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One thing that I didn’t mention in my post yesterday about New Year’s Eve gym resolutions is that I’m terrible at NYE resolutions and resolutions in general. I don’t even make them anymore. You might recall that time I attempted NaNoWrMo and only tallied 16,000 out of 50,000 words – no more or less than I usually write in a month. Or you might recall that time I vowed never to order more than three rolls of sushi ever again, only to find myself sidling up to the Happy Samuri bar days later and stuffing my face with spicy tuna rolls and washing them down with miso soup like I was on my way to the electric chair.
It feels like when I make an official, on paper, resolution to do something, the unruly jaded teenager in me appears – that dark, Hot Topic part of my personality who thinks seatbelts are stupid and unprotected anonymous sex is kind of cool – and she makes it her New Years resolution to thwart anything responsible that I have in mind.
It’s that part of me that rolls her eyeliner-smudged eyes and says, “So – why don’t we quit now, since it’s either that or doing this for the rest of our lives. It will only hurt more if we quit in mid-June than if we quit now. You know, before we’re emotionally involved.” It’s a strong point, and I crumble to it every time. This is why I can never smoke a single cigarette – there would be no going back and I would be dead in days. The doctors would be baffled – they would have never seen anything like it – who knew that a single Newport Light would be a gateway drug to heroin, gambling and prostitution?
My economics buddy Seth over at The Blog of Diminishing Returns, has an interesting post on whether reward or punishment is more effective in sticking to promises we make to ourselves. In a NYE mini-experiment, a Yale econ professor tries punishment over reward – he gave $1,000 to a friend, telling him only to return it when his goal was accomplished and keep it if he failed.
It’s not so much the monetary loss that intrigues me about this idea, but that of having to answer to another person. Being accountable to someone else, other than me and my alter-ego, might be the answer. Sometimes it’s hard to go home and write at night (that’s a lie: it’s hard to go home every single night and write) but it’s a lot easier if either 1) Ben is in the next room typing and making me feel bad or 2) I can start typing first and make Ben feel bad. I mean, once we start writing, everything is great, but opening that laptop each night can be excruciating.
In any case, for me, the trick is to not make official resolutions. Instead, I drop them casually in conversations, knowing that next time I see the person they’ll ask me how I’m doing. So, they’ll say, have you made $5,000 more freelancing this year than last year? Have you completely eradicated girly push ups from your regiment? Have you succeeded in being less of a jerk to people?
Mostly, though, I’ve got to constantly keep irresonsible Hot Topic Sarah from sabotaging my grown-up plans. I’ve got to keep her in the dark and confused. Maybe I’ll go feed her some sushi.
January 2nd is an extraordinary day at the gym. The number one resolution each year is to be healthier, and, after recovering from their hangovers on January 1st, people stampede to the gym in droves. It feels a lot like the first day of camp or something – new and nervous faces and a lot of bunching shorts. Of course, unlike camp, most people won’t make it a month.
I like seeing the new people, but I don’t like the crowded locker room or waiting for machines. More specifically, I don’t like that some woman was using my unofficial locker, which she should have obviously known was mine through either ESP or osmosis. I don’t like watching someone misuse weights and ignore the advice of the personal trainer who comes over to help.
It’s on these rare days that the gym regulars that I usually can’t stand (The Grunter, Guy Who Only Works Out His Biceps And Nothing Else, The Samurai, Guy Talking On His Cell Phone At The Gym) are my unlikely allies. When, for example, a newbie is somehow taking up an entire bench in the locker room with her shit, I can lock eyes with Girl Who Thinks She Is A Boxer Even Though She’s Really Just An Owner Of Boxing Gloves and, for one moment, not hate her with my entire heart.
Still, there’s something thrilling about seeing the new guys. It’s kind of like that scene in Shawshank Redemption when all the new prisoners arrive and the old prisoners bet on who’s going to cry first – everyone remembers their first day. On one hand, you want everyone to survive. On the other hand, you want to think that you were special simply by surviving yourself.
I like to guess who’s going to stay. Most people fade out and completely disappear by the middle of February. A handful keep showing up – even during the coldest days of the last half of the winter, even after it heats up, even if something goes wrong in their lives. It’s like guessing who’s going to get shot in a war movie.
For example, last year on January second, I noticed a big guy with a scruffy beard who was new – the kind of guy you see in Queens that is obviously a recent immigrant from any number of vague Eastern European countries that didn’t exist when I took geography in sixth grade. He was half-jogging, half-running on the treadmill and looking shy although pretty damn determined. He was there every single day until I switched gyms last spring, but I still see him at the local grocery store sometimes, looking utterly transformed. We still nod at each other – like we’ve been though something together (camp or prison or war, according to my lame mixed metaphors).
