The New York Dolls - "Don't Start Me Talkin'"
As I have written before:
The YMCA is not my social club. The goal of going there is simple: Get an elliptical workout for thirty minutes with my iPhone blasting some metal; walk on the treadmill for forty minutes while listening to more music; stretch; and then get the hell out of there.
But my fellow middle-aged folks who work out at my Y? Way too social for my tastes. Worse, the men are always looking for new members to recruit into their coffee klatch. Last year, I was carrying my bike helmet and one of them nodded at me and asked about my bike ride. I made some dry comment about it not being bad because "it was all downhill", and now we give each other the nod of recognition. Perfectly fine, because he is content to chat away with his other workout friends and leaves me alone to go sweat it out. But early this year, I made the mistake of talking to another klatch member. He was leaning on an elliptical machine that I wanted to use, talking with his buddy on the next machine. I should have just went and grabbed a treadmill and watched Sports Shouting on ESPN. Instead, I asked him if he would be using the machine, he said no, gave me room to get on it, and then started joking around on how I would have to keep his buddy company. Except I think he was only half-joking. I smiled, put on my earbuds, cranked Motorhead, and put any potential conversations out of my mind.
Look, if you want to be pals with your fellow sweat-soaked companions at the gym, feel free. Just leave me out of it. I don't care about your mortgages, kids, lawn care duties, retirement dreams, grandkids, careers, travel plans, or what you're grilling on your decks. Like I stated above, my focus is to get my exercise and get the hell out of there after stretching. But now that I had spoken to the coffee klatch, in future visits they made eye contact with me, nodded at me, tried to draw me into their conversations. I could see as the year went on that some sort of stratagem was needed to back the coffee klatch away from me. Get a shirt that says LEAVE ME ALONE on it in big block letters? No, not passive-aggressive enough. Quit the Y? No, it's only four blocks away. Work out at a different time? No, the late afternoon time is perfect, allows me to blow my accounting number-crunching brain away and then glide into the evening with a fresh mind. Besides, I'm sure other times of the day have their own coffee klatches.
A few weeks ago on a Tuesday, a few of the klatch were standing around chatting over the NFL Network's replay of the Vikings game from the prior Sunday, which was airing on one of the big screen TVs in the cardio room. The Vikings, sheesh. The joke franchise which has choked/quit/clowned its way through over a half-century of existence, yet is still vastly beloved by the vast majority of sports fans in my part of the world. I actively cheer for the Purple to lose,
Vikings are driving late for a tying or go-ahead score. Teddy Bridgewater drops back to pass … and Broncos blitzers come through unchecked, strip-sack Bridgewater, and pounce on the fumble. Broncos win, remain undefeated, Vikings lose, remain team that can't beat a good team on the road.
And just like I did on Sunday when this game aired live, I pumped my fist and grinned broadly. I didn't overdo it and shout like I had two days prior, but I didn't have any scotch or beef jerky on me this time either. The coffee klatch hasn't tried to lure me into a conversation since.