Far be it from me, a humble and EXTREMELY TALENTED first time essay writer, to comment on society (One quick comment on society; isn’t it suspicious how no one’s supposed to comment on it?).  Farther be it from me to comment on an aspect of society I don’t understand.  I speak of course, about the gym.  Perhaps it’s hard for you, the reader, to imagine why I, the writer, do not understand the gym. “His tone has been so strong in the first five lines,” you might mutter to yourself.  “I imagined him with a six pack (of abs, alcohol is a SIN)”.  Well I’m sorry to disappoint you, the reader.  I have a confession to make.  I, Ike Flitcraft, am not a “gym rat”.  Nor am I a “church mouse” or a “snake in my boot™”.  I am not the latter because Disneycorp International© owns the copyrights.  I am not the midular because a church seems like the last place to find cheese and any self-respecting mouse wouldn’t be caught dead there.  And I’m not the former because I am not physically fit.  This is mostly the point of this essay.  Please disregard all things latter and midular.

Here’s a story that should give you a frame of reference as to my physicality. “I went to the doctor recently. He said ‘Ya need to work out more or your wife might leave ya’.  So I says to him ‘I don’t like that “might”’.  Then we traded wives and I left the doctor’s office”-Rodney Dangerfield (probably).  Now obviously this completely accurate Rodney Dangerfield quote didn’t actually happen to me.  But I bring it up for a very specific purpose: vilifying someone else for wife swapping before revealing a nasty truth about myself. Allow me to paint the scene.

Picture if you will a serene residential street.  The yards are filled with landscaped shrubs and wooden swings hang from every fourth tree.  Some sway in the breeze, but not in that horror movie kind of way.  The houses are similar but each has it’s own distinctive “flavor”.  A boy plays fetch with his dog.  The dog is a golden retriever.  The boy is a Caucasian.  The gentle hum of passing cars creates a subtle white noise that is broken occasionally by friendly robins conversing with one another.  “What a wonderful day” they chirp, “another lovely opportunity to defecate on passersby. Thank god their puny brains are unable to grasp our glorious language”.  In the distance an old married couple sip Arnold Palmers.  They’ll have been married 71 years this coming Friday.  They look lovingly into each other’s eyes.  They know the end is near and they simply don’t give a damn.

Three girls jump rope.  They chant joyously, “Miss mary mack mack mack, all dressed in black black… ewww! Who is that guy?!”  The horrible retching of a strange young man interrupts them.  He has elected to vomit in their mother’s petunias.  He hunches over for another go.  The girls run screaming.  One of them trips and skins her knee.  The other two leave her behind for dead.  Little girls are caddy like that.  And yet in this upsetting story they are far from the villains.  The golden retriever runs from his boy in search of a tasty meal in need of a second digesting.  And as for the old couple, well luckily they had passed quietly into the netherworld just moments before this unseemly event.  The strange young man wipes vomit from his face and utters a single sentence to his friend/jogging partner.  “I uh… (more retching), I don’t think this is my thing”.  For years the community would wonder what the strange young man meant by these words.  Did he mean vomiting wasn’t his thing?  Did he mean ruining picturesque mornings wasn’t his thing?  One should hope not!  Well I have the answer.  By now you, the intuitive reader, might have guessed it.  I was that strange young man.  That day I had attempted a light jog with my friend Charles (name removed for personal reasons).  “It’ll be fun,” he said.  “You’ll feel healthy,” he also said.  These of course were his last words to me.  I don’t speak to liars.  We haven’t seen each other since.  I had run only a quarter mile when my asthma, nausea, and undiagnosed agoraphobia set in.  This was the point at which I chucked (word removed for being to similar to Charles).  And so when I said “I uh… (more retching), I don’t think this is my thing”.  I was referring to exercise.

So then why am I, someone foreign to the world of fitness, writing an essay entitled “I Am Going to Open a Gym”? I’ll tell you why.  It’s because I am going to open a gym.

My gym will be called ‘The Barbell’.  At first glance, my gym will seem like any other gym.  At a second glance, my gym will still seem like any other gym.  But if you dare glance a third time you’ll notice something new and exciting.  You guessed it.  Did you guess it?  I’m not actually sure if you guessed correctly because you, the reader, and I, the writer, are separated by both time and space.  I’ll just tell you.  It’s alcohol!  The nectar of the gods!  Which could explain why those guys were always “boinking” their relatives.  At my gym the alcohol won’t be present at first.  Allow me to disclose my business plan.

