Thursday, October 04, 2007


I gots more YMCA stories. Whoa, nellie, do I gots more stories. That place is some sorta bermuda triangle of weirdness. If you like these stories, then I'll say "you're welcome" for the entertainment. If you don't like 'em, the full blame falls on my sister-in-law, who wanted more Y tales.

These are in descending order of bizarrity, so you get the best stuff first:

#1 -- Man of la launcha

Today I was near the Smith machine, doing a superset of horizontal pull-ups and T-pushups. Don't worry if you have no idea what I'm talking about. I was exercising.

I finished a set and stood up, hands on my hips. A man approached me, in his mid-50s, thick grey/white hair, pretty good shape. Probably 6'2" and 190 pounds. He proceeded to launch into a big conversation about my red hair, and how his father was an Irishman born on St. Patrick's Day, also with red hair. He mentioned my unorthodox exercise, my apparent strength (that's a first) and my use of the swiss ball (I was resting my feet on it during my horizontal pullups). He then showed me his amazingtacular new move he does with a swiss ball... he holds it in his hands and twists side-to-side. Works for me. I was polite but eventually got back into my workout.

Next set down. He comes back, this time holding the big swiss ball. The 75cm badboy. He asks me to help him with something. "No problem", I say. "Where do you want to put it?"

"Oh, no." He said. "I'm not putting it anywhere. Just stay there and I'll show you." He proceeds to walk 20 feet away, right in front of the Nautilus machine. We're now on opposite sides of the free weight area, with all the benches and the lat pulldown machine between us. And I realize he's about to throw the huge swiss ball at me.

"This is easy," he says. "Just catch it, step foward and throw it back hard and fast as you can. We'll get into a rhythm it's almost like a dance." He must be on some major drugs.

He hurls the ball, push-style like a basketball pass. I catch it and return it the same way. "Move your feet!", he instructs. "Now the other one! Switch your feet on every throw; it builds coordination!" Does he have any freaking idea that we're throwing a 3-foot-wide ball at high speed right past three other guys trying to workout. There are guys using the benches and machines that are between us! He doesn't care.

"Good warmup," he says. "Now time to really work." He proceeds to lift the ball over his head and zing it at me at approximately four thousand miles per hour. It bounces off my hands. I retrieve it and say, "Look, I'm just throwing it back like before. Over the head isn't for me." But it's certainly for him. After another 20 throws or so, he's finally done. What the freak just happened here?

He comes over to me, thanks me for exercising with him. "When we get moving fast like that, it turns into a cardio workout!" Thanks, mister. I was here in the YMCA, plumb out of ideas of how to get my heart pumping, until you came along. I'm surprised we didn't get thrown out.

My workout was pretty shot after that. I did a few other things and hit the locker room. When I got inside, I heard opera man singing in the showers. Yes, opera man. There's a guy who sings whenever he's in the shower, and he's got a decent voice but is deafening in volume. He sings a broad range of songs, but I always remember his 15-minute episode of Don Quijote that he did a few months ago.

I was at my locker getting ready for a shower when it hit me. The singing voice. Just like the singing version of the guy who was talking to me minutes earlier between stupidly dangerous ball throws. I was tossing swiss balls with the opera man. And now he's in the shower.

He sang the entire time it took me to get out of my workout clothes, take a shower, get dressed and leave. The best part? He was showering fully clothed, with all of the workout attire he had on earlier. That's my Y.

#2 -- What could possibly go wrong?

I leave the YMCA today after playing deathball with opera man. Just in front of me is a Chinese mom with her three small boys. They look to be ages 6,3 and 18 months. The two older kids are hanging with mom just fine, but the little one can't keep up. He looks like he's only been walking a few months. They go to the left side of the parking lot while I go right, but I turn to look and mom is about 50 feet ahead of her youngest, just as he's about to get into the traffic-heavy part of the lot. And she doesn't care. She yells something at him and just keeps walking.

Our YMCA is right next to a school, and during the afternoon dozens of kids (maybe hundreds on some days) come straight to the YMCA to be picked up by their parents later. So there are always tons of cars going through the parking lot. Yet this mom is just letting her infant son walk alone through the traffic. I seriously consider running over and grabbing him, but all of the drivers in the area are very aware and give the little boy plenty of room. Yes, apparently all seven of Houston's courteous drivers were in the YMCA parking lot this afternoon. Lucky for the little boy.

I have a theory on the mom's behavior. In China, there is so much population density that there's a swarm of people wherever you go. We've met Chinese people here in Houston that are literally freaked out by open areas, or especially anything like a forest or park. Too much space, too few people.

So maybe the mom saw what we would consider a high-traffic area and thought it was no big deal, just a few cars. No reason her baby boy can't walk through it.

That's my Y.

I've got one more story, but it will have to wait. These two already hit my crazy quota for the day.


Bob Devlin said...

#1 is hysterical. And I don't know what it is about the Chinese (and I"m not trying to be bigoted here) but the same things goes on here in NYC. The cross the streets with the kids sometimes 15-20 feet behind them. Weird. I have to look away.

We used to have seven courteous drivers here in NY but two of them got beat up. They've changed.

MamaRose said...

Your FIRST STORY is almost UNbelievable--IN THAT you two DIDN'T get KICKED OUT of the Y, TODAY!!!!!!!!! WHAT WAS OPERA-MAN THINKING?????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He's VERY LUCKY that you are VERY STRONG & COORDINATED or HE could have been HURT, you know???!!!!!!!
Guess he didn't know you USED to play BASEBALL in College & could throw THAT ball about 90 MPH on good days, huh????!!!!!!!!!

And, Chinese folks--I haven't known many, any personally, I guess, and didn't know they were like that with their LITTLE ONES--GOD BLESS THEIR LITTLE ONES & KEEP WATCH OVER THEM--which obviously, HE ALREADY IS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm like AJ, too, I kinda ENJOY these stories--nothing like that seems to go ON here at home in KS!!

And, YOUR DAD has become the MOST COURTEOUS DRIVER AROUND--how about that????!!!!!!!!! He LETS EVERYONE "IN", including before & after CHIEFS GAMES!!!!!!!!!

OH, Guess what??!!! We got a RECORDED call today from a CHIEF--DONNIE EDWARDS, to be EXACT--saying 'Thanks' for being Season Ticket Holders & LET'S ALL SHOW UP Sunday, wearing RED & being LOUD & PROUD!!!!!!!!! How about that??!!!
I hope NOT to erase it for some time!! Maybe you'll get to hear it. LOVE YOU, Mom

hard.rox said...

Great stories, Michael. I wouldn't have stayed with the Swiss Ball slinging as long as you. Guess you're nicer than I am. LOL The showering with his clothes on was the icing on the cake.!!!

Hal Johnson said...

Too funny! (The first one. Not so the second.)

Bob Barbanes said...

Let me get this straight- the people in your town sit around naked when they should be clothed, and shower clothed when they should be naked.

I'm glad I don't live in your town.

P.S. Opera man is psycho. Please don't "exercise" with him anymore.

Roland said...

There's a guy in my gym who has conversations with himself in the shower.

I thought it was two people, one comes out, I go in, no one there. Spooky.

James W said...

Your Y has some serous Crazy people!