If Tom listened to music while working out, would the Knee Destroyer get jealous?

I was working out one day at the greatest exercise facility of all time (product placement here). The place has all kinds of new and fancy equipment, but my friend Todd, who owns the joint, has kept a couple of old-school stair-climbers off to the side. I can go in any time of day or night and almost guarantee that they'll be unoccupied. I mean, really, who (besides me) wants to get on something known as the Knee Destroyer, endorsed by Torquemada himself?

So I was chugging along on "my" machine, cursing Einstein for his time-is-relative insight. (When you're going "uphill" on the machine, time slows to a crawl.) There were only a few people there at the time, including a college-age young woman and her young male companion. He was her boyfriend, brother or parole officer--I really couldn't tell by the way they interacted. I'm not sure what dating/workout etiquette looks like these days.

Anyway, the two of them got on side-by-side treadmills. Both had earbuds in and weren't talking to each other. They got the machines going and were soon running at a pretty brisk pace. Suddenly, the young woman stopped cold, almost falling off the back of the treadmill in a move that never fails to bring a laugh when one sees it on TV.

The guy stopped, straddling the treadmill belt, and asked what was wrong, as in, "Are you hurt?"

She said, "My iPod battery is dead."

I immediately started looking around for a hidden camera. I figure I was probably on one of those "What Would You Do?" shows. I had to decide whether to intercede, but I wouldn't have known where to even begin looking for a mental-health facility.

The guy seemed genuinely concerned for her "plight," so I figured him for a boyfriend (or fellow mental patient). But then she snapped at him and said something about his iPod not having the right music. So I figured brother. He took out an earbud and offered it to her. She cringed and backed away. Parole officer.

Actually, I'm not entirely sure whose ear wax would be most offensive to a young woman, although I'm guessing Michael Phelps' would be pretty nasty.

I was going to recommend that she just listen to the soul-oldies station that was on the radio at the place. She would be good to go, unless they played a slow song by Lionel Richie, at which point everybody in the joint would slip into a coma.

I also had my Zune in the car; I could've offered her that. (My son, the computer genius/nerd, recommended that my first-ever MP3 player be a Zune, which he considers superior to the iPod. Since I had waited so long to join that particular revolution, I wasn't conditioned to using an iPod and could take to the Zune after only a few months of "Why did that happen?" self-training.) My Zune has Parliament's "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)," Earth, Wind and Fire's "Shining Star" and "They Don't Want Music" by Black-Eyed Peas and James Brown, among many other songs.

All of those thoughts flashed through my head in an instant, but I never actually said anything, because when I'm on the Knee Destroyer, I can't really make English words come out of my mouth. I'm almost instantaneously out of breath on that thing, because the machine is turned up so high, and my body's physical condition is turned down so low.

It was all quite bizarre, especially after she went and sat down while the guy continued his treadmill run. When The Destroyer inevitably spat me out, I wanted to go ask her if she had considered working out without her music. But by that time, she was outside, staring through the window at the guy, who was still on the treadmill. Her glare said that if he ever again wanted to make out/go visit Mom together/check to see that she was gainfully employed and keeping clean, he'd better hurry it up.

He cut his workout short and left.

It was very odd. Was she really unable to work out without music blasting through her head? I was going to shrug, but after a Destroyer session, I wasn't sure if I'd be able to, and I was afraid that if I tried and failed, the workers would think I was having a seizure or something.

Later that week, a guy I know named Paul Carrillo was going to referee one of my girls' team's games. He walked into the gym and asked if we had a computer into which he could plug his iPod. I blinked and asked why. He explained that he was going to work out after the game, and he wanted to have his music.

I suppressed the urge to suggest that he maybe could run up and down the court a little faster than usual and get his workout in that way. It struck me as odd, because I've known him since he was playing basketball for Pueblo High, and he's always been this high-energy guy. Why would he need music?

I figured I'd try this stuff; what could it hurt? Maybe the music will slow down along with time. Or ... wait. What if The Destroyer doesn't like my doing it and decides to punish me ... more than usual?

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