Not Getting Flirted with at the Gym
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I joined a gym recently -- not to get in shape so much as to meet women. The wives of my friends have told me, in the presence of their husbands, that I'm not an unattractive man in a not terribly unhandsome way. Four negatives equal a positive is how I'm reading that assessment. My friends' wives tell me the gym is a great place to meet women, so I go five or six times a week. Even so, I'm not getting flirted with at the gym.

When I arrive on a Friday night and slide my key card through the little slot that makes my photo appear on a computer screen at the front desk, the woman working behind the desk smiles and says hi and wishes me a happy workout. She's so professional and nice, but I'm here to get flirted with, so I nod to her and head toward the machines.

At the treadmill, a woman makes eye contact. "I'm so silly. I just can't seem to figure out how to program this machine. Can you help me please?" I'm on a mission to get flirted with, but I take about ten seconds to program her treadmill for her. She smiles the whole time and is very grateful when I'm finished. Are these things really that hard to figure out? It's just a couple of buttons. I can't waste my time programming other people's exercise machines. I need to focus my time on getting flirted with.

I've brought a book with me to read on the exercise bike. I'm always glancing sideways to see what other people are reading, so I figure women will probably be curious about my book. It's Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver. My hope is that a book like this will show what a sensitive man I am. Combined with the hard-muscled body I'm sure I'll get from working out here, the women won't be able to help but flirt with me. After I've been reading for about ten minutes, a nice-looking older woman takes the literary bait. "Pigs in Heaven?" she asks. "That sounds like a book about my first husband!" She laughs and lingers for a few seconds, but by this point, I'm really absorbed in the book and wonder what will happen to sweet little Turtle and her accidental adoptive mother, so I hardly notice when she shrugs and walks away.

In half an hour, my bike beeps to tell me I've finished my programmed workout. Gosh, the time and the pages just flew by. The number of flirt-potential women around the exercise machines is pretty thin, so I head downstairs to the weight room. On the way there, I meet a woman who is an acquaintance of my ex-girlfriend. For the life of me, I can't remember her name. "Hi John!" she calls out to me the second she sees me. She is carrying a racquetball racquet. I've played a great deal, so we talk for a while about the sport. It turns out she has just started playing and hasn't been able to find a partner.

"Yeah," she says, a bit downcast, "I can't find anyone to play with me, so I've just been playing with myself every chance I get." Then she brightens. "Hey, would you like to play with me?"

"Oh, I'm sorry," I reply. "I've been playing for a long time, mostly with really athletic men, so playing with you wouldn't be much fun for either of us." She must be in a hurry to get to the court because she excuses herself and walks away quickly.

The evening is rapidly getting away from me, and I haven't been flirted with once, so I head over to the weights. Right away, I see two women who really catch my eye. Both are in great shape with thick-muscled backs and arms. I pull a couple of dumbbells from the rack next to them and start working on biceps curls. As much as I try for the next twenty minutes, I can't seem to get their attention. I follow them from station to station, but they are focused only on each other and the weights. The more they ignore me, the more I'm drawn to them. It's almost a turn-on to watch them spot each other with the weights, each one taking turns grasping the other's arms or legs or waist to help with the exercise. They must be sisters or neighbors to be that close. They've probably got weight-lifter husbands at home, so there's not much chance of them flirting with me.

I'm just about ready to leave because it's becoming pretty obvious to me that the gym is not really much of a place to get flirted with. But a strange thing starts happening that makes me stay a bit longer. I'm actually getting into the workout a little bit. For weeks, I've been coming here, hoping to meet women, without even a single bite on my line. The exercise machines and weights have been little more than props to give me stuff to do while waiting for women to flirt with me. But I have started to notice that there might actually be something more to the gym that just sexual tension. So I sit down at the butterfly machine to work on my chest muscles for a few minutes before heading home.

"Oh, I'm sorry," I hear a woman's voice say. I feel a little bump to my left as I heft the machine's handle on that side. She must have accidentally brushed against that side of the machine as I pulled the weights along their path. These machines are really close together. "That's okay," I reply, as I complete the last four repetitions, feeling my chest expand with each lift.

As I'm resting after my lifts, I hear the same woman sneeze. It's a really cute, petite little sneeze.

"Bless you," I say automatically.

"Thank you," she replies. "It's so nice to hear a man say that. Most men these days just ignore you when you sneeze."

I look over at her for the first time. She's about my age, I think, maybe a little older, with a very pretty face. She's slender and in good shape, like she's been coming here often. She wears a pink top that works well for her and black leggings. She's a real blonde, not dyed -- I call tell. And she's smiling at me. It dawns on me for the first time tonight that I might actually be getting flirted with. I don't quite know what to do. Should I wait and see what happens? Or should I think up something witty to say and flirt back?

Whether she is flirting or not, I decide I'm not interested anyway. I say a quick "well, good night," grab my sweatshirt and book, and head toward the door. It is, after all, a Friday night. Do I really want to invest my time flirting with someone who can't get a date and has to spend Friday night at the gym?

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