It wouldn’t matter if I were sitting in the leprosy section of a one-star deli in Qatar, and a gentle sand breeze rolls my falafel off the table, into the jowls of an ill-tempered rhesus monkey armed with a rusty knife… I will fight that macaque to recover my chickpea ball, brush it gently on my hijab and then eat it. I don’t even care if I fail to do this within the five-second rule, either: The monkey and I can go tooth and shiv all day, while our deep-fried prize bakes in the Arab sun. I will still be the victor, and to me will go the still-edible spoils.
The point of this random fiction? I’m not a germaphobe. Having said that… holy shit, gymnasiums give me the bacterial willies. Let me back up a bit: This week, my Dentyne-sized friend, Autumn, has started working full time again (after some medical shenanigans), and is now dragging my rotund ass to the gym on our lunch break. After our first workout, she teased me about how much of a prissy diva I was—how nothing was clean enough for my fragile psyche. Whereas I would normally turn a non-confrontational cheek at such playful criticism, I must stand by my objection. Let’s break it down into components:
First, there’s getting changed. If you’re a man reading this, and have ever wondered about the naked pillow fights that clandestinely break out in women’s locker rooms, let me assuage your curiosity: it’s all true. Problem is, the only immodest contenders are old enough to have done alterations with Betsy Ross—and, oh, do they love to socialize. Look, I adore old folks, and hope to be one myself someday, but towel-up, ladies. I don’t need your dilapidated naughty bits to accidentally graze me. Again.
Then there’s the gym portion of the gym, where meatheads in wife beaters two sizes too small, with necks two sizes too thick, grunt and scream as if recording the audio book for Stoney and the Great Passage of Urethra. But ignoring all that is as simple as using ear buds. What is less forgivable is the pool of jock filth they leave in their wake and waft. How a towel was deemed to be an adequate absorber for such fungal man-leavings is anybody’s guess. More to the point, how have gym-employed bus boys not been invented yet? If restaurants see it necessary to chemically purge a table after every meal—even though food is already served on sanitized plating—how could a light brushing of drenched upholstery be compliant with health codes, at either a state or common sense level? Even the butcher paper a doctor rolls out for you would be progress.
I already feel like I need a shower—which brings us to the closing act of the workout experience. Women, I know how fun it is to make hair art in the shower at home. I know the delights of gathering all the loose strands that have clung to the tile, rotary phoning them into clumps and giving each one a name and backstory. But… do you really need to share your masterpieces publicly? Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m just an artless rube. Maybe I should just be grateful for the free toe rings. Shudder.
Of course, I wouldn’t have to endure any of this if I didn’t make such deliciously fattening shit like this:
Savory Ricotta Cheesecake
- 6 oz Italian truffle cheese (this is available at Trader Joe’s)
- 3/4 cup flour
- 4 tbsp cold, unsalted butter
- 1/4 tsp salt
The inspiration for this crust came after I made homemade Cheez-Its. Preheat oven to 350˚. Combine all ingredients in a food processor until they form a ball. Press into the bottom of a springform pan and prick several times with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove and cool slightly before filling.
- 30 oz ricotta cheese
- 6 eggs
- 1/4 cup minced shallots
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp truffle oil
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
Combine ricotta and eggs until blended. Saute shallots, garlic and thyme in truffle and olive oils until just cooked. Fold into ricotta mixture along with salt and pepper. Pour over crust and bake for 50–60 minutes, until a knife stuck in the center comes out clean.
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups oil packed sun-dried tomatoes
Drain tomatoes of most of the oil they are packed in. Place in a mini-food processor and chop until finely minced. Spread over the top of still warm cheesecake. Place on cooling rack. Once cooled, run a sharp knife around the edge of pan and then flip the springform latch. It can be served immediately or chilled overnight. I made this for the gang at work and it was a big hit.
Whaddya know? I’m once again using the space down here to apologize for everything above. This time, I want it understood that I’m writing from a place of catharsis, not superiority. What the hell do I have to be superior about when it comes to the gym? I’m forty and grotesquely out of shape (although I submit oval is most definitely a shape), so avoiding the gym is no longer an option for combating my sagging sogginess. Someone remind me why I gave up the metabolic goodness of smoking?
TWTG says, “I just want to be filled with a bathroom to pee in.”