I finally did get that workout in last night.
I came home from the office around 5:15pm, and planned on heading straight to the gym after I grabbed a quick snack. Rhonda beat me home (which rarely happens because her cells are like little children that need to be fed at all hours of the day). We had theater plans at 8pm. Live theater. Can’t beat that, and it’s rare on our budget and time frame. So when a parishioner gave me tickets to a rendition of The Nutcracker that he wrote, showcasing at the Chopin theater in the trendy Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago, I said “Let’s do this.” Or something like that. That’s not a direct quote.
In an interesting side-note, the Bucktown neighborhood hasn’t always been trendy. When I first moved to Chicago, back when I was young and full of dreams (2003), Bucktown was what we lovingly called “stabby.” As in, there was always a chance you could get stabbed there if you hung out there past a certain hour.
I’m happy to report that it’s much less stabby now, although we did see someone getting drunk behind a building and three people fighting over what I suspect was a 40 when we walked out of the theater.
So when I walked in, I threw down my stuff and headed straight to the fridge because I didn’t have much time. I typically don’t like working out with too much in my stomach because I have a tendency to puke. And although you’d think that a gym would be a pretty safe place to hurl, I’m convinced that the managers at my gym only know how to use a wet vac. It’s all I see them with. And I don’t want them to have to wet vac puke. It would work but, I mean, a wet vac smells like hot plastic as it is, and vomit and heat don’t mix. Let’s not chance it; it smells.
When I opened the fridge I saw what I desired: left over Christmas ham. Excellent. Two slices of that and a handful of peanuts, and I was ready go. Packed my bag, grabbed my shoes, and yelled “I’m leaving!” to the woman sitting in the corner.
“Hold on a sec,” she says coming over to me. A pre-lifting kiss. She’s so supportive, and my heart swells. Until she comes close.
“You smell like ham and peanuts,” she says, making a face that I thought only could be caused by indigestion. Romantic as the day is long. It’s really hot when your partner tells you that you smell like pork and nuts. It’s nice to hear that you don’t smell kosher.
I settled for a kiss on the cheek and left.
Shoulders and back today.
Apparently you can work your back. I have long imagined that my back was simply skin stretched over a fat pad, much like a killer whale but without a dorsal fin. But apparently there is muscle there. And groups of them. And as I worked them I realized that I did know them; we’d met before just weeks earlier when I was putting up Christmas lights. In my zealous love of Christmas, I decided to string them up in our front window. As I was precariously perched, extending my arms upward in an oblation to Christmas, securing lights, the footstool slipped out from under me as I was straddling the stool and the window ledge.
A scream. A twist. In the blink of a Christmas light I was transformed from a healthy 31 year old into a 90 year old.
It hurt like the dickens.
Uhm, I should also explain the scream was from me, not from Rhonda. She saw the whole thing happen and reacted like one might react to watching moths mating: grotesque interest, but not alarmed.
But this was my day to get those muscles back…into shape. Lateral pulls, bent rows, medicine ball sit-ups, shoulder presses. I did it all. But first I started just as my brother had taught me: with a cardio warm-up. And for some reason I thought that the stair-climber might be a good idea.
That machine is a machine of death. After only minute 2:30 I could see my pulse bulging out of my neck in my peripheral vision, bull frogging in what I can only imagine was an attractive mating call rivaled only by the pork and nuts aroma I was omitting. 5 minutes was plenty of time on that machine, and I gave it a small kick as I walked away, dripping with sweat.
Frankly, I would have felt perfectly fine walking back in the lockerroom then. I looked like I had been working out at the gym for hours, with the half-moon sweat mark on my grey shirt as a badge of honor. In reality it was a badge of shame. No one should sweat that much in 5 minutes. I blame genetics. And the stair-climber. And the jackhole who invented that machine.
I then started the weights, moving slowly from one group to another, making sure to alternate the muscle groups. My favorite lifting today happened during the dead lift. I can dead lift a lot. Do not fear if you ever pass out in front of me; I can lift you. I can’t carry you anywhere, but I’ll sure enough get you off the ground. But only in reps of 15. And I stop at 45, so you had better come to by then.
My worst? The shoulder press. Those things killed. And without Critter to push me I was in danger of either dropping them by the third set or skipping the third set altogether. In reality it wasn’t half as bad as the bench pressing on Tuesday. I muscled through.
See what I did there?
Eh-hem, anyway, in reality the worst thing happened back when I was relaxing my muscles in the lockerroom. Oh, and let me take this moment to say to the old guy drying his whole body with the air dryer: stop it.
That wasn’t it, though.
As I was sitting in the steam sauna relaxing with my ipod, two guys stepped in chatting. After a minute or two, one tapped me on the arm. Suspicious from the beginning.
“Can you turn down your music? We’re trying to talk.”
Oh, so I’ll turn down my music so I can hear you and your overly manscaped buddy babble on about how your girlfriend is not supportive of your new tattoo, and how your father is 54 and now living in a studio in Buena Park due to a midlife crisis gone wrong? As exciting as that conversation might seem to your over-sexed and under developed brain that is obviously jealous of your biceps in the size department, I’d rather listen to Simon and Garfunkel, thank you.
I mean, I can imagine you telling me to turn it down if I was flailing my arms to Aerosmith, synchronized with the drum beats in a way that made you concerned for your safety. But it was Simon and Garfunkel, for heaven’s sake! And I certainly never heard them write a song about tattoos or deadbeat dads. They sing about important things: herbs, MILFs, and architecture.
But I understand. It’s a public place. So lets make a deal. I’ll turn down my music, but then you can’t blow your nose into your hand anymore and fling it around like you’re Tinkerbell spreading pixy dust. How’s that deal sound, Bruno?
Luckily, I had to head out to make it to the theater on time. So I turned the music up as I left, leaving them to ponder just what Simon was doing with Julio down by the schoolyard. I had to get to the Nutcracker, because I’m cultured.
And that’s the lesson of the night, I guess. Culture. Go to the theater. It expands your mind and your cultural base. Stick to your goals even if you have some missteps. It shows you have culture.
And don’t blow snot rockets and expect people to do you favors. Especially when all you want to do is talk about your tattoos.
That’s not cultured.
The show, by the way, was great. Great writing, great acting, great nut-cracking. Well worth the stabby potential (which, in reality, is minimal…unless you’re a 40. A 40 in that neighborhood will get killed).