I’ll pick a great location and gather together enough investors to purchase top of line equipment I saw on an infomercial once.  My investors will all have to be schmucks for my plan to succeed.  I’ll canvas the area looking for wealthy idiots.  My board of directors will be made up mostly of toothless prospectors who “struck it rich in them there hills”.  My staff on the other hand will be top of the line.  It will include not one, but two Olympic coaches and not one, but zero toothless prospectors.  The average gym goer will find him or herself in awe of how clean and accepting my facilities are.  Grime will not be tolerated but all walks of life will be.  People will come from all over for a superb gym experience.  As my clientele grows so too will the sexual tension common to the gym experience.  In the heat of pure physicality, men will find themselves returning to their basest animal instincts.  Women will find themselves returning to their basest excuses as to why they’re busy this weekend.  It’s at this point that I will begin to take full advantage of their sexual frustration.

“Hello everyone” I’ll announce “Perhaps you’ve noticed a strange wooden structure being constructed behind the elliptical for the last week.  Well I’d like to announce that we here at The Barbell now proudly serve alcoholic beverages and cater to all your nightlife needs.  We of course will continue to cater to your fitness needs with the exceptional service you’ve grown accustomed to.  Thank you for your time”.  There will be outrage, as could be expected from people “in the know” about fitness.  My clientele will raise concerns.  “Alcohol is a terrible thing to ingest during physical activity,” they’ll moan, “it doesn’t hydrate you at all”.  In response to these complaints I will take three reactive measures.  First, I will place a comment box on the front desk so even when I’m not present patrons will feel like they are being heard.  I will sit by the fire every night, even on the hottest of summer days, and read these comments aloud to my cat Derrick.  Derrick and I will LOSE OUR MINDS with laughter.  Second, I will look these patrons dead in the eye and promise that at no point will alcohol be served during gym hours.  Thirdly, I will break this promise.

You see, it is only a matter of time before some poor fellow strikes out with a beautiful woman near the treadmill one morning.  My guess is that, upon realizing his proximity to a bar, he will immediately try to drown his sorrow.  Further easing his decision will be the peculiar way I pay a bartender to stand behind the bar polishing a single glass all day, even when we’re “closed”.  Alcohol and a confidant.  How could the sad-sack resist?  I imagine another man might try buying a drink for a woman lifting weights before he hits on her.  I understand this to be a common transaction.  I wouldn’t know.  I’m not gross.  Gossip will fly around The Barbell.  “Hey did you here about Jack?” someone will say, “He went home with that cute girl that was using the stair-climber”.  “That’s crazy” another customer will chime in, “because it’s 8:00am on a Tuesday. They should both be heading to work.”

From this point forward it will be like taking candy from a sweat covered, drunken baby.  I’ll expand the Barbell’s menu.  We’ll have Protini’s, Mint Ju-lifts, ABSynth, Gym and Tonics.  But the cherry on top will be when I unveil the gym’s new tagline:  The Barbell: Get Fitfaced.  By this point subtlety will be dead.  But it won’t matter.  People will be hooked and they’ll come back every morning for more.  They’ll drink and they’ll exercise and they’ll hit on each other and it will be glorious.  It will be a gold mine, much to the satisfaction of my toothless investors who already understand a great deal about goldmines.

Eventually, of course the workout and the alcohol won’t mix.  Many patrons will get sick.  They’ll vomit all over at the most inopportune times.  They’ll make fools of themselves in front of friends, strangers, and potential love interests.  They’ll beg and plead for a refund.  They’ll want to cancel their memberships in shame.  The investors, disturbed by the numbers, will hunt me down in search of answers.  But they won’t find me.  I’ll be long gone.

As patrons’ memberships run out slowly, The Barbell will become a thing of the past.  The staff will be cut drastically over time.  But one employee will remain through it all, cleaning up vomit until the bitter end.  A seasoned old janitor named Picanzo.  As the last patron finally walks out the door in disgrace Picanzo will slowly look up from the pile of vomit he is mopping.  The brim of his gray baseball cap will rise high enough to reveal his tender, satisfied face.  A single tear of joy will roll down his cheek.  He’ll gather his emotions into one conclusive sentence.  “I uh… (no retching), I think this was my thing” he’ll say.  Finally, Picanzo will remove what is now clearly a fake mustache to expose the most handsome of all faces.  My most handsome of all faces.  That’s right.  I was/will be Picanzo.  And I’ll finally have/have had my revenge/gratification.

Some will say my plan is impractical.  Particularly they will cite the period of time in which I am forced to clean up vomit and hide from potential fraud charges.  These are naysayers or “haters” as rappers and teenage girls call them.  These are the same people who just PARAGRAPHS AGO asked what qualifies me to write an essay entitled “I am Going to Open a Gym”.  And because I’d like to end on the title of this essay I will answer them just one more time.  I am going to open a gym!

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