My Gym Nemesis

By Michelle Railey

So I’ve finally named my Gym Nemesis. So, at the gym, there’s a guy I’ve been referring to as “The Whistler.” For nearly two years now, this guy has creeped me out at the gym. Picture the pool area: it’s night so it’s dark in there. The lights are low, the paint on the ceiling is peeling a little bit, so it’s kinda steerage-on-the-Titanic anyway. Now add you, in the pool, alone. (Sweet! Alone is good, especially in the pool.) But now….go underwater because you’re doing laps. You come up for air and you hear whistling, sometimes it’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow (I kid you not), sometimes it’s just made-up merriness with pseudo-melody.

There’s a guy walking around the perimeter of the pool (ewwww) or, worse, he’s sitting on the stairs (also, ewww). Just whistling. This is one cheerful guy, probably a perfectly decent guy.

But it’s the pool. There’s whistling. It’s dark.

And you think: “this is the last sound I’m ever going to hear, isn’t it” or “well, isn’t this the perfect start to a really bad horror movie.” (You will think these things as you look up at the peeling ceiling.)

Well, the Whistler has been there as long as I’ve been swimming at the gym. He has now added hocking to his repertoire, so his routine is now: walk around the pool while whistling, sit on the pool stairs while whistling, walk to the shower in the locker room hallway, hock disgustingly in the pre-pool shower (it echoes there, see, ’cause it’s in the pool room), proceed with peppy whistling. Wash, rinse, repeat. Happy song, creep a girl out, hock a loogie, happy song. No shirt, no swimming, nothing but walking, whistling, sitting, spitting, walking, whistling. Repeat. (Preferably without adding murder to the rotation.)

Well, he’s my gym nemesis. And tonight I’ve decided the name makes him sound too much like a comic book villain.

So now he’s Braden Whistler-Hocker. The Third.

For some reason, this makes me like him better. Not enough to make eye contact or anything. But at least with that name, I don’t think he’s going to kill me.

See, The Whistler would have killed me while chirping some old standard as I drowned while looking at peeling paint on the ceiling. Braden Whistler-Hocker the Third won’t do anything more dire than spit something nearly solid in the public (!) pre-pool shower (which I refuse to use; there’s a shower in the ladies, after all, but I digress). So basically, he (BWH3) is harmless now.

Or is he?

Originally published December 2012.

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