What grinds my gears: Gym edition

I am the last person who should be creating anything resembling a rule for working out, so I’m going to call these “suggestions.” I will say, though, that as a gym member for going on six months now (longest gym commitment ever!) I feel like I am in the position to discuss (read: bitch about) some of the etiquette breaches and plain old stupidity I see on a weekly basis.

So, listen up, douches:

  • Re-rack your weights. For the love of god, Beefcake, you are in this gym as often—probably more—as I am. You are not blind, so you also see that not everyone in here can lift/bench/press/push/kick/groan at 800 pounds. So for fuck’s sake, when you’re done working on your chiseled man-boobs or thighs of steel, can you please put the goddamn weights back on the rack? This is Gym Rat 101, by the way. I might be willing to assume you can’t read the signs posted everywhere, but I know you had to fill out a three-page contract to get in here so that’s not going to fly.
  • Wipe down the equipment after you use it. I don’t care if you just did two squats, you touched the handles of the machine with your sweaty hands, therefore you should wipe them off. There are containers of sanitizing wipes stationed all over the gym, too, so it’s not like you have to bring your own towel. Don’t be gross.
  • Don’t use your cellphone in the locker room. There are signs posted about this, too, and while I can’t speak to how well the rule is followed in the men’s room, I can tell you that the women blatantly ignore it. And I am not pissed about this rule-breakage because I think someone is going to snap pictures of me mid-pants-change. What irritates me is when I am trying to change into my workout clothes and all of the benches (and sometimes standing room) are occupied by teenage girls texting or Facebooking. You’re at the gym, for fuck’s sake. Go make use of that membership and use your phone on an elliptical like everyone else does.
  • Don’t spend all day on one machine, especially when you see people are waiting to use it. I get that you want your pecs to look bitchin’, brah. But if you’ve been at a non-cardio machine for going on 30 minutes and you notice the same three people meekly circling you, that’s a sign that you’re being a douche and should maybe get up and use something else for a while. Your overworked muscles will probably thank you, too.
  • Don’t work out in jeans and hiking boots. I know that clothes marketed as “workout clothes” can be crazy expensive, and maybe you just want to try out the gym for a while before committing to a new wardrobe. But jeans and hiking boots? Not cool. Hiking boots can potentially damage the machines, and jeans restrict your movement. I’m definitely not making a case for having to buy into the whole workout-outfit bullshit, but come on. If you go to the gym more than once, you probably should invest in at least one pair of sweatpants, one t-shirt and one pair of gym shoes. No matter how old or ratty they are, they have to at least be more comfortable to exercise in than denim, a polo shirt and Timberlands (or the giant construction boots I saw someone in the other day).

And that, my friends, is what grinds my gears at the gym.

This burning the Koran business

Let me start out by saying, in case you’re new around here, that I do not support all this stupid Islam- and Muslim-bashing that’s suddenly come into fashion lately. I am no fan of any organized religion—I mostly identify as an atheist with the occasional pagan bent—but I tend to view Christianity in an especially negative light due to my own experiences and the overarching manner in which Christianity is used in this country as a crutch to hurt, exclude and bully others. For a religion whose chief text preaches tolerance, that seems to be the first thing to get thrown out the window in situations where I’d think it would be needed the most.

ANYWAY. So about this burning the Koran. I understand why people are upset that some dude is getting all the crazies riled up and excited about burning it. What I don’t understand, however, is why people keep talking about it, effectively giving this mustachioed nutjob a worldwide stage to preach his intolerance.

Maybe I’m naive, but I assumed people burned books all the time. I mean, there have got to be people in small towns still burning copies of Catcher in the Rye and Heather Has Two Mommies, right? I just assumed people burned books like the Koran as well as any other random texts they might find that deal with religions other than Christianity. Hell, aren’t there some fringe Christian groups that burn Bibles different from their own preferred version?

I don’t mean to be insensitive, and I get that a big display of burning a religion’s holy book is not going to be good for our foreign relations, but why are we paying so much attention to this guy?? It’s just some asshat in Florida, not President Obama or Paris Hilton or Oprah or some other big-deal, influential celebrity that’s running the show here, guys.

So what’s my point? I don’t know. I’d like to think that on one hand, if every time some whackjob decided to burn something in a grand display of ignorance we just ignored him, flicking the mention of him away like you would a fly buzzing around the adult table at dinner, people would get the concept that if you don’t feed the trolls they eventually get bored and disappear.

But I also realize that, as a whole, people are stupid. And there are bound to be those who would interpret the silent treatment of the offender to mean not “This is so dumb it doesn’t deserve a response” but instead “Silence means consent!” and decide to jump on the intolerance bandwagon to bigotsville, where a large, angry, jingoist mob lives.

I don’t know the answer. What I do know is that I’m getting really tired of all of the intolerance in this country, and the way that it’s being spun as patriotism and morality instead of the ugliness, hatred and fear it really is.

On kids, cussing and self-centered parents

I’m going to let you in on a well-known secret: I don’t like other people’s kids*. I don’t like to listen to them whine or cry during a movie; I cannot stand to sit in front of one that kicks my seat during an airplane ride; and I don’t want my dinner interrupted by some random toddler allowed to run wild through a restaurant and who won’t leave me alone.

If this sounds harsh, blame the parents of these hellions that have collectively ruined my tolerance for their bullshit over the years. I helped raise my 12-years-younger sister, and while that certainly doesn’t qualify me for full-time-parent status, I do have insight into how difficult it can be to teach a child to act properly in public. And guess what: It’s not impossible.

