Monday, February 8, 2010

The Logical Gift

This is what I think I heard:

"For Christmas I got him a coffee mug and a picture of the two of us."

The girl next to me on the stationary bike at the gym is literally slumping to the side in the reclined seat. Her eyes are so red I am not sure if she is secretly a bunny and her hair is some kind of unfortunate bet against the powers of peroxide. And her words are slurring so badly that when her trainer asked her what she gave her boyfriend for Christmas, this is what I actually heard:


Regardless of whether or not you should work out while still drunk, as a personal trainer, I feel a certain responsibility to NOT train self-impaired clients. By which I mean in meeting a client like Train Wreck here, I would have said something along the lines of:

"Go home."

Instead, Train Wreck had the following conversation with her trainer:

Trainer: "Did you take any drugs last night?"

TW: "No."

Trainer: "OK. You should be fine today then."

I have definitely come to the gym not feeling well. I have done extensive workouts on very little sleep. I have even gone running on New Year's Day. But I just cannot wrap my head around the benefits of working out drunk-to-the-point-where-the-general-public-isn't-sure-whether-or-not-you-are-also-high-on-serious-drugs. Is the logic at that point that you should do something healthy for your body to counteract your previous activities? Is the trainer's logic that she doesn't want to lose a valuable client? I am stumped. But also trying my hardest not to turn and stare at TW.

Because drunk people can be highly amusing. And generally they can't tell if you are staring at them because they are staring at things like the lamp. One time at the bar, I had my hair in a ponytail (OK this is a lie. EVERY DAY I have my hair in a ponytail.) and I was walking in front of a drunk man who was about a foot taller than me. My hair was apparently swishing hypnotically or doing its best imitation of a bell or it said something sassy to him because he pulled it. He yanked on my ponytail and my head jerked back and my tray of beers tottered and I stopped still. I turned around and gave him my best "I'm sorry, I'm not 8 years old so I seem to be confused by your actions" face. But he was staring up at the chandelier while he walked on toward the door, totally pretending he, a grown man, hadn't just PULLED MY HAIR.

It is impossible to make sense of drunk people under the social constructs of sober people. Just like it is impossible to make sense of mean people under the social constructs of nice people. But I seem to keep trying. And while I was trying to make sense of TW and her strange dedication to working out, I was also trying very hard to figure out her actual words. Like I said, what I THOUGHT I heard had something to do with a coffee mug and framed pictures, but with the abundance of Fs and Ss and throaty noises, she could have as easily said something highly inappropriate.

The sense that we make of drunk people and mean people has more to do with who we are and what we are already thinking about than it does with their actual intentions. And with TW, I was thinking about one of the Christmas presents I got for M this year. In addition to the wine rack commissioned from my dad, I found a picture frame with a corkboard attached for M's office. I had the very special occasion to visit M's office a few months ago. And by "special," I mean, I begged him to take me to see it and he finally relented. He has a for-real office - not a cubicle, not a chair he stakes out at Starbucks, not a locker at the gym - a four walls and a door office. And on those four walls, here is what you can see:

A diploma

Another diploma

A freebie calendar from some business that features pastel drawings of uninteresting flora and fauna

Lucky for me, M said when he moved into this office, "I really need some color on the walls. It's very white in there." Which to me sounded like, "BLANK CANVAS." So I decided to find something that would help get paper off of his desk, add some color and remind him of nice things while he has to do un-nice work. I drew a coffee mug in black ink on white paper. I drew the Chicago skyline on the coffee mug and I drew steam lines. I don't know why it seemed important to signify that the 2-D coffee was HOT, but it was. Get over it. I found some red stationery paper and used it as a mount. I bought overlarge pushpins in red and black, to complement the mount and the black cork. I signed it, wrapped it all up, set it next to the GINORMO wine rack box.

To make this gift actually a really great gift, I am going to have to drive M to work one day with it. Otherwise it will never actually make it onto the wall. But what made it great on its own merit was that M began to delineate the steps it would take to get it up on the wall, which means he was thinking about how it would look. If you don't know him, you might not understand the link here, but M is the most practical person I have ever met. And if he starts thinking about how much he likes something, he will take that thing from where it is sitting all the way to where it will end up in the basement of a house he will live in for 47 years and on which he will pay X amount of assessments. But all in his head. Even if he loves something, he won't physically move it unless prompted by outside forces. I have made sense of this. Because he is not drunk.


  1. Just letting you know:
    1. You rock.
    2. You're hilarious.
    3. You can call anyone "Train Wreck" at any time and I will love it.
    4. Keep writing.
    5. You are cool.

    That is all. lynner54321