Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Complete, pathetic failure: Now with a dash of humiliation!

7.x???TREADMILL(s)On and Off etc.

Not only did I fail to get up out of bed this morning, I also failed to complete my scheduled run in the gym tonight. But it wasn't for lack of trying.

I never seem to perform well when I am surrounded by people who are more attractive than me.

This probably dates back to junior high, where, one day in orchestra practice, (not exactly a supermodel convention in its own right) I was playing baritone horn (it's like a mini-tuba). Exiled to the top row of the band with the other low-brass heavyweights, I was reclining like it was Passover, a holiday where the lord, for some reason, instructs us Jew types to recline during dinner. Up on stage, while hitting a low note in some Mahler dirge, my chair slipped.

I fell four feet down off the back of the risers onto the hard, cold floor of the auditorium. The conductor, who was truthfully 85 years old at the time, got this look on his face. I thought he was going to die. Then he started laughing. For the first time ever. And so did the rest of the orchestra. Dorks. Laughing at me. No one even helped me up. I was pinned under my horn. Pity me.

Okay, so the gym tonight wasn't quite as bad as that, but it was comedy on a small scale.

There are two treadmills there I normally like to use. But they were taken up by a cute girl and a guy who had pecs bigger than my head. Seriously. It looked like he was hiding two porterhouse steaks in his shirt. I wasn't going to ask him to get off to make room for tubby. So I went over to the older treadmill -- the one that ran on steam power. The one that creaked like the violins in Psycho. The one without a drink holder.

But I was not yet daunted. I started slow, but quickly sped up to an 11-minute-mile pace. Soon, I was reaching for the water bottle I had stashed on the top of the handi-wipe dispenser next to me. I took a squirt. I put it back. But something was causing a seismic-type disturbance on the gym floor. (Okay, it was probably me on the treadmill.) The water bottle wavered, then fell. Luckily, a kindly man with a white beard picked it up and handed it back to me, so I could keep running. Who said there is no such thing as Santa Claus?

Not to be outfoxed by the handi-wipes again, I found a way to balance the bottle on the treadmill. Thud, thud, thud went my legs. Down the bottle went. But it didn't fall on the floor. It fell on the treadmill. It accellerated when it hit the belt. Gaining speed, it turned into a squirting plastic artillery shell, shooting across the gym floor into the next row of machines. Santa wasn't there to save me this time, so I pushed pause on the treadmill, and sheepishly stopped my run to retrieve the wayward squirt bottle. When I got back, I pushed pause again to resume my run.

But on this machine, pushing the pause button again actually turns the treadmill off. The screen went blank. And I, wearing headphones, dropped the F-bomb. Twice. Audibly. Everyone at the gym probably thinks I have Tourette's Syndrome. Maybe that's for the best.

Anyway, I retreated back to my normal mill with the drinkholder, since Mr. Porterhouse and his attractive friend were nowhere to be seen. I ran for three more miles or so, before getting a cramp in my gut, on the right side. It hurt a lot, like I imagined a punch from Mr. Porterhouse would have. I slowed down. No better. I walked. Better. I sped up. Cramp came back. I quit.

But I'll be back for more punishment. Probably as soon as tomorrow.

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