there you are

Somehow, despite my best attempts to not interact with anyone at my gym and spend my time lost in Toto’s obsession with a continent, an old guy has befriended me.

It happened swiftly, so I had no chance to act like I didn’t hear him.

New Friend: [Approaching me while I was getting ready to leave the gym] “You’re in here everyday huh?”

Me: [Stunned, I look around for something to bury my face in, but find nothing aside from my dirty boxer briefs] “Yeah, well, just Monday through Friday.  I think five days is enough.”

New Friend: “That’s great, seeing the younger generation working out is really good.  I’m John.”

Me: [Defeat sets in] “I’m Chris, nice to meet you.  John is my middle name, actually.”

New Friend: [Excitedly] “Oh?  My middle name is Chris!”

Me: [In my head: “Well life is just crazy!”] “Ha, that’s funny!  See you around then.”

That’s how it all started.

And you know, whatever.  It’s fine.  He’s a nice guy.  But the thing is I’ve never recognized him after that first meeting, and he always recognizes me, which leads to some awkwardness that I don’t feel like dealing with.

Every time he sees me he says “Hi Chris!” and I’m always surprised by it.  So I immediately scramble to blurt out “John!” which I’m sure seems odd to him and those around us considering I’m not actually looking at anyone.

But since he always seems to remember me, I feel like I have to get his name out quickly, somehow fooling him into thinking I noticed him first.

When I don’t yell out “John,” and he completely catches me off guard, it’s like he’s my Dad and I’ve disappointed him by taking an ugly girl to the prom and then not even getting her to put out.

He says hello and then I say hello after stuttering and thinking “Where the hell did he come from?  Did he just appear in front of me???”  Then, while we exchange pleasantries, he frowns.  It’s the frowning that really upsets me, because I don’t want to let John down dammit!

But I do.

Every single time.

I really don’t think he’s fooled by me yelling his name when my back is turned to him, so I’m going to have to come with a different approach.

Maybe next time I’ll simply look at him and say, “Alright, look John. I can’t remember what you look like. Maybe it’s because I’m busy trying to make my muscles look bigger than they are by shifting my poses in the mirror and maybe it’s because you look exactly like every other old white dude with his shorts on too high, but I just can’t.  So let’s just cut it off or you’re going to have to start wearing a bright orange construction vest.”

I bet he opts for the vest.  That’s so something John would do.


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48 responses to “there you are

  1. deutlich

    does that mean people called you CJ as a kid?

  2. I think you should get a T-shirt made that says;

    “Hi, John will you play Uno with me” maybe it will weird him out so much that he no longer seeks your attention.

  3. Ben

    I was going to comment but I can’t top evenrant today.

  4. Is this Grandpa or a different old guy? Is Grandpa still lifting like a man possessed?

  5. Dye your hair a different color, put contacts on and grow a mustache. He may or may not be able to recognize you then. It’s worth a try.

  6. Toe

    You should purchase him a crazy colored sweat band. Then you would be able to pick him out from the smelly moldie oldies. Or you could act like you don’t know him every time you meet again and soon he might just get tired of reminding you who he is.

  7. Whenever I can’t remember someone’s name, I call them “Matt”. There are a lot of Matts out there, and it’s not particularly offensive. If he corrects you, just tell him that he looks like a Matt and then laugh awkwardly and punch him on the shoulder. Works everytime. Even on chicks.

  8. Oh Snap! Dude… Toto’s Africa is the ISH! That’s my ring tone when Bee calls!

    Oh and about John… so his middle is conveniently Chris huh?! I smell stalker!

  9. Thanks for bringing up those prom memories. If you need me I’ll be crying into my letterman jacket.

  10. This all ends with him cooking your pet rabbit. I’ve seen movies.

  11. Just start calling him a different name every time you see him (whichever one he is.) He’ll get the idea.

  12. This happens to me everyday at the dog park where this Asian girl who lives on our building talks to me and about Dane and about ZZ and I never remember who the hell she is.

    I swear it’s not because she’s Asian.

  13. …also just letting you know, because of that link to Toto’s Africa you embedded, I just wasted an hour on YouTube watching 80s videos. So thx for that!

