Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Maybe Tomorrow We Can Watch "Beaches"

When all goes according to plan, I work out on my lunch hour at gym near the office. I have nice little routine that fits into the hour, including a quick shower and the walk there and back. I occasionally get back five minutes late, but as the energy boost allows me to continue to produce while my colleagues doze off, I don't feel guilty about it.

Anyhow, this gym is (like every other damn thing in Evanston) distinctly yuppie in tone. The crowd is usually me, six or so sorority girls, a collection of women who could be extras on Desperate Housewives, and assorted straight businessmen who are generally either teaching or studying at the university's business school.

The businessmen are always outnumbered three to one by everybody else. But as is their way, they still manage to dominate the place. They shout personal conversations from one end of the room to the other, they loll about on machines while others are waiting to use them, they spread their belongings across the floors and benches of the crowded locker room. And although this is a gymnasium and not the offices of Merrill Lynch, they always insist on keeping the television facing the cardiovascular machines tuned to one of the financial channels.

Not today.

I don't know how it happened, but as I was climbing onto the whateverthehell machine (it's good for the glutes), I noticed that the television was showing HGTV or some similar network. A sweetly plump lady in a patterned blouse was planting herbs under a grow-light, assisted by a green queen in bermuda shorts and sandals (nice legs).

So instead of closing my eyes and blasting the "Hi-NRG Opera" playlist on my iPod as usual, I watched the show and I think even learned why my last rosemary plant went buns up on me even though I didn't overwater it. Most pleasant.

But this is really not about me, it's about the businessmen. Their reaction to this unthinkable state of affairs was extremely amusing.

There were three of them (out of about 14 people on the machines) and they were visibly upset and being deprived of their choice of channel for an hour. Two of them appealed directly to the crowd in general.

The first wandered in, looked at the television, and asked, "Are you watching this?" (A peculiar question to ask 11 people whose eyes are trained on the screen.)

We replied in chorus, "Yes."

The second came in about five minutes later. "Would you mind if I changed this?"

Again we replied, "Yes."

He shook his head and heaved himself onto a bicycle next to the first guy. They were near enough that I could hear them grousing. "What the f--k is this?" "Hell if I know."

The third guy came in and just walked over and reached up to change the channel.

"Hey!" shouted a woman on a treadmill, "We're watching that."

He turned around and look blankly at us for a minute, then turned back around and reached for the buttons again.

"I said we are watching that, do not change the channel," said Treadmill Woman, with more than a hint of firmness in her tone.

The guy turned to me - I was on the machine closest to the television - and said conspiratorially, "You believe this s--t? How long until these bitches clear out so we can have the TV back?"

I leaned over and whispered, "Soon, I hope. I want to flip it over to Lifetime so we can catch the Designing Women marathon."


Elaine Haig-Widner said...

Beautiful! Fantastic! I coordially invite you to come work out at my gym - we'll wrestle control of the TV back for the silent majority.

Felicia said...

I've got a good giggle going on as well! I find it interesting how easy it can be for a group of women to "oppress" a group of men. I see it all the time, in many daily actions. I was at a party not to long ago where eight of the ten ladies in attendance wanted to listen to Savage Garden. (your author here can't stand Savage Garden, so I was on the boy side of this argument!) The fourteen men at the party wanted to listen to Justin Timberlake-- but they gave into the women. I'm not a big JT fan, but I'd take him anyday over SG!!! Needless to say, eight women were able to glare down almost twice as many men to get their way.

Things could be worse. Our gym at work gives attendees two choices:

Headline News
The Weather channel.

Buzz said...

I love the idea of Treadmill Woman as a superhero, springing into action to defend the gym from evil BreederMan...cape, tights, the whole bit. And perhaps she has a sidekick...Elliptical girl?

Colleen said...

Yay, Franklin!

markknitz said...

That is too great! Power to the people. It constantly amazes me how stupid and inconsiderate people can be. I hate when people use equipment as towel holders, or furniture. And although it doesn't affect me personally, I hate when people have cell phone conversations at the gym. Like on the treadmill or leg press. it's like, if you want to work out, work out. if you want to talk on the phone, talk on the phone. right now, you look like a self important dink.

Jon said...

I hate those neanderthals. We have a TV in our company cafeteria and it's only on the news channels or now on the stupid March Madness crapola. One day, I'm going to march my happy gay ass up there and turn it to HGTV and tell them they can bite me. LOL

Anonymous said...

Tell me you really whispered that.

(yarn harlot)

Franklin said...

Oh, Stephanie, you bet I really whispered that. I like to think Julia Sugarbaker would have been proud of me.

Obviously this touched a nerve. I can see the world domination of television channels by clueless men is more widespread than I thought.

terri said...

I'm coming in late on this episode, but I just LOVE this story! We don't have TV at my YMCA, but we have some INTERESTING personalities, so this just warmed my heart. Those rude men could use a little Golden Girls.

Tasha said...

fecking oblivious majority... thanks for standing up to him!

Pat said...

Too funny! I know those guys.....they attend my gym too!

Rachel R. said...


You, sir, are my new hero. I would say more than that, if not for the fact that I'm laughing too hard to type properly. BRAVO!!