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A Gym Story

It started out really well. I had visited the gym thirteen times in December and then six times in January through the 8th. Then I got sick. I stayed away for ten days but then managed to go twice in the past two days. Perhaps I am back on a good track. I've been using the elliptical machines mostly. When I started it would take me nearly a half hour to reach barely two miles, but today I went nearly five miles in my hour on the machine. I've enjoyed the elliptical since I started using headphones and listening to music. This afternoon I created a Spotify playlist of some of my favorite motivational songs. The list is five hours and twenty-eight minutes long. I will never be at the gym that long, but I think there is enough variety for me to remain invested. The trainer who tried to get me to sign up with him passes by without comment after his first couple attempts to get me to sign up with him were unsuccessful. I just don't want to work with a trainer. I'm not ready to. I need to continue working on my diet and maintaining control there. But, I still go, and I hope another ten-day stretch does not greet me anytime soon.

I wrote a monologue today that is titled "A Gym Story." It steals from the opening of Edward Albee's A Zoo Story, which is one of my favorite plays that I hope to perform in some day.


Regardless, this is what I created today:

I’ve been to the gym. MISTER, DID YOU HEAR ME? I said I’ve been to the gym. I just wanted you to know in case you wondered why I was sitting here, smelling like… well, like I’ve been to the gym. They do have a shower there so you’re probably wondering why I didn’t shower there. I know I’d be wondering that if someone sat next to me and smelled like he has been to the gym. You see, I don’t usually shower at the gym even though it’s one of those pricier gyms with their own private showers. There’s no men’s locker room or women’s locker room. I don’t think those will exist much longer the way things are moving forward anyway. No, this place has only three rooms for that kind of care. Two of them are bigger and have showers. I don’t think I could fit comfortably in one of those showers anyway, but they’re there if I ever want to shower there. One room just has the toilet and sink so it’s really hard to shower in that one. Sometimes all three rooms are occupied at the same time. I don’t like that. What if I need one of those rooms and someone else is in them? Those rooms are past the scary part of the gym with all the heavy weights and people who grunt. This one guy sounds like he is having sex as he works out. It is very distracting. I like to choose when I hear people making sex sounds. Don’t you agree, mister? (beat) It’s a very uncomfortable situation to be forced into.

I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those people who will sit there in a very uncomfortable situation because I am too polite to leave. (a look at the other man) You don’t say much, do you?

That’s okay. I don’t usually strike up these interesting conversations with strangers. But today, I felt compelled to sit down next to you and tell you why I smell like I’ve been to the gym. You see, the gym is .87 miles away from my residence. I tracked it with my pedometer one day when I walked from my residence to the gym. It’s a good workout, that .87 miles, and that particular day I was tired from the walk to the gym so I did not go in. No, I turned around and walked back .87 miles. That’s nearly one and three-quarters miles round trip, which is about how long I last on the elliptical machine before I get tired and stop. I like the word elliptical. In this case, it refers to the path the foot platforms take as they move forward and back. The path is elliptical. But, elliptical also refers to the use of ellipsis, in speech meaning “especially as to be difficult to understand.” Or, it refers to those three little dots meaning something has been omitted. Something has been left out…

It’s okay. You probably don’t even want to know why I smell like I’ve been to the gym. I just saw someone sitting by himself and thought he might like to know that I’ve been to the gym.

I’m sorry I bothered you. I’m sorry I sat down next to you. I don’t imagine it’s too comforting to have strangers sit next to you anymore ever since, well, you know… I never used to think about sitting next to someone. I just did it, without thinking, but now that impulse is deadly. I’m safe, mister. I’ve had my shots. I never go anywhere except for the gym. The gym has air purifiers with HEPA filters. It says so right on the door. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air. It’s safer in there. It’s no longer safe out here. I shouldn’t be sitting here telling you that I’ve been to the gym. I just wanted to talk to someone. (to someone else) I’ve been to the gym.

I performed this with my group of writers this evening. I was the first up. The group members keep their microphones on, so it was nice to hear some laughter during the funnier moments. I like this character. I've written/played similar characters. I like the weekly meeting because it motivates me to keep writing because I don't write (for the stage) as often as some of the people I follow on Facebook. I'm not quite at the place where people at the gym motivate me. Most of them intimidate me because they're just in so much better shape than I am. But, like with acting, I cannot compare and despair. They have been working at it longer.

This morning was my first day back "in class." It was successful, and I think perhaps the way that I set up this course this semester, the whole class will be interesting, all remaining thirty-nine sessions. Not that I'm counting. I have lists of classroom ideas, and I like when a new idea, which is usually an old idea, pops into my brain for something I can introduce in class. My problem is that I love all these ideas and want everyone else to love them all, too, but I know it's impractical to expect that to happen. Even I wouldn't want to write all these things over the next (less than) four months. I think the writing expectations are enough to get in good practice over time without being overwhelming for me as someone who gives feedback and has to grade these products. I much prefer just listening to others' work and sharing my own, but right now there is no income from that.

Anyway, I'm deviating from my story or maybe this is my story. There has been a decline in who reads these stories since I stopped overpromoting, so thank YOU for reading this piece. I wasn't intending to write every day, but that is the pattern that has been developing. If I went to the gym and wrote for the stage/film every day, perhaps I'd be farther along, but that is a story for another day.

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In December 2018 a very short 'play' of mine, which was more like an SNL skit, premiered in front of a live audience. Before then, it had been twenty years since my words were the context of a perform