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gatorade goes great with vodka
and other things i learned at the health club
by robert a. melos

Three years ago, about nine days after my mother died, I joined a health club. I did so after reading on-line that joining a health club would help with grief and mourning. I suppose in a perfect world where there is no financial disaster and stress and struggle, a proper mourning period and exercise would help one get through their grief. As it is I didn’t have a perfect world setting, but I did get to exercise three times a week for the last three years and I feel great. No, I haven’t chiseled my body into a perfect sculptured model of Michelangelo’s David, but I’m happy that I’ve maintained what I’ve got.

When I go to the gym it is “my time.” I’m not one of these guys who need a “gym buddy” or a trainer. I go in, pop my iPod earplugs in and go off into my own world of show tunes, 70s pop and weird stuff that would freak most people out if they new I was listening to it. I work on the cardio machines, avoiding free weights like the plague, doing my crunches, biceps, gluts, triceps, legs, arms, thighs, and then I finish it all up with 20 minutes in a sauna. I feel good. I’m happy after a workout. Things are good.

During all this time in the gym I’ve picked up on a few things from conversations I’ve had in the sauna, the locker room (yes, guys do talk in the lock room), and near the “health bar”.

As the title says, I discovered how good Gatorade is with a shot of vodka in it; now in all honesty I didn’t exactly learn this in the gym, but as a result of going to the gym, coming home and desiring a drink and just happening to have vodka handy while still holding my Gatorade from the gym.

I did learn that if you happen to be a realtor and mention it or somehow let it be known by wearing a t-shirt with your real estate company logo on it, people will want to talk with you. They will hang on your every word, especially if the market is up and their home is worth more than it was when they bought it. On the other hand, they will still want to talk to you when the market is down and their home is underwater (that’s a mortgage term to describe more than half the country’s mortgages at present), because they need someone to sympathize with them, metaphorically hold their hand (hand holding in the locker room is still kind of frowned on, in most cases), and listen to them metaphorically cry (again, locker room) over their losses.

I’ve learned that singing in the shower in the health club, especially if you happen to be singing the Village People’s Y.M.C.A., is not a good idea. It’s even less of a good idea if you happen to be tone deaf, and your repertoire includes songs from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

I’ve learned healthy food in a health club isn’t as much about healthy as it is about what sounds healthy. Soy burgers are healthy, until you fry them. Most things are healthy until you fry them. Protein shakes with wheatgrass pretty much taste horrible even with peanut butter and carob in them. In fact, carob pretty much doesn’t taste like chocolate no matter how much someone might tell you it does taste like chocolate.

The most important thing I’ve learned is that I don’t have to be Arnold Schwarzenegger to go to a gym. I can be me and I’m a pretty terrific person in a physical condition with which I am comfortable. Sure I could be a chiseled Adonis, not that I’m far off from such status, but would I still be as satisfied with myself? Probably not.


Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

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