Thursday, January 21, 2010

Unleaded or Regular?

I was driving to the gym tonight after work and patting myself on the back because tonight was the fifth day in a row that I have pulled on my neon green shorts (purchased for a mere 50 cents from the Salvation Army) and my extra-large t-shirt with frayed neck, tied up my grass stained tennis shoes, planted my sorry, now somewhat larger, butt in the car, drove two minutes to the health club, parked, walked in and actually participated in physical activity.  In the past six months I am pretty positive that I have seen the inside of this health club a total of approximately 10 times.  I could blame myself for not placing exercise high on my list of priorities.  I could blame myself for not having the fortitude to suck it up and go even when there really wasn't a free moment.  I could have forced myself to get up and on that elliptical at 5:00 a.m..  Um, not really.  I tried the early workout once and almost threw up on the machine. 

What I choose to blame for my lack of healthy exercise, however, is acronyms.  Yes, acronyms.  Two, to be specific, which monopolized my time for months.  One I promised not to speak of til summer ( begins with B and ends with D).  The other begins with a P and ends with an D and now resides in Ecuador.   And okay, there was Thanksgiving and Christmas, leisure trips on my favorite interstates, laundry, rare fits of cleaning, and those annoying habits of eating and sleeping.

So, as I was saying, I was driving to gym, congratulating myself on getting back in the saddle, so to speak, and I noticed my windshield was dirty.  I really hate driving with a dirty windshield so I regularly hit the little handle on the steering wheel that squirts water on your windshield and then automatically kicks on the wipers so next thing you know, voila! you have a clean windshield.   Recently I've noticed that when I wash my windshield with the wiper solution I smell this weird sweet fragrance.  I'm not sure what it is, but I'm 99.9% sure it's coming from my wiper fluid.  I'm not sure, but I think the last time I got my oil changed and they topped off my fluids, they must have put in some kind of sweetened wiper water.  Why would anybody want sweet wiper fluid?  I only smell it while the water is squirting so it's not like it would freshen your car.  I find it a bit too sweet for my taste anyway.  But there you have it.  My wiper fluid smells sweet when I clean my windshield.

Smelling that sweet scent tonight reminded me of other aromas.  One day I thought my car smelled like cat pee when I drove to work.  I don't think I had cleaned my windshield that morning so it's not like the wiper water rotted and started smelling.  And anyway, it smelled sweet the next time I used it so it couldn't have been that.  I didn't hear any cat screams when my engine started so I know there wasn't any cat up under my hood that sprayed itself in fear when I turned the key.  I only smelled it that one morning and it wasn't there when I drove home but I'm pretty sure it was cat pee.

And then tonight as I was on the elliptical, an overwhelming smell of cigarette smoke engulfed me.  I looked over and a guy had just gotten on the machine to my right.  He stunk.  Like cigarette smoke.  I tried to make excuses for him because he was a solidly built bald guy with a goatee and I'm partial to  bald guys with beards.  I wanted to believe he didn't want to walk into a health club, a place people go to be healthy, stinking like an ashtray.  It could be that his New Years Resolution is to quit smoking and get in better shape.  He was there, after all.  He was on the elliptical.  Maybe he is down to only one cigarette a day and he smoked it just before he walked into the gym. Maybe he really wants to quit smoking and he just hasn't been able to.  I tried to be sympathetic to the difficulty he's having trying to quit smoking but I just couldn't get past the fact that he stunk.  He reeked of smoke.  I had to breathe in those noxious fumes while I was sweating on the elliptical.  And I was breathing hard because I was working hard and that meant I was sucking in volumes, liters, gallons, cubic inches, pretty much most of the stinky smoky air surrounding him.  I might have lost minutes off my life instead of adding them.

There are things that happen in your body when you are working out.  There's something about physical activity that improves the flow of the blood and air through all your veins and arteries.  Gases that are normally under control discover new unimpeded pathways and routes of release.  Your guts are pushed and squashed and jostled so that little bubbles of air begin flowing and moving and gaining speed and momentum and in their excitement to be free it becomes more difficult to control their escape.  Of course there are some situations when control is easier than others.  Pilates, for example can be a challenge when you're throwing your legs up in the air and back over your head.  Pilates takes a great deal of concentration and control.  It can even require some preventive and proactive action before the class begins.  The elliptical, on the other hand, is just legs moving up and down.  There's not alot of jostling or pressing of innards.   It's rare to be surprised by freedom-seeking effluvium while on the elliptical. 

So, tonight, while I was inhaling stale cigarette smoke I felt no compunction to keep my gases in control.  I pumped my legs.  I sweat.  I stared straight ahead and yes, I did.  My silent mephitic gift to him.  My only regret is knowing Mr. Lucky Strike probably didn't even notice over the smell of his own cigarette smoke.◦


Jerry said...

your comments made me realize why I consider the word "exercise" a dirty word. More power to you, but I will keep my resolution not to exercise any more than necessary. Pushing and lifting caskets is the extent of my exercise.

Art Elser said...

Next time you run into a situation like that, Cathy, give Al a call on your cell. He has excellent control over those "freedom-seeking effluvium" and can discharge them at will. And your smoker would have noticed it, guarandamnteed. :-)