Thursday, March 23, 2006

Urban Antropology 101: What you see is not always what you get.

Against my better judgement and all of my will power, I joined a gym. I didn't want to do it. I knew I wouldn't go and just waste tons of money. But when my sister came to me with the cheapest gym membership I had ever heard of with one of the countries biggest chains, I couldn't say no. I located one two blocks from my apartment. It has a pool and sauna. The biggest selling point for me? The retail store inside.

So I joined up in February, early February to be more exact. After a month and a half of putting it off and the biggest display of excuse making I think I've ever seen myself perform (I need my membership to come in, I'm sick, I'm tired, My foot hurts, I'm hungry, I have no sport bras) I went. To the gym. For the first time since 2003.

Of course, when I initially went to get my card I received no tour since I had already paid my membership. I quickly figured out where the locker room was and started to get ready for my big work out. I put my new gym bag in my locker with all my gym type stuff and locked it with my brand new gym lock (nothing like a new experience to make you go shopping!) and grabbed my iPod and water. Now what? I stared at the girls around me in the locker room. I had expected to see the types of girls that I see around me everyday. The ones with the perfect bodies and teeth. But I was surprised. Most were bigger than me (which made me happy, I hate working out next to skinny bitches who obviously don't need to be at the gym), some were smaller, and some were just plain, um, er, trailer trash.

Who knew? In the middle (and I mean middle, you could throw up at my gym and it land on Times Square) of the greatest and biggest city in the world there it was. A hot yellow 1980s muscle man tank top, unmistakable died blorange frizzy hair pulled back in a black scrunchie, jams and scrunchie socks inside sneakers that looked suspiciously liked LA Gears (but they didn't light up, I was dissapointed). Trailer Trash in the gym. I figured she was a tourist working out on vacation.

I felt like an urban anthropologist. Where did this species come from? I waited for her to speak, but she didn't. She looked like she knew her surroundings. So I followed her. Out of the locker room and into the main part of the gym. She led me to the Precor machines (which I was happy about since that was what I was trying to find anyway). There wasn't one open next to her but there was one behind her. So I watched this trashosapian, who I decided to name Laverne for the next 30 minutes ( I outlasted her by 15, score: me=1, Laverne=0). When she got off the machine she turned to speak to the person who was going to use it next. I put my iPod on pause immediately to catch a snippet of her dialect. I waited to hear a Southern twang, a midwestern drawl, even a West Coast "dude".

And then I heard it. Laverne was no sranger to the urban jungle. She spoke loudly, with a booming outerborough accent. She probably doesn't live in a trailer. Probably a two- or three-bedroom house in Flushing. She had on a wedding ring. Laverne was probably married to a guy named Bobby or Tommy or Johnny. She probably had kids. She probably watched all of their baseball and basketball games growing up and now that they are older, she is working on getting herself in shape so she can stay healthy. Laverne smiled a lot. Laverne was a happy scrunchie wearing lady.

Then I got jealous of Laverne. She had everything I want. The husband the kids, and most likely a decent job (my gym is in the basement of a HUGE office building). She cared about herself, not what pther people thought. She wasn't at the gym working out so she could look good for other people (watch out Nicole Richie, I'm gonna be sooooo skinnier than you). She didn't care what she was wearing at the gym (I bought my gym fashions they day before). She wasn't there for anyone but herself. Score: me=1, Laverne=happiness.

I've decided that if I see Laverne again I won't approach her (or gym stalk her). I want to leave her in my mind the way I think she lives. That she goes home after the gym to make dinner for Bobby or Tommy or Johnny, that she gets in a fight with her teenage son who eventually forgives her because she's mom and she watches her shows on tv and goes to sleep happy with her life and the choices she's made.

And after I leave the gym, I will go home, Make dinner for myself, get in a fight with my mom over the phone but forgive her because she's my mom, watch my shows and go to sleep hoping that one day I'll be as happy as Laverne, but with a MUCH better wardrobe.

Laverne hearts, Bobby, Johnny or Tommy.


Anonymous said...

you are brilliant. i only hope you'll jump ship and write for my yet-to-be-established magazine some day.

Mjones said...

Thanks anonymous, especially for throwing the word brilliant in there. I like to think that's the word James Blunt would use to describe me if we ever met. But my instincts tell me he'll probably go more along the lines of "stalker."