Sunday, February 3, 2008

Working Out as an Exercise in Conversation

Working out these days.. It really isn’t even “these days” because it has never really happened before. The brief moments it did happen were when I was on the freshman high school football team. That is the last period where I regularly used a bench press. Then I faintly recall having a romance with the gym at the junior college College of the Canyons but what is peculiar about that period is I can’t seem to mentally fit it in. That is, the junior college period doesn’t fit in my general understanding of how my life shifted aggressively into the future. I don’t recall what year it was but it must have been around 1991. Actually, these events, that is things like working out, defined actions that come with environments and smells, are in some way a form of time travel. They currently allow me to sew these past two events (high school, post-high school and the present) into one awkward unified experience. I would even go so far as to say that my personality at each interval was more or less the same. That is: the gym produces an uncomfortable yet masculated me. That mixture of emotions that the gym produces is a particular concoction of me that travels through time and recognizes itself every brief moment it steps out onto this sweat filled, moaning stage. I remember thinking that the first step downhill is when you give these versions of yourself a name. I am not going to do it, but of course, it is tempting to call the gym-me: Brett. And we could call the writer me: Allen.
I like this idea that time travel is possible through particular memorable spaces of smell, orientation and environment. Surely, if I ever wanted to travel back to my days working at Del Taco it would be as easy as begging someone working there to let me behind the counter. I could move back in time and recall what it felt like to work for $3.33 an hour as the drink station supervisor. Wow. I could also recall the anticipation of saving up for my Ford Pinto Wagon and being in my terrible punk band Cows on Acid. You know that name Cows on Acid sounds like one of those band names that never really existed but somehow manages to exist on bad television. But in fact, this was the name of our band. Probably the lamest name of all time except my friend Anthony’s band, which was Overt Volition. That name clearly derives from the punk rock high school band habit of searching the dictionary for intellectual sounding words and then infusing them with something equaling ‘kicking ass’. Another example of that is the band, Ill Repute. Ugh.
So, right, I have been working out and it is peculiar indeed. I have one of these annoying personalities that really gets into something obsessively. It is like a fair-weather syndrome. I say fair-weather because the same thing is happening with me and the Red Sox. I used to hate the Red Sox and baseball altogether and then it clicked, if I like the Red Sox I can talk to about anyone in New England. And surely a modicum of small talk is strategically useful. Not only that but one must continuously put themselves through forms of personality calisthenics. Particularly around things like cultural taste where most of it is arbitrary anyways. Try reversing direction and liking the things you once hated. It can be difficult. I can’t actually say that I am always capable of such things. But when I manage to pull it off, when I manage to completely find myself obsessed with something I once hated, then I feel like I made some points on some out of this world personality score card.
That is how it is with working out. But then again… once you dip into the well of personality types you find nauseating, most times you learn what makes people tick. That mind/body thing is real. More real than I imagined. In the case of working out, I really should name the pre and post work out Nato, two different things. But I would hate to change my name to Brett. When I talk about how great working out is, I feel somewhat like a born again Christian where if I am talking to someone who doesn’t do it, they get this look in their eye like “woe, psycho path full of too much enthusiasm.” I think I might even start breathing hard when I start discussing it.
Ohhhhh.. that reminds me of an epiphany that is too good to waste. It must be written. Even at the cost of being pathetically tangential and self-obsessed, we must clean the mind of epiphanies. We must pour them until the body is just the well worked out body it once was. Here is the idea; I have often found that when the body desires something, it often compensates for it by talking about it. As though it can feed itself through conversation. The most obvious example, is when you’re hungry and you love just talking about what you should eat. As though each utterance is in fact a morsel: ribs, mashed potatos, chicken burrito, gnocchi, ahhhh! Particularly when people get drunk. That is the best. They feed themselves with their words. Egos need feeding and when people get drunk they often (I know I do) often speak in hyperbole because it tastes better!
So, working out… dear god. I don’t even care about this subject anymore. I’m hungry! Ribs!

-June 16, 2006

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