I have been going to the gym for quite a lot of years now and in all that time, neither of the following things has happened:
1) I've never developed arms like squirrels in a sack
2) I've never had sex
Apparently there's a lot of nookie in gyms, but maybe I go to the wrong ones. I did once go to the notorious YMCA gym on Tottenham Court Road which looked like an secret underground base for a gay Bond villain. The changing rooms had quite a number of very naked men displaying their obvious excitement - but they also contained several young children getting changed. Frankly, there's a time and a place, fellas.
I have twice *nearly8 pulled at the gym. The first was at the BBC gym at Television Centre. It was all a bit embarrassing. I was being obviously cruised but was at a really funny bit of The News Quiz and perhaps my best look is not laughing on a Swiss Ball. Undeterred, he followed me into the changing rooms and then lost interest when he I changed into my beloved Marvin The Martian boxers (quite why novelty pants with a "surrender you strange life-form, you" slogan are a turn off I dunno). The next week we bumped into each other at the Filling Station salad bar. Turns out there's no etiquette for "Hi! I haven't seen you since you hated my comedy knickers". I never saw him again - I like to think he left.
The second time I nearly pulled at the gym was very embarassing. I was chatting to a friendly and very good looking man. We got on like a house on fire. We walked out of the changing rooms together and he went to the water fountain. Now, here's where social skills would have helped. I could either follow him to the water fountain (which would have looked stalky as I clearly had no reason to be there), or I could leave. So I left, so as not to seem rude.
At which point the good-looking man gave me a look of disappointed disgust and said "Oh, so it's like that, is it? Bye then." If only Nancy Mitford had addressed this topic we'd be celebrating our civil partnership this weekend.
Instead of which on Sunday I did what I normally do. I went to the gym, tiny bit hungover and wearing my pyjamas (old t-shirt and trousers so baggy you can call them pantaloons). Merrily, I plonked myself down on the rowing machine.
Which is when HE turned up. You know what they're like - people who are so muscly gravity bends around them. He strolled in, lifted some very heavy weights with a fingernail and then dangled from the pull-up bar without a care in the world.
I tried not to watch him and instead rowed (a trifle unsteadily) through to the end of The Archers Omnibus (oh, Lillian...). Then I went and showered.
While I was showering, Mr Muscle wandered into the changing room and glowered at me angrily. It was a look which said "I know your sort. Yes, these are the biggest arms you'll ever see in your life, but the gun show is over. Now fuck off." This seemed perfectly fair, frankly. To minimise contamination I stayed in the cubicle until he'd gone into another of the showers, and then slunk into the sauna.
At which point he came into the sauna. How utterly, hideously embarrassing. It's not a big gym and the sauna is the size of a microwave oven. There was barely enough space for one of his biceps and oh dear me, just look at those thighs. How was I going to try and comfortably share warm oxygen with an alpha male? Paging UN goodwill ambassador Geri Halliwell.
I was just contemplating making some weak small talk along the lines of "oh dear, the light bulb's gone in here again" when... it all went a bit porn.
The next few minutes were among the happiest and yet least satisfying I've ever had. Sadly for my univesity education, I discovered that men with very large arms can do pretty much what they like. Annoyingly, I'd like to say all I could think was "You've made me feel like a princess" but instead my brain just went:
- Why me?
- Never ever leave me
- Do watch out for those hot coals
He kept on muttering "Gotta go. Really gotta go" which made it all the more urgent, but also all the more transient. Clearly, men with big arms have busy lives opening fetes and saving the world, but all I could think was "Must you? This is possibly the most exciting thing to happen to me this year. If not ever."
Afterwards we got changed. It was awkward. We still hadn't actually had a conversation. Neither of us was looking at the other - he seemed suddenly shy (which was a bit like Optimus Prime playing peekaboo). And yet again, Nancy Mitford remains tight-lipped on what is the right thing to say to an anonymous stranger you've just had sex with.
In the end, I settled for a grisly attempt at a matey pat on the shoulder. "Thanks," I said.
And he made that half-grunt half-laugh sound that men make which means "Yeah, that was a laugh", "You too,", "Don't mention it", and "Don't Mention It".