Pump It Up
So I started going to the gym.
It would be nice to be able to go to a doctor in Japan and get a diagnosis other than “you’re fat – lose weight”. Aside from that though, there are an abundance of good reasons why I should be go. I think a big motivating factor is my father. The man is in his 60’s and is in better shape than I am. Granted, he was in the army for 30 years, so part of it comes with the territory, but still. He’s like a foot shorter than me, he orders from the Senior Citizen menu at Denny’s, and he could kill me with his bare hands if he wanted to. …Laugh if you want, but realize that he could take you out too.
There’s a gymnasium in my town that has a small little training room. It’s not much, but they have enough machines and weights for an adequate workout. And since it’s small, I can workout in peace without having to worry about being bothered. The only real drawback to the training room is the music. The Japanese don’t really seem to grasp the concept of workout music. You need something that will get your juices flowing, kick start that adrenaline and make you fight to the finish. Like, the theme to the Mortal Kombat movie. I don’t care what condition you’re in, that song WILL make you move harder. You could be lying in your death bed, and if someone started playing the Mortal Kombat movie theme, you’d get up and go run in the Boston Marathon. …And probably win.
But no, the music flow for the training room included a lot of 1970’s Japanese folk (shudder) and, strangely enough, country music. And not regular country music either. I heard this one more than a couple of times, and I swear to Goodness I’m not making this up.
Don’t put no plastic flowers on my grave.
I don’t care how much money you can save.
Make sure my tombstone, aint made of styrofoam
Don’t put no plastic flowers on my grave
That kind of music doesn’t make you want to move! If anything, I wanted to stop running, and go curl up in a corner somewhere and die. Where, hopefully, no one will put plastic flowers on my grave.
In March (of last year), my town got a brand new, dedicated gym. I shifted my workout there, primarily because of the swimming pool (my broken collarbone had just healed, and I figured water sports would be good therapy). Even though I no longer had to listen to any more Japanese folk/country, I was still subjected to music that could put a child on Prozac to sleep. Like, The Carpenters. I believe that The Carpenters aren’t really suitable for any situation ever, but most certainly not a gym. This just goes to show you that the Japanese really have no grasp of workout music.
Poor musical selection aside, the new gym is really nice. I do however, have one gripe. The running machines face a large window that overlooks one of the main streets in the town. This street also happens to be the primary route home for most of my students at one of the schools. So they look up at the window and the facial reactions are always the same. “Waitaminue…that person looks kinda familiar….HEY!” Many of them wave to me, and while I’m all for greeting students, its kind of hard to do so running at 12 km/h. Not to mention that I’d look like a right fool to all those inside of the gym and without a nice, clear view of the window to see what I was waving at. So for the most part, I try to ignore them, making it look like I’m concentrating on keeping up with the belt. One female student called me on this once…
Her: Hey, I saw you in the gym last week!
Her: Yeah, you were on the running machine. I waved, but you didn’t wave back.
Me: Oh? Well, I don’t really look out the window when I’m running…I’m usually just concentrating.
Her: Yeah, I guess so. You were running pretty fast. Faster than all the other people! You were really cool!
Me: Heh heh heh…yeah.
Her: Oh, but you know, I was trying to get your attention, and I was waving REALLY hard…
Her: And you know what? Some other girl who was on the running machines, she thought that I was waving to her, so she waved back.
Me: Aw, that was nice of her.
Her: But, I wasn’t waving to her! So, I tried to tell her I wasn’t waving to her, like this. (she makes a frowing motion, shakes her head, and makes the “batsu” x with her arms)
Me: Wow, I feel really bad for this girl now.
Her: Why’s that?
Me: She goes to the gym, gets on a treadmill, and is trying her best to get into shape. She sees a young girl waving encouragement to her, and feeling a new sense of encouragement and support, she waves back, only to have said young girl tell her “Nuh-uh, not you sister.”
Her: Well, them’s the breaks I guess.
As I’ve stated numerous times, I’m a big black guy. 6’3 (190 cm or so), 200 pounds. The Japanese take one look at me and see a man who can break them in half. …I wouldn’t necessarily say that this is a Japanese thing, a lot of cultures will think twice before picking a fight with a black dude twice their size. I think it’s instinctual. So for my students, it kind of blows their minds to think of me going to a gym…to get stronger. In their world, this is kind of like Godzilla, already impervious to conventional human weapons, stomping around Tokyo…but then he gets his hands on a few rocket launchers, perhaps a flame-thrower, and then the Hammer Bros Suit from Super Mario Bros 3. One boy questioned me about it. I don’t often like to say to the students “I’m trying to lose weight” so I just phrase it as “I want to get stronger.” The boy takes a good look at me, and with all the befuddlement and confusion a Japanese person can muster, simply asks me “Why?”
