Back in the 80's, my brother lived in Korea for two years. He told me about the community bath houses there, where people simply surrounded themselves with imaginary walls to create needed privacy in a decidedly non-private environment. Others respected these invisible boundaries.
Apparently, I haven't perfected the art of the invisible boundary.
As much as I dislike working out at the gym (well, actually, the local rec center -- but hey, the membership is really cheap, and I'm on a budget), I go twice a week so I can work with heavier weights than I have at home. I was actually feeling pretty jazzed about my anticipated wod. I launched into my warmup (5 mins running, 30 leg lifts on the roman chair, 1 min jumprope, stretch). After I finished running, I walked over to the roman chair on a contraption that looks a little like this:
There was a man balancing himself on the side of the roman chair while he did leg curls. When I hopped into position, he let go, wobbling as he did so.
"Nah, don't worry about it. I can share," I said to him. He immediately grasped the side of the arm-support again. I started my leg-lifts, surrounding myself with my invisible boundaries. When I got to about 21, Leg Curl Man started shouting, "Nice! Way to go! Nice!" Okay, I thought. I have my own personal cheerleader. Well, everyone likes affirmation and encouragement. Then, on about 26 (I was starting to really struggle as my core was getting fatigued), Leg Curl Man smiled and reached out and pushed my feet down...you know, as if he's my personal trainer and he's welcome to "help" me with my workout. Many thoughts ran through my brain in a split second, among them:
1. My abs aren't so tired that I can't raise my leg up and administer a swift kick to your face.
2. Do I know you?!?
I kept staring straight ahead, and said in a very strong voice, "DON'T." He stopped immediately.
After I finished, I jumped down and grabbed my jumprope. That's when the small talk started.
"I think I know you," he started.
"Yes, you look vaguely familiar," I conceded. And it's true, he did look vaguely familiar, but I couldn't place where I'd seen him. But I do a lot of local theater, and you meet all types.
"Actually, I think I know your husband," he continued.
"Oh, well, who was your husband?" Well, okay, maybe I met him in those days I was married. At a work party or something. Grand. And for some reason, Girl Power though I may embody, I couldn't come up with a better response than simply telling him the name of my ex. And, of course, he didn't know him. He continued to talk at me: did I know so-and-so? Was I related to the whats-their-names from such-and-such? I demurely shut down the nonsense and started jumproping. When the minute was up, I started for the mat so I could stretch. On my way to the back of the room, Leg Curl Man shouts after me,
"What makes you so tough?"
Someone, please, put that on a t-shirt.
"Is that like P90x?"
"No, it's better."
As soon as I got home, I had to call Superman to tell him about my encounter. You know, I don't call it getting picked up on as much as I call it right-out annoying. Who picks up on women at the rec center? Good grief.
So, I think I need a series of workout t-shirts. One should say "DON'T." Maybe I need one like the t-shirt I gave to Superman for Christmas: "Private Property". I'd love to hear your ideas. Because these invisible walls don't seem to be thick enough to keep the vermin away, and no one has yet perfected the personal force field. (That would have been so awesome, though. Zap! That'll teach you to touch me while I'm working out.)