It”s May and the weather is beautiful. Everyone”s sprawled out on the Diag in spite of the construction. People smile at each other. They laugh sometimes. I even saw one guy flying a kite. So what”s happened to that fierce Wolverine sprit we all know and love? Well, the usual stoics might be in hiding, but there”s still one place on campus to find drudgery and grim determination: The Central Campus Recreation Building.

Paul Wong
Katie Mulcrone<br><br>Practically Joking

Don”t try telling people at the CCRB that it”s springtime. They”re stone-faced and quietly glisten with sweat. They”re well-oiled machines toiling at … well-oiled machines. The stationary bicycles whir in sync with the Ellipse machines in the basement exercise room. Other than that? Dead silence. So what do you think happens when an idiot blunders along, someone who can”t quite figure out how to use the StairMaster or the bench press?

Nine o”clock Tuesday morning and the exercise room was about half full. No one looked up as I dropped my bag on the floor and climbed onto one of the StairMasters. Now, I would say the StairMaster is the most straightforward machine at the CCRB. You just step on and then walk in place. Couldn”t be easier. I started fumbling with the buttons on the machine, wondering if anyone would help me. No one looked up. I continued to play around, pressing the “Fat Burner Plus” button and entering my weight as 999 pounds. Still nothing. I decided I”d have to try harder to get their attention.

“Damn it!” I muttered, striking the StairMaster”s LCD panel with both fists. One girl on an Ellipse machine looked over but didn”t say anything. The rest of them glistened on in stony silence. Okay, fine. Now it was actually pretty hard for me to come up with a wrong way to use the StairMaster machine but I managed it. Using the side bars for support, I lifted both legs from the pedals at once, then pressed them back down to the floor. This was not easy. Also, it kind of hurt my back. A couple of girls on the Ellipse machines gave me weird looks but no one took pity on moron girl. Didn”t want to let their heart rates drop, I guess. Since the frog act failed to get a response, I settled on my back-up plan: Patsy Cline.

I slid my headphones over my ears and hummed a little under my breath. Nothing happened. Frustrated, I began to hum louder and sway my hips a little in time with the music. At this point a girl came in and took a StairMaster machine as far away from me as she could get. I guess that”s something, but I was pretty disappointed when I looked up at the clock and realized I”d been down in the exercise room for a full ten minutes.

“Crazy … crazy for … loving you …” I was really belting it out now. Two of the Ellipse girls glared at me, but they probably just had sweat in their eyes. “Worry … why do I let myself … worry …” I tried to sound like I was gasping a little. No one paid attention. Apparently a bomb could go off in the exercise room and these die-hards would never notice.

Disappointed that this week”s prank was such a failure I headed home, wondering what I should have done differently. Squirt guns? Water balloons? Maybe I should have bounced around and shouted encouragement a la Richard Simmons (“Come on, lift those arms up! Lift! Lift! Feel that yucky fat melting away!”). Yeah, that would definitely annoy the die-hards. Richard Simmons could annoy anyone. I just don”t know if I”m ready for that kind of self-abasement. Maybe next time.

Katie Mulcrone can be reached via e-mail at kmulcron @umich.edu

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