Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Adventures in Exercise Part 1: Walking at the Public Park

Back in the 70s and 80s, people turned exercise into something dreadfully ugly. There were workout videos and leotards for women. There were men in too-short shorts and their socks pulled up to their knees running around and around the park with extremely sweaty Tom Selleck mustaches. Exercise was gross.

Today, exercise is sexy. Shorts length has finally been regulated for men and women, so that you only see a low-hanging nut once in a rare while. iPods have replaced giant radios that you can strap to your head with velcro. Really dedicated people can go to the gym and hop on the treadmill so that you never have to witness their sweatiness against your will.

Unfortunately, I'm not a gym enthusiast. They exceed my budget by about an entire paycheck and twelve pints of blood. But there are places to exercise cheap or for free if you look hard enough. And they're open to the general public. Won't you let me tell you about these places? Won't you?

Every morning, at around 7, I head over to the closest park for my daily walk. Cost? Nothing. If I walk around it, the distance is about 2-1/2 miles. It's very invigorating and refreshing first thing in the morning. And I see many, many interesting people along the way.

One block before I get to the park, I run into a woman who likes to do her pre-workout stretches by grabbing the light signal pole and bending over with her butt facing oncoming traffic. Then, she crosses the street and does it again. You know, just in case all of the drivers didn't see it the first time. Wouldn't want to strain anything, now would we? I call her "LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!"

I continue my walk and come upon the man I call "Tight Like a Tiger" because he is so ripped, he can no longer move his arms when he runs.

Then, I come upon "Sweaty Old Guy." Sweaty Old Guy has an extremely pained expression on his face. Always. Could it be arthritis, bunions, or tight-fitting underwear causing his pain? Hard to say. We've all seen the pained running expression. It's usually on the face of one of those people who is entirely convinced that he/she is running, but is so obviously exhausted that it's really just an enthusiastic walk.

As my walk continues, I encounter the "Overhead Clapper." As she walks, she claps her hands over her head. Maybe she is trying to keep the East River seagulls at bay. No one knows.

Then, there is "Captain Aftershave." You can smell him from 20 feet away, his Axe cologne permeating the air on wings of awful. And not only does he smell like a frat party's balls, he is also the king of hip-hop. Please envision, if you will, a white man in his early 60s, dressed in an all-white track suit and matching sweatband, shadow boxing to old-school Snoop and Dr. Dre. Now imagine him in the middle of a crowded sidewalk with joggers and bicyclists trying to navigate their way around him. Yeah.

Now that we've talked about my fellow exercise enthusiasts, let's talk about dogs. I understand that dogs have to poop. In one end, and out the other, eh, old boy? But, my god, does your dog need to do that RIGHT THERE by the sidewalk? And what are you feeding that thing, Kibbles and the Flesh of a Rotting Corpse?

Or maybe that smell is just the East River. Every morning with a fresh waft of fish market. Or is it foot jelly on dead unwiped asshole?

And so, as I wrap up my morning walk each day, I think fondly of the park and its daily visitors. Without them, I would have to join a gym and see only the boring people who work out there. You know, the properly shod and attired. People who stretch before working out. The sexy people. And not a leotard or sweaty mustache to be found. Boring. I like my exercise to invigorate me AND smell like old cheese on the belly of a sweaty old man.

Anyone for a walk? No?


NefariousNewt said...

Back in my single days, living in Albuquerque, I would walk the streets every night after work for an hour, varying the pattern and direction of walking every night to keep from getting bored. I did most of my walking at night simply because it allowed me to avoid the impediments caused by other people.

Back when I worked in NYC, I would walk from Penn Station to the office, braving the sidewalks filled with New Yorkers going about their daily business of feeling self-important, discussing their ailments at the top of their lungs on their cell phones, and of course the hordes of tourists who wandered to and fro as if they had never seen a city before (kind of the inverse of "leaf peepers" that forever choke the roads of New England in the Autumn).

Nowadays the only exercise I get is chasing my daughter around the house, and she's getting too fast for me.

Anonymous said...

Ew. Ew. Remind me to never take a brisk morning walk with you, sugar.

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

@nn: Back in KS, I would walk our 8 mile back roads. Up and down hills, stepping over snakes, avoiding moving farm equipment. Good times. Goooood times.

@fitforafemme: But I'm so much fun first thing in the morning. With my eye crispies and bed head. And usually pretty hairy legs.

Greta said...

Probably the funniest thing ever.

I don't believe in exercise, and I resent all the people that do so enthusiastically. My resentment usually manifests itself in the form of harassing runners by screaming at them, "WHAT ARE YOU RUNNING FROM?!??!?!?!"

...'cause, you never know, I may need to start running, too.

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

@greta: OMG, the fun we could have if you hit the park with me some morning. Someone needs to set the Astoria Park crazies straight. Why not Greta?

Greta said...

I long to caress the guttergarbage and molest hobos. When I come to NY, you may host my awesomeness.

PS. Saw your sister this weekend. Boy, does she rock.

nadarine said...

"You smell like a frat party's balls" is now my all-purpose insult. Merci.

*h said...

Oh, dude, let me tell you: it's even worse at the gym. At least when you're outdoors, crazy stretchy sweaty people run on by you, never to be seen again. In the gym, crazy sweaty guy likes to take the treadmill right next to yours, where he runs faster than his body wants to, and his sweat goes flying on all surrounding treadmill passengers.

Grunt Man is also in full effect at the gym. Not only does he lift weights, ladies, but he does it with a big old grunt, to let you know he means business.

Before I moved to my current location, I switched over to a women's gym, which was much nicer. No grunting. No obnoxious showboating. No obvious leering at the asses of fellow workout-goers.

Now I just walk the dog everyday. It's lovely. I miss the women's gym, but I'd rather be outside anyday.

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

@greta: In Astoria, it's more likely that you will have to settle for molesting old Greek men. As for my sister, dude, I know it. Get that bitch, and both of you come visit me.

@nadarine: That was my intention. Mwahahahaha!

@h: I am NEVER joining a gym now, thanks to you. :) And I like being outside too. That's part of the reason I carry on with the outside walking and swimming activities.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who studies and names people they encounter while exercising. At the Y, I would frequently see Panty Man, aka this old man whose shorts look like underwear and the Elf, aka a woman so wee, I could scoop her up and put her in my pocket.

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

@bgc: At the same time it makes you wonder if other people come up with names for you. I bet I'm Heifer Legs or something like that.