Mia Culpa

For a few years in the early aughts, I belonged to a trendy gym in downtown Austin, Texas – perhaps one of the trendiest cities of the past half century. I myself am not a trendy person, so this was one of my many Andy Kaufman-like experiments. I even took yoga classes and thank God daily for the fact that there are no existing photos. 

Occasionally, people you’d never seen in the gym would appear in surprising numbers, usually women, and you knew someone special had come by for a workout. Strange, I didn’t know celebrities chose public gyms in which to stay fit, I figured they all used the gym at the Four Seasons or traveled with weights like Dwayne Johnson. 

Not the case. 

Today, it was Stifler (Seann William Scott) working out in the middle of the day (in fatigues for some reason) while in town to shoot a film of some sort. Tomorrow or next week, it might be Jake Gyllenhaal or Ryan Gosling (that was the day they nearly had to shut the street down outside). Some stars would nearly disguise themselves in clothing, wanting to be left alone. Others made quite a show out of their workout, often hoping to be recognized, maybe pick up some strange. 

The only man to ever see me completely naked arrived on Saturday, February 14th, 2004.

Some friends and I were training for a charity cycling event. We very much needed the training as the ride was a two-day, 150-mile challenge. We’d arrived for the 8am spin class and were still there for the noon class, draining water bottles and stuffing power bars down our gullet in between classes. We even made it through the hardest class, where the bald guy yelled “coffee’s for closers” toward the end of his brutal session. 

Murmurs spread from stationary bike to stationary bike around 12:15pm. “Look over at the cables,” the girl next to me told the girl in front of her. “It’s Mia Hamm.” Everyone knew Mia Hamm, she and the girls had just finished 3rd in the World Cup, having been fouled into oblivion by the Norwegians and beaten up pretty badly by the Germans. However, they had won America’s heart and 2003 would be the year marked as the beginning of a love affair with Team U.S.A. (the gender that’s good at soccer). 

I’ve never really kept up with TMZ-type stuff, I get my celeb gossip via osmosis. My theory is, people care about Kanye and Kim because we don’t have a Royal Family over here. Not sure we need one, pretty sure we founded this country on not wanting one so, I don’t know where we go from here. My lack of caring about most celebrities – other than they’re humans and I do dig humans – usually led me to glance at whomever the group was giggling over and shrugging. 

I once met Norman Redus outside a bar and told him the girl next to me told me he was famous. He took it very well. In retrospect, that was probably an asshole thing to say to him, now that I know who he is – as the motorcycle guy from the zombie show – but in my defense, he looked like someone who’d just gotten out of prison.

We peddled and stood and sat and stood and peddled and stretched and toweled off. We’d finally completed nearly five hours of spin classes and were exhilarated but exhausted. We’d agreed to shower and change and go get a much-deserved beer. On the way to the locker room,I did actually see America’s soccer sweetheart working out with free weights, away from everyone else. 

Who did they say she was dating? I forgot. b

The shower was nice, I spent a bit too much time in it after that long workout. It was the busy time of the day on a Saturday at the gym so I knew I was being a bad member by staying in too long. But it felt so damn good. I decided to get out before I fell asleep, pulled back the curtain to grab my towel and there stood one of the best baseball players in the country. Mr. Nomar Garciappara. He wore only a towel and was chiseled out of stone. 

He looked at me slowly from my toes to my eyes and slowly shook his head in disgust and walked away. 

Truth be told, I could have let his reaction scar me for life but, by comparison, him being him – with his body – I didn’t give it a second thought. The only man who’d seen me completely nekkid is a 6-time All-Star and lifetime .313 hitter. Not too shabby.