I went to the gym tonight for the first time in far too long and hit the elliptical machine, since it's currently pouring rain outside with the possibility of snow later tonight. The running gag about gyms is that it can be a great place to scope out women (maybe it's a great place to scope out guys too, I dunno. I've never scoped guys, but I imagine if you wanted to you could probably just walk up and ask them. Guys are pretty easy.) and of course, if you actually ARE a woman, that's pretty intimidating. No one wants to be ogled by perverts, especially when you're sweaty and wheezing. In my case, sweaty and wheezing covers like 80% of my day.
I'm super self-conscious about ogling, because I will be the first to admit that I have roaming eyes. It's a flaw, and I own it. I subscribe more to the "it's the harmless noticing of an attractive person" school of thought than the "it's fucking sexual harassment, asshole" philosophy, but again that's probably because I'm not the one getting sideways glances at the gym. I try to make an extra effort NOT to look at women at the gym because I don't want to come off as a creep show, I don't want to minimize anybody like that, and I definitely don't want this to happen. Luckily the gym has televisions all over the place and if I have my iPod with me I can generally space out to music.
I hop on my elliptical, begin my shame ritual with the machine ("ENTER WEIGHT." "Do I have to?" "YOU MUST BE CONFUSED. ONLY ONE PERSON CAN BE ON THIS MACHINE AT ONCE. PLEASE ASK THE OTHER THREE TO GET OFF.") and begin huffing and puffing. Not five minutes later a woman gets on the treadmill directly in front of me. Now again, I try hard not to give even a second glance, but if I had to guess she is probably about 5'3, petite, and Asian, with hair pulled up in a sloppy bun, almost-comically-oversized-fake breasts threatening to Incredible Hulk their way out of a flimsy midriff-baring piece of spandex, and navy blue spandex pants.
The pants, by the way, are stretched so tightly over her ass that not only can I see the small birthmark on her left cheek, I can read "Sanrio" on her thong and see Keroppi winking at me.
Instantly I'm like a soldier on patrol: I'm looking left, right, up, down, behind me, anywhere so I don't look at this woman's butt. It's disrespectful! Right? Even if, in this particular instance which is certainly not the case for even a small percentage of women in general, this outfit is probably being worn to garner attention? Instantly I lock on to the one thing that got me fat enough to need to go the gym in the first place: television.
Oh good. It's a cooking show. So now in my paranoid, delusional brain everyone in the gym is staring at me not because I'm a pervert, but because I'm so fat that I have to watch cooking shows even while I'm on the elliptical. I know it's ridiculous; as if I somehow willed that channel to the Cooking Network, but that's what I see in my head. I am a fat guy staring at food while exercising.
Except my new-found friend isn't going to make it that easy on me. My eyes catch movement and zero in: she is now rubbing her butt. Seriously. Rubbing her butt while walking on the treadmill. I think maybe she pulled a muscle or something and she's trying to massage out some tension, but these aren't therapeutic-looking rubs. They seem more absent-minded caresses than anything. I realize with horror that it's been way too long since I started observing this. I check the huge windows in front of me: she is staring right at me through the reflection.
Back to cooking! It's one of those "challenge" shows, where contestants have to make dishes every week and get voted off by bitchy critics or something. Normally I can watch these and enjoy them, but in the gym, self-conscious, watching a cooking show with closed captions in which the chefs are cooking bugs for some reason, I can't even feign interest. No problem, because Ms. Asian Pie starts upping the ante by attempting to dig her thong out.
From the front.
We've all had those moments where your underwear just rides up a little too high. It was always the worst for me with boxers; I can't imagine how rough a thong can be, especially during a work-out. Normally that's the moment where you duck into the restroom or at least a quiet corner to take care of business but no, she is going after that thing like it's got 33 Chilean miners on the other end of it.
At this point I'm actually laughing to myself, figuring at any moment Chris Hansen is going to hop on the machine next to me and tell me to relax and just answer a few questions. My brain is going a mile a minute: do gyms run sting operations for perverts? Wouldn't this count as entrapment? Wait a minute, why the hell am I already formulating a defense? I'm now arguing with this woman in my head about how SHE is at fault and I was just an innocent bystander. In fact, I should be kicking HER out for sexual harassment. Who the hell wears see-through pants to the GYM? I have seen more believable work-out gear in PORN.
Over the next 25 minutes of my work-out she jogs idly for about five minutes. The rest of the time is spent rubbing her butt, picking her labial wedgie, or adjusting/admiring her own tits. Seriously. She alternates between the three, but the butt rubbing definitely gets the most time. Meanwhile I develop a cramp in my neck from dramatically throwing my head upwards to the television every time I see her look at me through the window reflection.
She never says anything. No complaints are made, I don't have to defend myself, and my adrenaline-fueled diatribe about political correctness killing the modern male goes unrecited. As she gets off her treadmill and walks away she turns back and makes very direct eye contact for a fraction of a second. Nothing is said.
Nothing needed to be said.