  14. Matt

    My middle name is John too!

    but really…who has a middle name of Chris? A first name, yes…but middle? Thats just odd.

    John Chris…WTF? Why?

  15. jay grochalski

    dude, that sucks. i hate making new friends. like last thursday, i was walking to work, and this dude grabs me on Nostrand and starts telling me about how he has AIDS and came here from New orleans after Katrina, and how his whole Family has AIDS. i gave him 50cents, and now when i see him we don’t even nod. Maybe you should give John 50cents. that said, i could use a good “i have AIDS and am from New Orleans story.”

  16. this happens with this creepy-uncle dude in the office building i’m in…i never remember his face, i just remember the feeling of uneasiness that washes over me when we have to ride up on the elevator alone

  17. I have to agree with mentalthreesixty, I think you have a stalker on your hands.

    The next time John accosts you just inform him that there certain unwritten rules for proper gym etiquette. The most important being, No talking and no making “friends”. Anytime I happen to see someone that has attempted to break either one of those unwritten rules coming towards me in the gym I conveniently check my phone for messages or walk hastily in the opposite direction… I don’t like people I suppose.

    Seriously though, stalker… The whole “I see you every day” thing and popping up out of nowhere? Creepy… I’m just saying.

  18. I echo Deutlich’s comment. I need to know.

    I think either way I’m going to start calling you CJ.

  19. I can’t think of anything to say to this post.

    Not. One. Thing.

    I’ll come back when I don’t suck.

  20. longredcape

    Ahhhh that is always so awkward when someone goes out of their way to say hi and you’re like, “WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?” except of course you don’t say that, you just say something generic like, “Oh, hi! How are you?”

    The WORST is when people say, “You don’t remember me, do you?” because you have to make a split-second decision to either A) lie like hell and say YES OF COURSE I REMEMBER YOU! DUH! or B) ‘fess up and admit that you don’t know who they are.

    I usually choose A.

  21. My middle name is Chris too!!!!!! OMG!!!!
    Can we be best friends??? Can I come to your house and hang out?? Will you loan me money so I can pay for prostitutes??

    No, my middle name really isn’t Chris.
    But it seems like you fall for that sort of thing easily, so I thought I’d give it a try.

  22. I am a disaster at remembering people. There was this girl in my dorm in undergrad, and whenever I’d run into her she’d ask me all these heartfelt questions: how was my dad, did I have a nice birthday, was my family doing OK after a big storm… And I couldn’t remember her name. I felt like the biggest toolbox in all the land.

  23. Everyone should be required to have a drastically different hairstyle or color or body shape. Otherwise, I have no idea how to tell them apart. Their fault.

  24. I bet if you told him your last name he would yell “That’s my last name….now!’

  25. Poor John. Just say hi to the old guy. Make an effort to remember him. It’ll make you feel good inside.

  26. Wink and blow him a kiss. And call him Mary. If that doesn’t scare him off, perhaps you should look to going to a different gym.

    Do they make old man stalkers? I figured perhaps they’d be too old to keep up, but hey, I guess he is at the gym. Maybe you shouldn’t blow him a kiss, he may take that as an invite to invite you to dinner. (After all, he has been watching you workout…)

    I’d opt for a different gym.

  27. deutlich – Yes, when I was little, but not since I was like 5 or something.

    evenrant – Silk screen here I come!

    ben – Give it a try, don’t blame this on your asthma boy!

    ballerina – Different guy, younger than Grandpa. Yes, Grandpa is still alive and lifting like a maniac. It’s inspirational. Sort of.

    marie – Yes, I’ve always wanted to be a red head.

    toe – I like the forgetting part the best. I’m a natural at forgetting.

    aine – Thanks Matt!

    mental – It’s classic, and good for you, wasting time on 80’s stuff is quality time.

    narm – Who are you kidding? You didn’t letter, that’s your brothers jacket!

    pistols – He’d hurt Hoppy???

    mickey – Done.

    kiala – Tell her you don’t have any rice. Oh, that was a joke!

    matt – I know, very strange.

    jay – I’m going to give him the money, hopefully that’s all he really wanted.

    dmb5 – Riding in the elevator alone with someone is pure torture.

    trigirl – You think he’s a stalker??? But he’s old!

    maxie – Go right ahead.

    kristen – That’s what she said!

    longred – I do too.

    whiskey – And to think, I was just about to invite you over for a beer.

    abber – You should have made up really fucked up stuff, like “Oh, my dad is great, aside from when he punches babies.”

    megan – I like how you think.

    inreallife – Hahaha – awesome.

    hbee – I don’t like feeling good inside.

    duhn – Yeah, time for a new gym I think.

