Last year, I came to the conclusion that Keeney Gym is a nexus for strange happenings after witnessing two bizarre events there. These stories could be surmised as “the time a boy jumped in through an open window, lifted one weight, then leapt back out” and “the time a group of pot-smokers inexplicably walked through the gym with lit joints while I watched on from my stationary bike, most likely listening to Bet On It from the High School Musical 2 soundtrack.”
I’ve since wondered—is Keeney Gym a place of cosmic significance? Does a high density of exercise equipment just invite shenanigans among college freshmen? Are Keeney Gym antics becoming a rite of passage, akin to eating your first spicy with, completing a Sci Li challenge, or breaking an exit sign? I’ve also wondered—what hijinks have I been missing out on this year!?
So as an amateur comedy writer investigative reporter with decades of experience in the field, I decided to go undercover to see if I could witness more tomfoolery. Perhaps, I would gain a better understanding as to why Keeney Gym is a reoccurring locale for mischief. Perhaps I would gain a hilarious tale to tell. Perhaps I would make actual gains.
After all, I hadn’t worked out in awhile and figured, ya know, two birds one stone.
On a warm Wednesday night, I went to the gym-in-question with sharp focus and ASICS sneakers on. You could call me Woodward and Bernstein, or also Adidas Just Do It (I don’t know anything about athletics). As nonchalantly as possible, I strolled over to an elliptical with my headphones on, queuing up the tunes for my workout. I should also note that aside from window-jumping and pot-smoking, I will forever associate Keeney Gym with the Velvet Underground because I have such a distinct memory of listening to them for the first time there. Your typical Velvet Underground song was not written to accompany intense exercise (which begets the question: why the hell did I workout to them in the first place?), but nonetheless I found it imperative to put the band’s discography on shuffle so I could recreate the circumstances of my previous experiences as precisely as possible.
Three minutes into my workout (a.k.a. the moment I realized I was in over my head because of my excessive panting), I decided to take in my surroundings. Most of the treadmills were occupied, which made me hopeful that a flash mob would break out. All of the windows were open, which made me hopeful that a drone would fly in to deliver food or a tiny dog. And there was a suspicious looking phone on the wall, which made me hopeful for a prank call.
Eight minutes in and I was slowing down, which I attributed to the slow, sultry voice of Nico that had just entered my ear canals. But wow, I had not worked out in a long time. Was the last time I went to the gym really that time I did the most gentle yoga sequence ever in the midst of a group of intense squatters?
After “running” one mile on the elliptical, I moved over to a stationary bike for a different viewpoint. Everyone was doing pretty standard gym things: stretching, flexing, watching episodes of Grey’s Anatomy on their iPads. Since everyone had the nerve to be normal, I let my mind wander and started devising scenarios I really wanted to happen. Here is the list I came up with:
- a trap door opens to reveal a secret laboratory
- the boy lifting weights grows a tentacle
- someone is Prom-posed to
- one of the weight machines transforms into a human man
- the walls start to close in on themselves and I have to escape
- the ghost of Richard Nixon floats through jangling chains with his hands raised in double V signs
- someone runs through in the nude, and I belatedly realize it is Rod Stewart
- free ice cream
Once I had Rod Stewart on the brain, I realized my efforts were futile. Everyone was going about their run-of-the-mill routines and no one had tried to jump in through a window and the quad didn’t even smell like weed that night and I couldn’t keep biking because I lack defined calf muscles and I had to throw in the towel, reasoning that Keeney Gym had just lost its eccentricity since my Jameson-tenure last year.
As I emerged from the gym onto Benevolent street, which was warm and shiny and slightly sticky like a puddle of Hawaiian Punch Vodka on the floor of an Everett double, a wave of realization washed over me. Could it be that, perhaps, I was the strange thing all along? Me, a sophomore in a freshman quad whose sole purpose in that space was to anticipate a weird happening (yeah, yeah, yeah and work out too I guess). Me, with my crazed eyes, my highly alert posture, Lou Reed’s voice emanating from my earbuds, was it me all along?
Sweaty and content, catching my breath under streetlights, bursting out in a joyous rendition of “Pale Blue Eyes,” I left the gym with newfound knowledge: I am weird, Keeney Gym isn’t very weird, and I need to work out more.
Image via Sarah Clapp.