Day 197: I went to the Gym with my Dad this Morning.

My parents are staying with us for 5 weeks. My Dad, who’s 67, claims to have been working out regularly at his local Bally’s with a trainer he describes as a “big guy from Tonga.”  I’m all for a 67 year-old working out, just not at Bally’s. Isn’t that primarily for 2% body fat cougars shredding down so they can bang a 24 year-old dude they met at a bar with a clever name? I can’t imagine my dad walking in a sea of soulless Pilates bodies. Also, should he really be working out with a guy who never wears a shirt and grunts when he smiles? I haven’t even looked to see where Tonga is. The name tells me it’s full of giants who carve things while eating whole coconuts with their oversized wolf teeth. I’m afraid this guy is gonna kill my Dad, either by making him do squats or from an overly enthusiastic island hug.

So I’ll be training him for the next 35 days. Weak leading the weak? Yes, very much so. We started this morning. First stop, shoes. He didn’t bring any “running shoes” as he calls them because, “They take up a whole Goddamn suitcase.” At 10am we headed over to the Sneaker Factory in Milburn. On the way he asked, “So, we’re going to a sporting goods store, right? Because, I don’t want to spend a hundred goddamn dollars on a pair of shoes.” It’s true, he doesn’t need fancy shoes; he walks on a treadmill and then does a few machine exercises. I think any pair of factory damaged white Reeboks would have done him just fine, but I want more for him. Plus, I’m not sure what a “sporting goods store” is.

The Sneaker Factory is serious about shoes, energy gels, swim goggles and other things rich people buy to assuage their guilt from lying to themselves about doing a triathalon last year. We met with a young man who looked to be 24 and the kind of person who likes to go for long runs as a means to suppress his sense of humor. My Dad and I were peppering this kid with some awesome shit. When I asked him if they had any tie dyed shoes and he answered me seriously, I knew we were in trouble. My Dad threw something at him more old-timey, but zingy none the less – still nothing. I could tell he just wanted to say, “Can I just sell you some fucking shoes without the Abbot and Costello bullshit?” If he had said that, I would have earnestly asked if I could move in with him.

My Dad told him, “I’m a 13 narrow.” He’s from the past and still thinks shoes come in widths. They argued for a minute about whether a D width or a C width was the standard… blah blah. The sales boy seemed to love it. He perked up like, “Oh, Jeff Dunham and his puppet aren’t trying to be funny now, thank God.” My Dad, after questioning why it mattered what shoes look like, settled on some blue and white Sauconys, gulped a little at the price, but kept it to himself.

He was really tense about how much a month membership to my gym would cost him. When they quoted him a reasonable rate, we headed into the locker room. He was astonished that I didn’t bring a lead safe with me to store my valuables. “This is a nice club Dad, no one’s gonna steal your stuff.” He said, “Jesus, at Bally’s they’ll steal your shoes before you take them off.” I’ve been to his Bally’s and I can see that happening due to the large constituency of muscled riff raff trying to bone the gaggle of 40 year ladies taking a Zoomba class.

For today, he did his thing (walking on the treadmill, and some leg lifts) and I did mine (climbed a fake mountain and copied stuff other people were doing.) Tomorrow is when I start to tread on the giant Tongan’s territory. Until then…

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