Pacer Guy was back today.
I wouldn’t call him a rec center regular, because he’s not there every morning. He’s not even there on the Monday, Wednesday, Friday mornings, like the three Walker Ladies who spend more time yakking while they “stretch out” than they do on the weight machines or on the walking track, where they insist on walking three abreast, which annoys the people trying to jog in the outside jogging lane.
No, Pacer Guy shows up more or less randomly. Often on Friday mornings, however. He’s distinctive in the lemon green ball cap that never comes off his head. And his behavior.
Pacer Guy had just gotten off the leg press machine when we arrived. Knowing from past experience that this is his favorite machine, with which he has a tumultuous relationship, I took the opportunity to get on the machine, hoping to use it before he returned. Cuz that’s what he does — he apparently leaves. Sometimes he wanders around the central pulley machine to stand and watch Fox news for a while. (This is Wyoming: of course they play Fox News in the gym.) Other times he’ll head off down the hall, past the basketball courts, through the glass doors to the atrium. I’ve seen him get all the way to the front doors — a straight visual shot from the weight room — before he turns around and comes back.
As I worked my leg press repetitions, Pacer Guy circled back a couple of times and I realized he wasn’t done. In some ways, it seems he never is. I finished and he jumped on, quickly shifting the weight pins to his preferred load. He did three or four reps. And headed out the doors.
He came back, of course. Pacer Guy does this most with the leg press machine. But, when he was safely on the biceps curl, apparently done with the butterfly one (can you tell I’ve never bothered to learn the actual names for these?), I started in with that. Every time I stood up to increase the weight, he jumped up from the biceps machine, only to retire back to his seat when I saw I wasn’t abandoning the field. Finally, he popped up and paced off somewhere. I finished and Curiously Tense Blond Jogger Girl got on. Pacer Guy returned, saw someone ELSE was on the machine and took off again. Then New Overweight Guy, who’s being very dedicated and earnest so far, marking all of his weights and reps on the spreadsheet the personal trainer gave him, used the machine. This was the last straw for Pacer Guy, who disappeared after that. I thought he’d left, but David, who was dodging the Walker Ladies on the track, reported that Pacer Guy had gone upstairs to stalk around the treadmills and rearrange the Pilates balls.
Yesterday I went to Denver to visit my mom. She’s back in the neighborhood for the summer, so we went for lunch at the Bent Noodle and hit Nick’s Paradisical Garden Center for supplies: pink impatiens, tadpoles and water hyacinths. She said she didn’t know Ruth has dementia. And we talked about how hard those debilitating chronic diseases are on the caretaker. I saw how it drained her, during Leo’s long decline.
“I don’t think Mother had Alzheimers though,” she said.
“Because she always knew who we were. She didn’t forget things. It was more like…like her anxiety overwhelmed everything else so she couldn’t function.”
“I find myself doing that,” she admitted.
“Hell — I do it!” I told her. “I suppose it’s just a constant battle not to let emotions overwhelm what’s rational.
By 6:30, the weight room had cleared out. The machines quiet, ready for the next wave.