In my ongoing effort to add some fitness into my daily routine, the hubby and I have started to visit the gym on a semi-regular schedule. By regular I mean on the weekends. And maybe once or twice during the week, if the mood strikes and we’re up early enough. This feat would be easier if the time had not cruelly shifted ahead an hour, thereby depriving my body of much needed sunshine in the morning with which to awaken. But I digress.

Yesterday we crawled to the gym full of dread eager anticipation.

Row upon row of glistening cardio equipment greeted us, along with several hostile stares from users of said equipment. I guess everyone gets that glazed over, I-want-to-kill-you look when they are on the treadmill.

Ignoring the unhappy faces, we forged ahead to the elliptical machines. There happened to be two open machines next to each other, so Dear Hubby (DH for short) took the right one, and I mounted the one next to him.

To my left was Skeleton Girl. She pounded on the machine as if the hounds of hell were chasing after her. They might have been. Demons don’t always live outside the body…sometimes they live inside. Sometimes they make you do horrible things, and sometimes they simply make you kill yourself on an elliptical.

I hate being next to Skeleton Girl, because nothing makes you feel fatter than being around someone who doesn’t have any fluff at all. I instantly gained 200 pounds just by being near her.

DH climbed on the machine to my right and began his ritual of iPod tuning and button mashing. I did the same. I steadfastly ignored Skeleton Girl and focused instead on the monitors in front of me, which displayed a news story about a ship which has been adrift since the tsunami and which has now been found off the coast of Canada. My mind instantly whirled with possible stories. What if the tsunami snatched the ship from the ocean and deposited it 50 years later? Or opened up a wormhole to another planet?

What if all the people on board were stuck in between? They’d look like ghosts to us, but be real to each other. The ship itself is doomed to roam the oceans forever. Or becomes a starship. Oh, the possibilities.

Where was I?

Oh yes. It’s at this point that DH tapped me on the shoulder. I made eye contact with him, but couldn’t tell what he was trying to say. He wrinkled his nose. I wrinkled mine. He’s so cute!

He shook his head and laughed, then put a hand up to his nose and pinched it.


Using my brilliant powers of deductive reasoning, I came to the stunning conclusion that something is stinky. I sniffed, but my nose has been on vacation since the beginning of allergy season, so I didn’t smell anything. I raised my eyebrows in silent question. DH gestured to the guy next to him.

He looked normal enough. T-shirt, shorts, shoes. Nothing full of holes or stained. He was sweating like a pig, though, which when you think about it is a really stupid expression because I raised a few pigs and they didn’t sweat. At all. Which doesn’t come close to describing the personal rainforest this guy was creating.

“Move to another machine,” I mouthed.

DH shook his head. I suppose he was worried that would look rude. I think it’s more rude to be stinky, although perhaps the guy couldn’t help it. I shrugged, and went on with my workout.

Two minutes later DH exited the machine and moved to one further down the line. I took another sniff and didn’t smell anything.

Sweaty Guy decided to towel off. He lifted his burnt orange hand towel and shook it out, then wiped his forehead off and replaced the towel on the handle of the machine.

It was then that I got my first whiff. My eyes teared up as the stench of several week’s buildup of human sludge wafted over me, blown by the ever so helpful fans. I tried to hold my breath, the machine chose that precise moment to implement a sudden increase in incline. I couldn’t help it. I had to take a breath. And then I choked.

When I had recovered from my coughing fit, I took a closer look at Sweaty Guy’s towel.

It could have stood on its own and danced. It could be used as a table leg, or perhaps a walking stick. I doubt that thing had seen a washing machine since it came home from the store. In 1995. And I bet anything that in between visits to the gym, this towel spends most of its time in the car. In the Texas heat. Baking. Upon closer inspection, I could see that the towel’s original color was probably not burnt orange.

How he didn’t smell all this when he wiped his own face with it I’ll never know. The thing was toxic.

As I contemplated his towel, Hostile Girl arrived. She took the machine DH had recently vacated, and began setting it up. I chuckled to myself and made a silent bet. Two minutes.

She lasted one.

She huffed away from the machine, leaving a trail of disgust. I saw her later on the end treadmill where she wouldn’t have to be next to anybody. Smart move.

The next person to take over on the machine was Happy Guy. He apparently didn’t have a nose, either. Happy Guy bopped and swayed as he worked out to his own private concert, oblivious to the stench next to him. He kept up with Sweaty Guy in the sweat department. When he got out a towel to start wiping his forehead, I left. I didn’t want to chance it.

My fitness quest might have to include a gas mask in the future. I wonder how that would look.


If there are any guys reading this, please note: the sweat towel does need a bath every now and then. If you notice people leaving your general area as soon as you arrive…it’s probably your towel. Please wash it! The nose you save could just be your own.