Bench Press

Bench PressThere were two men by the bench press station. They were taking turns doing sets and talking in the considerable downtime between. My trainer, a strong funny woman in her early 40’s who had shaved all the hairs from her arms, pointed them out with her chin.

She said, “I don’t know what they do. They have been here for years, since I was here anyway and I think that’s 16 years. They come in every afternoon. There are four of them and they hang around and talk to each other and every so often they will load up the bar with the big plates and groan and then they’ll start the chatting again. It’s like a coffee klatch.”

“There are four of them? I only see two?” I said.

“Not every day. But a lot. They really ought to find something to do with themselves.”

One of the two was a striking looking man. He had a deep tan this January day and a face like a Senator.  He wasn’t good looking but he had that cragginess that gave his features a hyper prominence. This was a wind-swept face, with rocky contours. And his hair was like his face, swept back from his forehead and cast with rocky, craggy contours. He was wearing a t-shirt with no sleeves and the word Sweat! in big red letters on his chest. His arms were brimming with tan muscles.

The other man also had no sleeves but he was white and fleshy. He had a pie face and his thin hair didn’t cover the empty patch in the middle of his head. He was in the midst of telling the Senator a story when my trainer and I moved to the calf press machine. We could overhear much of what he was saying, though we missed the first part of the story.

“We were at the house,” the fleshy man said,  “and I just knew she was going to do it again.”

My trainer made me start a set of calf raises but she did it haphazardly, intent on the two men.

“Did she?” The Senator asked.

“She did. She can’t resist.”


“No. I mean I knew she was going to do it. So earlier I had been texting with Kitty and I knew that would be right where she’d go, so before I got to the house I just deleted all the texts except for one text I sent Kitty that said ‘Hey, how are you doing? Going anywhere this weekend? That’s all I left in the phone. I mean that’s pretty eff-en harmless, right?”

The Senator made a noise that could have been agreement.

My trainer tried to give me some instructions about the form of my calf raises but I had to shhh her. I wanted to hear what came next. She didn’t resist; she also wanted to hear what came next.

“That’s what I eff-en’ thought! I mean what can she make out of a guy texting his ex-wife about what she is doing over the weekend.”

The Senator gave a rueful, knowing, slightly weary, smile but he didn’t say anything.

My trainer whispered to me, “Big mistake.” She loved this.

“Ssshhhh,” I sushed.

The fleshy guy kept talking, “Anyway, so I go take a shower and when I come out of the bathroom she is sitting on the couch in her robe and drinking a glass of wine.  I could tell right away that things were not good. She looked like she ate a bad pepper.”

“What did she say?”

“She said something really snide like ‘Soooo Johnny, what’s Kitty up to tonite?’”

Ouch. She looked at your phone.”

“I told you. She can’t help it.”

“What did she say?”

“She must have had a couple of glasses of wine because I didn’t even say anything and she started roaring at me, calling me an eff-en’ this and an eff-en’ that and then she started to throw things. First it was a pillow and then it was a book and then she started to get totally out of control.”

“What did you do?”

“I kicked her ass out, that’s what I did. I kicked her out of the house in her goddamn robe and I let her walk her ass home. She can’t come into my house and talk to me that way.”

“After reading the texts on your cell phone.”

“Amen brother, and I knew she’d do it! She couldn’t resist. Good thing I deleted most of the stuff with Kitty.”

The Senator scratched his forehead. He put his foot up on the bench press bench. The fleshy man lay down on the bench and gripped the barbell, but he didn’t take it off the rack.

My trainer whispered to me, “but why didn’t he delete all the texts? Why did he leave part of them?”

The Senator looked down at the fleshy man. “So here is what is confusing me. You knew she was going to look at your phone, right?”

“I told you man, she can’t resist. She is sick.”

“And you deleted almost most of the back and forth with your ex?”


“But you left the part about you asking her what she was up to for the weekend.”

“Yeah. It was so nothing, you know?”

“Yeah. Yeah. But… but why did you leave any of it? You could have deleted all of it and then she wouldn’t have known you were still talking with Kitty.”

My trainer gave me a triumphant smile. She had completely forgotten to count my calf raises and I had just gone on and on and now the burn extended from my ankle to my knee.

The Senator continued, “You knew she’d find it.”

“Yeah, she just can’t resist.”

“So why did you leave it?”

“Oh, you know.” The fleshy man looked up at the Senator and gave a half of a shrug.

The Senator didn’t say anything, he just stayed still by the bench, looking grave and senatorial, presiding over the fleshy man’s bench press.

My trainer gave me a wide smile. She silently mouthed the words “because he is a jerk…”

The fleshy man shrugged again, “You know, I just wanted to make her crazy. I knew she couldn’t resist. I just knew it.”