“There she is!” said the man wearing the sky blue t-shirt with the word “TRAIN” emblazoned across the chest.
I did a double-take. Me? I looked behind me. Nope. No one there.
“Are you talking to me?” I asked.
“Yes, you. I see you almost every day. You’re always smiling or laughing.”
Okay. Now I know he’s talking to someone else. “I try!” I said and went on my way to the corner of the gym with the cushioned floor mat so I can stretch.
If you know me at all, you know that I don’t walk around with a grin on my face smiling and waving at strangers. In fact, if you see me out, I’m usually staring straight down at the ground with my ear buds in. Being among throngs of people makes me anxious. I tend to avoid eye contact at all costs.
I’m not what you’d describe as “chipper.” I’m not even all that friendly, really. Nor am I rude. I’m just…detached. I stay in my own little world and rarely step outside of it for anybody I don’t know and trust.
But for those two hours in the morning, I am plugged in to my surroundings. I smile. I laugh. I chat. I sweat. I ache.
The gym transforms me into someone I don’t even recognize. She’s available and open. She’s positive. She’s happy.
“It’s the endorphins!” you’ll say, and you’ll probably be right. But there’s something else to it, a shift to my perspective. I mentioned sometime last month, after the whole Michael thing, that I realized something very important. I’d been so afraid that I’d shatter in a million pieces if he rejected me and I didn’t. It hurt, for sure. But it wasn’t the crushing blow that I thought would cause me to further shut down. Just the opposite. It made me want to put myself out there and try again.
Tinder and Bumble still suck a gigantic bag of dicks. Don’t get me wrong. I still plug away, matching with people and sending messages and rarely getting a response. That hasn’t changed, nor do I expect it to, really. Online dating is a carousel nobody wants to hop off of any time soon. Round and round we all go, seeing the same faces (literally), swiping left and right with no concrete goal or purpose other than to see how attractive people think you are.
I’m still – for going on three years now – writing my book. Every day, day after day, I make time to write. The story is there. The characters are robust and compelling. But it’s just a manuscript, a file on my computer. It’s not a book. It’s not a movie. It’s not a TV series. Right now it’s not even a stepping stone to my dream job of writing for TV. It’s just a fifth draft. 51,1010 words to be exact. I keep at it because I can’t quit. I’ve invested too much time and emotion. “Don’t you dare quit,” the voice inside me says. “Don’t even think about giving up. You are not a quitter. You’re almost there.” I quit when things get hard. Yaw the smaht one, my sisters back in Boston like to say. I am the smaht one, which is why I get so frustrated with myself that writing this book hasn’t been easier. I’m wicked smaht. It’s supposed to be easy.
I suppose that’s why my demeanor does a 180 degree turn when I’m at the gym. I can see changes in my body from working out. I have tangible physical evidence that something at which I am working very hard is paying off. I may not be the most popular woman on OKCupid, but I can squat lift almost 50 pounds; I now run intervals at 7.0 mph; and my stomach hasn’t been this flat since I was twenty-seven. And I haven’t even touch upon how round and firm my ass is. And – AND! – no more knee push-ups for me. Nope. I’ve graduated to Big Girl Push-Ups. I’m making strides that I can see. The sense of accomplishment I feel is the fuel I need to keep writing. If I stick with it – if I do not quit – I will see results. That’s an indisputable fact.
Serving as extra motivation is being able to go to the gym a few times a week and stare at what has to be The. Best. Ass. I’ve ever seen. We’re not going to call him Gym Boy anymore. That nickname does not do him justice. We’re going to call him Guy Whose Face I Want To Sit On For Hours because, damn. So, I’m on the treadmill the other day, doing my thing, when I see him in front of me with a bar bell on his lap. Slowly he thrusts his hips upwards. Up and down. Up and down.
I can’t work like this.
I get horny just watching him. I have to remind myself I’m in public and that leering at the gym is frowned upon. Sometimes he bends over and I’m all…
But here’s the worst part of all of this: I might talk tough and be sexually assertive, but when it comes to guys I actually fancy, I revert back to my ninth grade “I went to an all girls school can you tell?” self. About two years ago I did a HuffPo Live Interview with Matthew Goode. (For the life of me I can’t find the video, so you’ll just have to trust me.) Goode greets me and tells me my curly hair is “lovely” in his crisp British accent. What do I say? I tell you what I didn’t say. “Thank you. You’re sweet.” No, I said, “Did you just comment on my hair?” And not in a demure way. Oh, no. My response bordered on shrill. After the fact I blushed, thanked him, and went on with the interview. I needed a half-second to re-group because I was swooning like a school girl. MATTHEW GOODE SAID HE LIKED MY HAIR! Hah. Suck on that, Eddie Johnson from fifth grade who used to call my Bozo.
Circling back to my gym crush…
We pass each other all the time. Sometimes I’ll look up and see him and we make eye contact and I look away, because I’m an idiot. The other day I was using one of the rollers on my calves and he came over to where I was to put back the roller he was using. I could have looked up, but I did I? No. I froze. He probably would have spoken to me had I looked up at him, but I couldn’t do it. Had I not have taken my glasses off a couple of weeks ago when he approached me, I probably would have clammed up then, too. I couldn’t make out his delicious form until he was about six inches from my face. There was no time to panic.
So, yeah. I’m a tremendous dork who doesn’t know how to flirt with boys. Seduce them? Hell yeah. That I can do. Tear them a new asshole? Yep. I can do that, too. But make idle chit-chat with a boy I think is cute? Nope. I’m back to being this girl:
Instead of this girl:
I’m going to make more of an effort not to be a total pussy and greet him with a smile the next time I see him. If anybody deserves a hot fling with a sexy younger guy (okay, not that much younger) it’s me. All I have to do is make myself available.