Another presidential campaign. Another super-funded, demographically advantaged foe—this time in a pantsuit. Thankfully, no one likes her—I mean, no one. I think her husband supports Trump.
But I looked at the voters we had to persuade, and…yikes. You know what I mean. Try reciting three words after each encounter with your fellow Americans: “And they vote.”
Drive in traffic, as some guy plods along in the left lane while texting furiously. Then, cutting you off because he missed his turn, he gives you the finger.
“And they vote.”
Go to restaurants, where you must either enjoy screaming kids or be scowled at for hating all children.
“And they vote.”
Go to college campuses, where every recorded temperature of the past decade proves Global Warming, white people are evil unless they hate white people, and all sex is rape (except when committed by Muslims in Europe…or Bill Clinton).
“And they vote.”
Morons. We are surrounded by morons.
All this weighed upon me as the New Year broke, and I decided I could either weep alone in a dark corner, or create small victories in my own life. I needed private success. I needed to fix something.
So I decided to lose some weight.
Like many Americans at this time of year, I wanted to lose 20 pounds, if only because it was easier than forcing everyone else to gain 20. So off I went to the gym—24 Hour Fitness—seeking motivation.
It was a strange world. Surrounding me were people wearing big smiles and motivational T-Shirts:
“Work hard! Play hard! Live hard! IN THE EXTREME!”
“Quitting is for quitters who quit too much…IN THE EXTREME!”
“Yoga brings balance…IN THE EXTREME!”
“I’m yelling at you with my T-Shirt…IN THE EXTREME!”
You know what? It worked! Now I was motivated! I ran on things! I lifted stuff! Fist-pumping in the air with people around me, I knew I belonged. I fist-pumped to a group walking on treadmills, and they fist-pumped back! I fist-pumped to the janitor, and he gave me a gesture too! I fist-pumped to this sweet old lady, and she fist-pumped with a weight in her hand! Granted, the momentum threw her over a railing—but she gave a hearty thumbs up from where she landed! Pretty sure that was a thumb!
Yeah! I had found my place! I belonged!
I decided that day to lose 10 of the 20 pounds. I mean, why wait? So I worked out on every machine I could find, lifting till I couldn’t move.
Proudly, I went home and bragged to my wife. “Honey, are you ready for…” (I pointed to my bicep) “…the thunder?”
Cori nodded her head, and kept reading.
“Call it down!” I demanded.
“I’m sorry, what?”
“Call down the thunder!”
Cori looked at her book. “But I was at a good spot.”
“Honey!” I started stomping about. “Can’t you see I’m a new man? I mean, I’m not saying I’m better than other people—per se. But it’s possible—just possible—my new body transcends humanity itself! I may pose for a sculptor!” I stomped some more. “Honey, call down the thunder! Now, now, now!”
“Oh thunder,” she yawned, “I summon thee.”
I flexed my bicep.
“Wow, Andy. I will honor the thunder by reading this book. Go to bed.”
“Do I have to? I’m pumped!”
“Trust me on this, oh great one. Go to bed.”
So I went to bed. The great one…slept soundly.
The next morning, I awoke to more pain than I’d known my entire life. “Something’s wrong!” I thought. “This is not befitting a god!” I struggled to get up, but to no avail. I couldn’t bend! I had no functioning joints, like…like…like a three month old gingerbread man!
“You know,” said Cori, who was standing by the bed, “since I haven’t transcended humanity, I’m not qualified to judge. But you look like a three month old gingerbread man.”
I couldn’t respond, as even my mouth hurt. “One move,” I thought, “and I could collapse into dust! Like…like when the Kelvans zapped all the water out of Enterprise crew members in Episode 22 of the original Star Trek!” Deep within, I expressed my feelings in the voice of James T. Kirk: “I…now…know…fear.”
My eyes looked up at Cori, seeking pity.
“Wish I could help,” she sighed, “but I’d only get in the way. Were you thinking about Star Trek again?”
Off she went.
The next few days were a mix of pain drugs and mounting depression. All those people at 24 Hour Fitness had lied. They lied! Defeated, I returned to the gym, sporting more realistic T-Shirts:
“I’m replacing all this with a fad diet.”
“I’m the ‘Before’ picture.”
“Yeah, but I’m less fat than I’ll be when I’m older.”
“We’re all ugly. Give up.”
One girl complained. “These shirts make me sad! Sad all over!” She started sobbing. “We need positive messages; things that motivate us and show us we’re special!”
“Well, sure! But not complacent! They should take us out of our comfort zone!”
“Special, but uncomfortable?”
The next day, I wore a new shirt:
“I come here to stare at pretty people.”
Needless to say, I had the locker room to myself. In time, the gym manager asked me not to wear motivational T-Shirts. I scolded him:
“How dare you stifle my free expression!”
“You want me to call down the thunder?”
“Didn’t think so!”
Having made my point, I stormed out.
By then, I realized my mistake. I was exercising for the wrong reasons. I wasn’t running toward a healthy lifestyle. I was running from my civic duty—from politics. I was running from a dreary struggle with Hillary (much like Bill). I was running from millions of morons who wouldn’t listen.
It was time to stop running. It was time to find balance. It was time to return to that gym, but this time with political motivational T-Shirts!
I wore several:
“Bush 2016! Again, with more energy!”
“Rubio 2016! I will win the Latino vote!”
“Trump 2016! I will deport the Latino vote!”
Finally, I was motivated. Finally, I was at peace. I told my wife she no longer had to call down the thunder (she thanked me), because “the thunder is within.”
Cori looked in my eyes, and said, “I have no freaking clue what that means.”
She then wandered down the hallway, muttering, “2016 will be such a grind…”