The gym is where I get to return to my caveman roots; I lift heavy stuff, I relieve stress, and I secretly laugh at those fellas who stare at themselves overly long in the mirror (is that autoeroticism? I’m pretty sure it is) It’s the perfect complement to writing. When I write, my overthinking brain goes into hyperdrive because it’s super charged by all the themes, events, and word choice I have to condense into a linear flow of text—writing’s like giving my overactive cognition a bone to chew on. But when I’m DONE writing, the metaphorical bone is taken away, and I need to dumb myself down so I don’t go crazy. Lifting’s the perfect way to get back in touch with my ape-man roots.
I feel like I strike a good balance; I lift weights with my mind and then with my body, so to speak. Trouble creeps in when I stay too long on one end of the spectrum—whether it be mental or physical—and I honestly believe most people are vulnerable to the same peril. Right now I’m being accosted by one such example.
There are those in the gym who have deemed it a holy sanctuary—their raison d’être if you will. You know who I’m talking about: these numbskulls don’t strike up a chat, or approach you with a friendly question, they simply watch you like a hawk and wait for the right moment to swoop in and give you unsolicited advice. I call these fuckers Gym Bros.
Anyways, I’m hitting some incline dumbbells (although I like to keep most of my lifting functional, I’ll do a few things for aesthetics; I grow man boobs pretty quickly on flat or decline press so I use incline dumbbells to keep a shapelier chest—meaty on the upper half rather than the lower part) when some nameless Gym Bro (he probably has one of those super-suburban names—Blake or Tanner or Slater or whatever the fuck) hops on the platform behind me and gives me an unasked for spot.
“Yo all the way up brah! Arch your back! Arch your back, brah!”
Fuckface’s frat-talk disrupts my concentration and sends a hot surge of murderous electricity racing up my spine. I ease the weights down (it takes a concentrated act of will to keep from tossing them on the ground) and rip my earbuds out. As I stand up and throw him a death-glare, he backs off, raising both palms in a yo-i’m-not-at-fault-brah gesture.
“What. The fuck.” I manage.
“Yo dude, just trynna spot; I couldn’t help but notice—”
I rest my brow in the curve of my forefinger and hiss out a sigh. After I collect myself, I give him a level stare. “Look ‘brah,’ it’s obvious you don’t know a goddamn thing about fitness. You wear a tank top, have a beer gut, and all you do is bicep curls. A backwards cap and a trendily sloganed shirt does NOT mean that you have the authority to inflict your ill-thought out advice on me. Now—”
And at that moment, my glitchy-ass iPhone comes to life, blasting my decidedly un-macho playlist from its external speakers—this particular playlist is filled with Madonna’s 80s hits and a good amount of stuff from Taylor Swift’s “1989” album. Much to my horror, Ms. Swift’s beloved masterpiece “Style” slices through the air:
“You got that James. Dean. Day. Dream. Look in your eeeeeyyyee—”
FUCK! I pick up my iPhone and click off the music, but it’s too late; the Gym Bro’s looking at me with utter disgust. His upper lip is curled and twisted—as if I’d just interrupted a formal banquet with an extra cheesy fart.
He lifts a shaking finger and points it directly at my face. “YO THIS DUDE AIN’T ONE OF US! HE’S NOT LISTENING TO JACK JOHNSON OR GANGSTA RAP—” (why do Bros always go super douchey with a touch of emo, or straight up thug with their musical tastes? It’s always puzzled me) “—HE’S LISTENING TO TAYLOR SWIFT!”
Long years of doing Man Stuff has made me secure in my masculinity, and I can tell you without hesitation that I enjoy a lot of Ms. Swift’s work. (I also watch cartoons, and am known to speak baby-gabble around dogs). One of the hilarious things about Bros is that their lack of experience in Man Stuff motivates them to constantly peacock. In this case, however, it’s not funny—it’s dangerous.
Because he’s trumpeting that unoriginal, mob-mentality derived call that Bros (who are too insecure to act on their own and need a dozen or so half-wits to accomplish what any reasonable person could do within an hour) so often use to rally themselves into action:
I didn’t notice until now, but this place is FULL of Gym Bros! They come at me in a wave of tanktops, backwards baseball caps, and annoyingly trendy t-shirts. The smell of Axe body spray fills the air, and various stupid hairdos—faux hawks, last year’s hipster cut, and whatever reality-show inspired inanity has taken hold recently—fill my vision.
I manage some throat and liver punches, a hip-toss, and a leg-kick before they overwhelm me. I’d probably be able to do a little more, but the smell of Axe body spray is so goddamn thick; I’m coughing and hacking, trying to keep my eyes open in the horrid blast of cheap cologne and moronic faces.
This is it. I’m sorry for all those times I took the last slice of pizza…I’m sorry for that time I booby-trapped my brother’s bedroom doorknob with a viscous coating of snot…
But wait. There’s one option left: I reach into my pocket and open my eReader to Echo, activating its reality distortion powers.
Neil De Grasse Tyson walks into the gym, smiling amiably. He tugs on the lapels of his suit, straightening out his always-impeccable attire, and begins reciting mind-bending theory (what I consider math-inspired poetry) derived from quantum mechanics and general relativity.
The Bros stumble off me. Now THEY’RE the ones coughing and hacking. One of them manages, “We’ve got to get out of here! Too much critical thinking…too much logic…”
Another one turns his beet-red face towards the ceiling and clutches at the air with talon-like hands. He begins quivering ultra-fast, and the veins in his forehead pop out in thick, bloated curves.
His entire head explodes, coating the mirrors with messy splatter. The other Bros follow suit, dropping to the floor and clutching their heads. One by one, their craniums pop like overripe pimples.
(Gross—a little Bro-gore just flew into my mouth)
When all is done and over with, Neil helps me up and dusts me off.
“Sorry about the mess,” he says.
“No problem, Neil. And may I say: I LOVED ‘Cosmos!’ ”
He gives me a smile and a dismissive wave. “Been doing that stuff for years. I’m into something new now: I’m a professional Man Whore.”
My brow furrows. “Wait—a what?”
He claps me on the shoulder and his grin widens.
“Kent, you have much to learn. There’s a bevy of soccer moms waiting to get their greedy paws on your hirsute frame.”
And that’s the origin story of Kent Wayne: Professional Man Whore.
Have you been accosted by an insipid pack of Gym Bros and now need a super-intelligent Uber Man to save your ass from an unending wave of Axe body spray? Never fear! Get Echo Vol. 1 on Kindle here: Vol. 1 on Kindle. Vol. 2 on Kindle here: Vol.2 on Kindle Vol. 3 on Kindle here: Vol. 3 on Kindle #kindle #kindleunlimited #sciencefiction #scifi #books #novel #book