Manhattan may be the only place in the world where going to the gym can take more energy than actually working out there. Imagine a storm, with rain, no, make that hail, not the size of golf balls, but still, hail, which, at its best, is a hard frozen water bullet. Imagine thousands of these, shooting down at you from the sky. Your umbrella was caught in one of the ‘forces of nature’ windtunnels that sky scrapers create when you shove them on top of each other and has done an inside out maneuver on you. Now, your soft little body is completely exposed to hail storm.
You want to get in to your car, go inside, seek shelter, but you have no car, the normal people here don’t even own cars, so you have no friends (assuming your friends are normal) that you could catch a ride with. There is no inside, unless you want to stand in line at the nearest Starbucks, using the guise of ‘caffeine addict’ to suck up the warmth and dryness their tall latte lines offer. There is no shelter, you left your apartment back blocks ago, and, unless you are thinking of making a quick friend in the most unfriendly city in the world, you are out of luck. There is the subway…there is always the subway. But you have fallen in one of those ‘no man zones’ where you are actually closer to your destination than to where the nearest subway train stop would drop you off at.
This is when you start to lose it. You chastise yourself for your lack of preparedness, thinking you should have bought a better umbrella. What were you thinking when you bought an umbrella from a street vender, you know that sort of $10.00 quality would not hold up under the weather here. But it is too late now. You have promised yourself you would make it to the gym today and that is what you are going to do. Those chili cheese fries are sloshing around in your stomach with every step, reminding you just how badly you need this gym visit. That slice of cheesecake that you were supposed to split with your friend and ended up gobbling down while he was in the bathroom, yea, that is in there too. Every step becomes a whining guilty conscience, simultaneously creating a bizarrely mother-like alter ego and giving you the energy to battle onwards.
Your eyes start to dart around, seeking out a store that is in the business of selling ultra-amazing umbrellas that are freezing-water repellent. Meanwhile, your legs continue their painful march across the sleeted avenues. You don't notice the deep rutted puddles full of dog urine and smog water and at once their prevalence makes them almost unavoidable. It is as though they are leaping up to grab you... and while concentrating on your umbrella search and trying to avoid the press of tourists around you, your tennis-shoed foot slips in to one. Usually, you would have your rain boots on. You actually did shell out the $70 to buy the one step up from the worst quality rain boots. But today you promised yourself you would make it to the gym, so it’s the tennis shoes and soaked feet instead. At around 24 degrees outside, your feet have almost instantly frozen. This is a good thing, as the throng of people that surrounds you has doubled in the past half block; the less your feet feel being stepped on, the better.
You wonder how many people you have brushed shoulders with the past few blocks and guess it has been about average for an overcast day, only 80 or 90 people. You laugh at how, at one point in your life, you wouldn’t dream of meeting 100 new people while unshowered and in your gym clothes. But this life that you have chosen does not lend itself to vanity. You promised yourself you would make it to the gym today and by damn you are going to MAKE IT. You are tempted at every corner by street venders selling their $10 and $15 umbrellas. You develop a quick pros and cons list in your head considering the benefit of having an umbrella for the last 3 blocks to the gym and the waste of your lunch money for tomorrow. A less than fully soaked body to present at the gym vs. pb & j for lunch again tomorrow. Moderately soaked persons usually glean somewhat more respect than completely soaked persons, tempting. After another block, you realize that this line of thinking is exactly how you ended up with your broken sub-par umbrella in the first place.
You begin to get desperate. You start to edge closer to those people around you with their super ice-pain-cold repellent umbrellas with the double and triple layers of thick clear plastic walls and pure mahogany handles. When these higher evolved people notice your hovering presence, they jerk away after casting you a dirty look, at best. At worst, they try to umbrella-dagger you in an attempt to assert their territory. You’re constantly walking a fine line between dryness and eyelessness. It is in this fragile condition that you spot an oasis in the crowded frozen tundra, a bus stop…with a bus riding up to it. This is one of the rarest animals in the concrete jungle. You forget your frozen, piss soaked feet. You forget that you are surrounded by unequivocally attractive men and women in business suits who are oozing grace. You forget your worthless labor camp made umbrella, and you run.
You run, dodging traffic like you were in a game of 3-d frogger. After paying the bus man exactly $2.50 in quarters (the only form of currency the Bus Driver recognizes) you have warmth. There are perhaps 40-45 people on this bus, and 20 seats, but in your newly found state of security you are happy to stand. You even glance at the hunched man sitting two inches in front of you and smile, as if to say ‘Isn’t this a wonderful place where we all can share such warmth and light!’ He, in turn, lifts his head to reveal a rotted smile and promptly begins to cough on your coat. Ten stops, and about 3 anti-bacterial uses later (you know that this kind of soap can create super bugs, but sometimes your duty to humanity to stop the creation of super bugs just doesn’t take precedent to tuberculosis exposure) you step off the bus and in to your gym. You made it, now it is time to start your work out.
Ps. (Ok, so maybe I am including emotional and intellectual as well as physical energy in that initial assessment of energy expenditure).
Disclaimer: there are probably grammatical and/or spelling errors in this post, this probably means that either I have a 5th grade education or that I was born with a genetic defect that prohibits me from editing my own writing, (don't worry, I'll probably live).