For better or worse, at the beginning of every year I inevitably find myself making a list of New Years Resolutions.
In the past they have mostly been impossible tasks like Wake up every morning at dawn and run 5 miles, or Write a Novel, or Stop Drinking Coffee, or Go Out on Every Date I'm Asked...
And yet about a month into the new year, every bit as inevitable as the act of me making these resolutions, I start hitting the snooze button 3 or 4 times before dragging myself out my bed. I get as far as maybe a paragraph into the novel. My unhealthy caffeine addiction nags at me with debilitating mid-day migraines, and when I glance at my calendar all I see are blank spaces or little pencil drawn notes reminding me that I've effectively replaced a fulfilling relationship with a man with self-pity and such spinsterly activities as reading, painting, and cooking elaborate dinners for myself.
Yeah, LA can pretty much suck it.
At least I haven't resolved to end the parade of bitterness.
This year, like many years in the past, I made another list of things I think I should do to shift the focus inward and make myself more awesome. And here, 14 days into 2008 - the year that I'm declaring will be the best of my life to-date - I'm actually holding up my end of the bargain.
Meaning, I haven't disappointed myself. Yet.
But I know it's coming...
With holiday party backlash rearing its ugly head, one of my standard resolutions is to "be healthier," which is really just a euphemism I like to use for "lose weight." But it makes me feel like I'm doing it for the right reasons when really it's mostly out of vanity because isn't everything we modern humans do out of vanity and isn't it always swimsuit season in Southern California....
So, as someone whose scorn for Socal knows no bounds, I did the worst thing I could have possibly...ever...done.
so miserable. But it's actually going to be great. I've resolved that it will be great, and I've also resolved to keep all resolutions. So I'm not bitching out on this one. I got a really terrific discount on the enrollment fee, and the monthly charge amounts to one dinner out which is doing me a favor anyway. They'll even validate my parking for 90 minutes. Lord knows what a treat that is!
What's funny about the whole thing though, isn't the fact that I joined a really toxically shallow gym. What's funny is that I've actually become toxically shallow.
Really though. Yes, there are 12 foot high glass windows paneling the cardio room facing Wilshire Boulevard - one of the most heavily trafficked sections of boulevard in Los Angeles. Yes, the clientele shows up habitually overdressed (probably for everything), but one thing I have seen over and over and over again when I go work out is that no matter where you are, fat or thin, suburb or city, actor or waiter (probably both), everyone wears the same awful face. I call it...
It's a phenomenon similar to that of O-Face. Meaning you wear it only in certain situations, it is similar across demographics, and it is ridiculous. Once you've identified said phenomenon, and if you haven't already you will, it's impossible to see anything else because all gym-goers for some inexplicable reason walk around with the same blank, self-conscious stare.
Gym Face typically reflects one of several attitudes, including but not limited to the following: "I'm working out, and I'm really fucking proud of myself." Or, "I don't know how to operate this machine, but I don't want anyone to know." Or, "Do I look like the kind of girl who gets off the crosstrainer after 20 minutes? Bitch please..."
At LA Fitness, this face alone makes it possible for me to make harsh, sweeping generalizations about my fellow Westsiders without conscience or remorse.
Case in point...
It's Monday night. The after work crowd has poured itself into said fishbowl cardio room. A good-looking-from-a-distance guy walks toward me as I wreck myself on a stationery bike. Tallish, sandy blonde hair, 5 o'clock shadow. Hmm, I think to myself. He's not bad. I wonder if he's nice. Smart? Charming? Would he make a good father? Could he love me forever? [Insert judgement] Eh, prolly not. Looks like a frat boy...
He comes closer. Damn, I can see the letters on his t-shirt - a dead giveaway. Frat confirmed.
And with each he takes step it gets worse, but it isn't his shirt that seals my disgust. Nay, I would be a fool to dismiss a prospective gym-crush for such a slight infraction as this. I could forgive the Boy he may have been in college for the Man he is today. But I'll never get that far. Not with this one.
Because plastered across that stubbly chiseled jaw is that face. That arrogant, self-involved, iron-pumping, fuck-you-and-your-resolutions face. Gym Face.
He glances at himself in the mirror and conspicuously flexes his calves.
And as I ferociously pump the peddles on my bike, as my heart beats a tribal rhythm inside my chest, a small part of me dies. Sacrificed to the god of botox, modeling agencies, and LA Fitness.
I break my gawking at the asshat's disproportionately large calves and resolve to press on. He may be one of a thousand disappointments I'll have to endure this year, but I'll be damned if any one of them comes from me.
It's been 20 minutes and there's a line of women waiting for my machine...
They can wait.
I reset the timer, gather my strength, and stare blankly ahead.
Happy New Year.
*Please don't tell me that you believed me even for a second.