July 9, 2010

Near Death and Romance in a Gym: a Comedy

Posted in Writing Spashes tagged at 10:55 pm by Tamara

Sometimes inspiration dries up, or (more common of late) time constraints keep me from writing the doctrinal treatise I have bumping around in my brain, and I’m forced to dig through old material to find something to post.  This is a finals week for me, so, while I have three posts I want to write, I don’t have time and am instead presenting you with…THIS!  Ta da!

What is “This”, you say?  Uh, well, I don’t really know.  So let’s just say this: it’s fiction, written several years ago, and loosely based on a real-life experience of mine.  Mostly it’s what my overly active imagination does while I’m working out.  But, at any rate, it made me snicker, so here it is.  I hope it makes you laugh, too.  :)



I always kind of assumed that the first time I’d meet my “him” would be in the middle of me doing something humiliating.  With my tendency towards klutzy, overly dramatic performances, I figured there was no way the beginning of my love story would be some elegant “Paris café in the rain” event.  Still, I’d hoped that, if I was going to meet him by doing something like, say, dumping scalding coffee all over him, at least I’d have a semi-respectable setting to do it in.  Heck, forget Paris café, I’d settle for anything that wasn’t McDonald’s.  But, as it turned out, our romance didn’t even begin with anything as romantic as McDonald’s coffee.  Oh no, we definitely met in a gym.

The first time I saw him, he was absolutely drenched in sweat, running on a treadmill at what appeared to be approximately 52 miles per hour.  He was one of those buff guys who went to the gym because he wanted to stay like that; I was one of those cubby girls who went to the gym because I didn’t want to stay like that.  I always kind of snubbed my nose at those 52 mph people—it was about the only way I could convince myself to muscle up the dignity to huff and puff alongside of them at 0.52 mph.  Have you noticed how the athletic people always seem to glance sideways at your treadmill and check what speed you’re running at?  Humph!  I can hear them inside their heads in their Schwarzenegger voices:

“Ha, I am ze terminator running at 52 mph, and zhu are un ugly bug whom I vill squash beneath my treadmill tread, after I ‘ave run 6 hours on it.”

Okay, so maybe they don’t think that, but, if nothing else, the fact that I think they do makes me run faster, so I guess it’s good for me and I should stop complaining.

Anyway, on this fateful day, the only treadmill that was open was, of course, next to Handsome-Buff-Man.  Taking a deep breath, I walked up confidently, made a huge point not to look at him or show any sign of intimidation, and began to stretch.  There’s nothing like the prospect of running next to a 52mph-er to make you suddenly feel the need to slowly stretch every muscle you didn’t know you had—I figure maybe if I stretch for 40 minutes they’ll finish and leave me to run my half mile in peace.  I must confess I tried my best while I was stretching to see what speed he really was running on, but since I’m not a skinny athletic person I’m allowed to do that.

At last it seemed obvious that he wasn’t leaving anytime soon, so I climbed up onto the treadmill, ruefully punched in my time, level, weight (REALLY hoping he wasn’t watching that one), and started going.  I’d been rotating through the different preprogrammed settings each time I came, and today my new adventure was “random.”  In retrospect, I don’t know what in heaven blocked my mental capacities enough that I failed to figure out that the setting could only spell doom.  Perhaps (probably) it was my sweaty buddy over there that kept me from reasoning clearly.

As I started walking I noticed the emergency shut-off cable.  You’re supposed to pin it to your clothes, and if you fall down or something it will jerk and the treadmill will stop.  I considered it for a moment, but then I wondered if Sweaty Buddy was wearing his.  I’d already used the sideways glance trick a few times, so I figured it was time to employ the “I’m-stretching-my-neck-and-can’t-help-looking-at-you” ploy.  Nope.  He wasn’t wearing his.  Well, I figured, squaring my shoulders proudly, if HE doesn’t need his, I certainly don’t need mine!  I’m just as good at this as he is!

Woeful decision.  Sigh.  You’d think the Bible School student in me would have screamed something along the lines of:  “Pride goes before a fall, and there is a lot of fall potential when you’re running on a treadmill!” but, no.  Or, if it did, I didn’t listen.

The treadmill set the pace as I warmed up, and so far so good, but it was pretty slow.  Fully aware of Mr. 52mph, I felt a sudden burst of inspiration.  Why couldn’t I be Schwarzenegger today?  The thought was exhilarating, and I hit the up arrows and bumped up several levels.  It sped up, and I was flying along, feeling great, when suddenly a terrible thing happened.

I think I was at level 4.5 (which for me and my stubby legs is running flat out) when suddenly, to my horror, the treadmill display jumped from 4.5 to a death-defying 6.5.  Usually treadmills will speed up gradually so that you can tell it to slow down if you need to.  Yeah, right.  Not in my reality!  The tread under my feet took a wild leap, and I suddenly felt myself launched forward like a sack of potatoes from a catapult.  Whack! My forehead bashed into the display as my arms flew up into the air, sending my iPod in the general direction of buff man.  In slow motion I felt my feet stumbling and wildly tried to catch myself as my arms thwacked against the railing on my way down. The next thing I knew was crashing onto the belt and then flying backwards as the treadmill raced happily on.  Smack, crash, whack!–head, arms, legs, hair, torso, all flailing, banging, flying.  The last thing I remember seeing before I passed out was my iPod soaring in slow motion straight for the horror-struck face of buff man as he watched me make my glorious, graceful exit from my treadmill.

The next thing I comprehended was that a smooth, concerned voice was echoing far, far away.  “Ma’am?  Ma’am, can you hear me?”  Next I vaguely felt a hand on my forehead, which did nothing to rouse me, until suddenly there was an ear pressed to my chest.  That was enough to drive me back to consciousness, and I bolted upright, whacked my forehead on something, and came crashing back down.  Opening my eyes at last, what did I behold but Mr. 52mph, kneeling beside me with palm on his head where I’d just head butted him.

To (Probably Not) Be Continued….

(c) Tamara Hamill 2010

Note: this is purely a work of fiction, and any resemblance to any of you (52 MPH-ers or not) is purely unintentional.  Mostly.  :P



  1. Mom said,

    ROFL! That is hilarious! Just got my good dose of laughter for the day. :-D

  2. Mindy Hedvall said,

    OH MY WORD!!! SO FUNNY…and such good writing! =) I also had dreams that I’d meet my “him” this way. Oh man…I’m thankful I did not. Thank you for sharing this Tamera!!! I loved reading a part of your oh so creative thoughts!

  3. Tamara said,

    Ha–thanks for commenting! I get really insecure when I post something I think is funny and no one says anything. It’s like telling a joke and hearing dead silence after the punchline! lol

  4. hey Tamara-
    So good and so funny really. I think today I am finally past the writers block. If you were implying that you had writers block when you wrote to me, looks like you got un-writers block just by writing about it. haha. i miss you<3

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