I Scanned the Layout

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I dunno about Facebook. I’ve lived in a small cabin in the woods for so long, entering the social media feels like when I stepped into the Big City with its tall buildings and flashing neon lights, voiceless people in crowds and honking bumper-to-bumper cars. Then there were the alleys and garbage trucks and sirens. I got lost the very first day.

I thought and looked and looked and thought, and just before I pulled my hair out (no snickering), I stumbled across a gritty gym on the corner of First and Main. What a relief!

Down a flight of dimly lit, whitewashed stairs was a broad, column-studded room about fifty by fifty. There was sufficient light to find the iron, but not enough to sting the peepers. A classy young doll slinked behind the front counter. She gave me the eye.

“Where ya from, big guy? You wanna hit the weights?”

I scanned the layout, heavy on the bars and benches and light on the lifters and talkers. That’s all I needed to know.

“How much to settle my nerves?” I asked.

“Ten bucks for the day,” she said. “You break it, you own it.”

She was sharp and neat as a stiletto.

“They call me La, like the tone, do, ra, mi,” her muscles flexed as she poured me a powerful protein drink with one egg and a banana. I drank it greedily and felt the pump coming on.

“Locker room’s in the back. What did you say your name was, again?”

“I didn’t.”

I dropped a C-note on the counter and grabbed a black City t-shirt from the stack of XLs on a shelf.

“Keep the change.”

Locker room was clean: two-stall shower with soap, no peep holes, no graffiti; a lock for valuables (I had none) and a trash can for garbage, half full. A pay phone hung in the corner by a bin of dirty towels. I had dirt, but nobody to call.

Nothing to prove and only my soul to satisfy, I exited the room and walked directly to the interesting end of the dumbbell rack. I grabbed a pair, settled on the incline and knocked out a dozen reps.

The last rep wasn’t easy; it never is, but I did it anyway. Tough, clean and mean, it’s the last rep that counts. The others are just along for the ride.

A kid in a tank top with chunky arms was polishing the mirrors with newspaper and Windex. He’d be huge and ripped one day. He was paying his dues. Windex on, Windex off.

I liked to move as long as I could move and fill in the time between sets of one blast with sets of another. The pulleys squeaked and wobbled as I tugged, a perfect deep-breathing stretch to accommodate and relieve the pitiless dumbbell compressions.

Three guys the size of grizzlies hovered around a gnawed benchpress. Plates clung to the weary bar and clanged harshly in rebellion. Chalk dust, sleeveless sweatshirts, “Stay tight,” hips bumping stacked wheels to assure tightness, tense laughter, “You can do this, man”—a warrior sat, stiff, silent and staring, deep breaths, hands, bar, grasp and grip, on three and lift.

Lightning and Thunder.

Returning to the incline, I stopped and leaned on a waist-high immovable object and commenced to push as if hoping to jumpstart a stalled truck: lean and push, thighs and calves contract, go, go, go, on the toes, hard reps, slow reps, faster, harder for a minute followed by ten freehand squats and jumps. A little aerobic and a little leg action and I was on the way.

The girl at the counter, Fa, La or whatever, had one of those pint-size, handheld computers which, unless she gave the thing a rest, was about to explode. How much can one person read, type, think, say, communicate?
Which reminds me: Facebook.

Quickly, I averted my mind and, while seeking a bent bar for a curls ’n triceps extensions superset (I call it the Gun Loader), I pondered how long those ponderous pandas would last under the wrath of the benchpress. You see, I love animals and I hate to see them caught in a nasty trap. We were suckers for the bait—bigger, stronger, faster, huge and ripped.

Think I’ll wander over to the den of horrors and offer the boneheads some advice: Heavy benches wreck shoulders. Yeah. That’ll go over big.

Look sharp, Bomb. Dollface is heading this way…and she’s bringing that slick, trick tablet thingy with her. I’ll put on my don’t-bother-me-I’m-lifting mug. She’ll spin on her heels and head south fast.

“Dave, you promised to chat on Facebook.”

How’s she know my label? I don’t promise, and I don’t chat! Facebook?

“Yes, dear. Whatever you say, dear.”



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