Chasing Treadmills

I go to the gym. Why I go, let me qualify that. I go to the gym to relax, because I’m always stoned. I need something to counteract it. If you’re a smoker, you have to be careful because getting the blood moving elevates your high. If you had just one bong rip one hour before arriving, after a rigorous workout, it’s like you ate ten magic brownies in the Jacuzzi (the hot tub). It can get intense. I’ve had religious experience in there. My legs were numb after squats high as a kite on weed, spacing out with red eyes at the tile wall in the hot tub. The square tile criss crossing there and what started emerging was a crucifix, and then Jesus’ face appeared centered therein. I sank in to the saline bath and emerged baptized.

There is definitely a cliché that the gym is a good place to meet women. But I think you’re more likely to get laid at a Cinnabon. They want space and they know they’re a cut above the others that aren’t in there. So I do a lot of creepy leering instead. I use it as motivation. What I do is—it’s like a carrot rope–I find the prettiest girl on the treadmill and conveniently choose the elliptical behind her. As she picks up her pace so do I, because I’m chasing her. I would like to catch up, but it’s not going to happen, because you never actually meet anybody at the gym. It’s chasing treadmills and that’s all.

There are two types of men: those who use the sauna nude and those who wear shorts. But there is just one rule in there: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And the manner of acting: keep the eyes forward; don’t go snooping someone’s ass out when anyone gets off that bench. Keep your eyes forward or on the floor. It’s the same way in the locker room. You can sense that some people are worried about being spotted. You can tell by the way they whip their underwear up before removing the towel. I bet they have shaven genitals. Is that insecurity or homophobia?

As a kid at the YMCA, I had no concern about nudity, but I stared in awe of these wrinkly men with dangling junk, hairy and malformed. It was amazing. It didn’t even occur to me that someday I would look like that. But I did know that my Mother wasn’t allowed. Yet, I was allowed in there, with my Mother. And I was amazed at the malformed flapjacks of these old ladies. That reminds me of my first attraction to women. I stepped out of the men’s locker, age six years old, and suddenly locked eyes with this girl of the same age, and she had the bluest beautiful eyes I had ever seen. So I ran immediately back to the locker room where she couldn’t find me. And I think that has been my response with infinite variations ever since. That is insecurity.

As a kid, no knowledge about it, but as an adult, I definitely have had to work through a touch of homophobia. And the reason for that is conditioning. In high school, after Gym, we all went to our next class sweating. Nobody used the shower. The teacher however talked about slip and slide on the shower tiles, with the other boys. But I realized the difference between his generation: we were in the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Clinton years. We knew the gays were present and watching us. If you think I’m on one side or the other, let me help you demonstrate where you stand.

Carrying the torch of conditioned homophobia, there I was, pulling down my shorts and wondering, “Who’s looking at my gluteals?” Because of course they have to look at my ass, because that’s what they do. And to prove it, the only guy comfortable and nude in here is the fat, unshapely one whose ass looks like a bowl of cottage cheese with hair on it. Who would look at him? But then I notice that I’m obsessed, breaking the eyes forward rule, looking everywhere. “Whose ass is it, anyway? Everyone’s looking at everyone.” So then I’m strutting my way to the shower. Soon I would have a revelation.

“Look at this guy: he isn’t bashful. Nope. He’s secure and he’s an athlete. He’s got an apple bottom there, a pear shaped ass, like two ripe cherries butted against each other. I’m aspiring to that. That’s it; he’s got an ass I can get behind.”




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