August 18, 2021

just an acquaintance, so what gives?

This happened a few months ago when I was still physically working out in the health club. It's still a riddle (the situation, not the club's 'must wear a mask' rule). More evidence that people are weird.

I ran into someone who was not in my phone contacts.  Translation:  we are acquaintances. That is all.  

I did a strenuous strength class at 5:45 am.  Then I hopped on a stationary bike.  I had time to get about 5 miles in before I needed to be home to welcome the babies/tots.

Every other bike was available, so the in between bikes had a 'DO NOT USE' sign on them due to the pandemic.  I love to socialize, but when I'm in a time crunch, sweaty, smelly, weary, and anxious to get home to my protein shake, I'm not chatty.  

I pulled my book, my readers, and my phone out of my bag. Adjusted the seat. Put my favorite news on the attached TV. Removed my mask and got started.  

There was a man on the bike to my left (as in TWO bikes to my left, social distancing and all).  As I rode along, I heard another member who was walking by greet the man on the bike.  Hearing his response, I realized that I recognized his voice. I knew him AS AN ACQUAINTANCE.  I glanced his way. He said, "Hello Ernie."  I said, "Hello Joe."  

When Joe was done a few minutes later, he called my name.  I was deep in my book so I jerked my head up and looked his way, my eyebrows raised in a "Are you talking to me?" kind of way.

Joe:  (gruffly) I think I've done something to upset you, and I'm sorry.  Have a great day.

Me:  (almost falling off of my bike, because had I heard him correctly?)  Excuse me?

He repeated himself.  I tried to defend myself, but with what?  And why?  

Me:  Um, just riding my bike here.  You didn't . . . um, huh?  (I don't even know what I said, I'm not good at speaking while working out.  How do fitness instructors manage? Plus what was he even talking about?).

Perhaps he assumed that I noticed him on the bike before I sat down. If that's the case, I suppose he found it rude of me to pass him and not greet him.  But I approached the bike from behind. One balding man's wide back looks the same as others (I'M NOT WRONG), so I didn't identify him as someone I sort of know.  

I met Joe in November 2019 at an away high school basketball game. Even though we didn't have a kid on the team, Coach and I and the kids went to cheer for the team. Joe sat near us and started talking to us. Turns out he is from the south side of Chicago.  There's a thing in these parts called 'South Side Irish.' There are lots of Irish on the south side, and they all know each other. Most are related to each other. 

Anyway, Joe told us that he went to the same south side high school as my south side cousins. He graduated with my older cousin, Tim AND he knew him. 

Sort of unrelated photo, but this popped
up in my photos when I did a search for 'work out'.
I don't think they sell this type of 80s workout
clothing anymore. This woman's attire stunned me.
Wild, especially since despite my Irish bloodlines I do not have a big extended family (8 cousins total). I only have 3 local cousins. THREE. And this guy knew one of them. If you aren't from these parts, believe me . . .  I live in the 'burbs. This was a total small world thing.   

Joe cantors at our parish, and he works out at the same health club as us. But I have NOT crossed paths with him all through the pandemic. He acted as if we had a standing coffee date that I'd blown off for months.  

Again, same woman.
I am careful to pretend
 I am checking my texts and then
 I snap a photo on the sly.
 The instructor (on the left)
 told me after
 class that she thought it was a
joke. She was waiting for
someone to
bust a gut laughing.
We've seen him singing at mass these last few months since church opened.  Did he expect me to approach him after mass and chat with him?  

Bottom line here is that this was weird. So weird.  

I shared the story later with my family.  Well, they had a field day AFTER they stopped chortling. 

"Oh, you definitely give off an unfriendly vibe."  

"This is how things started with Mary Ann."  

"You've got a reputation now."  

"Wow, what did you do to him?"

Coach sees Joe at a men's group at church. I told him to tell this guy that he didn't do anything to upset me and ask him what his ef-ing deal is. (I mean he can toss in a BLESS YOU, BROTHER if he wants to keep the church group vibe alive here). Can you believe Coach has not defended my honor? I'm friendly, DAMN IT. I make friends in the grocery check out line. 

Have you ticked someone off and never found out why? Do you know where one can buy workout attire from the Jane Fonda era? Are you a sneaky freak like me, taking photos of unsuspecting people? And if so, do you get away with it, or have you been caught?


Busy Bee Suz said...

This is so weird. I can only assume that he made (or tried) to make eye contact with you at the gym, you were in your zone and he found it offsetting? Maybe? Some people are more sensitive.
But I agree, this is how it started with Mary Ann.
KIDDING! I don't know how it started with Mary Ann. ;)

I remember wearing the Jane Fonda workout attire when I was all of 16 and weighed 90lbs. Skinny and exercising then. Not skinny and not exercising enough now. Maybe I need the outfits?

