Monday, May 14, 2012

The Rime Of The Overbuilt Muscleman

You can’t help having conversations with familiar strangers in a gym. The best you can hope for is to minimize them. So when a behemoth made small talk whenever our paths crossed, I became like the Ancient Mariner’s victim.

Fine. We’ll wait while those of you who ditched English in high school hit Wikipedia.

As I was saying, there’s a protocol in any hardcore gym. You have to take statements at face value. When this tank-like creature said he used to play professional football, that was credible. I accepted it as ostensible fact. When, later, he claimed to be a trained and licensed psychiatrist (as opposed to the rest of us amateurs) I also had to take it as ostensible fact. Later he said, and this is a verbatim quote:

“God created women to be annoying.”

Oh, har har. You’re going to make a joke about it being true. How original and humorous. Really, I’m laughing on the inside. He said it seriously, and he explained it at length in all seriousness. Did I mention that he’s French? As long as you’re going for a cheap laugh, you can have that too. Ooh, a misogynist Frenchman. No stereotypes here.

At the time, I was stuck. I needed an exit line and my level of rage threatened to cause an aneurysm if left un-vented. So your Auntie smiled with maternal indulgence, and said kindly, “Sounds like someone has some issues with women.”

He froze. He even un-flexed. From the tippy top of that giant pile of muscles came the most startled expression, as if I had seen into his very soul. He stammered, “Yes, how did you know?”

I’m not a psychiatrist. I just play one in the gym.

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