I’m a fit woman, not what you would call a gym bunny though. You guys know who they are? Gym bunnies are those coiffed, perfumed and tanned specimens of womanhood who go to the gym. Their eye makeup coordinates with their tops, which are coordinated with their shoelaces. They have done me no harm nor called me any names, yet I know my enemy when I see her.
I am the other side of that coin, often wearing one of my husband's old t-shirts and an assortment of faded sweat shorts that neither hug nor amplify my assets. To me the exercise room is the last bastion of “I can look like crap and be proud of it” area for a woman, a no makeup, no designer, no bullshit zone. When my gym would fill up with gym bunnies, I would cancel my membership and move on to a find a jock friendly gym. In the last few years, I have found it more comfortable to exercise in smaller places that typically cater to men. The patrons often assume I’m gay (that’s a whole other essay waiting to be written), they let me be and best of all, no gym bunnies.
Take it from me; being one of the few people with a Y chromosome has it advantages. I figure should a civilization-damaging event happen, being in a place full of physically fit men ain’t the worse place on the planet. One of my favorite fantasies as a teen: As buildings collapse around me the ground rumbles as shirtless, sweat dappled men grapple mano-a-mano for the right to posses Queen Siamese (my name in the fantasy). I would consent to offer my favors to the winner who always seemed to be Chow Yun Fat. Ah, my sweet Chow Yun, even twenty years later, I hope you find me in the apocalyptic aftermath indeed me love you long time.
Forgive the digression, so here I am grunting and sweating like one of the fellas when the normal symphony of clinking and clanking comes to a halt. It’s so quiet I can hear the sweat running down my cheek, so quiet that I notice my exercise bra band chaffing against me and ponder whether NASA should be wasting their time pursing the next manned space flight mission or focus their considerable resources into building the universes first truly comfortable bra.
I shake my head to clear the thought to find someone is blocking my light, as I push the barbell up into its cradle I look up and up (I’m still on the legs) I look up more, now at the crotch up past a bare midriff, up until a huge pair of boobs eclipse my vision. The boobs speak, I have to assume it has a head but I can’t see it, and I have never heard of a talking pair of breast. So I take it on faith there is a head while I watch the boobs sway this way and that. I want to get up but the boobs are asking Do you need a spot? I say sure and half expect them to reach down and grab the barbell themselves. Instead arms delicately muscled appear and grab the bar and I come face to face with Barbie on steroids. Let me clarify that she really doesn’t look like she’s on steroids, she just looks too perfect to be real and she really doesn’t look like Barbie, she looks like Barbie’s better looking sister. I immediately know in the apocalyptic battle of my fantasy I am going to have to put this sister down or Chow Yun Fat will be having blond babies.
I finish my set and offer to spot her she smiles asks me to add twenty pounds to my bar and lays down on the bench. As the phrase “Oh no she didn’t” goes through my head and prophecy is fulfilled and the four horsemen thunder around the room whispering her trespasses:
1. She added weight to your bar.
2. Her boobs defy gravity.
3. Her top is purple.
4. Look! Her shoelaces are purple too.
My blood begins to boil and I wonder if I should screw the lock nut on the weight bar all the way down or let a five pounder put a stop to this. I hate being a stereotypical catty woman but it’s a cross we all sometimes have to bear. I look around and notice that all the men have turned Asian. I say this because their lids narrow as they try to steal looks out of the corners of their eyes at my new workout partner. The smarter ones jockey amongst the stations to find the best-reflected view in the mirrors. In the apocalyptic future these would be the smarter ones and I make a mental note of their faces.
I fight centuries of instinct and evolve enough to lock the weight and spot my new friend as she does her reps. The moment we finish the men take turns accidentally passing by to casually introduce themselves. In the two years I have been here they patted me on the back and called me “Pal” and “Bud” and that’s the way I like it. Now one day with the Golden Goddess and I know their names. I don’t really blame the Goddess. It’s not her fault she was born with the body of a porn star and the face of Meg Ryan. Yes, her face is beautifully accessible rather than model pretty or sultry. Yes, I want to kill her but heck she’s a nice person and I’m not changing gyms. I have matured and I realize I’m not in competition with her or anyone else. She is new to the Chicago area and wants to be friends “oh swell” she even has two kids “oh joy.” I consented to work out with her next week but my sensible behavior only goes so far. I will not bring her home to meet my husband for fear he will ask me to put on a blond wig, she will not meet my teenage son who does not need another reason to go through more Kleenex. I have decided to let Chow Yun fend for himself.
Oh don’t judge me! This is the week I “say hello to my little friend.” To have the Golden Goddess show up at this time is cruel and my evolved feminist sensibilities can only compensate for so much.
Camile Ryerson is our regular contributing writer. Her column appears every Wednesday. Read her views on politics, world affairs, pop culture and of course, what she's reading. Her favorite genre is sci-fi.