STORY – The Gym and the Morgue

Morgue Picture

When I go to the local three story super-über-alles gym near me, I walk the short, ten minute distance–the idea being that I get exercise from the very moment I step out the door to the last moment I step back in for tea and pastry to try and neutralize my exercise and whatever benefits I’d managed to gather. Get them back down to zero and make sure the universe, my universe, stays in balance.

And it is a balancing act, this good-for-me exercise versus good-for-me sloth. Get too much exercise and I feel as though I have to sit around doing nothing in a major way just so my body understands I’m not going to go all macho fitness fanatic on it. My body responds nicely by neither gaining nor loosing weight. We are in agreement. My body yings and yangs along, comprehending my balancing act.

Anyway, when I walk to the gym, I usually take a short cut through what seems a rather under-used hospital and its parking lot. Detached from the main building, I pass a rather unadorned one-story squat pile of gray and dull red bricks. There’re tiny windows stuck high up near the roof so I can’t peek in. A modest plaque posted near the door states that this structure is the hospital’s morgue. This building’s primary job is to motivate me once I’m in the gym.

But once in gym-land, I only ever do one of two things. I swim, or I sauna. Everything else is too much like plain old ugly exercise. I don’t like to run in one place or lift things, or strain my heart muscle, or turn red in the face. So a lot of the gym’s three-story building is mostly a modernized Dark Ages Torture chamber for people who pay good money and require a certain level of self-gratifying pain and strain. The sauna is my speed: just lie there and self-clean. Without moving a muscle. But it’s also a favorite gathering spot for chunky, thick-jawed, one eyebrow Eastern Europeans or Albanians or something really foreign and threatening. They have facial stubble, wide shoulders and look like hit men who enjoy their work, at least in my movie. They come in packs of threes and grunt and mumble and make me want to cover my genitals and tell them I don’t owe anyone any money.

The best thing about the sauna is lying there naked and free and sweating in a meditative quiet, in a sweat bliss of silence. But when the ex-Soviet Block hit squad isn’t there and mumbling, two or more local guys come in and treat the place like a café down the corner. For me, a sauna is a bit like a dark, quiet church. For these others, it’s time to talk office politics or brag about bargains they got in IT equipment. They’re not atuned to social niceties like, shut the fuck up, idiots, which is always on the tip of my cowardly tongue. It’s hard, really hard, to listen to crap when you sweat. There I am trying to clean my pores, and there they are dumping aural junk in my ear holes.

Then I think of the morgue outside, waiting for my return walk-by, and I stick it out a bit longer, cleansing something that may be dirty, diseased, or just weird accumulated gunk I knew nothing about. Enduring foreign words of vague threat or unmitigated triviality, enduring beyond the morgue outside, enduring for the moment.

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One Response to “STORY – The Gym and the Morgue”

  1. limewire says:

    lol amazing stuff man.

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