September 16, 2004

Wasting Your Life

Print More

With Passover just around the corner, Memorial Day still lingering, and Lachdischen week but a month away, all of us — Jews, Christians, and Tories alike — are reminded of the toil and hardship that our ancestors suffered so that we could live in a relatively free world: free of chains, free of sound, but, most importantly. free of hard, manual labor. I mean, come on, who needs it? The reason we are all in college is so that we can, one day, make a living hovering over desks or correcting punctuation for a living with our bland, little lives (no reference to daze editors). We spend our free time practicing Instant Message smiley faces, littering our walls and closets with Periodic Tables of Booze posters, and figuring out the easiest way to make machines work for us. Life is easy and fun for the most part.

But there is one place so backwards and twisted that it seemingly pays no attention to these worldly trends. As we enter the third dimension, it begins to come into view: the gym. Is this place for real? Think about it: Life can be so easy and air-conditioned, yet some people actually aggregate in these sultry jungles for hours on end with the sole purpose of sweating, fatiguing, and wearying their bodies until they can’t breath properly. This sounds like what Edith Piaf, ’46, calls “masochistic.” As a journalist, I was determined to explore this strange phenomenon. My first thought was to call an official of this group and get some kind of statement. But we all know by now that their fantastic ability to circumvent questions, coupled with my tendency to break phones, necessitated a visit. So into the trenches I went. The first thing that struck me when I landed in this little mess nest was how much art truly flowed in the veins of the place. Generally we recognize ballet and bulk in two isolated groups, occupying the opposite poles of human ability. But art and exercise coexist here.

Everyone has their tunes blasting. Self-expression blossoms as people shed their conformed wardrobe and strip down to the bare bones. Revealing. Vulnerable. Even the cadence and rhythm of lunges and hustles seemed like a bit of a dance. So what was this connection? I decided to ask an expert. His name was Tyler, and he wipes the machines after they are used:

daze: So you spend a lot of time here, eh?

Tyler: I work on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Well now it’s Fridays too.

daze: Why do you think that the gym is so popular these days?

Tyler: Well, come on. Chicks are fat. Well, not her. That’s Melissa. But yeah.

daze: What do you think is more postmodern? Running miles and miles but going nowhere, climbing flights upon flights of stairs but not getting any higher, or lifting dozens of pounds of weight when all we have to do with our arms is turn pages of books and open doors?

Tyler: Well, all of our equipment here is completely up to date. We make sure ’bout it. If it doesn’t work then we put a sign on it.

daze: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen at the gym?

Tyler: People working out. I guess it’s normal, but people work really hard at it. For them, it’s strange I guess. I don’t think about it too much.

daze: How can you tell if a guy has great pecks or it’s just, you know … How can you tell if its chest muscles or fat muscles?

Tyler: What? I don’t know. I don’t really look.

daze: Oh come on.

Tyler: Is this going to be in the newspaper?

daze: Well, do you consider daze a newspaper? (laughs) Do you think that it is more important to work out and build some sort of personal defense system in the form of muscles with this new assault arm ban lifted? I mean its getting more dangerous out there. Don’t we need some punch with all these armed bandits out there?

Tyler: Yeah, I think closer to home it’s a problem too. At my friend’s frat last week, we were playing this game with some jump ropes and this beer. Well, it wasn’t a beer, but it was in a beer can. We were playing the game. I forget the rules. But, yeah, a fight broke out. This kid was totally running his mouth. Well, this kid was huge. Hold on, wait a second.

Archived article by Brian London
Red Letter Daze Contributor