I’m leaving my physical therapist’s office, which is like a kiosk in the middle of a massive, modern Planet Fitness gym. A hulking young muscular guy hits the door at the same time as me. He’s already got his hand on it and as he pushes it open, he says, “Go ahead, miss.” I like him right away. He did not use the dreaded “ma’am” and he seems to be opening the door because he was there first, not because of my age or gender.
He goes down the steps in front of me and I see from his body that he’s a serious weights guy. “I used to be into weights,” I say, as I descend right behind him.
“But I didn’t last. It was boring. I was into the martial arts – much more exciting.”
Why was I pouring out my personal history to this handsome Adonis in his 20s? Why not. “I’m into martial arts, too,” he says. We’re outside now in the 100 degree heat and walking towards our cars – which both turn out to be at the far corner of the lot.
He explains about his American master’s style, a combo of kenpo and aikido, apparently, with some “kenpokido” type of hybrid name that these American individualists feel they need to conjure. “I did Tae Kwon Do.” He nods. We chat about fighting from the floor – which I’ve always hated; take-downs are frequently used in aikido. He doesn’t like it particularly, either, but is glad to know the techniques.
I realize that this person is treating me like, well, like a person. Not someone 40 years older than him; not someone of a different gender; not someone squat and chubby and a bit butch. He’s just chatting – no agenda. He doesn’t find it odd that I lifted weights, that I was a professional martial artist – he just finds it mildly interesting.
We arrive at my car first. He reaches out his hand, says his name, I say mine and we shake on it. I leave with a feeling that I have just had what should be a perfectly normal, common exchange between strangers. Except that it sadly isn’t common. Which makes it magic. Which makes my day.