Thinking back on my time in Japan, in my mind I cycled through a few of the possible answers I could have given here.
1. Even though Watson, the Agent Smith to my Neo, had already graduated, there were countless other Dick-Grabbers/Kancho Assassins lurking in the shadows, and it was up to me as The Chosen One to fight against them for the sake of Ungrabbed Gaijin Dick and Unpenetrated Gaijin Asshole all over Japan.
2. I’m thinking of throwing my hat into the sumo ring, so I have to train hard. (Conversely, if I did do sumo at least I wouldn’t have to worry about my weight…)
3. Thinking back to the Question of the Century, I need the extra strength to help in my pursuit of raping women. Lately, too many have been getting away, and that’s just completely unacceptible.
Realizing that neither answer was really any good, I settled on something far more sane/hokey. I curled my bicep and said “To protect the ones I love with these arms of mine.” The boy’s face lit up as he said in response, “That’s just about the coolest thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life!”
Azrael: Giving Japanese school children dreams for the future since 2003.
One thing about the gym though is that the locker rooms follow standard Japanese onsen conventions – full frontal nudity. Full reversal nudity. Full profile nudity. Whatever angle you can think of, and its full nudity.
I’m actually okay with this. I’ve long since shed away any American gun-shyness I might have had. When I’m in the locker room and I go to take off my pants, I notice pretty much every guy around me come to a stand-still, unable to avert his eyes away from the rare opportunity to spot some Authentic Negro Penis. But I just no longer care. “Here ya go – does it meet your expectations? Have I now somehow humbled your own manhood? If I turn this way, do you like the way the light and shadows combine to create an artistic effect?”
What I do find interesting though, is that, at this gym at least, the cleaning staff is made up of little old Japanese ladies – obasan. The obasan enter the male cleaning room, and despite the fact that there is naked Japanese wang everywhere nobody gives a shit. The obasan don’t try to avert their eyes, the men don’t try to hide their junk, it’s just all out there. On one hand, it’s kind of cool that nobody freaks out, but then again, in a way I feel like the penis has been de-valued. Like, over-exposure to the market has caused a decline in interest. “And in today’s business news, the Japanese penis plunged another 30 points today, marking a new record low…”
I’ve gotten used to the obasan too, as there really is no point in being bashful anymore. However, there was one time…
I’d just come back from the swimming pool. I pulled off my trunks and put them inside of this machine that’s basically a compact-spin dryer. The machine sits right next to the door that leads to the shower/pool area. Since I was drying out my swim trunks, basically I was standing there buck naked. Suddenly, the door opens, and a obasan cleaning lady comes through. …Or at least, she would have. You have to consider two things in this scenario here.
1. I’m pretty tall.
2. Obasan are pretty short.
Add em up, and what you have, is an obasan who is now face level with my exposed dick. And, only a few inches away no less. Poor obasan just stops – I mean, sure she’s gotten used to all the wang flapping about in here, but I’m sure she wasn’t quite prepared to just open the door and have a Gaijin dick literally inches away from her face. In my surprise, I too think to turn away, but I have to stop myself – turning in the wrong direction would result in me turkey-slapping an old Japanese woman. And while I do feel that a good, authentic cock-slap can be hilarious under the right conditions, this, I felt, was not one of them.
The obasan is literally just frozen there for a few moments. And now, so am I – turn in one direction, and cock-slap an old Japanese woman. Turn in another, and show her my ass. Neither, I felt, was a viable option. …I didn’t necessarily think this old Japanese woman was going to kancho me, but I promised myself I’d never expose my tender ass to any Japanese people after the whole Requiem for a Legacy incident, and I’ll be damned if I make any exceptions to that. So there we are, frozen in time, obasan and big naked Gaijin. Obasan finally regains her composure and gets out a quick “Sumimasen!” before hurrying off. If nothing else, I’ll bet she now has a GREAT new story for her grandchildren. “Gather round kids, let me tell you about the time I was THIS CLOSE to Gaijin Negro Cock…”
And, somewhere in Japan, Watson is wishing he had been born an old Japanese woman.