This morning I came to the gym with a book. And a backup book, in case I finished the first one while pounding out the “miles” on the stationary bike. I also came prepared with story podcasts loaded onto my phone.
Story time. Workout time. Let’s do this!
I strode into the gym thinking Yes, today is the day I polish off my 16th century Japanese buddy-detective murder mystery.
Bard of the Gym
Just as I commenced spinning, Carl, who is roughly my dad’s age, came in and said hi. After the usual niceties, Carl didn’t start warming up on the treadmill. He put his elbow right up on the corner of my bike’s display screen, covering up the calories-burned data. And he started telling a story.
This is what Carl does. I’m used to it. I put the bookmark back in.
Somehow the simple greeting turned into a yarn about the time Carl’s wife impersonated a dearly departed family member so she could settle “Alice’s” bills by telephone. Carl concluded:
“…But I could never pretend to be Alice on the phone. I wouldn’t try that.”
Then he segued:
“Actually, there was one time a robber—a man—answered the phone at my mother’s house and said, ‘Yes, this is Alice speaking.'”
“Oh, dear, your mother got robbed?” So I’m going to hear a crime story after all. I can work with this.
I put my book down. Story time. I’m ready. I cranked the resistance up on my stationary bike and settled in.
My mom and dad were out of town, but the neighbor noticed their bedroom curtain was open. They’d left it closed. So the neighbor figures they’re back early and she calls to see if they’re OK.
“Hello, Alice?,” said the neighbor.
“Yes, this is Alice,” says a man’s voice.
The neighbor knew the person who answered the phone wasn’t Alice, so she called the cops.
Turns out the burglar had smashed out my parents’ back window, and proceeded to make himself at home.
He’d even brought a sack lunch.
When the cops showed up they knocked on the door and the burglar answered the door. He’d been watching TV and was about halfway through his sack lunch.
He claimed to be a family member. So the cops called me down there to identify him. I looked in the squad car and said, nope, don’t know him.
Then the cop told me to check out the house and see whether anything was stolen. I couldn’t really tell; other than the glass smashed in, there didn’t seem to be anything missing.
But when I went back in my parents’ bedroom I saw, lined up on the floor in front of the closet, all of the family photos. The guy had collected all the family pictures from different rooms in the house and the hallways and lined them all up next to each other on the floor.
I don’t know what that was all about.
Anyway, then the cops offered to give me the bench press bar the guy had used to smash the glass. I said OK, and I put it in my garage.
The bar didn’t fit on my home bench press set. The groove where you rack it is too small. So I’d occasionally use it for curls or whatever, but the thing mainly sat around in my garage collecting dust.
Eventually I brought it over here to the gym and asked if they wanted it. They said yeah. There it is, right there.
The Weapon Under Our Noses
Well, Carl. Thanks for that bit of local lore. Now when I’m getting ripped on the bench press I’ll always think of the many hands that have touched this bar. And I won’t forget to use one of those disinfecting wipes.