I'm a friendly girl. I mean, I'm not going to ask the lady in line next to me at the grocery store for her life story or anything, but I'll say hello or smile at people when I walk by. If someone strikes up a conversation while I'm waiting somewhere, I'll play along. I'll ask people questions about themselves. That kind of thing.
But when I go to the gym, I don't want to have a conversation. I just don't. I'm there with a purpose, and that purpose is getting in and out as quickly as possible. "Hello"--that's conversation enough for me. Other examples of acceptable conversation include:
"I'm finished reading this magazine. Would you like it?"
"Are you done with those weights?"
"Do you mind if we change the channel to the Jazz-Warriors game?"
"You have the shiniest, sparkliest eyes I've ever seen!" (Someone really said that to me. Hello, random, right? But it was very nice. Any compliments, no matter how random, are acceptable.)
All other conversations, I could do without. I understand that going to the gym is a very social thing for many people. However, I am not one of those people. I seriously look like crap when I work out. Not like those girls who say that but in reality look all, I don't know, girly. I really do. I wear crappy old T-shirts with holes in them and no makeup and my hair's everywhere. I don't want to win friends and influence people. All I want to do is read my People magazine, listen to my music and try to burn off the chocolate-covered Oreos I just ate.
But people insist on making conversation anyway. First, the borderline annoying kind. Most of the people at the front desk are very nice, like this one lady who totally noticed when I wasn't there for a few days and asked me where I'd been and if everything was OK. Which made me feel a little guilty for not going, but was nice.
But this other woman? She wears stickers on her face, like clown stickers and crap. For real. Which isn't really relevant except to give you a mental image. Anyway, whenever she's there, she either says: "You're late tonight" or "You're early tonight." (Curiously, I'm never "on time.") So then I feel like I have to explain myself. Like, "Yeah, I got home, ate dinner and then got sucked into this America's Next Top Model marathon on VH1. Have you ever seen that show? Every season they have an episode where they do crazy shit to all the girls' hair, like chop it all off or dye it a totally random color or something, and someone cries, and it's, like, high drama. So, yeah, I totally got sucked into it, because I had to see this one girl's meltdown after they hacked off her hair, but then they went to commercial, and by the time it came back, I was all comfy on my couch anyway, and then the phone rang and ..." I don't want to get into all that! I also feel like it's a passive-aggressive dig at the fact that I often show up exactly 45 minutes before close. It all feels very judgmental.
Slightly more annoying: The guy who comes up next to the treadmill or elliptical and asks me about random stuff like auto racing. While I'm running. With headphones on. So then I have to take off the headphones, slow down my pace, and pretend that I care. Like trying to run on the treadmill isn't hard enough.
But then there's the most annoying of all: middle-aged men, in particular, one middle-aged man, who apparently has altered his workout schedule to better fit mine. It's the most maddening thing ever. Every night, he comes up to me and launches into a monologue about one of the following things: baseball, his bitch of an ex-wife, his dog, his boat, his kid or the fact that he irons his T-shirts before he works out in them (seriously). Oh, yeah, and that he plans to go tanning when he's done working out. Every Friday and/or Saturday we have the same conversation:
Him: So what are you doing tonight?
Me: Umm ... you know. Hanging out.
Him: My friends are in this band. It's a cover band. They play everything, you name it. They're really good. I'm gonna go watch them play.
Me: That's good. Have fun!
Him: You should come.
Me: Yeah ... well, you know, I'm sure you'll have a great time, but I kinda have plans.
Him: I'm serious. You should stop by. They're really good.
Me: Yeah ... you know, I don't think I'll be able to.
Him: I'll even buy you a drink.
Me: Um ...
Him (leering grin): We could have a really good time.
Me: Yeah ... thanks, but I just don't think I'll be able to.
Him: I mean it. You really need to come. I'll have a drink waiting for you just in case.
Every time, same exact conversation.
The problem is, I don't know how to get away from him. I won't go back to the weights while he's there because he tries to play personal trainer and "show" me (kind of like how a guy "shows" a girl how to swing a golf club) how to do it better. If I'm on the elliptical or whatever, he'll come up and stand by the machine. Last week, he cornered me in the parking lot. And once he gets me trapped, HE WON'T SHUT UP. A response from me is not required. He just goes on and on and ON and I can't get away and it makes me want to bash his skull in with a 30-pound weight.
So, as if I needed an excuse not to go to the gym, I'm finding myself absolutely dreading going lately just because I DON'T WANT TO HAVE A CONVERSATION! If it's not the tan, creepy dude, it's the front-desk girl. Or whatever. I wear headphones! I stare intently at the pictures of Gwen Stefani and Kingston in US Weekly! I don't know what else to do.
The funny thing is, people usually can't get me to shut up. I suppose that's what they call irony.