I don’t want to make a big deal out of this because, after all, some day I may have a matching outfit.
I’m a member of a local fitness club. The difference between a fitness club and a gym is that members of a fitness club don’t feel obligated to reenact the slower moments from the original “Conan, the Barbarian” movie every time they work out. No yelling, tossing weights, or flirting with members of the opposite sex at the water fountain.
All of that to say that we’re a civilized lot.
I exercise early mornings most of the time. We have a regular crew who show up in the 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. shift. And we have pretty much juggled our routines so that we can minimize any interaction with each other whatsoever.
Our world was turned upside down recently when a new guy showed up. He came in and started acting like he was . . . I don’t know . . . a member or something. With reckless disregard for the rest of us, he just inserted himself into everything. As shocking as it may seem, he has even dared to venture on to my elliptical machine from time to time.
He looks like a nice enough fellow. You can tell that he was in shape at one time in his life. Unfortunately, his workout outfit is obviously from the glory days. It’s a little tight and comes up a little short in a few places. And don’t get me wrong, he’s always very neat — even down to the little triangle of hair emerging just below his lower lip. (Intensive internet research has revealed that such facial hair protuberance is called a “soul patch.” A fancy, spiritual name doesn’t move it up on my personal favorites list, however.)
And notice that I’m speaking of his ensemble in the singular. He either wears the same black shorts, black shirt, and black hat — or he has several identical sets of ill-fitting sportswear. It’s like he’s the Johnny Cash of sweat.
Normally, I don’t spend a lot of time obsessing about what some other guy is wearing. But the other day, the man in black cut me off as I was headed toward the assisted pull-up apparatus and then proceeded to tie up the machine for ten minutes.
I was forced to go on to other parts of my workout. Every minute or so I would glance over and all I could see was black. And it was then I noticed that no other male in the place was wearing matching clothes. I mean, most of us (I’ll emphasize here, MOST of us) had on matching socks, but no one color-coordinated beyond that. For example, I primarily wear greyish t-shirts. Some were darker at one time, some were white at one time, and some actually started out grey. A quick survey around the weight room verified my hypothesis. Guys who work out at 5 a.m. don’t wear matching outfits.
But here, disrupting my schedule, was one man who dared to swim against the current. What would motivate someone to do such a thing as this?
Then it hit me. He is a victim of circumstance. Each day when he gets home, he dutifully launders his clothes. Once dry, he folds them neatly and places them in the drawer, ready for the next day. In the darkness of the early morning, he — like the rest of us — simply gropes around in the drawer and grabs the first thing he finds. In his case, it’s the matching black outfit.
In my case, the selections are a bit more eclectic. But what is important is my understanding that the new guy is pretty much just like me, except for that soul patch thing and the fact that he’s 30 years younger. He’s just a regular guy . . . wearing black.
And I wonder why discrimination still eats at the heart of who we are.
Photo Credit: Creative Commons/kansir