But what really bothers me, more than the snot-nosed brats I encounter in public places from time to time, is the parents who insist everyone in the world has some sort of rug-rat radar that engages the moment their child is near—and demands the cessation of any activity that could perhaps interfere with their specific child-rearing curriculum that we all supposedly were given a copy of the moment we moved into the same ZIP code as said progeny.

I admit that in private conversation, I swear like a sailor. But I also know how to rein it in when in public. And I will own up to dropping the occasional F-bomb at Kroger, but it’s not like I zero-in on an angel-faced tot, inch closer to its angelic ear and unleash a string of vulgarities that would make George Carlin blush.

Shit happens, or so it is said.

Over at Suburban Turmoil, I made a few comments regarding the issue of language around children, specifically that I do not subscribe to the school of thought that says even if a parent brings a child into an adult-oriented environment (bar, concert, football game) where it is a given adult-oriented activities will be taking place (cussing, drinking, making off-color jokes), all non-child-friendly activities must cease immediately for fear of the child witnessing it and, I don’t know, bursting into flames? (I’m still not sure what is so bad about a kid overhearing a bad word. I don’t ever remember being physically or emotionally hurt by overhearing someone else cuss.) However, apparently there are a lot of people who do subscribe to this theory. And they get really pissy if you disagree with them!

You can go over there to read my comments and the resulting backlash, but let me highlight a few of my favorites for you:

Barbara says, “Know what I can not handle ? When I take my child to a supposed child-friendly place, like a football game, and the adults around me are sloppy drunk and swearing. You can bet your ass I’m asking them to stop.” Right, because a football game is totally child-friendly. I mean, people swearing and getting drunk at a football game? WHO DOES THAT?! MY GOD! THE HORROR!!

Barbara also says, “It’s good manners to respect the people who are present.” My point exactly, Barbara. If you willingly bring your kid into an atmosphere that’s not kid-centric, you need to respect the adults’ rights as well. And one of those rights is to be able to ask Jeff Fisher what the fuck he was doing with that last play, the son of a bitch.

Brooke says, “I hate when I’m at the park and grown men are playing basketball and calling each other vulgar names and screaming obscenities. Happens daily. It’s a PARK. It is for CHILDREN. Have some kind of decency.” I guess where I grew up (Chicago), our parks were laid out a bit differently than wherever Brooke lives. The basketball courts weren’t exactly right next to the slides and merry-go-rounds. Also, interesting that she deems a park that has a basketball court–or at least a few hoops–for children only. Selfish much?

And blog-owner Lindsay (let me reiterate that I love her blog and her writing, I just disagree with her here) chimes in, “Why be the one who contributes to a child’s loss of innocence?” Lindsay, I gotta say that made me laugh. Children really lose their innocence from hearing a stranger say “shit” or “fuck”? I would have thought it was from watching the nightly news and seeing all of the murders/crimes reported, or from watching movies where killing is glorified, or accidentally stumbling across an episode of The Hills.

Look, if you parents out there don’t want your kids to use cuss words, that’s awesome. I can respect that. And I will do my best not to cuss if I see a kid coming down my aisle in Kroger (OK probably not, but I’ll try harder.) But you all have to stop demanding the world walk on eggshells around your offspring. And anyway, it’s not like I walk around intermittently screaming cuss words wherever I go like I’ve got Tourette’s. FUCKSTICKS ASSHAT BASTARD SHITBALLS!

But if your kid ever overhears me cuss, be glad it’s in public. Because I can guarantee I’d make his ears bleed if he were privy to a conversation in the confines of my own house. And I’m not even fucking joking.

*By “other people’s kids,” I mean kinds belonging to strangers. Kids belonging to my friends, acquaintances, family members and co-workers are cool. And if they’re not, chances are I can be honest with the parent, or even before I have to say anything the parent reins the unruly kid in.

What really grinds my gears

You know what really grinds my gears?

When I read shit like, “Mom Inventor Overcomes Fear of Flying to Invent The Worlds Easiest Luggage ID.”

Why the hell is it important to point out she’s a mom? Do we say, “Dad Banker Asks Government for Bailout Money,” or “Dad Doctor Researches Cure for Cancer”?

No, we fucking don’t. But apparently, women today are still not able to have identities that aren’t tied to their reproductive status.

Nobody ever asks a dude when he wants to have children, or how many he wants to have. Women get asked that shit all the time. When a married woman gets knocked up, people ask her, “Are you going back to work after the baby is born?” Nobody asks the man that shit. Because, duh, the man is going back to work; to do otherwise would mean he had some sort of mental disorder. On the other hand, women who put the kid in childcare and go right back to work are looked at like they should be reported to children’s services.

So how about this, America: Unless there’s some compelling reason to note the parental status of someone you’re profiling in an article, just leave that modifier out. Mkay?

And that, my friends, is today’s installment of “What Really Grinds My Gears.”

*Note: There are two other things that piss me off about this article:

1. The inventor says she invented it because she wanted to be able to recognize her plain black bag on the airport carousel easier, yet the writer insists on including the fact that she is divorced and a mother of two as though it were the reason for the invention.

2. The headline states that she overcame a “fear of flying to invent…” But the actual story never mentions her being afraid of flying. And even if she were afraid of flying, it obviously had nothing to do with why she invented the product, which was because she couldn’t recognize her black bag among all the other black bags on the luggage carousel.