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I have a new nemesis.

My old nemesis was a girl I went to college with.  She was the girl who only spoke about herself and who pretended that everything she said was amazing.  She spoke very slowly as if to take up all of the conversation time, and would then interrupt other people.

Here is an excerpt from a conversation we once had:

I was talking to another friend who also drinks a lot of coffee about coffee I had had earlier in the day (something like that, it was a conversation about coffee, anyway).

Nemesis: “Oh, you drink coffee?”

Me: (glance at another friend who looks just as perplexed as I feel) “Yes, doesn’t everyone?”

Nemesis: (self-important tone) “I drink tea.”

Me: “Yes, I too drink tea, I’m just not talking about it right now.”

Nemesis: “Except this morning I let it steep too long and it was bitter” (sad, pouty face)

I ask you– what the hell kind of conversation is that?  What am I, or anyone else involved supposed to say?  “I’m sorry that happened to you”, “I hate it when that happens”, “Perhaps you should invest in some kind of timer”?

This is not an interesting conversation to have, and this was a girl who would constantly say things like this and expect… I don’t even know what.

Well, she’s been out of my life for years, and I’m better for it.  Though I keep expecting her to crop up somewhere and just suck.  Now, I had a new person who is driving me bonkers and I’ve never even spoken to him.

I go to the gym to run.  I could run outside, as many people have pointed out, but I really don’t like to.  My neighborhood is not the safest, the sidewalks are narrow and uneven, and I just don’t like to be outside that much.  I want a treadmill, some kind of 24-hour news channel, and a place to put my water bottle– then I’m content.

Lately, when I go to the gym, I keep seeing this guy.  I’ve been going there a year, and I’ve never seen him before this month.  Now he is always there.  That’s fine, good for him, however, he is rarely working out.

I show up, and find him on the treadmill directly in front of the TV that usually has CNN or MSNBC on it.  There are only two TVs in front pf the treadmills, so to avoid having to turn my head and crane my neck to see, I have to stand right next to him.  He wears a gray hooded sweatshirt, and gray sweatpants, and always smells sweaty.  That could be explained away as this is a place where people work out, except, he does very little.

I was at the gym for an hour and a half yesterday, and he spent most of that time standing on the treadmill reading the paper.  Standing, not moving, standing.  Occasionally, he would start it and walk at 1.9 mph (frame of reference, I can walk quite comfortably at 4.2). He would shuffle along for about four minutes, stop the treadmill, and stand and read for another fifteen.  There is no reason for him to smell as badly as he does if he’s not getting a workout of any kind.

Yesterday, he moved from the treadmill to the weight machines, which are right in front of the treadmills.  He then sat at one, staring at the ground for about ten minutes before putting him arms in place and half-heartedly doing half a rep.  Then he moved to another machine, and stared at the ground.  Without doing any reps on this one, he got up, and stood under another television and stared at it for about fifteen minutes.

I should not be as bothered by this as I am, but the last two times I’ve been at the gym, and have been running next to him as he stands there, people have gotten onto the treadmill next to me and asked if I’m watching the TV. Then they seem irritated with me when I say yes and they can’t switch spots with me.  What I want to say is, “maybe ask the guy directly in front of the TV reading the paper if you can run on the treadmill he’s using as a platform instead of asking me when I’m clearly watching the TV so intently that I don’t even see you trying to get my attention.”