But for every determined scraggly bearded guy, there were ten people I saw today who won’t make it to next week. Some of them are easy to pick out: the girls with the brand new matching workout outfits that look like something Aerobics Barbie would slip into for her new animated video. The dudes who come to lift weights in jeans and work boots. The girl who tries to do the stair climber with chandelier earrings.
It all works out in the end, though. The people who stay are the people who we, the motley crew of regulars with our own idiosyncrasies, would like to stay, for the simple reason that they want to stay. If they keep coming, they’ll learn. The awkward mom who didn’t quite understand how to do the rowing machine will perfect it in a month. The 70-year-old grandfather who walks on the treadmill for 30 minutes each day will learn to not wear dress socks. The hipster chick with the leg warmers will soon enough trade in her five-pound weights for ten-pound weights, and then fifteen. Soon enough, we’ll all be nodding at each other in the grocery store. It’s a good feeling.
Want to know the fastest way to piss me off? Advertise a buffet at your bar on New Year’s Eve and then, after I buy a $75 ticket for said night of promised eating and drinking, deny a buffet was ever included or mentioned. Really, The Anchor Bar in New York City? Then why does this webpage say that there will not only be a buffet, but a delectable buffet?
And that was only the beginning of the problems with The Anchor Bar in New York City, all of which were made worse by the fact that I and everyone else was starving all night, having assumed that our $75 investment would buy more than a few weak rum and Cokes.
In fact, The Anchor Bar in New York City was so bad that I’m determined to mention The Anchor Bar in New York City in at least two percent of this entry, so that it is search engine optimized and when someone searches for The Anchor Bar in New York City this article will come up and save them from the trouble of going.
What else was wrong with the place, other than the huge offense of telling people there would be food in the bar that we were being trapped in for seven hours?
For one, upon entering the bar, we decided to have a seat. Moments after sitting down, the manager came over and asked us if we were VIP. Since we were not, we were told that we couldn’t sit down all night, although he said, and I quote, “Maybe one of the VIP would let us sit on their ottoman.” Really, asshole manager? If one of the VIP doesn’t want to prop up his feet, I could sit where his feet usually go? That would be great. And since when is simply sitting considered the act of a very important person? Don’t they get back rooms and cocaine and plush collections of velvet cushions? Not at the Anchor Bar in New York City. There, the basic act of sitting down in a bar is a special service that you must pay extra for.
For two, the bar that we paid $75 for served almost nothing. My refrigerator has a much better selection of beers, and my refrigerator doesn’t have a good selection of beers. That’s the reason I like to go out somewhere sometimes, in order to choose from a wider selection of beers at an establishment such as a bar, which should specialize in having more than bottled Bud Light and Becks.
For three, the bar oversold tickets, cramming 275 people into a space half the size of my apartment. I’m assuming they were banking on the fact that the good people who uphold fire code laws were out doing more important things on New Years Eve. Good thing most people were forced to stand up, because that was the only way we were all going to fit. By the time we left (well before midnight), The Anchor Bar in New York City was very much like a clown car, if you replaced the clowns with guys wearing t-shirts paired with sports coats and girls who couldn’t seem to take a picture without sticking out their tongues — pictures which I’m guessing are being posted on their Facebook pages as we speak.
For four, The Anchor Bar in New York City’s women’s room lock broke about 20 minutes into the night. Women who needed to use the restroom got the titillating choice of either 1) not locking the door at all and getting walked in on with their pants down a few times or 2) locking the door, getting stuck in the bathroom, and then banging on the door and screaming frantically to be let out. Although the asshole manager said he was working on it, it seemed like he just spent the night working the problem over in his head. He didn’t even feel the need to, I don’t know, post a sign.
I could also mention the $4 coat check, the mean bartenders, and the terrible music, but this is going a bit long.
In any case, Ben and I left early. We bought a pizza and some wings, selected a fine beer from our refrigerator, and watched episodes of The Wire while sitting down in our spacious living room. At midnight, we kissed, petted the cat, clinked our non-Bud Light beers, and toasted to a Anchor Bar-free 2008, filled with sitting and food. Delectable food.
I very badly want to write an angry letter to the Anchor Bar in New York City about how they ruined my New Years, but I know that my letter will be read by someone like me, who hates her job and is in no way involved in the shitty service of The Anchor Bar. She’ll probably read it, reply with a form letter apology, and be just a tiny bit sadder than she was before. Instead, I’ll just entreat you to warn the people you know in New York City. The Anchor Bar lied about a buffet and profited from it – is there any greater offense?