Mortal sin.

17 Mar

There’s a guy who works out at my gym at exactly the same time I do, every day. I would say that he might always be there, but he always arrives after I do and leaves before me. And the similarity ends right there.

His body is at the peak of its perfection, while I spend two hours desperately trying to tick back the ravages of time. He seems to have stepped out of Eden, the most toxic thing to have crossed the threshold of his pristine lips the apple. Caramel-complected and shiny, he is the type of fellow who wears layers to the gym, Abercrombie this and Hollister that, various revelatory form fitting t-shirts and tank tops that he will dispense with one-by-one over the course of his work-out. And when I say work-out, I mean preen, as I never see him accomplish anything other than an occasional hover around an impossible stack of weights. Most of his time is spent in front of mirrors or talking to those of his ilk.

I am not of the supra-humans that inhabit his world, the genetically gifted who effortlessly toss off a set or two of nearly nothing and whose bodies respond exponentially. I’ve nodded an acquiescent “Hello” to him for years, but he’s never responded. He’ll talk instead and at length to the other magazine males whose ripped biceps and triceps could easily slice me in two like a hot knife through my buttered belly.

I simply do not understand it, as I heave and pray for death on the treadmill, as my spindly arms nearly snap from their sockets on the shoulder raise. My work-out is a bloody and painful affair and I’ve little to show for it except for a few more wrinkles where my beleaguered face took the brunt of this herculean effort. I’ll grant that my taste for Kit Kat bars and Pepperidge Farm Nantucket Double Chunk Chocolate Chip Cookies are not in my best interest, and it is a pity and a crime mayonnaise was ever invented. But I try.

He doesn’t. He doesn’t even try and in the litany of life’s cruelties, this rose to the top of my list today. It is St. Patrick’s Day in NYC. And I haven’t had a drink in years. Just getting to the gym involved an obstacle course of the most obnoxious, sloppy, drunken douche-bags to thwart my destination since New Years’ Eve, only to arrive and grunt and groan and gripe in the shadow of a surly supermodel.

While on the incline press, I noticed this moron, in the early stages of his striptease, had tossed his hoody and his wallet off into the corner. I nearly tripped over his clothing twice. The third time, I hit my head on the machine. Not one to leave things worse than I found them, I gently picked up the garment, folded it neatly, and set it aside out of harms way and continued with the passion of my agony. I never touched the wallet. A little while later, his girlfriend arrived. She flung herself at him as though he were magnetized, as though they were in a motel room in the Poconos built specifically for these magic moments. It was time for him to leave, according to her, and he turned and picked up his hoody.

“Who folded my sweatshirt?” I heard him say to her. I was about to confess, to humbly receive his gratitude, to forge our new friendship, to ascend the heights of Olympus, when he continued, “Motherfucker.”

I kept my trap shut.

And watched as they left, duly noting, as I knew he would, that he forgot his wallet. After ten minutes, I went over to it, picked it up and rifled through it. It was stuffed with cash and credit cards. “How angry she’ll be to have to pay for tonight’s fling,” I thought and happily, too. Then, for the briefest of moments, the smallest second, I thought of pocketing the whole thing.

The stench of vomit outside, the mcruckus of Irish laughter, the life I left behind, took hold of my heart, however, and I heard myself say, “This is not who you are anymore.” Progress, I thought, slow and painful, like the past two hours. Stay the course and who knows what other emerald miracles may turn my weary world around: I am no longer the person who will steal your wallet.

But I will think about it.


6 Responses to “Mortal sin.”

  1. Andrew Bellware (@abellware) March 18, 2012 at 11:20 am #

    You are brilliant.

  2. Andrew Bellware (@abellware) March 18, 2012 at 11:20 am #

    Brilliant, I say.

    • Necessarily Cruel Coot March 18, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

      I had good teachers. @abellware was one of them.

  3. Joe Pineda March 19, 2012 at 2:17 am #

    I used to go to this weightlifting gym myself, and I even once got in a fight with these studly Olympian douchebags you describe. The whole thing started because he was shouting and whistling at me while I was bench-pressing, you know, like I was a fucking dog or something. So I swung at his nose and the guy curled into a ball. I think he was just scared of being hurt.

    Anyways, later on I heard he was kicked out, since it wasn’t the first time he started shit. Nice!

    Personally, I never really cared about those types as long as they didn’t get in the way of my work out. Most of them were actually kinda nice! In my opinion, the ones who sweat up a flood and forget to wipe the benches are much worse and should go to hell.

    • NC Coot March 19, 2012 at 10:35 am #

      You’re a braver man than I, Joe.

      And yes, the un-wipers need to be wiped off the planet of gymnasiums!

  4. Dugutigui March 24, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

    With the inevitable distance among us in the writing field, and this piece of yours is masterly, I have my own vision of the gym, of which I would like your honest opinion…

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