I know it’s hard to believe, but I actually used to eat right and exercise. For a while it seemed good for me and all, but I’ve yet to meet a fried food or piece of milk chocolate I didn’t like. They sing in my ear like sirens and lure me back to familiar shores.
Good grief, was that some pretentious writing or what?
Anyway, during my stretches of healthful living, I used to work out at the JCC. Yes, the Jewish Community Center, home to hard bodies, Spandex and spray tans. Kidding. I actually went to the JCC to avoid all that. The average age of a JCC gym-goer is 72. Baggy sweats and old college t-shirts are the dress code.
The only tans you see are Boca Tans; the isolated area of the leg between the bottom of Bermuda shorts and the top of knee high socks. Arms are tanned from the elbows down. Everything else has been covered by scarves and hats.
I would be exaggerating if I said that the music they piped in was Hava Nagila, but to be honest, one or two klezmer bands made their way on to the play list. The rest was a compelling mix of Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond.
I’ve never been to a real gym, but I’ve certainly seen them on TV. As I understand it, in a real gym the whole idea is to be the strongest, the fastest, and the best specimen of physical prowess. Not so at the JCC. The goal there is to see who has the most numerous and significant health issues.
For example, if you’ve just had a hip replacement, you would put on your sweats, throw a towel around your neck, and sit around the weight-lifting equipment until others arrive. Best practice is to wipe the imaginary sweat off your brow, guzzle some water out of a sports bottle, and sigh heavily. Once the gym is sufficiently populated throw out “Oy, with the hip replacement, it’s enough a’ready” to no one in particular, yet almost directly to enough people that several will feel guilty enough to ask if you’re OK, and pretend to listen sympathetically.
The end game is for everyone to stop you from working out. “Mildred! Get off that treadmill right this minute! What about your hips?” In the safety of numbers, others will chime in, “For heaven’s sake Mildred! Are you meshugana*?”
Mildred will slowly step off the treadmill, loudly warning everyone that she doesn’t need any help. Then she will turn to me and say “Oy, such a young person, in such good shape; you don’t know from the hips and the knees and the back.”
Tell me-where else am I going to go to work out where everyone else finds me to be the youngest, and in the best shape? Gotta love my people for keepin’ it real.
*Yiddish for coco-loco