Making Friends At The Gym

One of the reasons I joined the mega-gym in town was to be more social and hopefully meet some new people. It has not gone well. I can’t quite put my finger on why not, but I think I am beginning to see a bit of a pattern.

First, and foremost, I am often motivated to talk to female members because I watch them talk to other men and everyone looks like they’re having fun. And especially of late, I’ve been more bold in striking up conversations with people that I’ve wanted to, regardless of my estimation at success. For your enjoyment today, I’d like to share three examples with you.

Before we get going though, I wonder how many of you have ever read Ben Franklin’s letter to a young man about a mistress? I doubt many of you have, so I’ll post the meat of  it here for easy access. It’s well worth a read. I promise.

…then I repeat my former advice, that in all your amours you should prefer old women to young ones. You call this a paradox, and demand my reasons. They are these:

1. Because as they have more knowledge of the world and their minds are better stored with observations, their conversation is more improving and more lastingly agreeable.

2. Because when women cease to be handsome, they study to be good. To maintain their influence over men, they supply the diminution of beauty by an augmentation of utility. They learn to do a 1000 services small and great, and are the most tender and useful of all friends when you are sick. Thus they continue amiable. And hence there is hardly such a thing to be found as an old woman who is not a good woman.

3. Because there is no hazard of children, which irregularly produced may be attended with much inconvenience.

4. Because through more experience, they are more prudent and discreet in conducting an intrigue to prevent suspicion. The commerce with them is therefore safer with regard to your reputation. And with regard to theirs, if the affair should happen to be known, considerate people might be rather inclined to excuse an old woman who would kindly take care of a young man, form his manners by her good counsels, and prevent his ruining his health and fortune among mercenary prostitutes.

5. Because in every animal that walks upright, the deficiency of the fluids that fill the muscles appears first in the highest part: The face first grows lank and wrinkled; then the neck; then the breast and arms; the lower parts continuing to the last as plump as ever: So that covering all above with a basket, and regarding only what is below the girdle, it is impossible of two women to know an old from a young one. And as in the dark all cats are grey, the pleasure of corporal enjoyment with an old woman is at least equal, and frequently superior, every knack being by practice capable of improvement.

6. Because the sin is less. The debauching a virgin may be her ruin, and make her for life unhappy.

7. Because the compunction is less. The having made a young girl miserable may give you frequent bitter reflections; none of which can attend the making an old woman happy.

8thly and Lastly: They are so grateful!!

It’s difficult to write after reading something as great as that. Anyhow.

Still with me? Good. The point of including that advice is to say that there is this older woman at the gym. I noticed her straight away one morning and couldn’t help but think to myself that she had a very natural beauty to her, the kind that is possessed by women who don’t know they have it. One day I introduced myself and we had a brief chat. The following week, her daughter was with her. Besides receiving all the important genes from her mom, the daughter appeared to be equal parts college student and cross-fit games champion. As such, I couldn’t keep my eyes off the pair. Suddenly, however, I was struck by something funny. On this day, unlike all others, the mom was going balls-to-the-wall as they say. Her daughter was spotting her every set and it seemed like some real results were nearby. This was rather silly to me. Nonetheless, my brain filled with what I thought was a good enough line to use to open the door to conversation. So I went with it. I finished watching them double team a machine from the close by station I was at and then walked over and said, as if delivering a useful secret, “I don’t know if you two know this or not, but the gym kinda frowns on two people using one machine at the same time. Something about liability.” Only half way through the delivery did I notice the daughter had in her ears the smallest, most invisible of ear-buds, which left the mom to be the lone recipient of my charm. And despite outstanding delivery on my part, which concluded with my beautiful smile, she responded with, “What?” And like a fool, I repeated myself. It was hell. No laughs either time. I walked away tail tucked between my legs and later apologized. Oh well.

Next, I have seen the same employee lady nearly every day I go and sometimes she even smiles at me. I figure to myself that gym employees, like all employees, would always prefer a fun day to a boring day. Boy was I wrong. This particular day I see that she’s helping a lady who talks like the Champion of Everything but appears to struggle daily with at least one thing. In any case, I happen to notice my girl enter a one-handed battle with a weight rack for possession of a 45lb plate. Again, leading with a tip-giving countenance, I offer, “You’ll find it takes less than half the time if you use two hands next time.” Crickets. I might have broken the no running policy to escape that real-life example of awkward.