No, I don't take pics of unsuspecting people. I know I'd be caught and I'd feel horrible about it.

Suzanne said...

Ugh. This is so annoying. You were WORKING OUT. Who has time/energy/breath capacity for smiling and making small talk while EXERCISING?

Ally Bean said...

That's weird. I think Joe may have a few screws loose. I'd consider it a blessing that he thinks you dislike him, therefore he and his crazy will stay away from you.

Kara said...

Joe sounds like all kinds of crazysauce. It's better that he thinks you don't like him.

My husband's family is Irish Catholic (South Boston, not South Side), and he only has 4 first cousins. My family is French/Italian Catholic and I have 17 first cousins.

Gigi said...

I'm sure I have offended people - particularly if they show up in an unexpected place (I generally don't recognize them) - but I don't mean to. I'm friendly but very introverted and don't do "small talk" well with strangers. In fact, I was so very shy as a child, my cousin gave me a tee shirt that "I'm not stuck up, I'm just shy." Hmmm, maybe I need that tee shirt now...

Ernie said...

Suz - I'd assume the same thing but if he was referring to THIS day, then so weird because I walked up behind him and had no chance of avoiding his eye contact . . . unless he is like my mother and has eyes in the back of his head.

Laughing about 'how it started with Mary Ann.' I knew Mary Ann before I bought this house and over time I gathered that she was really self involved. Then we moved in and IT ALL BECAME CLEAR. I think the ripped sweatshirt of her son's that she demanded I sew because Lad was playing football with him when it got ripped (IT WAS JUST A POCKET! - said in Ross's tone 'WE WERE ON A BREAK') . . pretty sure that's when I threw my hands up and recognized her for ALL-KINDS-A-CRAZY that she is.

You do NOT need the outfits. In fact I forbid them. It is so startling to see someone wearing those at the health club in 2020 or later - really leads one to think they've fallen into a time warp and can't get out.

My kids dislike it when I try the fake-out photo thing on the sly. They say I'm not sly, but no one has noticed yet. Honestly I've only done that a few times, but sometimes I feel like - how can I NOT photograph this? Who would believe me?

Ernie said...

Suzanne - Exactly. But this situation also makes me think that maybe the thing that tipped him off to me being offended by him was ANOTHER time all together. But when? Maybe just another gym time when I wasn't focused on socializing? People are weird and blog friends aside, they gravitate towards me. ;)

Ernie said...

Ally - You bring up a good point. I never really hoped to hang out with him or include him in my friend circle (hello, referencing the link on your blog where I can apparently use more friends), so no loss here. Just so odd. I really hoped Coach would get me some answers.

Ernie said...

Kara - You are not wrong here. A friend used to tell me YOU SEE CRAZY COMING CROSS THE STREET. Consider this street crossed.

My kids have more cousins than they can count, practically. So foreign to me. And supposedly not all that typical that I grew up with so few cousins considering the Irish blood, but your example is a similar one.

Ernie said...

Gigi - So funny. My childhood bestie was SO SHY. Imagine her shock when she found out mid-high school that people thought she was stuck up. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Nicole MacPherson said...

So strange, but I feel like you're better off this way!

Beth Cotell said...

I feel like this woman has had that workout outfit in her closet since the late 80s/early 90s. I remember my college roommates and I all had similar outfits. Ah, the good old days - when I was tiny but thought I was huge!

Ernie said...

Nicole - You are NOT wrong - yes better off and definitely strange. Maybe he thought we'd become fast friends and that didn't happen. People are weird. Plus weird people gravitate towards me. It keeps me on my toes.

Ernie said...

Beth- I felt like most of us who attended this class very regularly all froze when she entered wearing that get-up. We were all waiting for the punchline. Nope. She just started working out as if it was 1983 . . . sing this comment to the tune of 'PARTY LIKE IT'S 1999.'

Bibliomama said...

SUPER weird, and would drive me insane. To the point where I'd probably have to confront him about it and make it even weirder. Don't do that, maybe.

Anonymous said...

Did... did you take a picture of a woman working out and minding her own business at the gym just so you could post it on your blog and make sparky shitty comments about it? What is wrong with you? What business is it of yours what anyone else is wearing while they work out? This is just appallingly bad mannered, mean-spirited and bullying behavior.

Ernie said...

Ali - It is super weird and it does drive me crazy and I do want to ask him what the what . . . but I don't think I will.

Ernie said...

I took the pictures a few years ago and didn't necessarily intend to post them here, but when they popped up as I did a search for workout photos I decided to post them. It is surprising to me that anyone would still own workout attire that is maybe 30 years old. What is wrong with me? Well, apparently I'm a mean spirited, bad mannered bully in your estimation. I occasionally find other people entertaining and whether or not I know them I share how they've cracked me up. I didn't intend to offend this woman, who none of us know and who, yes - you are right was minding her own business.