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Of Sequin Cardigans and Stairmasters

March 14, 2010

Walker, Texas TV Trope

About three summers ago I started going to the gym during “peak hours” because I thought it would help streamline my workouts. As in, make me do them for only 30 minutes and not meander on the T-mill for 2 hours so I could watch back-to-back episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger on USA. Walker, in the tradition of such shows as Murder, She Wrote, Father Dowling’s Mysteries and Diagnosis: Murder is all about clown horn storytelling. In addition, Walker heavily relies such tropes as Sitcom Memory Syndrome – having and forgetting experiences in twenty-two minute intervals – Keeping it real “Native” while reaping the benefits of white privilege and All my friends are wrongly accused of murder.

It also perfected the My black friend is a guy who happens to be black, so there trope in a way I actually found reasonably enjoyable, as the character Trivette is well integrated – pun intended – in a limitedly tokenizing way paving the way for such black best friends as Hardison on Leverage and Gus on Psyche. Trivette is also positioned as a “neutral” black male rather than “neutered”, which is a welcomed change. It reminds me of the nuanced, though decidedly un-ham handed way, the creators of Magnum, PI broadened the portrayal of life for returning Vietnam Vets, which mostly consisted of framing them as MONSTERS or VICTIMS.

But back to Walker, I did find the embarrassing misappropriation of Marital Arts culture co-existing with the Wild West theme without commentary pretty intriguing – albeit mostly executed in a piss poor fashion and wholly problematic.

I’m doing it again. Deconstructing the elements of media I consume and enjoy. And really, nobody should give up this many Social Attention Units™ in service of Walker, Texas Ranger, but eh, what can you do?


Going to the gym at peak hours meant my sequin cardigan over Bowie Aladdin Sane glitter tees attracted a bit of attention. Now in my defense, this wasn’t some Romy/Michelle situation complete with high heel sneakers and a woefully limited understanding of the proper use of exercise equipment. This was my little way of making the gym more enjoyable since it’s unrealistic to walk outside for 9 month out of the year where I live.

During this time in between “Getting Jiggy Wit It” and Sir Duke-ing, I observed many intriguing behaviors of various species of gym patron.

I observed men wandering past rows of stretchie pant clad heinies looking for a heinie he wanted to make “mine-y” and saddling up next to the owner of said heinie in hopes that cranking up the T-mill to “11” while nearly going into cardiac arrest was enough to make a positive impression.

I noticed many of our more “fabulous” and “good to mama” folk cluster fucking around the machines which provided them the best access to any program featuring Tyra Banks or Heidi Klum.

The Weight Watchers brainwashed populace demonstrated a preference for Noah’s Ark-ing in pairs of competitive sets of “friends” wearing matching passive aggressive smirks of superiority and shiny new Easy Spirit walking sneakers.

POCs tended to avoid any machine which brought them into contact with POCS acting a fool on Reality TV or being paraded past reporters in handcuffs. And by POCs, I mean me. I also avoided machines with views of Oprah, Queen Latifah or Flava Flav/New York. The Oprah thing was an act of conscious effort, though I will say I was tired of folks getting into my car and immediately reaching under the seat in hopes of finding the deed to a McMansion or a shoebox filled with negotiable Bearer Bonds.

The “Am I hot or not?” crowd of any gender seemed really fascinated by their own reflection in the floor to ceiling mirrors covering every wall in the building.

I also noted – with some amused detachment – if I was sandwiched between two folks on a T-mill, didn’t matter if they were bigger or small than me, they tended to keep a watchful eye on my speed/incline and adjust theirs accordingly.

For the first two weeks of my new gym time, I couldn’t pitch a pedometer without hitting someone who assumed it was my first time touching the equipment and offering to teach me how to us it. Now, I had seen this ploy used in service of a pick up, but it was usually a fellow patron and not an employee.

Another thing my new time brought me was observing the sheer numbers of folks who work out for an hour and immediately hit the human TOASTER OVENS. This annoyed me so much that I campaigned to get “perk” removed from my own Cadillac plan – I was born a lovely shade of burnt sienna and am not a fan of melanomas – and replaced with the ability to have my designated guests work out without requiring my presence.

My experience with hook ups was severely hampered by my refusal to make eye contact with the volume of wildly inappropriate suitors who attempted to engage me in anything approximating conversation.

Save one.

I was going through my I can’t date you, so I’ll amass a collection of guys who look just like you phase, which mercifully ended when I met my current partner. So when my Yvonne Ellman disco song approximation blipped on my radar I began to embody and display all the mating behaviors I previously found so beneath me.

But in my own ridiculously corny way.

We’re talking carrying interesting and provocative magazine titles, curating and wearing a collection of fabulous Bowie shirts and of course, cranking up the T-mill to “11” and risking cardiac arrest.

It worked! Oh snap. Did it work.

The day Mr. Approximation surveyed the rows of hard working heinies and selected the T-mill next to mine was pure pop bliss. I played music which made me feel and therefore act fun loving and approachable. Neither quality exists in me naturally. I worked on my running stride ensuring it afforded me a bit of jigglevision but didn’t result in black eyes. Playa, I marinated myself in so much Angel by Thierry Mugler that regular scent wearers could rub against me to get their daily ration.

I would later say of my performance:

“What in the name of Maria Conchita Alonso was I thinking?”

So it was quite moment of delicious Schadenfreuden for my “higher self” when my crush went crash and I had to crawl back into the dead of night to work out. Back to my Walker and newly discovered Brolin lovefest Pensacola: Wings of Gold. Then again no more high colonics to my self regard (Vonnegut) or soul crushing reversals of fortune either.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 14, 2010 6:45 pm

    That was a delight to read! Sounds like “Mr. Approximation” turned into “Missed(er) Opportunity.”

  2. Rikki King permalink
    March 14, 2010 6:50 pm

    one of the best things i ever learned at the gym was to act like i knew everything.

    everyone is always so judgy (especially at my college gym) that you have to just climb into machines and figure it out. usually, after you do this, you catch the former judgers mimicking some machine use you just made up … in my experience.

    it’s entertaining/motivating at least


  3. March 15, 2010 8:46 am

    @Rikki, seriously and LOL at ” you catch the former judgers mimicking some machine use you just made up … in my experience.” So true. Reminds me of that movie Can’t Buy Me Love and Patrick Dempsey thinking he’s watching Soul Train and instead watching something else. But when he mimics the dances he learned on what he thought was Soul Train, folks just copy and think he’s cool.

  4. Lani permalink
    March 15, 2010 11:07 pm

    @Rikki–so true so true! The gym is one of the most judgmental places I’ve ever been, and college gyms especially. =\

  5. name permalink
    March 17, 2010 11:10 pm

    I have a nasty habit of checking other people’s speed. I know it doesn’t look good when I crane my neck to get into someone else’s workout business, but sometimes I need a reminder of why I should just Butt Out and watch the damn TV.

  6. March 18, 2010 1:32 am

    @name – I used to do it, but once this woman slapped her magazine over the panel and gave me the nastiest stink eye and that pretty much ended my career as a gym control panel rubber necker.

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