Last week, my daughter and I went together to the gym on the day after New Year's Day. It was a mistake -- The place was chockfull of folks who made New Year's resolutions.
Don't get me wrong. I am not, as my wife can tell you, a) an exercise nut, b) in any kind of shape, or c) generally all that aware of my fellow man. I go to the gym on a regular basis, do a minimal workout, and then sit in the sauna, shower and go home. I'm not trying to get in shape or look good. I'm just trying to not die anytime soon. (If you go to the gym and regularly see a middle-aged man who shuffles from machine to machine, looking like a slightly flabby and somewhat bored zombie, you should walk over and say hi. It's probably me.)
The gym is already full of people who get on my nerves. First, there are the guys who lift huge amounts of weight, and in between sets strut around and look at themselves in the mirrors while they hold their arms out at weird angles as if they can't put them down at their sides. (The mirrors are just there for those guys. The rest of us do not want to see ourselves in pain.)
There are a fair number of grunters, too, people who punctuate each and every lift with a deep hoarse "Huhhhh!" and drop the weights on the ground just to make sure you know how strong they are. (If they were actually strong, they would lift the weights quietly and easily. They are a big reason the rest of us are wearing headphones.)
Then there are people who sweat way, way too much. If you notice that the exercise machine is dripping wet after you get done, and the person waiting to use it looks as if he or she just swallowed something awful, you're probably one of these people. (The rest of us would like to chip in and buy you a home gym.)
For most of the year, the preeners, grunters, sweaters, and middle-aged folks who are just hoping to live long enough to meet their grandchildren get along. But for a few days at the beginning of each year, the gym is full of slightly and temporarily determined folks who have decided, after a New Year's Eve of too much champagne, that this is the year they're going to finally change their lives. Suddenly, you have to edge through crowds as if you're at a party, and if you get time on a machine, there are two people standing right behind you, waiting for you to finish.
Of course, if you turn on your TV this time of year, most of the ads will be for gym memberships. That's because the gyms know that you'll sign up so you can make good on your New Year's resolution, and then slowly but surely will lose your resolve and stop coming. That's the way it works. You don't actually quit the gym. You just get too "busy" to go and make excuse after excuse until suddenly months have gone by and you can't find your membership card, and you'd rather not think about it. Nothing happens until sometime in June, when your significant other looks at the credit card bill and angrily demands to know why you never canceled that #$%^• • & membership.
We all know that in a few weeks, a month tops, they'll be gone, and their resolutions, which only last through January but are paid for through June, will subsidize our memberships all year long. Until they drift away, however, I trudge around the gym, silently giving "sell by" dates to the resolute ones.
The lady sitting at the bench press machine talking on her cell phone? Three days. The guy in jeans and mall walkers, scratching his head and reading the little sticker on the side of the curl machine to find out what muscle he's building up? A week-and-a-half. The young woman sitting on an exercise ball, bouncing on it like it's a Hoppity Hop? Today's probably her last day.
That guy over in the free weight section, grunting and preening and leaving a dribbly trail of sweat wherever he goes? He'll be here through next New Year's Day. And the sad-looking, droopy guy shuffling along trying not to look at anybody? He'll be here till he gets grandkids.
Homemaking is a column about the people, projects and pride that make a house a home. Peter McKay, a Ben Avon resident, is a nationally syndicated columnist with Creators Syndicate. To see past columns, go to www.post-gazette.com. Contact him at www.peter-mckay.com.