"Guess Which Old Guy Will Be There" - A Game
No matter what time of day – and I’ve gone first thing in the morning on a weekday, late at night on a weekend, smack dab in the middle of the day on a Sunday – one of the three Weird Old Guys is always there. Without fail. At first I was freaked out by their continual presence. Were they, in fact, ghostly apparitions that met some 45-lb. plate-induced fate and now haunted the gym of their demise? Or perhaps they were part of some secretive, undercover Gym Police, constantly keeping an eye on clientel, ready to pounce on anyone not returning weights to their proper racks, not using a towel, or dropping their weights on the floor (all of which are grounds for immediate dismissal from the club – the signs that everyone ignores say so!). But no, they are real, at least one is omnipresent and all are creepy.
Fine – they work out a lot. But Johnny, you query queerly, why are they “creepy?” Let me explain:
Each one has his particular quirks. We’ll start with the relative youngest of the bunch, Vaguely Arabic Guy in Blue. Why in blue? That’s due to the blue tank top he wears every single day to the gym. I’d love to give him the benefit of the doubt and imagine a huge walk-in closet filled with matching blue tank tops on wooden shirt hangers from door to wall, but somehow, I doubt this is the case. Vaguely Arabic Guy in Blue, or VAGIB, will be working on his legs while you are across the gym doing bench presses. Once VAGIB spots you, he will cease whatever exercise he’s doing and saunter over to whatever bench or machine is next to yours and sit.
You’ll have your headphones on, concentrate on whatever exercise you’re doing, block him out completely and there he will sit.
Finally, you’ll finish, get up, and in an obvious display of “oh my god, get the fuck away from me you freak”, go to the other side of the gym and begin another exercise.
VAGIB will follow you and half-heartedly begin working on whatever machine is near you. Oh, you’ve totally fooled me, dude. My bad. You weren’t stalking me, you were just on the same workout schedule.
I once thought VAGIB’s actions may have been coincidental, even though the pattern continued unabated for months, until I struck up a conversation with another gym member who pointed out VAGIB to me unprovoked, talking about VAGIB’s habit of following him around. We decided that VAGIB must have a shaved head fetish, since both this other member and myself are razor-shorn.
Eventually, VAGIB will give up and head to the steam room and showers. Not that I’ve been keeping track (but I totally have), VAGIB spends a minimum of 90 minutes in the mens’ locker-room post-workout. I’ve arrived at the gym at say, 6pm a number of times, spotted him lurking while locking up my gym bag, done 40 minutes of cardio, an hour of free weights and 15 minutes of stretching to end up back in the locker-room where VAGIB is still in the shower. He must be half-Atlantean. As in the underwater city, not the southern home of Outkast.
Weird Old Guy #2 is the Aging Bear who, bless his not-so-little ursine heart, spends over an hour on various cardio machines at least four times a week for the two years I’ve worked out at the gym, yet has never lost a pound. I can only imagine what happens at home, post-workout:
”Phew! That was intense! Good job, self! Now treat yourself to that box of King Dons and that tub of bacon grease in the fridge. You deserve it. But only after you finish those four McRibs!”
I have to give Aging Bear credit. He’s constantly in the gym, even when he has nothing to show for it. If that was me, I’d be about 700 lbs. by now, stuck on my bed, waiting for Richard Simmons and a group of paramedics to rescue me.
Weird Old Guy #3 is probably the most annoying, because he’s just so damn nice. He wants you to know how nice he is, too, by starting innocuous conversations with you, no matter if you have headphones on with the music cranked up, no matter if you are currently holding 245 lbs. above your head on the bench press. He wants to talk. To everyone, not just me.
He cuts a dashing figure, with his Barbie doll hair transplants resting above his skull, making everyone wonder if it’s a wig or -- nope, it’s transplants! -- his blue satin International Male Onion Skinz short shorts, and his white socks pulled up to his fifty-something knees. Now beware, he’ll lull you into a false sense of security as you figure he’s just a harmless guy looking to be nice by chatting up his fellow gym buddies. Don’t succumb to his charms. Once you respond, you will be trapped forever. I’ve seen him corner unsuspecting straight guys as he jammers endlessly about the weather, how hot it is in the gym, how cold it was last night, how warm it is where his mother lives, how cold it is where his ex lives. I’ve never heard someone talk about the weather for 72 hours straight before, but I may be exaggerating here.
Now, this may come off as unnecessarily mean or cruel, and I really don’t mean for it to. Like I said earlier, I’ve come to accept and love these three old codgers, even to the point of inventing a game of Guess Which Weird Old Guy Will Be There. Here’s how you play:
1. Drive to gym at any time, morning, noon or night.
2. Prior to entering, decide on which Old Guy to place your bet upon.
3. Place your bet on your mental roulette board.
4. Enter gym and see if you win. Double points if you bet on two and both are there.
5. And, oh shit, PUT YOUR HEADPHONES ON FOR GOD’S SAKE before one of them starts yapping!