Thursday, April 15, 2010

Exercise (The Running of the Maniacs)

Part Two, Travel Stories ...

I picked up my photographs from our trip today, and they are breath-taking.  Not in the Seinfeld way, ha ha, but truly breath-taking.  My digital camera, while amazing and capable of many fascinating technological feats, did not do justice to the colors and images that I captured.  Seeing the prints today really took me back.  I couldn't help but remember, however, that there was one photo I didn't get, one that you really needed to see to believe, to understand.  It would have been named The Running of the Maniacs.

Every cruise ship I've been on, and virtually every cruise ship operating in the USA today, has some version of a Sports Deck and / or a track or Promenade for walking.  The Golden Princess had all of these, plus a basketball half-court and a golf course and a lot of other stuff.  I did a lot of walking as I planned, and I even brought along my new Sketchers, the ones that have a special sole to give your legs and booty and posture an extra workout.  The thing is, I learned very quickly that there was a good time to walk and a not-so-good time.  The latter was morning, like between 8 and 9:30 a.m.  Because that was when the Maniacs were out in full force.   

The Promenade was not actually the best cruise ship walking / running deck I've seen in my life.  It didn't even go all the way around; rather, one had to go upstairs and complete part of each lap on the next deck up, then come down again.  This wasn't a problem for me personally, as it gave the opportunity to do a little stepping up work on top of the walking.  But the deck was also narrow, especially as it rounded the corners.  The ship was equipped with those rear-view type of mirrors, so that you could always see who might be coming around the corners as you were; it was that narrow.  

This was all problematic when it came to the Maniacs.  You see, the people who came out to walk and run in the morning were what you might call, um, Hard Core.  I mean, at least, you could see that they thought they were.  A reflection of the ship's passengers in general, most of the Maniacs were senior citizens.  They wore their sportiest wind-breakers, capri pants and Reeboks or Nikes.  Many carried hand weights (did they PACK those?) and wore IPods trendily plugged-into their ears.  But the look in their eyes was best. It was a single, signature empty gaze of the hamster in its wheel:  of those who walk, as on a treadmill, but go nowhere; of those who climb the "stairs" but do not ascend; of those who lift the weight, but move nothing, produce nothing.  It's a non-productive frenzy.  I mean, sure, it's productive for the body to exercise, but I think when a person becomes to hysterical about their need to lose weight or maintain thin-ness, and especially when they have spent far too many hours trying to achieve this goal in a gym setting, the distant maniacal look in the eyes is always present.

So there was that, the look in the eyes.  But the way they behaved!  My word, I felt myself almost saying, like some prude, someone quite uninitiated to the ways of this club.   There was absolutely no etiquette.  It was every man or woman for his- or herself.  Before I knew better, I walked with them a few times; rather, I should say I walked at the same time they did.  I noticed with increasing alarm that these people would flat-tire me (in case you're not familiar, the "flat tire" is when someone steps on the heel of your shoe because they are purposely or non-purposely following you too closely) without glancing back at all, no problem.  They would come right up behind you like a mugger in the darkness of those narrow corners and shove past without the courtesy of a word or warning.  In a word, these old people were RUTHLESS.  Ruthless maniacs.  

The last time I walked with them, I ducked inside before finishing my laps.  On this particular day, there was work being done on the Promenade deck, and so the route was even more circuitous than usual.  In order to get around and create a full lap, the only thing to do was to cut through the ship in front of the casino, by the elevators.  As I stood waiting for my elevator, AFTER, I watched them, all maniacs, all emptiness in their gazes, just stampeding through.   Their arms were flailing, swinging to keep that heart rate up, as they absolutely plunged through the double doors, galloped past the casino entrance, and body-checked anyone who got in their way by making the mistake of waiting on an elevator.

Before I witnessed the ugly scene in front of the elevator, of stern-faced, hysterical seniors rushing the casual crowd milling about unawares by the lifts ... BEFORE I saw that frightful scene, I was walking behind an especially old lady.  I mean, she was very elderly, even compared to this bunch.   She was tiny, and as I walked behind her, I could look right down upon the top of her sparse, white-haired head of curls.  I was forced to slow my pace, because as I've mentioned, the walk-way was too narrow to pass in most places; and the maniacs going in the opposite direction were coming AT us full tilt.  Sure, I would have liked to keep a steady walking pace, but I knew I could pick it up again soon.  And after all, I was on vacation.  Was there really any reason to get very upset about ... well, anything?  Here we all were on a freaking CRUISE SHIP!  Doing our morning exercise under the sun, breathing the sea air, with a day of activities and delicious food and laughter and music before us.  Who could complain?  Why the long faces, my fellow passengers?

But there was no silently, telepathically communicating this with them.  There was no kumb-iy-ah spirit during The Running...  So I walked on, following behind the elderly woman, as she held on, seemingly for dear life to the ship's railing as we went.  We were nearing the next set of double doors, where the deck would once again widen when I heard panting.  I thought maybe Mogan, the Assistant Dog to a blind man aboard our ship, was out for a walk ... If Mogan could walk on his hind legs and pant directly into my left ear

It was one of the Maniacs naturally.  She just couldn't take it, she just couldn't.  The elderly, white-haired woman, holding on for dear life ... Then me, a healthy 34-year-old woman walking at an inexplicably, exaggerated-ly slow pace ... accepting the rebellion of the woman in front, just going along with her blatant disregard for this community's established norms ... Well, the woman BEHIND me couldn't deal.  The panting increased, a swinging fist (accidentally?) whaled on my kidneys, and of course she managed to flat-tire BOTH of my new Sketchers as she maneuvered around both me and the elderly woman, to freedom!

I almost beat her ass.  I mean, really, can you imagine?  I could easily have maneuvered in the same way, caught up to the old bat, and just clocked her, even sucker-punched her.  She probably wouldn't even realize; that's how dedicated and focused she was on her power-walk.  I bolted for those double doors where Maniacs were streaming steadily through, toward the casino, breaking on through to the other side.  Only here I stopped and punched the button for Floor 14.  This was clearly not my scene.

I ask you, is this what goes on in the retirement communities of Florida and Arizona and Cali?  Are the sidewalks filled with barging, forceful tyrants of the sidewalk, just walking and flailing for all they are worth?  These are ridiculous people.  I wonder what they are listening to on their IPods...


Barbara said...

You are so funny....and I would not fair well with the hardcore runner/walkers either. Ugh. Here in CA there are a lot of them. Not sure about the retirement ages but all the other ages. There's this one area that creates a big 4 mile circle and there are always loads of people walking there. I avoid it.

Can't wait to see some pics

Big Al said...

They listen to Ludicrous, "Move Bitch. . ." What a great story. I'm telling ya these should be in a book geared for people taking their first cruise. I'm laffing my ass off!

Tatyanna (and Dorian too) said...

Yeah, a book!! That would be great! Let's make that happen, huh? I mean, I have stories for DAYS!