It felt like I could start blogging again in earnest. You know, like in the old days, when Gweenbrick was bursting with fun and surprises and we all threw our heads back in tremendous laughter as we read me.
After what seemed like an adequate amount of exercise, I stepped off the track to urinate, and when I lifted my arm to push open the bathroom door, a smell came to me. Oh my gosh, my B.O. smells just like marijuana. Weird.
That one thought detonated in my brain and everything else was gone. The manic rush of creativity evaporated. It was back to flatness; the sterile white square where my mind seems intent on living these days.
I slumped in a chair.
A grey haired man in a 'Wisconsin' sweatshirt began to walk the wrong way around the track. His khaki shorts were kind of high on the thigh for my tastes, but fortunately, his thick-ribbed white socks rose up to meet them.
He was lucky that Ms.Pam was not around; she would have been on him, tearing him to pieces.
When she gave me a tour of the fitness center, she could not stop pointing to the little sign that said on which days you were to walk the track in which direction.
Apparently, you have to switch it up, or it wears unevenly and people start running funny.
She just kept explaining it to me, with little jerks of her thumb and pivots of her heel.
"Just like on the sign!" she said again, with great satisfaction.
I made the mistake of stepping on to the track before she had finished diagramming the difference between clockwise and counter-clockwise in the air with one crooked finger.
She screamed, and her body seemed to dry heave angrily. I felt her talons sink into my forearm.
"You have to look," she hissed, and pointed two fingers to her eyes and then all around her, which was good because I did not know how to look and needed a wordless demonstration of what it consisted of.
Far down the track to my left, lazily coming around the bend, a seventy-year old woman was out for a walk, her fanny pack jostling with the slight oomph she was putting into her hips.
"There are other people using the track," Ms.Pam whispered.
The woman finally passed us. Ms.Pam took a breath and did an odd triple feint move towards the wide tan "Walk" path, almost like she was trying to trick parts of her body into getting on the track, maybe the parts that did not want to exercise.
With a "And.....GO!" we were off and walking.
It was like a long tracking shot in a movie: pan past a dark room full of professional types doing yoga; their bottoms skyward in the ever vulnerable Downward Dog.
Tilt to show the open basin of the first floor below us, with it's smattering of people on ellipticals and treadmills. I occasionally look down into that pit while I walk laps, but I try not to. It makes me dizzy and I smash into the railing. It happened one time and I made a "ooooh" type sound, and a woman below me looked up angrily. I think she thought I was staring down the crevasse of her sports bra, but really I was just winded and close to falling down.
Zoom in on the pool, where a matronly lady in a forties style swimsuit leads a Swing Dancin' in the Water class. She is really into it; sashaying gaily forward, little kicks, conservative bottom shimmy and then back again. Her students are a mash of wrinkles and shower caps. No one seems to be doing what the instructor is doing, but they are all smiling.
As we walked, Ms.Pam gave me a tour of the track ahead of us.
"Now it is going to veer slightly to the right, for like a quarter mile, until you end up back where you started. That will be one lap."
Poor, terrifyingly crazy Ms.Pam. It's like she can't help herself.
She told me to take a student, Luke, into the locker room and show him around.
The interesting thing about Luke is that he has alopecia everywhere except on the left side of his upper lip. He grows a half moustache pretty regularly. It's like he is saying a little "screw you" to the hand fate has dealt him.
I love everyone equally because I am that type of person, but if I were to pick one thing about Luke that I do not like, it's that he behaves like a frat boy.
In the mornings, when my unhappiness is usually at its first-half-of-the-day peak, Luke approaches me with arms held straight above his head, presses himself slowly and awkwardly up against my body, and shrieks "SHEST BUMP BRO! SHEST BUMP!" His eyes come up to my nipples.
Even this behavior would be forgivable, if it were all. However, during quiet intervals throughout the day, Luke will try to lay his head on my lap, rub my sore shoulders, or softly run the tip of one finger down the curves of my ear when I am not aware that he has come and stood next to me. I guess it's not just the frat boy parts that bother me, but the I think I'm in love with you parts as well.
