One of the benefits of having a membership at the The Sporting Club at the Bellevue, is that it is considered to be the premier gym/spa in the City of Philadelphia. Of course that's not really taking into consideration the Philadelphia Tennis & Racquet Club two blocks away, which I think may very well be so much better, but I have never been there. You have to be invited by a member, or be to the manor born. But at my gym, apart from the people like me who struggle from paycheck to paycheck, you are surrounded by local politicians, a US Senator and a governor. There are also high priced lawyers, judges, doctors, a few celebrity athletes who have passed their prime and others who are wheeling and dealing in some sort of scheme to get even richer than they are now.
Occasionally at the gym you will see some level of media celebrity, ranging from Butch who works one the access free TV cable shows and throws the underwear party at a leather bar and Heidi from the first season of Donald Trump's The Apprentice. Who?...Moving on. There have even been reports of Oprah showing up at the gym whenever she is in Philly and there was of course the time that I saw a celebrity and was kind of rude to him.
I had noticed some black guy running around the track and I had thought to myself, at last some new color on the premises and I continued doing bench presses. But, I must have paused in the middle a little to long because all of a sudden some female lackey whom I had seen with the black guy came up to me and asked just how long I would be on the bench. Naturally, this meant that I would have to inform her that I would have at least 2 more sets to do out if spite, which I did. She then walked up to the black guy and I suppose told him what I had said. They nodded at each other in agreement and they both left. It was then that it hit me. I had been rude to Denzel Washington who was in town making a movie without even trying. I had blown my chance to get to know someone famous. I had thrown away the opportunity to become tight with a Hollywood star, and believe me we would have become tighter than my nuts on a cold day in January if I had known what was what. Oh well, life goes on.
So needless to say, but I will, there is a large number of gym members who have reached shall we a say a certain age. Muscles don't build as easily as they once did for many people there. That gut that many of us endeavor to get rid of seems to hang around like the hookers used to do at the entrance of the Lincoln Tunnel on the Manhattan side. Something familiar but something you know you should get rid of. The smell of Ben Gay will sometimes permeate the locker rooms as old men try to relive their glory days while relieving themselves of the pain of strained ligaments, joints and unfulfilled dreams. I have even seen once when I was in the showers an elderly gentleman became so weak and disoriented that while he was pulling down his powder blue swim shorts, I saw the stain of fecal matter run down from between his legs and into the floor drains.
On Monday this week, the men's whirpool was shut down by the time I had entered the men's locker room and wet area. It was out of order and I looked down at the pool and wondered why instead of just draining the water and filling it up once a week with a quick wipe around the edges, why didn't they ever clean it properly and scrub the walls and the floor and pick up what looked like grit that had sank to the bottom. I was told that they had just refilled the pool and poured a bucket of some white fluid. I assumed that it must have been some sort of disinfectant, because when they use chlorine it's usually in a powdered form.
On Tuesday, I dipped my right hand into the whirlpool to see how warm it was. It had been months since I had gotten in and I thought this might be the day when I got in it again. Curtis told me as I was about to drop my towel, get naked and feel the rejuvenative powers of the water jets that the reason the whirlpool was shut down on Monday was because someone had taken a shit in the pool.
I decided not to get in. You would have to have a particularly piquant set of sensibilities to overcome something like that, and I'm not sure I would qualify. I don't like to worry unecessarily.
By the way, it may be just my imagination, but my right hand has been tingling ever since.