The Retiree: November 13, 2013


The other day at the gym, we had just finished hearing the relative merits of Silver Sneakers versus Silver & Fit from Tom, the instructor, when Bob said to me, “It looks like we've separated into two teams here.”
He was right. The people in our exercise class had split down the middle, with a dozen on the other side of the room and a dozen on our side. And the split was balanced, with each team having just as many diligent exercisers as fat out-of-shape people with a fear of death by flab.
“I think we should make a team sport of this,” I said. “Let's split up like we did in junior high school gym class. Those guys on the other side of the room will be the Skins, and we can be the Shirts. That's how Mr. Rodenborn did it in eighth grade basketball. Once in awhile a Shirt would pull up his shirt and a Skin would mistakenly pass the ball to him, but most of us can't throw any more, so that wouldn't be a problem. Tom always tells us how bad we are at bouncing balls.”
“Oh, I think it would be a big problem,” said Bob. “Not throwing the ball, but getting the Skins to take off their shirts. Look around. How many of those people would you like to see with their shirts off? Some of us just ate, you know. Not many of them would want to take off their shirts, either, like the woman in the black over there. She still looks pretty good in a t-shirt and she'd object for sure. Or Ted, who just replaced his pacemaker and has another scar. I can imagine how that looks, but I'd rather not.”
Some of my ideas won't ever come to pass. I suspect those Skins take off their clothes in the locker room, and what's the harm in going up to the exercise room that way? After all, they can keep their shorts and sweatpants on. But with people who have seven or eight decades of experience—or six, or nine—you can expect they'd be set in their ways. I don't bother to use the pool at the gym, and don't know if they treat that the way we did in junior high, where the girls had swim suits but the boys didn't. Nobody complained then. Of course we didn't swim at the same time, or use the same locker rooms.
People have bad ideas from time to time. Think of the Edsel. Or New Coca-Cola. Now we can look back at those ideas and say they were no good. But at the time, who knew?
Bob's probably right. I guess I'll drop the idea. When I go to class, I usually just ate, too.