You may think in this post I’m going to reveal the nickname that I have kept buried for 20some years. You’re wrong; that name follows me to the grave…except for those of you who already know it, in which case I’m shit-outta-luck or currently plotting my revenge should you reveal it.
Instead I plan to follow up my last post about the way we tell stories with friends with a “The Way I Tell Stories with Friends.” The best method by which I figure to do this is to tell you a story…one that happens to involve a nickname.
My gym, called BOOM, I guess because of the high-impact and high-intensity of the classes was my haven in New York for a year. The word filled an orange circle in neon green or white lettering with an ! meant to show just how much of an impact this gym could have on your life. Trainers often stood outside the glass door entrance soliciting people to give it a try and get a free work-out with one of them. As often as they shouted this, they would mumble comments out of the sides of their mouths when they were ignored. Ones like, “you should use it so you can lose it” and “come on girlfriend, it’s almost Thanksgiving…you know you don’t need another pumpkin pie,” laughing at their own wit. I joined before I noticed these “encouragers,” otherwise I probably would have passed.
When I worked out there, I stuck mainly to the cardio room, running on the treadmills and ellipticals. Typically, I plugged into my playlist and out of the world around me.
One night after work, I walked to the gym, changed, filled my water bottle, and looked around for the next available machine.
The only one open was a squeaky elliptical positioned precariously between a nicer elliptical and a treadmill, both of which were getting a workout from the people pounding on them. The guy on the treadmill caught my attention. A few years older than I am, he had an 80’s sweatband around his head and was rocking to whatever ‘jams’ were on his ipod. I stepped on my machine and began my workout.
Lost in girl-pop and tunes by Journey, I toned out all the other New Yorkers sweating to their oldies, Friends episode, or ESPN countdown. But the guy on the treadmill kept catching my attention. He bumped up his speed, digging hard into the revolving band. He pushed it up again and as he did, he yelled out “Go Go, COME ON.” I almost fell off the elliptical. I turned to him, but his eyes were closed and his shaggy hair flopped back and forth to whatever rhythm the beat of his music set.
I looked around and other people were watching this guy, who was totally unaware and absorbed in his regimen. Their mouths quirked and we cocked our heads and the interruption before going back to our workouts.
About three minutes later, the speed on the guys treadmill revved up again. His arms pumped faster, and he yelled “OH GO GO YEAH YEAH.” And again, I completely lost my balance. I frowned at the disturber. Looking down the row of machines, I found a different one at the far end. I snatched it, glancing back to see he was finally getting off, dripping sweat and confidence at his running capabilities. Not bothering to towel off his machine, he walked right by the paper towels and into the Men’s Locker room.
Now not only had he disrupted mine and several others’ workouts, he also failed to clean the machine he rained sweat on for the past 50 minutes.
Disgusted, I finished my time out and gathered my stuff to leave, deliberately cleaning my machine as if to make up for his slobbery. As I headed to the subway, I called my friend in desperate need for someone to commiserate with my experience.
“So, tonight at the gym there was this guy,” I began, “and as he worked out, he’d just shout out all of the sudden, really loudly and randomly…” I demonstrated and a few people glanced at me as they passed by. “It was like he had exercise tourette’s …and everyone stared at him as he’d shout out. Exercise Tourettes kept this up for my entire workout. Do you know how hard it is to focus on a machine I’m already pretty unstable on when someone is shouting next to you? Damn near f-ing impossible…”
She laughed on the other end of the phone as I retold my story, slightly exaggerated of course, but that was the fun of telling it. Exercise Tourettes became one of my first nicknames, and one of which I’m most proud, but certainly not the last one my lips have uttered. The best part of telling a story, I think, is coming up with the names of the people you’re talking about in the event you don’t actually want to use their real ones…which of course you never because what’s the fun in that?
So most of you who are in my stories may be wondering what I call you when I telling one…you may find out soon enough and I’m sorry in advance.