We are in California for Christmas and a 50th wedding anniversary party for my parents. This morning I woke up around 6am and was unable to go back to sleep, so I decided to get up and go to the gym.
This is not a joke.
But here's my question. Why does television suck so bad at health clubs? It's the one time where I really need help maintaining focus on something else other than the perky former cheerleader next to me running a mile in the same time it takes me to turn on the machine, and I gotta say, CNN and ESPN don't cut it. I mean, come on. What are there, like 34 flat screens in one room and my choices come down to reports on worldwide catastrophe and men in tights? I'm not saying that the lady answering all your burning questions about refinancing and foreclosures doesn't know what she's talking about, or that Tom Brady isn't making somebody's day by beefing up their Fantasy Football scores, but that sure as hell isn't going to help me increase my speed into mile 3. I will say that there was one time I was running on the treadmill when "The Biggest Loser" (a weight loss reality series and not, in fact, a documentary on my life's accomplishments) was on, and I ran for an extra 45 minutes. I try not to go in the evening anymore.
I mostly rely on my iPod to help me through my workouts now, but I forgot to pack it. Which is why I found myself searching for reprieve from the TV monitors at six o'clock this morning, hoping for some kind of story to help me forget that I was running in public.
I never found reprieve, but I did get a fresh dose of surprise. Not because half of the channels were tuned to CNN, but because the other half were tuned to a 24-hr religious station! Here I was, staring at some emphatic scriptorian making grand interpretations on stage, waving his arms around like a circus performer without any animals, and this is what they had playing on multiple televisions in a public health club? In CALIFORNIA? California, where prayer in school has been publicly debated and is now a thing of the past and where the very pledge of allegiance has hung by a thread? Now, I think it's pretty obvious that I'm pro-religion, but I'll be honest. It's not my concern for salvation that has me sweating at 6am. I turned to CNN, hoping for something better when I read the following closed captioning: "FEMALE PASTOR HAS VISION ABOUT HER DALLAS FREEWAY...." They interviewed this pastor by the side of the freeway that runs through Dallas. She talked about a verse in Isaiah, Ch. 35 that mentions a highway being built, and now here they were, on "I-35". Apparently it's now a hangout for religious enthusiasts who stand there and preach to all the people driving by at 70mph. Sounds pretty effective. Later during a commercial break I saw a promo for a show coming up later in the week titled, "What would Jesus REALLY do?" As if Anderson Cooper knows anything about that! THEN, even later today we took the kids to Starbucks for hot chocolate and right next to us was a guy with his scriptures out, marking them all up, and typing some kind of report or sermon or something on his laptop.
The last time I was surrounded by this much religion in one day was when I attended religion class in college. For my birthday a few weeks ago my friend Ali gave me a shirt as a joke that says, "Got Jesus? It's hell without him." Looks like Los Angeles already got that memo.