My regular attendance at the gym has more to do with getting my hit of Melody TV than keeping fit. Over the last two months I realized that the same collection of music vids were on constant replay and I was starting to wonder whether Arabic stars ever released any new songs. I’d thought the glorious charm of Haifaa Wahby’s squirming bosoms would never wear off, but I have to admit even they were getting a bit droopy.
I am delighted to report that a fresh crop of Arabic songs is now doing the rounds. My current favourite has our heroine skipping through the forest, dressed for the elements in a red cape, girlie dress with flounces, pig tails, bobby socks and t-bar shoes. Here she comes swinging her basket, the veritable essence of innocence were it not for the vast chasm of cleavage exploding out her bodice. That, and the positively filthy way the girl has of looking at a camera.
All of a sudden she skips behind a tree and – argh! – it’s Mr Wolf or, more specifically, a man in a gorilla suit. And Mr Wolf is WEARING A CODPIECE. This immodest defense of Mr Wolf’s modesty is bright red and looks suspiciously like PVC. It is absolutely precious. The first time I saw it, I fell off the treadmill laughing.
There is something fundamentally and deeply disturbing about these videos. Are they more or less disturbing than Western music videos featuring malnourished prepubescent American girls waving their malnourished ribs around and straddling greased up dancers? Well, I’m not sure . . . but at least with Western videos the sexuality is out there quivering at the camera, rather than dressed up as innocent teenage entertainment. Mr Wolf in a shiny red codpiece – I ask you.
When I’m not high on Melody TV, I pass the time by people-watching between press ups. According to Shaw’s Theory #9, you can tell an awful lot about someone from the way they work out.
For example, the man giving it loads on the cross trainer such that smoke is coming out the back: he has an official Porsche bomber jacket; a pedigree Labrador called ‘Hercules’; organizes his socks by colour code; and spends more time blow drying his hair than his girlfriend(s). He uses multiple exclamation points in his emails!!!!! He is a terrible lover. Deep down he knows he has no imagination or longevity (NB unable to conclusively verify this fact) and tries to make up for his carnal deficiencies by flashing the cash and doing enough lunges to enable him to store small change between his buttocks.
The woman in baggy t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms displaying lackluster performance on the bicycle? She was aghast to find three grey hairs this morning and a liver spot which on closer inspection turned out to be a freckle; she is considering breast enhancement surgery; she cries when watching Oprah; she has a guilty secret (romance novels); her husband only ever does the dishes in order to flirt with the maid. She eats dark chocolate in 500g portions and once tried yoga but was self conscious about her lycra clad thighs. She takes charge of her life dammit! by going to the gym every morning and spending 20 minutes cycling nowhere (25 on a good day).
The well toned young man on the bench: it is clear from the way he points his toes when doing cross-overs that he is gay and contemplating a fabulous life from the darkest recesses of the closet. The brisk way he exercises indicates that he is fond of his mum and cats; he dates beautiful women and treats them like a queen; he once posted a personal add describing himself as having ‘great s.o.h.’; he is not aware that he points his toes when doing cross-overs but would vehemently deny it. His favourite film of all time is ‘Dirty Dancing’ – he always thought Baby had a certain indefinable quality (most people would call it Patrick Swayze).
I have heard that in America many people treat the gym as a potential pick-up joint. Well, I have no idea how that works, being only marginally less attractive ten minutes into a workout than I am when twisted drunk. I tend to do things more by multiples than halves, so it’s never long before my face is a furnace and my top ringed with damp. I positively EXPLODE sweat to the extent that I am accessorized with my own personal rainbow. And sometimes I grunt when I do bicep curls. I try not to: I know how unladylike it is. [When we lived in Karama, there was a guy who used to come down to the gym and do sit-ups, each one accompanied by a fart. I think he used gas as a form of propulsion. He thought I couldn’t hear him due to being plugged into my mp3 player. I could. The trauma.]
Of course, there has to be an upside to all this gym attendance, apart from the obvious (Melody TV, fellow exercisers, rainbows) (although in themselves, those are compelling incentives). Well, there is another advantage. If you look at my left upper arm, just above the elbow and below the third freckle, there is A Muscle.
I tried to photograph it as evidence, but I think the light conditions were sub-optimal