I have recently started going to a gym. This came about because (a) the winter is long and cold here, and the alternative is to basically sit around and hope that you remain vaguely fit through the six months of iceboundness; and (b) I had become increasingly aware of my expanding girth. So, anyway, to get back to the subject and without teling you exactly how heavy I was (although I can reveal that I have shed 4 kilos in a month since I started going - and that month included Christmas, New Year, and a significant amount of celebratory baby's head wetting type ceremonies), I have noticed a certain phenomenon which I am calling the Mating Dance of the Musclebound (or, for American readers, the Gym-y Johnson).
What happens is that there are a number of grunting men around, many of whom I see more or less every time I go (and I tend to go 4 times a week), and they busy themselves lifting increasingly large weights and letting everyone in the gym know through their manly and loud "oofs". There are also a few women who go. Now as I sit there and cycle or use that weird machine which kind of mixes walking and strange looping arm movements, like a drunken cross country skier, I am perfectly situated to watch the dance. Firstly one of the men will come over and solicitously enquire after the woman's fitness needs. They will offer advice on how to use a particular machine, how much weight to put on, etc (and occasionally demonstrate it themselves, only with an insane amount of weight on it just to show how big and strong they are). He will then stand around chatting to her while she uses the machine, or will possibly use some nearby weights so that she can still see him and he can still see her. (In all the days that I have been there the only person who has come over and offered me advice on how to use the machines is the bloke whose job it is to do so.) The other day, I even witnessed a man punching another machine in some peacock like spreading of the tail feahers. He hit it really hard too, and even though he hit one of the padded bits of it, I imagine it must have stung for a while. It must really be a pain for the female workouters, since they have to go through this every time. There's one particularly waifish young blond woman who has to fight her way to machines through a crowd of blokes.
The culmination of this dance is when the man suggests that the woman in question try out the inner thigh machine, which involves lots of slow inviting leg spreading. if the woman accepts, I presume the suitor knows he is in, and stands there leering and chatting while she coyly and demurely opens and closes her legs to his gaze. It's all very fascinating. It really ought to be one of the documentaries on Animal Planet, except that they take up their time making ridiculous shows like "The ten most brutal psychopaths in nature"
Regular observers will have noticed that it hasn't got above -10 since I last posted about the temperature. And indeed again today it's -22. I should point out that while the temperature on that thing there is pretty accurate the description of the conditions is way off. If it's clear and you can see for miles, it says: "Mist". If the visibility is reduced a little, and you can't pick out individual trees on the mountians overlooking the town, it says: "Fog" and if, like today, there is actually some fog it says "Heavy Fog". I suspect that whoever reports the weather to the site actually has cataracts. (The picture above of the cemetery would garner at least a "Fog" rating for example)