shoulders and back are exposed by his gross tank top. He carries no workout towel with him. He sees me out of the corner of his eye in the mirror as he takes his time finishing his grand total of 14 dips. I stand patiently, waiting for him to finish. As he does, he stands up, walks over to me and actually gets in my face.

“Just because you leaf towel, does not make YOURS!” he yells in my face. The entire weight room freezes and looks on.

There are five empty benches next to this one.

There are not one, but two dip machines nearby.

Everyone in the weight room is watching this strangeness play out. Me, I’m used to it. Like I said earlier, I’m a Weirdness Magnet. This is my mutant power. Freaks are drawn to me, always confronting me for some imagined slight, yelling random shit on the street, taking weight benches from me, that sort of thing. I calmly explain to Borat that actually, it’s proper gym etiquette to assume when a towel is left on a piece of equipment, someone is in the midst of using said equipment. If he would like to work in, I’m more than happy to let him in between my sets, although, there were, say it with me, five empty benches next to this one.

Borat’s eyes blaze. “YOU WANT TAKE OUTSIDE??”

With this line, two guys using the cable pulldowns began laughing out loud. Borat doesn’t like that.

“What so funnee?”

“Dude, have you seen yourself? Look at you, then look at him. I wouldn’t be getting in his face.” Awww, how sweet, I thought to myself. They think I’m big!

At this point, Borat is finally humiliated enough to walk away and go to the triceps pulldown machine, where he can continue working on his angel hair pasta-like arms. I sit back down on my bench, replace my towel, turn my headphones back up and do my second set. When I sit back up, I’m greeted by Borat’s eyes from across the room boring a hole thru my skull. His gaze is so evil, psychotic and hate-filled I have no other option but to begin laughing out loud.

Uh, oh. Borat didn’t like that, either. He trudges back over to my bench and begins yelling something, gesticulating wildly as he does so. Everyone’s watching us again, but I don’t hear a thing because I’m too busy listening to the Brothers Johnson “Strawberry Letter 23” in my headphones. I say, “Dude, I can’t hear you. I’m wearing headphones.” This doesn’t stop him. He’s still saying something, who knows what.

Now, at this point, Old John would have gotten up pushed him away, took the bait, etc. Current John is older, smarter and more in control. Basically, Current John does the exact opposite of what Old John would do, much like George Costanza in that classic “Seinfeld” episode where everything goes right for him when he begins fighting his first instincts. Current John gets up, walks to the front desk and explains the situation to the gym manager.

The manager and I walk back to the weight room. As we approach, Borat sees us, walks to the rear emergency exit door, kicks it open and runs out into the night, leaving a wailing, beeping fire alarm in his wake.

Actually, Borat helped me out a bit. I’ve been trying to get back to where I was workout-wise since my layoff after the mugging back in November, and the adrenaline our little tiff caused helped me match my weight and rep counts for the first time since then. Yay, Borat!

Weirdness magnet. Can’t wait to go tonight!

Fine Folks

"...and by hubris, I mean overweening pride!" - Johnny's Greatest Hits

25 Year Loop
Fucking Woof
David Live
The Night Before
Jobriath Was First
She's in Parties
She's in Parties Pt. 2
Tales From the Dragon Club
Tales From the Dragon Club Pt. 2
Okay, California...You Win
How to Sell Used CDs

Previously on "Johnny Is a Man"...

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