Warning: The local gym may be hazardous to your health | TheUnion.com

Warning: The local gym may be hazardous to your health

Bob squeezed into his seat at the Liars’ Table at the Blue Moon Diner and announced that this year he was sticking to his New Year’s resolution. He had joined a gym.

This was a new one. Most years he resolved the normal things: to lose weight, or quit drinking, or quit smoking, or quit betting on college football, or quit cheating on his taxes, or finally clean out his garage and sell all the stuff on eBay.

And they never happened. We were all kind of stunned that he had gone so far as to join a gym.

We all agreed it was a good idea, because exercise keeps you young.

“Yes,” said Jackson. “Sixty is the new 59. I’m kind of sorry I had to quit going.” Jackson is the only one of our group who belongs to a gym and exercises regularly. The rest of us are just average slobs.

“You quit?” Bob asked. “But you were the reason I joined. You kept saying how it had helped your back and how you’d lost weight and how well you felt, and now you tell me you’ve quit! What is going on?”

“It was a lot of things,” Jackson said. “But mainly it was all the babies.”

“Just because some people act childish doesn’t mean you should quit. You love that place,” Bob said.

“I mean real babies, of the very small child type. I got out of the pool one day and was relaxing in the whirlpool spa when a group of women came in with babies in diapers and took them into the pool. It spoiled the whole thing for me.”

“What’s the matter with babies learning to swim? I hear they like it,” Bob said.

“Did you read that in one of your men’s magazines?” someone asked.

“I’ve seen that,” Jackson said, “and maybe it is good for them, but not for me. I don’t want to swim in a diaper bucket.”

“But they make them wear plastic pants over the diapers, don’t they?” Bob asked.

“And you think that works? Have you ever held a baby? They’re toxic. I’d wear a hazmat suit before I’d pick one up again. Don’t get me wrong: I like babies, but I don’t want to swim in their droppings.” Except Jackson didn’t use the word “droppings.”

“Don’t they put something in the water to kill, you know, accidents?” Bob asked, realizing that his gym membership was worth much less than it was five minutes ago.

“Sure they do. And they keep putting in more. After a while, you’re not swimming in water, you’re swimming in a science experiment. And you think the chemicals they put in there are any better for you than the diapers? It’s like swimming in a bottle of Purell.”

Bob was not to be discouraged. “I’m not that big a swimmer anyway. I’ll probably just use the weight room and then shower and sit in the whirlpool for a few hours to work out the kinks, the way you do. Or did.”

“Did I forget to mention the showers?” Jackson asked. “Be careful not to step in the stuff that’s growing in the corners. I think it’s some kind of government-sponsored germ warfare experiment. Otherwise, someone would be cleaning it up. I guess they’re paying them not to. It’s the only explanation that makes sense.”

“But you’re supposed to shower before you use the pool or the spa.”

“I would shower after, too, if I were you — with an antibacterial soap, and rinse off with a pressure washer. Sitting in that whirlpool is like being in a sewer. I don’t trust the old men who cook in it anymore than I trust the babies in diapers. At least rinse some of it off before you go home.”

“So you really quit?”

“And give up the swimming and the spa? You’ve got to be kidding,” Jackson said. “I couldn’t live without it. But I do make sure I get there before the babies.”

Jim Mullen can be reached at JimMullenBooks.com.

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