When I clapped Luke on the back and began to take him into the changing room, Ms.Pam exploded.
She yanked me backwards like I was about to walk in front of a train.
"WHAT? Is there something scary in there?!?" I screamed at her, quietly.
Ms.Pam ignored me.
"Now listen, when you go in, you'll see some lockers on your left, and then showers on your right, turn at a 40 degree angle and you will discover....." She went on like this for some time, describing the exact layout of the locker room I was about to walk into and see for myself. The detail was excruciating, yet admirable in its accuracy.
Ten minutes passed, and finally she let Luke and I go in. A naked man was shaving at a sink, his massive tuft of grey pubic hair flush against its edge.
"Whoah", Luke said, in his loud, deep voice.
Though I just can't manage to hate Ms.Pam.
Really I have only ever hated two people in my life. One is Crayfish, the other was a young girl who looked like Alfred E. Newman wearing a long black wig.
I saw her at Autoworld in Flint, Michigan. Autoworld was an indoor amusement park designed to be a riotous celebration of the automotive industry.
You could watch a whole movie about the history of cars while sitting in a seat with a steering wheel attached. Sometimes the seat leaned to the left or tilted very slightly down, though the movements did not seem to correspond with anything going on in the film.
There was a human mannequin that looked like a Ken doll. Not much to do with him. You could stare for a super long time and try to catch him breathing, but it was kind of a hollow victory. HA! I knew you were human! Had to breathe sometime, didn't ya? And me, I just bided my time....and then...BREATH! Ha ha ha.....wheeee god I love Autoworld...
I think there might have been balloons.
And the highlight of the place, an indoor Ferris Wheel. You could ride it over and over again because no one else was even remotely interested. At the top, there was a beautiful view of the ceiling lights. They were pretty big.
I encountered the girl I hated in the bumper cars. Even though they were slow and lacked satisfying impact, like punching someone in a dream, there was something to be said for being able to drive your own car and hit people with it. I kept smashing my vehicle into hers and thinking, I don't like you.
Knowing how stupid and mixed up little kids are, probably what I was really feeling was I like you, you look like the Mad Magazines I am not allowed to read, therefore you are forbidden fruit and if I cannot have you I will kill you with my slow moving, thickly padded car on a stick. Do you like CHiPS? God if I had Ponch's hair and his easy way with the ladies you would be mine WHAM WHAM
And with each bump of our cars, she slipped further from me.
I don't know why I remember her so clearly. Maybe I don't. Maybe it is a false memory.
Maybe I have actually hated lots of people, but I doubt it. Overall, I am pretty incredible and most of my flaws are thinly disguised strengths. This comes in extremely handy when applying for jobs.
Of course I am just kidding; I am a terrible person.
Speaking of that, several wonderful readers have suggested to me recently that I should write a book.
First let me say, these emails and messages I have recieved from actual live people have made my day, my week, my month. I cannot over-emphasize how flattered I am. Every time I get one, I read and re-read it, thinking, are they actually talking about me????
So thank you.
Secondly, I will probably never write a book because I am at the ruthless mercy of my changing emotional health. Everything keeps deflating on me.
I don't want to be a Debbie Downer though.
My main hope with this blog is to make you laugh, at least once per post, and I feel like if I do that, then things are OK.
Just ask my wife: when I finish a post, I hover around her nervously, waiting for the laughs. It's a lot of pressure on me. If she does not laugh at all, I throw the computer at the neighbors' dog and don't come down from the roof till sunrise. Because I am a disgusting aged baby with little marshmallow feelings and enough oversensitivity to make a Care Bear blush.
If she does laugh, though, then, after we analyze what parts she laughed at and why, usually in a three-part moderated discussion, I sit back, hit the 'Publish' button and obsessively refresh the "Stats" page, waiting for the little numbers to rise.