Archive for February 25th, 2007

Tales from the Gym – Sartorial Subterfuge (partially) Solved

I watched Ocean’s Twelve tonight and I think I might have the beginnings of a theory to explain the recent spate of bizarre gym-wear to which I, and my readers, have been witness. Ocean’s Twelve is about a bunch of loveable thieves who are variously happy-go-lucky, thoroughly cool, deeply insecure, or inexplicable. There’s a scene where one of the younger thieves, named Linus, believes he’s ready to move up within the organization of twelve – ready to take on more of a leadership role. Not convinced that he’s mature enough, but willing to give him a chance, the two real leaders of the group – Danny Ocean and Rusty Ryan – take him into a meeting with a potential client who is named Matsui. The ensuing negotiations go like this:

Ryan: “A doctor who specializes in skin diseases… will dream he has fallen asleep in front of the television. Later, he will wake up in front of the television… but not remember his dream.”

Ocean and Matsui nod thoughtfully. Linus looks baffled. Matsui asks Linus if he agrees… after Linus takes too long to answer, Danny Ocean picks up the thread of the conversation.

Ocean: “If all the animals along the equator were capable of flattery… then Thanksgiving and Halloween…would fall on the same date.”

Ryan and Matsui nod as though they have just been enlightened. Now it’s Matsui’s turn.

Matsui: When I was four years old… I watched my mother kill a spider with a tea cozy. Years later, I realized it was not a spider. It was my Uncle Harold.

The hapless Linus is completely lost – so much so that when he can no longer evade his turn in the conversation, the best he can do is quote lyrics from a Led Zeppelin song. He’s made the wrong choice, as we later learn – apparently the lyrics to “Kashmir” actually translated into a grave personal insult to a member of Matsui’s family. Linus is kicked out of the restaurant, while Ocean and Ryan continue negotiations with Matsui alone.

The link?

Well, I think it’s clear. Certain people at my gym are communicating in a similar manner. The tartan-wearer on a treadmill was seen and noted; those who were in on the conversation understood perfectly. One of them responded by hanging a brown and maroon striped wig, in place of a towel, on her shower hook. Again, notice was taken, and someone who understood replied by wearing nothing and a raspberry beret into the sauna. The question now is, do I acknowledge what I see happening around me? Should I, like Linus, attempt to join the conversation? Dare I admit that I don’t know what they’re saying? I think there’s only one way to answer all of these questions. There’s a green velvet Renaissance Festival dress in a box in my closet, and I just ran out of gym clothes…

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