Monday, July 31, 2017

All Keyed Up

Workouts are wonderful experiences.

Among other things, they contribute to the flow of endorphins, lead to lowered blood pressure, and a sense of accomplishment. A good workout can lead to a day of happiness.


Today was a bit of an exception to that long-supported rule. This afternoon, I went to the gym to engage in my usual routine of lifting, stretching, walking, and several other -ings amidst my fellow exercisers, all equally determined to earn that day of happiness if it killed them.

I had bench-pressed proudly, which isn't really a bench press unless you grunt loudly enough to impress the lady over on the abductor machine, who's now walking away very quickly out of concern that one more grunt may signal either a hernia or an alien emerging from a gore fest of matter, blood, and whatever you put on that slice of pizza last night which you know you weren't supposed to eat because of your blood pressure.

Moving on the oblique machine (which is an absolutely wonderful piece of equipment, and due to its singularity often leads to several people racing to see who can get to it first), I set the machine to the familiar seating height and selected the amount of weight suitable for my 56 year old body. Bending forward, I performed my first crunch. Something didn't quite seem right, but I couldn't quite place my finger on it. Anyway, crunch two didn't erase that nagging feeling that something was wrong. Crunch, crunch, crunch.

Something stabbed me in the right thigh.

I didn't want to take a chance that the machine was out of calibration in some weird way, so I decided that I'd exercise my oh-so-manly biceps. Having adjusted the machine's seat, I once again selected the appropriate amount of weight and had at it like NFL spring training.

The stabbing pain returned, and this time it felt like it was stabbing me down my thigh. "Something is wrong with this place", I mused. "Maybe they need to call an exterminator." With that in mind, I decided that it was time to go do something else for a day or two. As is my custom. I reached into my pockets to make sure I didn't have any paper towels which I always get prior to my workouts. Wiping machines clean after using them is common courtesy, after all.

My car keys were missing.

In fact, my car, apartment, mailbox and several other keys were now gone the way of aircraft in the Bermuda Triangle.

Under such circumstances it's my preferred emotional defense mechanism to shift the blame for my loss. Freud calls it projection. I call it convenience, if also immaturity. "some crumb bum stole my keys!" I said in a voice not loud enough to be heard over the in-depth story about the latest Dallas Cowboys player having gotten a speeding ticket or something, splashing across the tv screen courtesy of ESPN. I took a shortcut through the mavens of stationary bike professionals, who have been proudly sculpting muscle mass  on their thighs since 1998, to the service desk. "Can you help me?" I half-shouted to the lady behind the desk while Olivia Newton-John's ghost from 1981 belted out "Let's Get Physical" over the Muzak machine's 400 or so strategically placed speakers. "Has anyone turned in a set of keys?" The lady informed me that since no one had, she'd be willing to help me look for them. We had taken all of four steps back into the workout area when her rather keen hearing directed her attention to cuff of my right legging. "Are you jingling?" she asked me, with no small amount of surprise in her eyes.

In fact, the hole in my right front pocket -barely large enough for a key ring to slip through- had allowed my keys to play evasion and escape game with me, taking several opportunities to impale my leg en route to my cuff and sock.

The next several minutes were filled with apologizing, thanking, and feeling both stupid and ashamed for having assumed that someone had had nothing better to do than reach into my pocket. All of this was bound with a strong sense of guilt. I'm thankful to the lady who detected my keys by being able to hear them rattling around. I left feeling very relived, which was a real blessing for me.

It beats being all keyed up.

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