Bruce and Beautiful @ the Y

Date: August 21, 2008
Time: 6:50 am
Setting: YMCA.  Shannon climbs onto the treadmill for another hateful, grueling 30 minutes of her life.  Next to her is an older man keeping up a steady pace on his treadmill.  Every now and then, a bead of sweat drips off of his nose and splashes on to the base of the machine.  He looks down and doesn’t speak for a few minutes…but then he does speak to another older gentleman sitting quietly on a nearby crunch machine.  The place is full of over-60’s this early in the morning.

Older man to his buddy: This lady next to me is burning up her machine, and I don’t even know what her name is!  Yeah, she’s over there makin’ me look real bad, and I don’t even know her name!

Shannon (panting):  I’m Shannon.  And you are?

Older man: Bruce.  Good to meet ya!  Are you doing fat burner, level 14?

The man on the crunch machine snorts loudly.  Bruce looks at him accusingly and continues.

Bruce: I’m right, aren’t I?  Fat burner–I can hear the machine getting louder and louder, then more quiet.  That’s the fat burner, isn’t it!?

Shannon: You’re right. (He really was!) You?

Bruce: Level 9, constant.  This here’s Fred, but everybody calls him Beautiful (gestures to his buddy on the crunch machine).

Shannon: Hi, Beautiful.

All the other old men in the area giggle, and Beautiful turns an adorable shade of red.

Beautiful: Well, he’s Bruce, so everybody calls him Bruce the Moose!

More laughter from the elderlies. The other older women in the room giggle especially loudly.  I start to think that maybe Bruce the Moose and Beautiful are some of the “cool kids.”

Bruce the Moose (looks over at me appraisingly): So, you run marathons, don’t ya?  You look like you’re runnin’ marathons.

Shannon: No, no, not me.  I am thinking about trying to do the Mini next year, but I have never run more than 6 miles at one time.  Are you a runner, Bruce the Moose?

Beautiful laughs and shakes his head back and forth.  Bruce grins from ear to ear.

Bruce the Moose: Used to be.  I’m too old now–it’s tough on the joints, ya know.  That’s why I do the stairmaster.  Keeps me fit without stressin’ my knees and ankles. (Gives me another sidelong glance.) So, you about 30?

Shannon: Yep, that’s right. (Again, dead on. This guy is good!)

Bruce: I see you got a ring on–you married?

Shannon: Sure am.  My husband comes here a lot, too–his name is Sam.  You’ve probably seen him around.

Beautiful: Don’t ask him his age, honey!  He could be your great-grandpa!  You might fall off the machine after you hear it!

More giggles from the peanut gallery.

Bruce the Moose: It’s Lisa, right?

Shannon: No, it’s Shannon.

Bruce the Moose: Right, Shannon.  Shannon.  I’ll remember that.  It’s Irish.  I’ll remember that.

I am unable to speak for a while, and Bruce the Moose hears my labored breathing and takes pity on me with his silence.  When my workout is over, I clean off my machine.

Shannon: Well, Bruce, it was really nice to meet you.  Are you almost done?  You’ve been going for a long time!

Bruce the Moose: Yeah, just a few more minutes here. I do five miles every other day.  Keeps me spry.

A couple gray-haired ladies in the room look at him with affection.  Another lady walks by–probably about 40.

Bruce the Moose (to the 40-year-old): Hi, young lady.

40-Year-Old: Hi, Bruce.

Bruce the Moose (to me):  It’s Michelle, right?

Shannon: Nope, it’s Shannon.  Irish, remember?

Bruce: Yeah, okay–Shannon.  I’ll remember that.

Shannon: Okay, Bruce.  Have a good day–I’ll see you later.

The 40-year-old lady hops on a treadmill and starts laughing and shaking her head at Bruce.  Beautiful joins in.

Bruce the Moose: What?  What’s so funny?!

40-Year-Old: It’s been 5 years and you still don’t get my name right, Bruce!  I don’t think you’ll be remembering hers anytime soon.

Beautiful is laughing like crazy now, as are the rest of the elderlies.  Bruce quiets the peanut gallery with a hand, shushing them like a classroom of second-graders.  He looks at me confidently.

Bruce the Moose: Bye, Rachel!

Everyone else: (raucous laughter)

Shannon: Bye, Bruce.

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