Off and on for the past 20 years I have belonged to a gym in Barrington named Royal Fitness. It is a really normal exercise facility. On days that I’m not walking, I can be found at Royal Fitness around 7:30 in the morning. At that time of the day you usually see a lot of men in baggy clothes sporting tee shirts in either Bulldog black and red or Garnet maroon and gold.
But if you go on Tuesday morning you will see an exclusive group of exercisers wearing green shirts that have a logo that says “Old Men Rule”. These green shirts belong to a group of retired gentlemen who are fixtures at the gym.
After 40 years of marriage and raising 3 sons, I am ashamed to say that the nature of male friendships has always eluded me. But, after exercising side by side with this group and eavesdropping on their conversations, I think I finally got it.
If one of the guys is being an exercise slacker, they are on him like white on rice. At first I thought this behavior was awful but now I realize that this is a demonstration of caring.
If someone doesn’t wear his green shirt on Tuesday, he is jokingly reprimanded. I thought at first “what a pain”. But then I observed the quiet happiness of the green shirtless gentleman at the acknowledgement of his inclusion in the gang.
You should see the treatment someone gets when he returns to the gym after a long absence. He is usually greeted very loudly with lots of loud remarks about what a slacker he is.
At first I thought, “jeez, how embarrassing”. But then I observed the glow on the “slacker’s” face. And later I would hear the men talking quietly about the “slacker’s” health problems and how good it is to see his return.
Yes, these Old Men do indeed Rule. They have helped this not so young woman to finally understand the beauty and complexity of male friendship.
“Friendship is everything. Friendship is more than talent. It is more than government. It is almost the equal of family…Don Corleone.” Mario Puzo
I hope you get to spend some time with your BFF’s this weekend.