An unexpected hiccup in my return to the gym

When you get to be my age, you’ve got to make some choices about your health. You could say something like, “Hey, 52 years is a good run, so I think I’m going to drink a few margaritas, eat some double-chili-cheeseburgers and then watch five straight games from this here recliner. Might squeeze in a nap, too. I’m done with exercising … forever.”

To which your supportive wife might respond, “Chris Johnson, that is the dumbest thing you’ve ever said, and, believe me, that’s one loooong list of dumb stuff that has come out of your mouth.”

My wife is all into working out and eating healthy “food” like weeds and tree bark, and she believes that I should try to emulate her health efforts so I can stay alive until my 401K swells and she can afford her own place and a new trophy husband instead of the participation trophy husband she has now. After being married to her for more than a decade now, I’ve learned that the secret to a happy marriage is for both parties to understand who the man of the house is and always do what she says. She wears the pants in the family. I wear the shorts and flip-flops.

Nowadays, though, I find myself wearing exercise shorts and sneakers at least five days a week when I am dragged to the gym in her quest to keep me, you know, alive and stuff.

Yes, after more than two years away from that place with the thumping music, grunting guys and prancing girls — as well as prancing guys and grunting girls — we are gym members again. We stayed away when Covid burst onto the scene like a bat out of a Wuhan wet market. But now that we’re vaccinated and have had Covid a time or two for funsies, we think we can survive being around a few folks. Although, I reserve the right to cancel our membership the first time I see someone walking funny on a treadmill as if they’re smuggling a flashlight between their butt cheeks. I’m not scared of catching Covid, but I still get a little nervous around stupid people.

I knew something would go awry at the gym before too long, and, sure enough, I ran into a huge problem one weekend evening. I was in my own world, furiously flailing around on an elliptical machine like Ace Ventura on acid and telling myself, “Gonna fly now!” while Bill Conti blasted the theme from “Rocky” in my earbuds that keep me from (1) having to talk to people and (2) having to hear that godawful gym music. All of the sudden, everything went dark. I looked around, and everyone was gone. Did I have a seizure? Did all the other folks get raptured? Even the guy working out in jeans??

Nope. While I was “gonna fly now,” they were announcing the gym was about to close. I had no idea it closed at 7 p.m. on a Saturday night. I’m married, dang it! I don’t have Saturday night fever! I yanked out my earbuds, ran into the locker room to grab my gym bag and headed out the door. My phone, however, stayed behind … on the elliptical machine. In my rush out the door, I totally forgot about it.

You would not believe the horrors of the next 12-plus hours: When I wanted to know the weather, I had to go outside and look at — um, what’s it called — oh yeah, the sky. I had no idea if I won that critical argument on Facebook, thereby convincing that guy who sat two rows away in 10th grade geometry to completely disavow his political persuasions. I didn’t know if my latest Tweet hurt Marjorie Taylor Greene’s feelings … or if she had feelings. I couldn’t even Wordle. Somewhere there were empty squares just waiting for a five-letter word. I bet it was “gnome.” No, probably “smurf.”

The next morning I returned to the gym as quickly as possible and, sure enough, found my phone still sitting on the elliptical machine, wondering where I’d been. I opened it with urgency. I hoped Bubba had seen my brilliant fact check on Facebook. Dang! Still immune to facts! I can’t believe he thinks these folks eat babies!

Oh well, they’re probably better than weeds and tree bark.

One Comment

  • Awesome stuff as always ! You have been brightening many mornings for me, and others, for years now.


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