The smell of bengay and bad perfume surrounded me and threaten to take me hostage to the constant stench upon walking into the womens locker room. I find myself longing for a gas mask and a blindfold as I glance around the unclothed masses as if I’ve been sentenced to death by senses. Still dressed in my work clothes, my heels catch in the plastic grated floor below laced with diamond shaped holes while grasping for a towel and I nearly face plant into the grey and blue marbled counter tops.
I find a corner near the lockers and benches to hide behind in my attempts to stay modest in the eyes that dart around the room like ping pong balls endlessly judging and drawing opinions in a coy mannerism. The convenience of having a full gym at work is met with the inconvenience of seeing your fellow co-workers stark naked. Two older asian women whom I do not know well, but have interacted with in meetings, blow into the room speaking quickly in what I assume to be chinese while peeling their damp towels from their sweat stricken bodies. Their waving their arms dramatically and shaking their fingers in one anothers faces. While it appears aggressive it feels more like they are telling a story to each other. I imagine their expressing irritation for the cashier at the grocery store, or maybe their husbands, or maybe their cashier husbands at a local quickie mart family owned. I decide either way that I feel sorry for whomever was on the other side of that angry wrinkled finger.
In true highschool locker room fashion I am slinking out of my clothes one by one in an impressive dance under my towel. The older asian women are eyeing me as if I’m wrestling in a straightjacket to break free and terrorize them once and for all. I am a terrible person, so I can’t help but desperately want to say “GODZILLA HAS RISEN” at the top of my lungs to satisfy their suspicions of insanity. I’m not sure which makes that thought worse, the fact that I assumed they were chinese and Godzilla is in fact terrorizing the Japanese or the fact that I wouldn’t have even known that if not for a quick google search after my successful departure from my toweled straight jacket. While I hold no stereotypes towards other nationalities, the unfiltered thoughts remain and I’m sure I’ll go straight to hell for my TV brainwashed mind.
Bending over to tie my shoe it becomes painfully obvious how close I am to the brown wrinkled asses of my colleagues and I decide to turn my head in an effort to avoid the unwelcomed view. Unfortunately, the direction I chose put me face to V-jay with the other asian woman. She’s shifting her weight from side to side causing her mid section to jiggle like jello mold and fruit. Her rubberband skin stretched arms are folded across her breast as if those were the most important body part to protect. She must have noticed my uneasy feeling at that moment because she uncrossed her arms placed them on her waist and smiled as if to say “what are you looking at?”. Her breast dropped with the force of gravity as if being summoned by a magnet in the ground. I smile back thinking “it’s cool, I wasn’t planning to eat for the next week anyway”. I grab my towel and nearly knock the women over jumping up from the bench and out the door with superman speed.
I set my sights on the last elliptical in the room and speed walk race the bleached blond 40 something in too tight spandex heading the same way. We both maintain a polite brisk pace and pretend not to notice each other, I win by a hair swinging my towel over the top while I say the obligatory “sorry, were you going to use this?” The bleached blond in too tight spandex forces a fake smile and walks away. “Ha, vicktory, I am younger and faster” I think to myself in a Fried Green Tomatoes catty tone. Although, admittedly, I am slightly worried she will punch me in the face saying “Ha, I am older and better insured” in her own Fried Green Tomatoes victory. I’m interrupted from my walk down movie memory lane when I hear a mouse squeak sound to my right. A younger girl sporting a long sleek shiny pony tail and legs to match smiles and says “excuse me”. Apparently, that pathetic little sound was a sneeze, I smile back and put my headphones on. Something about gangster rap motivates me to push hard in my work outs. I don’t know if it’s all the “bitches and Ho’s” that speak to my inner feminist and pushes me to run a little harder or if it’s my secret desire to be one.
Sleek shiny pony tail is picking up her speed and I make a promise to myself that I must stay on the elliptical longer than her in an effort to win some kind of unspoken bet. I cover the time and calories on the machine with my hand towel thinking somehow I will trick myself into ignoring how long I’ve been tortured on this contraption. Although, I try to avoid counting the minutes I end up counting the songs and calculate that each song will last about five minutes. Gangster rap song’s seem to drag out their introductions and closing statements as if in a court of law pleading their “Murder Was the Case That They Gave Me” cases. So, since the average song is three minutes, it’s logical to assume a gangster rap song would be around five minutes adding one minute for the extra long introduction and one for the closing remarks.
Three songs in and sleek shiny pony tale shows no signs of stopping. I calm myself reasoning that she was there slightly before me and therefore will have to stop slightly before me. I skip through the songs until I reach a particularly “bitches and ho’s” filled lyrical bliss masterpiece. Just then I feel sleek shiny pony tale glance in my direction and think “yes, I am still here, quit already you know you want to!”. I am proud of my stamina being that I am more of a girly girl than a athlete in all senses. I turn up the volume on my i-phone and pick up the speed hoping sleek shiny pony tale will do the same and tire herself out faster. Suddenly, I am torn from my rapid speed attempt to defeat sleek shiny pony tale when I feel a hard tap on my shoulder. I turn towards the tap, and am greeted by a hulk looking eighteen or nineteen year old italian refrigerator.
I am so stricken by his size that I don’t even bother removing my headphones to hear what he’s mouthing to me. I interrupt Dr. Dre to see what is so important. Upon removing my headphonesI notice that the outside gym music is very similar to my own, which I found odd since I work for a relatively conservative company but justify that it must be acceptable in a gym setting. The refrigerator opens his mouth again to repeat what I am assuming was his initial statement, “I like that song too” he grins. I am completely perplexed by this sudden attention and while I am trying to work it out in my mind I say “um, yea, it’s a good one” and then decide to return my headphones to their proper place thinking that was the end of it. The refrigerator continues to stand down wind so I remove them once again and he say’s “your headphones, they aren’t connected fully”. He leans over and pushes my head phones fully into their jack and it occurs to me that in fact gangster rap was not appropriate gym music to be playing and that I had been broadcasting my “bitches and ho’s” obsession to all of the doctors and scientist.
Thankfully, my face is already the color of a tomato at this point so my embarrassment is hidden under my sweat and already elevated heart rate. Sleek shiny pony tale giggles and finishes her work out, not for my benefit, but for the opportunity to walk by refrigerator in her pink spandex that she admittedly looked perfect in. I’ve always held the belief that spandex were a privilege, not a right and she was privileged. Whatever the reason, I still proclaimed victory staying on my machine while she strutted by. I continued for two more gangster rap length songs just for good measure and ended at around forty-five minutes. Exiting the elliptical my legs begin to wobble like unsteady bamboo trees swaying in the wind.
Sleek shiny pony tale is bouncing around refrigerator like a honry fruit fly just a few feet away and my only goal is to make it to the sanitizer wipes and back to clean my machine. I take a slow strut thinking if I keep wiping my face it’ll just look like I worked hard and I’m deflated. I reach the wipes and pull too hard sending a long wet strip of wipes into the air and dangling from my hand. Clipping them at the bottom I quickly bunch them into a ball and begin the long ten steps back to the machine. Upon completing the protocol gym wipe down, I’m greeted with the top of the steep stairs back down to the locker room hell. Briefly, I debate abandoning ship and leaving all my belongings to drown.
As I am tumbling through the air towards the bottom of the stairs, I decide that if I do not break my neck I could probably live with the last ten pounds I need to lose.