those who know me well know how much i cherish travel, and all the ceremonies and benefits attached to it. recently, i enjoyed an amazing holiday to australia and thailand, and over the last few weeks i’ve done my best to keep the holiday vibe percolating, to keep the enjoyable experiences at the forefront of my day-to-day, and to not allow my tanlines fade too quickly.
alas, 3 weeks back in dreary new york winter weather accompanied by the stress of returning to the office effaced that holiday spirit that was so deeply entrenched in my soul back in australasia. that is, until yesterday evening at the gym.
you can say that i’ve become a bit a gym bunny lately, not consciously, or deliberately, or with any weight attached to it. i’ve been going 3 times a week because it makes me feel good—it’s like guilt-free crack. i go often enough that it’s as automatic as my morning commute—i decide to go to the gym and the next thing i know i’m there lifting weights or doing crunches or mincing on the elliptical.
last night i was late to spin class, and as i mounted the last available cycle in the dim spin room, i felt a little chill. not a cold chill, but a little twinge of somethings-not-quite-right in the air. i clamped in, swigged some water, and started spinning and stretching as the instructor started barking out warmup instruction.
the spin room holds about 25 people on cycles, and all of the walls are mirrored to give the cramped space a larger feel, and to allow you to check out your cycling form. in the several dozen spin classes i’ve been to at this chelsea gym, there have been precisely zero cuties. nada. even if you round off! it’s gotten to the point where i don’t even bother dressing at all in an attractive or coordinated fashion [yesterday i was wearing baggy dark blue gym shorts and some kind of green t-shirt].
anyway, 1 minute and 48 seconds after i settle onto my bike, i take the opportunity to investigate this twinge that i’d felt earlier. directly behind is a thai boy who, as i focus more closely on his face in the mirror, looks so familiar that i nearly fall of my bike. as i make eye contact, he smiles and looks nervously away. again and again and again.
less than a month ago i found myself in some seedy bars in the paradise complex in phuket, thailand with a good friend of mine and a few boys we’d met along the way. tanned, blissfully relaxed, and in the final throws of a 3-week holiday, i was loving every moment of doing absolutely nothing, in the most leisurely way possible.
after a lovely dinner, we tiptoed from bar to bar, chatting and watching the world go by. each bar in this part of town puts on 2 or 3 shows every evening to draw in business. some were full-on broadway-esque revues with costumes by bob fosse and serious choreography. some were camp drag shows with faux britneys and christinas. some were less polished, with ladyboys singing and dancing local folksongs and obscure thai pop songs.
at the places we’d visited so far, in-between the shows you’d just dance and drink and gay it up [like any other trashy gay bar] and have a wonderful evening cruising and boozing and flirting and giggling. on our final night in phuket, however, one of the more gregarious doormen convinced us all to go into his club at the end of the street—hurry boys, come in come in! the show is starting now, i give you free drinks, hurry hurry!
we climb into a section of the tiny 20-seat theatre and and drink entirely too many free/cheap drinks during a 20-minute-too-long 40-minute-long show featuring lithe thai boys miming blues brothers songs and ladyboys miming mary j blige tunes. at the end of the show, the music keeps playing, and the host brings us more free drinks, and insists that we wait a few more minutes.
as the boys and i discuss the trashtastic peformance, the curtain opens in a dramatic flourish, and on stage are 16 or so skinny thai boys in hot pants, perfectly posed and polished and oiled and gelled and vaselined and smiling from ear-to-ear while bouncing to the bad asian techno music. attached to the front of each boy’s hotpants [off to the side so you can still examine the goods] is a pin with a number on it.
maybe it was the drinks, maybe it was feigned denial, or pre-emptive future-dirty-old-man guilt, but i was the last to realize that what we were looking at was a menu. a horrific, shameful, gross menu of boys that presumably fat old horny anglo westerners could choose from. by number.
throughout the rest of the spin class, number 23 keeps smiling at me in the mirror, giving me that same look that he did in phuket—slightly flirty, slightly horny, slightly hungry, and slightly bored.