From my exercise bike in the front row at the gym, I’ve come to recognize long-time employees of the fitness center and a broad assortment of people who come to work out at the same time everyday.
There’s a young woman who works in the gym office who always wears a low cut top that puts dramatic emphasis on her breasts. They appear to be under intense pressure, on the verge of leaping out. This is an important fashion theme for her because she dresses that way every single day. And in case your eyes aren’t automatically drawn to her cleavage she wears a sparkly necklace that glimmers right across her breasts – like twinkling lights that calls out, "Hey! Looky here!"
From my bike I have a clear view of her at her desk in the office area. I notice because I am a heterosexual male. It's harder for me to not notice than for others, perhaps because I lack self-control. Such is the curse of the youngest, pampered child in any family. We youngest children lack self-control because we were never much required to have any.
In fairness, I notice her as much as I notice the muscle-bound dude who works out with a knitted cap turned sideways on his head (man, that hat’s gotta stink!), and the anorexic-looking middle-aged ladies who hurry in like speed walkers to jerk and pump on the elliptical trainers as if running in fear from something the rest of us can't see.
I like to watch people.
Back to the woman with her breasts strategically on display. I wonder what happened to those clever t-shirts with an arrow pointing up and a line across the chest that read, "My eyes are up here." Time was when women took offense at men who stared at their breasts. I'm not offended by this gal’s fashion choices, I’m just an amateur urban anthropologist wondering how it all got this way. Have we reached a time when a woman might wear a hat with an arrow pointing down that reads, “My boobs are down there,” you know, just in case men look in her eyes too much in conversation.
There is an experience that can temper the tendency to ogle people's exposed bodies: Nude beaches. That sounds counter-intuitive, but trust me, it’s true. Traveling in Europe during and just after my college years, a couple times I found myself on nude beaches in the south of France. I’m a good, body-conscience Hoosier, so kept my swim trunks on, but still it’s initially disconcerting to find yourself on a beach towel that's touching the beach towel of a naked elderly man or woman, and terribly distracting to buy ice cream from a naked, lovely, shapely, beach vender. But funny thing is, you get desensitized after a couple hours until it’s just not so . . . well, interesting.
It’s kinda like opening a bag of freshly ground coffee. That first whiff is intoxicating, but if you keep going back for successive snorts, you can’t reproduce the initial rush. Your senses get satiated. It’s like that with naked women on a nude beach. By middle of the afternoon, when a pin-up worthy woman walks by, you’re shrugging, “yeah, whatever, big deal . . .” It’s probably how Tom Brady feels about seeing Gisele naked at this point in their marriage. And seeing so many nude people, people of varying ages and body shapes, you start to think, “Hey, we’re all just human beings. This is natural.” But being a Hoosier, I didn’t think it so much that I took my swim trunks off.
Which is perhaps why I’m constantly trying to hide my chest – what I call my “moobs.” I joke about my moobs. I'm an opinionated guy and I find my opinions go down better if the joke is on me fairly often.
You see, sometime in my 30s my ass disappeared and repositioned itself on my stomach and chest. It’s not an attractive body shape. I once had an elderly client tell me a story about a golfing buddy he referred to as, "No Ass." I asked why he was called No Ass, and this dear old man replied, laughing, "Because he had no ass!"
That stung a little. I told him flatly, "That's not funny."
If I gain 5 pounds, it’s not on my ass or thighs, it’s on the front of my body. Which explains the moobs. Which is why I’m at the gym. If I gain too much weight, I’ll have to wear a bro to keep my moobs from flopping around. Guys with my body shape don’t wear revealing, low-cut tank tops or those skin-tight shirts the muscle-bound dudes wear that stretch tight across their pecs and biceps and six packs and whatever else they’re always flexing in the mirror. Instead we wear male maternity clothing – oversized t-shirts, fleeces and flouncy flannels.
And a lot of black and vertical stripes. They’re slimming.