  28. My fall back… “What’s going on bro?” Sometimes I test myself and see how long I can go without actually saying a name.

  29. Does anyone else see John? Are you sure he isn’t a ghost or something? He seems to pop out of nowhere.

  30. tia

    haha you just got cruised on by some old guy at the gym.

    how sweet. =)

  31. first, you two are obviously soulmates…the name thing and all, there’s no way to get around that.

    second, the photographers at my work are now required to wear those orange vests, but only one dude leaves it on when he comes into the station. it looks awesome, so that wouldn’t be a terrible suggestion. tell him it’s the hip thing over in detroit.

  32. what if john was a figment of your imagination?!?!

  33. Sounds like you’re just going to have to let yourself get fat.

  34. ~E

    I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy following this blog. Very “real” with just enough sarcasm thrown in to keep me entertained!

  35. Aw, you have successfully made me feel bad for John.

  36. Karen

    i kept waiting for the punchline?

    Ed. Note – Karen really meant to say this:
    Hi Chris. This is Karen. I leave comments on your blog that keep saying you’re not funny, instead of just not reading your blog. But I’ve changed my dumb ways. You are funny, I’m just sad because I’m not. You are the best blogger ever. Of all time. Even better than a T-Rex if he blogged. You are also very attractive.


  37. yep, I would find a new gym.

  38. Never look up at the gym. Never.

  39. foxy – Well I know his name, I just never recognize him. But I do like “bro.” Kind of like “chief.”

    hollywood – Great. I get old dude ghosts following me.

    tia – No I didn’t! Dammit.

    sarah – I will, I think he’ll appreciate it.

    gina – Chris. Sad.

    alexa – I wish my brain would think of better images than that.

    noelle – Time to drink a six pack tonight!

    e – Thanks!

    amind – I did? I’m an empathist. I made that word up just now.

    karen – Thanks Karen!

    maegan – But he seems so nice! You really think he wants my digits?

    rs – Good rule to have.

  40. I forget who you are.

    Why am I commenting on this blog?!?

    (Watch out, I just may pop out of nowhere again!!)

    Wait, I’ve got all the characters confused again. All the Chris Johns and John Chrises ran together…


  41. This is why I don’t go to the gym. My advice is to do the same. Buy a Bowflex and some Sweatin’ to the Oldies videos and stay at home. Problem solved. Unless John really is a figment of your imagination, in which case he will suddenly walk out of your kitchen cabinet in the middle of Richard Simmons explaining the next move.

  42. There’s no room for this crap at the gym. There are certain places I don’t particularly want to talk to other men. Restroom, gym, elevator, doctors office – you name it. Unless we’re standing in line for beer somewhere (and even then it’s questionable), just leave me alone.

    Instead of a kindly old man with similar names – I am currently working to avoid one of the janitors at my gym. First off, he looks like he just escaped from a prison movie (except with a Bally’s Total Fitness shirt on). Secondly he has a staring problem. You’re lifting while he’s cleaning? Staring. You’re running on the treadmill as he passes? Staring. Needless to say he’s also staring in the locker room. Things only recently got seriously out of hand when he started wiping down the machine I was running on with his towel. This is going to be a problem I can see.

  43. Maybe you should tell him you recently lost your hearing in a freak accident so in the future when he calls your name you can just ignore him without any guilt.

  44. awww…. i bet you return the shopping cart too, huh? cute.

  45. i try to avoid making friends at the gym too. but there is the same guy that always waves at me and i just nod and turn up the ipod, haha.

  46. my brother took an ugly girl to the prom-but her boobs were huge so i think that made it okay.

  47. I love what you did to Karen’s comment.

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