Thursday, February 16, 2012


Ambient noise.
Background sounds.
Unheard mostly. The soundtrack of life.
Every place has its own flavor of noise, its own potpourri of sound. Stay there long enough and you wont even hear it anymore. Every Gym has its own. They all have things in common. The clank of weights, the whir of machines, the low drone of earphones playing muscle pumping metal directly into the brain stem. All have a common effluvium of distraction.

It can depend on the time of day.
The early morning is the whir and mumble of the before work crowd.
Morning to new afternoon is the high chirping of mommies and wives escaping the children and house for a while.
Lunch to evening is a businesslike clank of men who refuse to give in to the specter of old age, Of obsolescence.
Evening to night is the hormone infested buzz of the mating game. The meat market. The flirting and posturing mind numbing to a casual observer.
Its all there.
A life in a day.
I go in the before any of this time. The before morning crowd. The in between times when humans sleep.
Mostly I am alone.
Sometimes I have the company of a few swing shift humans, sometimes some other oddness.
One gym, a long time ago, had a crowd of centenarians.

4am they would hobble in, sit at their exercise bikes and talk. Wheeze back and forth secrets known only to those that have seen more summers then I have desire to behold. Lives these men had lived. Wars they had fought. They had undoubtedly dreamed dreams and told tales, tried as hard and as fast as they were able. Now they sat, they pedaled. The murmured amongst themselves. Their voices, gradually merged with the whir of the wheels, the maze of sound faded to a sibilant hiss of white noise.
They faded into the background. Such is the fate of us all.
To fade.
I walked around them. Moving in my own patterns among them. Heavy things and sweating things.
Running a long road to everywhere.
Every day for months, perhaps a year or two. These men.
Became ambient.
One time. Night a memory and morning not yet a dream, I was disturbed at the gym. By silence.
The background had stopped. So used to it I had become that its absence startled me into immobility.
I looked.
They were all there. Alive, sitting still, rapt attention focused on the machines in front of them.
Two women.

On elliptical machines, the hum and chirp of their motions covering the silence of the men.
I looked closer, to see what had drawn these fossils from their reverie.
Then, I saw.
The girl on the right, the prettier of the two. Her pants had fallen down.
Sports bra to the bottom of her bottom.
I could see the smiles now.
The seamed faces split in joyous wonder.
I made no sound. Just watched.
As the two noticed, or felt the intensive silence behind them, they turned to look. In turning she must have felt a breeze. She seemed to float then, for a split second, off of the machine and into the air. Gravity released just long enough for her to pull her pants up and tie them. I could see her blush travel to her face from where I was.
The men.
As all men now, no longer old, no longer seamed and cracked by time, but split faces in smiling joy.
Laughed and cheered and lived again.
The girls ran away, as girls do.
The music of the men's laughter faded in my mind.
Much slower then their murmurs.

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