i pick up a lunch-to-go from applebees. one thing i like about applebees is the predictibility. you always know that whatever you get will be tasteless suck that no amount of salt can fix. a song by mariah carey is playing as i wait for my order. a middle aged man with a middle aged woman can't keep his eyes off the bar tv. and i think: holy CRAP! so THIS is what mediocrity looks like.
later, i will be reminded what mediocrity tastes like. it will be called penne pasta rosa.
"d'jya see this?" a man asks me. he's sitting at a table in a cafeteria.
"i don't know what i'm looking at," i tell him.
he points to a photo of sharon stone.
"she was here! she was here!" he says. "they didn't tell anyone she was coming. prolly cuz of security and stuff. but she was here! if ida known, i'd have gotten her autograph! that's my hobby. autograph getting. i got charlton heston, you know charlton heston? that one cost me 10 dollars. i won't usually pay for it, but i kinda got tricked into it. i said to the guy taking money, for THAT price i should get your autograph, too!"
here i back away slowly, keep my hands in plain view and try not to show fear. they smell fear. autograph collectors. remind me to never become a rabid hobbiest.
i'm running on a treadmill and watching "south park" at a volume so obscene that it makes a mockery of actual deaf people. i like to think that with a treadie and cable in my living room, i could get myself back to my birth weight. but chances are, i'd just get hopped up on the hooch and use the conveyor belt to wing shit at my cat while hanging upside down from the handle bars in a sports bra and watching "the hills."
so i'm running. studying my reflection in the window. i absolutely love to watch myself run. with each gust of flailing arms, my skin moves to reveal buried muscle mass. its like slow motion and a gumby doll with a collar bone. i'm a bionic something or other, underneath it all.
i think if you chisled away at the meat of the matter, really got deep down in there and worked toward my core, you would find a 24 year old italian male professional soccer player. and he would be hungry.
meanwhile, cartman has unearthed a bus filled with aborted fetuses and he is trying to pimp them to stem cell scientists. they keep trying to low-ball him with the price and cartman says: much like these aborted fetuses, i wasn't born yesterday.
here i absolutely explode, hiccuping enough to change tides. cackling and running and cackling. and when he says: i think you're making a fetal mistake, i laugh myself into an appendectomy, i'm draped over the treadie and i can't breathe.
i love this new day and age where people -- especially the animated sort -- can say anything on tv.
this is about the time a man walks into the workout area. surveys me. then the tv. cringes at the volume, then the content.
"you don't like south park, do you?" he asks.
i've never met him, but i get the sense that right around the time he turned 33 he stopped finding comedy central anything more than the quickest route to the history channel and his 9:30 p.m. warm milk, puppy pj bedtime. but man. i bet if you dug out the photo album from spring break 1991, you would see a different story. he's clearly been fun-sucked. so i humor him.
"um," i lie. "i don't know. i've never seen it before."
he gives me a funny look.
"i don't have cable," i say.
"well, terminator is on channel 26," he says.
so i turn it to channel 26.
when it is over, he gives me a 12 minute diatribe on the wonder of all things terminator and keeps interjecting "you know, if you like that sci/fi stuff."
luckily, my workout is ending. i bionic my way to the exit. bionic. now that's the kind of sci/fi stuff i like.