Lastly, I see a lady with whom I’ve nearly successfully delivered one of these singular conversation starters in the past. She’s on the lying down leg curl machine. It’s the only one in the building. I would like to use it. Trouble is, she’s doing some other fandangled exercise on it. However, the exercise she’s doing on it is so wrong, that it must be right. Or, put another way, she must be intending to do whatever she’s doing. As an ice breaker after which I’ll ask to work in with her, of course resetting the machine for her after every set of mine as gentlemen do, I say, “So when I’m not sure how to use a machine, I usually look at the diagrams posted on it. For instance, you’ll see pictures right here. And if I’m still not sure what to do, I-” She cuts me off, asking, “Are you serious?” I continue unphased, saying, “-I then move to the written description of the movement. And, like everything, read left-to-right, top-to-bottom.” Another “Are you serious?” later and I smile. Minor conversation starts and I determine that the only reason she was a willing participant is because she has very, very low self-esteem and figured such a demonstrably wise man as myself might add himself to the list of men who award her daily validation from here on out and that’s just not my game. Conversation over.

And there you have it. I know I’d be friends with a guy or girl bold enough to deliver these lines.

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14 comments

  1. Janet

    First of all, a compliment even a bad one is what should be said to a woman. Even talking about the weather is better than what you and your dead friend Ben are suggesting. She’ll know what you are up to. Leading with unasked for advice just foreshadows a lifetime of misery for that poor sucker who would bite.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. noelleg44

    With regard to the advice, I hardly know where to begin, except for practically perfect in every way (according to Mary Poppins, and with one or two exceptions). With regard to the gym situation, I also hardly know where to begin. Women who are seriously exercising are not going to be receptive to openings like that. Having said that, if you find a woman who is, you might find an exercising soul mate.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Lucy Furr

    Pete, you suck at opening lines baby.

    Might I suggest that you take Ben’s advice and form good manners from an older woman’s counsel.

    A sincere compliment will get you a lot further than unsolicited advice.

    Just sayin 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  4. whatareyourwords

    So funny! I feel like the gym should be a good place to meet people, since you all obviously have at least two things in common: health goals & a love for music. It’s just tough, because I know when I’m at the gym I’m focusing on whatever exercise I’m doing and don’t really want to be bothered– especially while I’m all sweaty. And speaking of sweaty, there’s something about the combination of being sweaty and the faces people make sometimes and stray grunting that give the gym a semi-sexual vibe.

    As a young woman [twenty five], I’m personally not a fan of lines. I feel annoyed by [and a bit on the defensive in response to] someone obviously trying to “get me”, but if someone just says “hi” and starts an organic conversation [that isn’t interrupting me] I’m way more receptive. I think we’re all just people and you don’t have to say something crazy to get my attention, you can just be yourself. That being said, I don’t think I’m a very good cross section for all women; but I am a good cross section for reasonable women who just want to be treated like a normal person and not some creepy, pedestal-ed prize.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Sam

    What’s a man to do with all his wit in this modern world? Spend ten minutes coming up with a very clever comment only to find out that a mindless hello would have been better. I say never give up.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. lethally

    OMG, where to begin? I’m new to your blog, and I’d *like* to be polite, but really, you’re lucky you didn’t have water thrown in your face.

    You say you’d like to make “friends” but what you really mean is you want to hit on women. The gym is NOT the place for it. If you want sex, try a bar. Women just don’t need or want to be harassed, and we don’t need guys staring at us, like it sounds you were doing to that woman and her daughter (“I couldn’t keep my eyes off the pair”). It’s bloody creepy, and really off-putting. Imagine some gay guy staring at your crotch non-stop and you get the idea. I hope…

    If you want to be pleasant to women, say hello or good morning, and leave it at that. If they want to say more to you, they will. But they’re seriously probably not interested in picking up a guy. Women go to the gym to work out, and we want it to be a safe, sexual-harassment-free zone.

    You sound like the sort of creeper I’d call management on, with no hesitation. Seriously, clean up your act.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Daedalus

    I loved Ben Franklin’s advice. His letter had lots of humor, and just a little content. Too bad your blog post didn’t stop there. Celebrities have it easy. This older, introverted male has noticed that in public speaking, every speaker who lacks celebrity status, only gets about 60-seconds to persuade an audience to love the speaker. You have to make ’em smile…quick. Same principal in your gym situations, but there your window of time is probably less than 6-seconds.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Farters | Captain's Log

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