Yesterday was a big and fun day for a variety of reasons. First, I wore a new shirt that the GF and I picked up shopping before she left last weekend. It was one that I actually had picked out myself but more significant was that it was the first shirt I have ever worn* that requires cuff links. I have to admit that I was feeling pretty good about myself. In the last year or so I've started to develop a reputation for being a snappy dresser. I'm not really sure what that means. But I think the implication is that the previous 30 years were spent offending the fashion sensibilities of everyone within eyeshot. For that, world, I apologize.
After a pretty productive day at work, I returned to a place where my feet had not tread in about 4-5 months - the gym. It was more or less the same as it was when I was last there, but there were some things that were a little different. For instance, I noticed a lot of people were wearing braces. Not orthodonture - but rather braces to help support ankles, knees, elbows, groins, you name it. There were braces of every imaginable design, used to support every imaginable body part** and they were everywhere. As I sat on the leg press machine, trying desperately to remember how it worked while trying to stave off panic that I was the only person there not wearing a brace, I realized that I was probably suffering from brace envy. Each person there wearing a brace was essentially saying to the world "I work out so hard that I hurt myself! Fear me!". And I *was* afraid - the feeling of being "less than" was pretty powerful.
At that point, I decided that the next time I go into the gym, I would wear the full set of braces, two knee braces, two ankle braces, two elbow braces, a neck brace, and the full-body Milwaukee brace - typically used to treat scoliosis***. Then I would work through my entire routine without skipping a beat. Think of the respect I'd get from all the baseball-cap wearing high school boys doing nothing but bench presses, high school girls desperately trying to snag one of said boys in time for prom****, and the 78 year old guy who is there every day and who could rip my arms out of my sockets with his bare hands. Giddy with anticipation for my budding plan, I did about a mile on the treadmill before heading down to the locker room to shower and get dressed.
That's when it happened - every man's nightmare. Returning from my shower all fresh, basking in the afterglow of a good workout, I saw a guy getting naked at the locker *right next* to mine. Now, you ladies might not see anything weird about that, but what you have to remember is that men are different from women at the gym. We don't spend hours giving each other long naked massages after a workout, laughing giddily as you model your new lingerie or start spontaneous tickle fights. Instead, we spend most of our time avoiding eye contact and trying desperately to maintain a "no fly zone" of at least 5 feet from our fellow man. So here I was facing the nightmare scenario of not only having a nekkid guy right next to my locker, but he was covered in tattoos, including a "Harley Davidson" in the small of his back*****. But by this point he had seen me just standing there, so I walked over slowly, trying not to provoke a response.
Being the nice, upper-midwestern guy that I am I made some witty comment that he responded to with another pithy remark about "ain't this how it always is". As he headed off to the showers I said cheerily, "Don't worry, I'll be gone by the time you get back".
"Yeah, I bet you will." was the response.
Crap. Did something I said inadvertently come off as making a pass? I frantically replayed the conversation in my head, but couldn't recall anything certain. Had I just been mistaken for an overly friendly gay man and threatened with violence? Surely he would notice that I was straight as soon as I got dressed...
...Oh crap. The cuff links!
I was dressed and out of the gym in about three minutes. Paranoia never hurt anyone.
*Note, not the first shirt I've ever owned that needs one. I have a nice white shirt that uses them but it's more of a shirt to wear with a suit than on its own. At least not during the winter.
** Isn't "sports bra" just another word for "boob brace"?
*** This is not making fun of scoliosis patients. I had a mild case in elementary school, which I blame for my twisted sense of humor. I just really wanted to work in a picture of "Scoliosis Barbie". Who even knew they made one?
**** Way to go girls...aim high.
***** Speaking of which, am I the only one who thought only girls got tattoos there?