Watching The L Word In The Gym
Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays are sacred. Not for religious reasons, nor anything profound. Rather, they are the days in which I do cardio exercises at the gym. My primary mode of cardio is the elliptical, because it makes me feel like I’m in the 90’s, and because it doesn’t hurt my knees (looking at you, running.)
A relative of mine used to be obsessed with the elliptical, probably when the machine was newly popularized. She loves fads, and really, who can point a finger at her? She would force me to go to the YMCA with her because behind loving fads, she loved making me feel bad for being fat. Her concern could have been out of care, but more likely the culprit was boredom. Nonetheless, she’d place me on the elliptical right next to hers, where I’d stay until she decided we had punished ourselves enough. The only perk was, of course, the daytime television.
I don’t think I would ever confidently say I’ve seen even a full episode of Charmed, but I have viewed quite a collection of scenes from the show on those YMCA TVs. Concentrating in order to distract myself, I’d come up with plot points and dialogue. “You didn’t have to turn his eyes into toads, you could have just taken his sight away,” an exasperated Alyssa Milano would say to an equally exasperated Shannen Doherty, talking about some man Shannen had gone on a bad date with. At least, that’s what they were talking about in my head.
Now that I’m an adult, I use the elliptical not by relative’s force, but by the force of the bank account in which my gym fees are paid. And I’ve traded in the TVs with no sound for my iPhone and some tiny headphones. Recently, the mid-2000s program The L Word has been my go-to gym show. This is brave, and I’ll tell you why.
If you’re unfamiliar, The L Word centers around a group of friends comprised of lesbian and bisexual women living in Los Angeles. The women go through so many challenges in their personal and professional lives, and they also have sex. Like, a lot. Begone the trope of Lesbian Bed Death, soft core porn is here to stay in The L Word, thanks to the queer female gaze and the loosey-goosey “rules” over at Showtime.
Let me be very clear, I am not complaining about the nudity in the show. However, I am deeply ashamed of the nudity when I am watching it on the elliptical in my gym, whose patrons are 99% gay men and 1% me. I feel as though the men see what I’m doing, but out of context, and think I’m a little sicko. Like I can’t get through one cardio session without seeing a nipple or two hot women with poorly-aged haircuts french kissing in West Hollywood. And maybe I can’t. Not until I finish the series, at least.
Thirty minutes start to fly by. What will Tina name her baby? Will they show more of Dana playing tennis in season three (no reason in particular, I’m just curious…)? If I drop my phone and somebody picks it up and sees the screen, will I get banned from this gym? The show provokes thought; hard-hitting questions!
Speaking of questions, I’m wondering when I’ll feel comfy enough to go maskless in public. The mask mandate was lifted in Chicago yesterday, and I assumed people would be more hesitant to forego it. Nope. I saw the bottom half of a countless number of faces. As for me, I don’t even think I’m wearing it out of fear for my own safety, and certainly not for the safety of others. I’m just afraid of change. And also, I have acne.
At the beginning of this year, I made a goal to watch 15 movies. It’s a perfect goal, meaning it’s easy and achievable within the first month of the year. And that’s exactly what I did: achieve the goal within a month. Now I’ve been watching less movies, wondering “well, what’s the point if I already crossed this resolution off the list.” Sometimes I don’t know if I enjoy doing things, or if I just enjoy the checklist of doing things. I’m also tracking the seasons of shows I watch this year in the Notes App, and you betcha several of The L Word will be on that list. And I can’t speak for the others subjected to my tiny iPhone screen, but I will be enjoying the journey to completing that checklist.