Random Musings and Memories
It’s been nearly 40 years since I first set foot in a gym, and 35 since I gave my first professional massage. In that time I have met many interesting people and had more adventures than I can recall.
In this section I will share some of those memories. You will get to know some of the bizarre characters who have wandered through my life. Some will be short and some longer, some funny, some sad and some you probably won’t believe. If I hadn’t lived them I might not believe them myself.
John The Cop
“Do you offer a police discount?”, the big blond guy standing in front of me asked. “The Indian said you would take care of me”, he continued. I told him the price and he pulled out his checkbook. “So you were over at Green Mountain and Frank sent you over here?” I inquired, somewhat confused as Frank (the Indian )worked for the Green Mountain gym. We had known each other for many years and were friends, but I didn’t understand why he would send me one of his members .... unless ..... ”Now why would he do that?”
“Well Hank (the owner of Green Mountain) and I had a little problem”, the big guy answered in a quieter, much more subdued tone. “What kind of a problem?” I pressed.
“It was just a misunderstanding.” The guy was getting fidgety by now(like a little kid who was in trouble) and I was wondering if I wanted this potential problem in my gym.
“Look I don’t need any problems in here, so explain or I will call Frank and get the story from him.”
“Well Hank has a water cooler in the gym. Not a fountain but one of those coolers with the big five gallon jugs of bottled water,” he began, and the other day when I was pulling in the back parking lot I saw him filling the thing up from the hose. I watched him take it in and put it back on the cooler. That pissed me off and I confronted him. He acted like he didn’t know what I was talking about so I threw the whole thing out the front door into the street!” Knowing Hank to be one of the cheapest people God ever created I could believe he might refill the “bottled water” from a hose and all I could do was laugh. In fact, I was laughing so hard that a couple of other people came to the counter to see what was up.
“Tell them”, I laughed and he repeated the story. By now most everyone in the gym had stopped what they were doing and were around the counter listening and laughing. Just then, almost like on cue the phone rang and it was (you guessed it!), Frank.
“Hey Billy, I just wanted to let you know I am sending a guy over to you” ..… ” “Too late Frank, he is already here.”
This brought even more laughter from every one including my new best friend, John the Cop. That day started a friendship that has lasted for over 30 years and no better friend could anyone ever have. I am John’s daughter’s Godfather and he was the best man at my wedding.
And to my knowledge he hasn’t thrown another water cooler into the street in the past 30+ years!
The Homeless Shelter
At times over the years various people actually lived in the gym!
- In the early 80s Nick, who was a Vietnam vet and member of the gym, came in one morning and told me his girlfriend threw him out. He was short on cash (as usual) and had no place to go. I had known him for a few years as he was a member of the gym before I took it over and knew him to be honest and trust worthy. A little crazy and maybe dangerous (if you got on his wrong side), but I knew I could trust him so I handed him my spare key and told him he could stay in the gym. He had a shower, the big cooler we sold drinks from and my massage table to sleep on. He stayed there for a couple weeks and one morning he handed me the key, said thanks, took his things and left. A few years later Nick found his calling as a salesman and made a lot of money selling luxury cars. We are still in contact today and he has never forgotten those days.
- "She threw me out, man." the huge bodybuilder standing in front of me tearfully told me. It was heart breaking to see this monster of a man crying like a baby...but that’s how Felix was. One of the most passionate, crazy and fun people I had ever known had had another "misunderstanding" with his wife and she kicked him out. "Stay here ‘til it blows over", I told him. And that’s just what he did. Things never got better with his wife and he eventually moved back to Puerto Rico.
- Five years later Felix called to tell me he was coming back to Florida and could he stay in the gym until he found a place. How could I say no? He had always been a good friend and he was just one of those people it was hard to say no to. He showed up a week later with his new wife and teenaged son! Needless to say I wasn't expecting the whole family but what could I do? I had already said he could stay. Felix and his new wife were no trouble, and since the neighborhood had gotten a little rough it was nice to have a live-in security system. His son, on the other hand, seemed to think my inventory of protein bars and juices, etc. were there for his personal consumption ... and of course Felix was always short on cash.
- Even I spent a few weeks living in the gym at one point. I was in a very unhealthy relationship, living with a woman with some major issues and just couldn't handle it any more. After one very unpleasant evening I packed some of my things and moved into my office. I had a microwave, a refrigerator, a shower and a very comfortable couch. I was set. I had invested a lot in that relationship and wasn't ready to go sign a lease on a new place so my little office worked just fine until things got sorted out I
should have never gone back. (but that’s a whole other story)