"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Man Who Polished His Balls

A gym is never just a gym, and in my first few days of membership I stared at the freak show of pendulous man-tits, hippo thighs; scrawny, neurasthenic, skeletal women; and saw more protuberances, cavities, declivities, carbuncles, warts, stroke-grimaces, hammer toes, and scabies than I ever thought possible. Who would have ever imagined what misshapen, horribly flabby, distended bodies were covered by Brooks Brothers, Armani, and J.Press?

There seemed to be a lot more circus items in the old days when I first joined.  The Gerbil, for example, is long gone.  He looked exactly like a rat, with a small head, pointy nose, receding chin, and tiny little eyes.  He had spindly legs and arms, and when he got on the treadmill, he pumped them so fast that he looked like he was working the exercise wheel in a hamster cage. Jabba the Hut weighed at least 400 pounds and maxed out the whirlpool, displacing so much water that all the intake valves and jets stopped working when he got in.  He had gastric bypass surgery, which got him down to about 275, and compared to his former bulk, he looked just great.  Except for his right leg which, for some reason, never went down.  He was a normal-looking man other than this giant elephantitis leg which he had to haul in and out of the pool.  He had to have special pants made.

There was Death, a sallow, greyish scarecrow who worked the elliptical with an intensity and a far-away look so vacant that I thought she was staring into the next world.  It turned out that she was just nuts, not dying of cancer as it seemed, but only trying to get her weight down into negative figures, and she simply could not stop working out.  She was always on the machine when I walked in and was still on it, looking even more gaunt and desperate, when I left.

Hot Shit is still there, barking about her triathlons, biathlons, and Iron Woman over-70  endurance events. She barks so loud that everyone in the gym can hear her statistics – heart rate, number of reps on the bench press, stress test results, miles biked, run, walked, or swum.  She looks like a scarecrow, down to the straw-looking hair.  She is tall, scrawny, and totally full of shit.  My wife, who recently joined the gym told me that a few days ago she saw her naked in the locker room.  It was scary, and she had to look away.  I can only imagine a full frontal view of the woman and her shrunken dugs, parchment-like skin, and wizened other parts.

Nothing can compare, however, with The Man Who Polishes His Balls.  At first glance you would think nothing of him.  He is late middle aged, hairier than most, with a kind of monkey fur all over his back which is slightly humped.  He is bald, has very twiggy legs; but other than that, one of the crowd.  One day I had gotten out of the shower at the same time as he, and watched him dry his balls.  He took his towel, put it between his legs, grabbed one end from the front and the other from the back, assumed a Maori All-Black stance, and started whipping it back and forth as fast as a shoeshine man at Grand Central.  Whip, whip, SLAP.  Whip, whip, SLAP.  First on one side of his balls, then the other. He did it for so long and with such speed and vigor that I was sure that his balls must have become tough and leathery.  For most of us, a few quick swishes of the towel and we are as dry as we need to be; but he pumped and whacked until every possible drop of moisture was out from between his crack, thighs, and legs. 

His father probably got him started when he was very young.  “Now, Bobby, listen very carefully. I am going to teach you a lesson that you will remember your whole life”, and with that he took one of the tea towels from the powder room and showed his little son how to flip it back and forth around his pea-sack to get everything very, very dry. 

Once you get started so young, especially if you have been instructed by your father, you can never stop.  And so Bobby the man, whipped and snapped the towel at the gym, polishing his balls, and getting them very, very dry.

After that, I thought I had seen everything; but today I saw a young man, buck naked, ironing his shirt.  I would be afraid that if I ever did that I would roast my wiener on the iron, so just seeing him getting the wrinkles out (he was very good, and the steam iron hissed and gurgled as he expertly stood it up at the end of the board while he turned his shirt) made me cringe.

Now I can rest and stop writing about the gym.  I hardly notice the sexual fantasies of the mid-life, pre-menopause women straddled by the big black trainers, and panting, “Am I doing it right?  Should I be doing it harder? Tell me.  Please.” I pay little attention to the jerks who talk to their trainers about skiing at Gstaad and eating foie gras paired with an Alsatian Riesling.  These poor trainers live in fucking Gaithersburg, take the Red Line down to the gym, listen to nonsense like his all day, then go home to drink beer, get their wives to turn over, watch some football, and start the next day all over again.  Or the older women who jabber on about their gardens, their grandchildren, or their knees.  Very little actual training is done, a few pushes and pumps here and there, but not much else.  The members get fatter and fatter and wonder why since they are doing personal training three days a week; and the trainers have the easiest job going.  Shit salary to be sure, but very little work.

I am very regular about going to the gym. I can’t say I like it, now that I have gotten blasé about the circus sideshows, and am there just for business; but like everyone my age I need to keep the joints and muscles in working order, stretching this, strengthening that, so I go regularly.  I get my heart rate up, huff and puff enough to break a sweat, pump some iron, and then as a reward, shvitz in the steam room, soak in the whirlpool, and bake in the sauna.

I am sure that despite my diffidence, Ringling Bros. will come by again and there will be more and better sideshows than ever; but for the time being, it’s just a gym.

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