The homeowner double-checked the frame to make sure the photo was level. The picture of his ox-like great grandfather had always been an odd source of pride.
Content, he grabbed his checkbook, sighed, and signed over $2,000 to Overall’s Landscaping—the final touch on a successful day.
Earlier, with the help of the Geek Squad ($199.99), he’d set up the Wi-Fi, the printer, the PS3, the cable, and the speaker system. He’d also put some photos on the walls, set up the shower curtain, cleaned the new dish set, and made the bed.
He placed the check into an envelope, and taped it to the back door. His wife was working late, so no one would be home when the landscaper stopped by.
Despite the day’s progress, the homeowner was restless; he hadn’t been to the gym since the move.
He grabbed his keys and made his way to Smoothie King, his usual routine before subjecting himself to the rigors of a workout.
He went with his standard: a medium Power Punch smoothie infused with a Pre-Workout Enhancer, only $7.
He sucked down the 654 calories, pleased that health food could taste like a fruity milkshake. (Plus, with the Pre-Workout Enhancer Powder mixed in, he’d have plenty of alone time on the toilet later in the evening to finish reading Cartel.)
At the gym, a tan man with a chinstrap beard and pierced cartilage greeted him. The man’s oversized biceps caused the sleeves of his polo to bunch up, revealing generic tribal tattoos.
“Welcome!” the tan man said. “New here?”
“Yeah,” the homeowner replied.
“Looking to start a membership?” The tan man asked.
The homeowner nodded.
“No sweat, just gotta get you to fill out some paperwork.”
The tan man handed over a clipboard.
The homeowner took a seat, and completed the packet.
Again, he pulled out his checkbook—$359 for a year’s membership.
“All set?” the tan man asked.
The homeowner nodded and handed over the check and application.
“Cool, we’ll get your membership card on your way out. Locker room’s right over there,” the tan man said, pointing behind him.
On his way in, the homeowner browsed the machinery.
He took a seat on a stationary bike next to a nicely shaped female thirty-something. He gave her a brief smile and began pedaling nonchalantly.
The woman wore form-fitting clothing, somehow highlighting the good stuff and camouflaging the bad—if there was any bad. He made a conscious effort not to look at her throughout his warm-up. Her perfume didn’t help his resolve.
He kept his eyes locked on the television screen above. The muted SportsCenter helped the time pass. He increased the resistance of the bike for the final few minutes to ensure that a sweaty glaze would cover his forehead by the time he left the biking area. When the timer hit 15:00, he hopped off, congratulating himself for only peeking at the woman twice throughout his warm-up—by pretending to look past her, of course.
He walked to the free weights. First day back in action, chest and back should be sufficient. No need to rush things.
He stacked a plate on either side of the barbell, and laid on his back. He pushed, disappointed by his lack of strength relative to his last experience with bench press.
After eight repetitions, he dropped the weight back into its original place, and removed his phone from his pocket. He needed to calm his heart rate between sets, so he thumbed through his Twitter feed for a minute and a half.
He put his phone back, and bent his knees to pick up a forty-five pound dumbbell. He angled his torso parallel to the ground and pulled the weight up to his chest, then back down. Back up. And back down, until his back muscles burned.
He completed a few more chest and back exercises, then lay down on a mat in the stretching area for his abdominal routine.
He checked the clock during his final set of flutter kicks, relieved that an hour had passed since he’d started the workout.
He groaned as his legs collapsed to the floor following the last kick.
He stretched for a few minutes more, and then made his way toward the exit, thanking the tan man for the ID card on the way out.
On his way home, he stopped at the gas station for a post-workout protein bar, another $4.25. He felt synthetic amino acids helped solidify the pump.
As he approached his driveway, he spotted his neighbor pushing a lawn mower up the small grassy hill between their two houses. The neighbor’s arms were extended, his head down. He drove his legs into the ground as he worked to get the mower up the incline. His sweaty shirt clung to his muscular back.
The neighbor got the mower to the top of the hill and powered it off. He eyed the stacked bags of soil a few yards from him. He wiped his brow, and lifted one of the heavy bags to rip it open. He gripped the bag between his legs and poured the soil evenly throughout the garden. When the bag was empty, he grabbed a shovel and patted it down.
The homeowner recalled that Overall’s had agreed to lay soil in his yard to start a small garden for an additional $100. His wife would be pleased.
The homeowner left his neighbor to his work and went inside for a shower.
He studied his naked body in the bathroom mirror. Unsatisfied, he dropped down for ten push-ups.
He hopped back up and flexed his pectorals.
After getting dressed, he paused in the hall to study the photo of his great grandfather, who was leaning, unsmiling, against the handle of an ax. He was a rugged man surrounded by chopped wood. The homeowner wondered how his great grandfather maintained such a physique while balancing the day-to-day chores of that time.
He checked the clock on the wall. He needed to kill another hour before his wife would be home.
He flopped onto the couch and turned on the game, feeling he deserved some relaxation after such a productive day of hard work.
For more from Luke…