The problem: I go to a fitness center with a group of regulars who enjoy talking to one another as much as exercising. One individual doesn’t so much converse as deliver speeches in a stentorian voice, audible to half the room. The subject is always himself — what bargain meat he bought, what great deal he found, detailed accounts of his home repair projects, the politics of his workplace. I call him “the Mayor.” Much to my surprise, he has constituents who seem happy to listen and even prompt him to continue. I ignore him as best I can and try to find workout stations removed from his vicinity. This works only marginally. I’m not even allowed to vent about him anymore, because my wife (who works out elsewhere) tells me I’m a grumpy old man. Any suggestions?
Low road: Take up swimming.
High road: I don’t think you’re a grumpy old man. I applaud, first, your use of the word “stentorian,” (I burned several calories looking it up), as well as your regular fitness routine, which combines physical activity with an opportunity for guy bonding.
Mr. Mayor, unfortunately, is an exercise in patience.
Your attempt to say nothing and move out of earshot is laudable but ineffective. You’re still stressed, and working out is meant to de-stress. If this is the best workout time for you, buy top-of-the-line, noise-diluting headphones. Trust me. The Mayor won’t notice.
If you can work out at another time, try that for a while and meet your buddies for a beer. Or join the whole crew once a week, instead of daily. The Mayor might seem less annoying in smaller doses.
You could always join your wife at her fitness center, but I believe the sound I hear is her stentorian voice telling you she needs her space. And you need your friends, so please don’t abandon them completely.
Send questions about life’s little quandaries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Gail’s “High Road” columns at startribune.com/highroad.