Do not start with the congratulations and encouragement. It's condescending. I'm fat and tired of it. I go to the gym. Don't coddle me.
But people are not making it easy. Forget the agony of getting up at the ass crack of dreadful. Forget the drive to the gym, the aches and pains, the sweat. Forget all the parts of the actual exercise that are not enjoyable. (And do not give me that runner's high bullshit.) The other people at the gym are what make me want to slink back to bed with a donut and await my impending coronary.
Today at the gym, I'm on the elliptical, a TOTAL STRANGER walks by. He stops to say hello.
TS: Good morning!
TS: So, how much have you lost?
TS: Weight, how much have you lost?
Me: I don't know.
TS: Well, why not?
Me: I don't weigh.
TS: Then what's the point?
At this point, it is all I can do to not punch him in the neck. First, what fraking business is it of yours, STRANGE OLD MAN? But beyond that I want to shout: HEY ASSHOLE! WHAT MAKES YOU THINK I NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT?! ARE YOU CALLING ME FAT?! ARE YOU?!
Let me stop to say that I know I am fat. I get it. I also have no illusions that people don't make assumptions about me based on being fat. But guess what? That stunned stupid look in your eye tells me you're a moron, and I don't ask you how long it took you to figure out how to turn on the rowing machine. (For the record, almost 10 minutes. Hint, the rower is not electric).
The same week, while I was working out, someone talked to me for 30 minutes about how he hated technology, and used to be married to that florist, and had these two dogs named Buster and Bobo, and now he's here, thanks to jesus, and "gee, ain't it nice to have someone to talk to at the gym?". NO. No, it isn't nice. That's why I have my iPod and iPad. So I don't have to interact with you.
Then in the locker room, THE INNER SANCTUM, a woman began to tell me about how her husband died. A woman I didn't know was telling me, in great fraking detail, about the death of a man I never met as I sat wrapped in a towel putting on mascara. WTF.
I know I sound like the dick in all this. These poor people just needed someone to talk to. But why me? When then? I am already someplace I do not want to be doing something that makes me miserable. Make friends on your own time, jerks. Now I have to wear fake earphones so I can pretend to not hear them instead of being a total douche about it. The worst part is that being a total douche doesn't work either. Being distant or outright rude does NOT discourage them.
The problem is that we have broken the social contract. Especially in the South. There is an inferred sense of intimacy when we participate in similar activities. Going to the same gym does not make us friends. That's like forming a sorority for people who love Fruity Pebbles cereal. It's just pathetic.
I propose a restoration of basic gym rules. Rules that will make it easier for me to drag my fat ass out of bed and on to the treadmill. So here goes:
Rule 1. Leave me alone. You may greet me with a nod or soft "hi". But that is it.
Rule 2. NEVER discuss work with me at the gym. This is me time. I am in ill spirits already.
Rule 3. Do not mention my weight. Or my goals. Or how much my working out "really is paying off". Leave me alone.
Rule 4. If I am working out, leave me alone.
Rule 5. If I am in towel, leave me alone for REAL.
Exercise in a gym is a solitary activity. If you want it to be social, join a class or bring a friend. Otherwise, go join ineedfriends.com and leave me alone.