A True Show of Strength

This morning at the gym, one of the trainers who irks me the most — a guy whose body looks like a “before” picture but who struts around as if he were the embodiment of all that is hunky and desirable — irked me more than usual. His mere physical presence is enough to annoy me, and on the occasions when he has made his presence known by opening his mouth to speak to someone else, he has annoyed me even more. However, nothing quite compares to the astounding level of annoyance that he manages to achieve when he speaks directly to me.
Today was one such occasion, and he did not disappoint me. Today was his crowning achievement. He finally annoyed me to such a degree that I found myself muttering aloud for the next hour and a half of my workout. In fact, I’m still muttering about it now, and I’ve been home for almost four and a half hours.
I was on the leg press. Doing my leg press thing. My “thing” does not require me to load up the leg press with anything more than a 45-pound plate on either side. I do not believe that “more is better”. (Don’t worry, though. I won’t get into my workout “philosophy” here, because it’s kind of important to me that my readers be awake when they read my stuff.)
Anyway, I was on the leg press, and this trainer whom I’ll just call Jack (which, yes, is indeed short for Jackass or Jackshit or Jackoff) thought it would be cute if he said to one guy at the whom I actually like (we’ll call him Fred, which is his real name), “Hey, let’s load her up with some weight!!!” and then pretend to go toward the weights to add some onto the press. I think I made the “Hardee har har, Potsie” face, and said, “Oh god, that is SO not what it’s all about for me,” and went about doing my “thing”.
I like to concentrate. I like to focus. I like to take my time and make sure I have proper alignment and form. But it’s pretty hard to do all that when someone named Jack is to your left, in a “rack”, groaning as if he’s been constipated since 1972 and today is the day he’s finally going to rectify the situation. It’s hard to do when Jack is struggling to lift so much weight that he looks as if he’s going to simultaneously suffer a double hernia, stroke, aneurysm, spleen failure, torn ligaments, and a myocardial infarction. Quite a sumptuous buffet for the so-called “buff”. (Except he’s not. But I’m not even going to get started on his body. No. At least not today.)
Trust me when I tell you that I tried to ignore him. Trust me when I tell you that I tried to shut him out of my peripheral vision, even though he and his struggle and his sweat and his orange T-shirt (short sleeves rolled up to expose biceps that are no competition for mine) invaded it. Trust me. Know that ordinarily I wouldn’t even look his way. But for some reason, today I just could not resist. I had to look directly at him. He, of course, took this as an invitation to engage me in conversation. But I beat him to it. Yes, kids, you heard it here: I spoke first.
“Oooooh, big man and his weights!” I said, or something similarly disparaging. “Big man and his struggle with the big weights!”
The sweat dripped from his soaked face. That soaked face screwed itself up in a show of agony of which I think he was unaware, and clouded over when he realized that I was not speaking to him out of admiration for his feat of strength. I daresay he looked quite pissed.
You see, he thinks I like him. He likes to talk to me. He likes to occasionally talk to me about his son and his wife and his house in Brooklyn. He likes to use Yiddish terms with me, and he likes to let me know that he knows Hebrew too. He likes me knowing that he, too, is Jewish! (Imagine that. Two Jews in New York City! Who knew?)
It wasn’t always this way. I used to actively ignore him, for a multitude of reasons, the least of which was his obvious interest in me and the resultant involuntary engaging of my gag reflex upon realizing that he was probably imagining me doing my workout stuff in the nude. But one day he finally broke the ice and addressed me as “Super Slow Girl” in an attempt to talk to me about my approach (for the so-called record, I do everything almost excruciatingly slowly, on purpose).
“It’s not about momentum,” I had said dismissively. “It’s all about control.”
And he took that, ran with it, passed the baton to himself, and ran around like he was given the Olympic torch. He prattled on about workout methods, none of which interested me, most of which I cannot remember, and all of which would put even the most devout workout freak to sleep almost immediately.
Since that one time, we exchanged a few pleasantries, but until this morning I hadn’t spoken to him in quite a long time. So I thought it was only right that today, given his ridiculous display, I would break the silence by indirectly commenting on his poor form and directly addressing his need to show off. I don’t remember the details of our exchange, but it dealt extensively with numbers documenting how much he can bench press, how much he can lift, how many sets he can do, and how huge his penis is. (OK, well, the last one was tacit.) (I said tacit, not flaccid. Oh, you kids these days and your filthy one-track minds!)
“So basically,” I said with my patented eyebrow raise and smirk combo, “it’s all really a pissing contest.” (This is the first time I have ever used that odious phrase. It will most definitely be the last. In fact, I cringed internally upon hearing it spill from my lips.) He at least had the balls to laughingly and wholeheartedly admit it.
I was all right with leaving it at that. I even laughed a little to show him that I was “cool” with it (even though I still considered him to be a supreme jackass). I thought it would end there. But no.
No. The bombastic bastard had to go and tell me about how he inflicts this same sort of torture on his son. His nine-year-old son. His son who must be outside when his dad comes home. Outside and ready to do something sporty, no matter what. Ready, willing, and able, lest he suffer his dad’s considerable wrath. He bragged to me about how his son trains with sandbags, medicine balls, and all other manner of weighted paraphernalia, including a weighted sled that the son pulls like a Siberian Husky across the frozen tundra of Brooklyn.
I don’t know how I finally managed to get away from him, but that’s not important. I’m just overjoyed that I managed to escape without completely letting loose on him, which was becoming more and more of a possibility with each syllable that slid from between his sweat-soaked lips. Talk about a true show of strength.
I wanted to point that out to him as I walked away, but knew that in trying to defeat him, I would have defeated my own purpose.
P.S. One thrilling detail that I do remember is this: Jack can do “x” number of pull-ups with a 90-pound weight dangling between his legs. Ahhh, talk about weakening my resolve! (Alas, I remained strong.)