The other night, while my boy was at work, I decided to tear myself away from my couch long enough to head to the gym. The jiggle in my walk was feeling a bit too acute for my liking; it was time to work my cellu-ass a bit before it really started to droop. At the gym, I ran right up to the third floor where all of the elliptical machines reside in two facing rows as far as the eye can see. This setup means I can either stare at a stranger’s sweat streaked face for an hour, or I can watch the small television on my elliptical. Most days I am able to snap in my ear buds, flip on the monitor and get to it while I watch something wonderfully trashy like E! True Hollywood Story: The Octo Mom Speaks or America’s Best Dance Crew (Oh my gosh, love it). In fact, sometimes my show of choice is so deliciously bad that I am actually embarrassed that people around me can see what I am watching. Keeping up with the Kardashians anyone? And I am fully aware that judgment is being passed on me, rightfully so.
But there are times that quarreling incestuous siblings on Sally, Jesse, Raphael do not hold my interest the way that they should. Such was the case the other night, so I gave up and muted the sound only to realize the man next to me had his iPod so loud that I could hear the strains of Beethoven’s 5th floating in my direction. As I stared at him using my peripherals (I am nothing if not discreet), he closed his eyes and began to wave his arms as though conducting his own private orchestra at Carnegie Hall. After a few minutes of this, his song switched to something much more contemporary –Livin On A Prayer, possibly? – at which point he progressed to various air instruments. The guitar. The piano. The drums. I do believe this was my first public viewing of the air piano, except one time on a family drive to Colorado and my dad broke out the dashboard-air-piano when the Doobie Brothers came on the radio. But that so does not count because dads are supposed to do things like that. And I am not ashamed to admit that at the time I thought it was THE COOLEST THING EVER, along with his blaze orange Zubaz.
Anyway, towards the end of the one-man jam session, my workout companion switched to a substantial air drumming set. Giving himself over to the moment, he reached to bang on the imagined symbol almost out of his reach and would have tangled his phalanges in my ponytail had I not ducked my head. Sensing that he had gone a smidgen over the top with his musical meanderings, he opened his eyes and caught me staring. Our eyes connected and I knew he realized that I had been watching him the entire time. Blast! Extremely mortified and face aflame, I tried to play it off by looking at the television straight ahead of me. Subtle, I know. Too late I realized that Grey’s Anatomy had come on and was showing a man on a stretcher with AN AXE sticking out of his chest. An axe. In his chest. On TV. Did I mention the blood pouring all over the floor? Immediately, the room started to spin and I was certain that I was about to vomit on the maestro. Because you see, I have a lifelong aversion to blood. In fact, I like to pretend that my body is fueled by pixie stix instead of blood.
I was about twelve years old the first time I realized that I could not tolerate the sight of blood. Not even a little bit. This knowledge was made clear when I happened to slice my foot on the metal grating of the heating vent on the floor of my childhood family room. Glancing down and seeing a small spurt of red oozing across my foot, I immediately fell to the floor clutching my maimed appendage in agony. Now, before you are overcome with sympathy for me over this horrible gash that left me with a bloody stump of a foot, I should admit that in reality it was not much more than a glorified paper cut. But it did draw a bit of blood. And as I squatted on the carpet clutching my poor foot the walls started to close in around me, there was a terrible ringing in my ears and I began to feel woozy. I toppled onto my back, staring up at the ceiling, while I waited for the sickly sheen of sweat to leave my face. This behavior promptly earned me an exasperated “oh, Anne Elizabeth!” from my mom (or “Elisbath” according to what the State of New York decided to put on my new driver’s license). Well, as the years have rolled on I have only grown more sensitive to the red river pumping through my veins. So you can imagine my distress when my eyes bounced from the maestro’s knowing glare to AN AXE STICKING OUT OF A MAN’S CHEST.
But thankfully before I fell off of my elliptical – which would only have incurred MORE BLOOD – I looked away. And as luck would have it, my eyeballs came to rest on yet another horror of sorts. This time instead of a musical maniac or a screen full of carnage, I saw the sweatiest, hairiest, BULKIEST WHITE THIGHS you can imagine. During my distracted minutes of covertly watching the music man next to me, one of the gym’s regulars had snuck onto the machine in front of me. And for whatever reason, he decided to hike his running shorts up to what I can only describe as The Speedo Position. Exposing hair, and sweat and miles and miles and miles of pasty thigh. Without shame. So at that point I decided to discontinue my workout because if my only choices are between losing an eye to the maestro, watching squirting blood in high definition or trying to avoid the THIGHS!, I will take the extra junk in my trunk any day of the week. Thank you very much.