The other day at the gym what should have been a routine workout turned into a harrowing journey into the depths of my soul. At my warm-up I was presented with a conundrum.

The elliptical on the left had a puddle of water pooled up in the foot area about 2 inches deep. The one on the right had a chunky pink substance sitting in the foot area, possibly yogurt or perhaps someone’s partially digested meal from earlier that day.

Naturally, faced with these options, I chose the machine between those two.

I guarantee you would have done the same, don’t go pretending like you’re smarter than me.

I was ellipticalling along-

Ellipticalling definition: 1) Riding an elliptical machine 2) The transient state of matter taking the form of an elliptical machine 3) Mimicking the cry of the elusive avian species known as the ellipti

-for 5 minutes and decided warm up done. So I go to get off the machine and my left foot is inexplicably stuck there. I manage to escape in the same manner one would extricate their foot from a muddy bog.

The unholiest grey shade of gum stretched out like taffy from my foot to the foot landing on the elliptical.

Hatred burned in my eyes and veins. Caning, drawing and quartering, disembowelment would all be too lenient for the perpetrator of this villainy. I wanted to dress him up like a chicken complete with speakers playing clucking sounds. I would make him cross the freeway blindfolded and holding a sign that said “HA, HA, YOU MISSED ME!”

Why did the chicken cross the freeway?

Because he was held at gunpoint.

So then I chickened away from the elliptical.

Chickening definition: The transient state of matter taking the form of a chicken

Each time I stood still longer than a few seconds I left a small remnant of gum on the floor. Now I pitied him (the freeway crosser), perhaps he was no more to blame than I, merely the carrier of a contagion and not the original sinner.

Nah, stuff his head in a cow’s butt while he thinks about what he did.

If only it wouldn’t embarrass the cow.

So then I Macgyvered the situation.

Macgyvering definition: 1) Using ordinary household objects to completely dominate reality and problem solve 2) Managing to make a mullet look like a good idea 3) Drinking heavily to drown out the thought that Bear Grylls really does all those things you only pretend to.

I took a swatch of paper towel and stuck it on the bottom of my shoe. Now it looked like I had a bathroom mishap that I was unaware of. A fitting punishment for my association in the gum caper.

I’ll take my karma now so it doesn’t surprise me later.

At least it was a paper towel and not toilet paper trailing behind me. Everyone knows toilet paper is a lower class hitchhiker than a paper towel. Toilet paper is the toilet paper of the paper world.

That analogy, while circular, makes sense because no one respects toilet paper. Until it’s both necessary and scarce. Then they come crawling back to toilet paper like it was the last cup of water in the middle of the Sahara.

Is Mike Rowe still doing that “Dirty Jobs” show? If so he should really interview toilet paper. Imagine the stories toilet paper would tell.

Toilet paper should write a blues song. “Oh the things I’ve seen, oh the places I’ve been. They’ve used me and abused me, ever since I don’t know when.”


Rewriting reality exercise

The following technique for feeling better despite being wronged was taken from the book The Charisma Myth.

Emotional baggage is called “baggage” for three reasons. The first is that it weighs us down, interfering with the way we would otherwise comfortably live.

The second is that people assume there is some volition in the matter, that you can set the baggage down just as easily as you picked it up. Anyone who has carried such baggage knows that it’s rarely ever that simple.

The third reason is that the person that originally coined the term “emotional baggage” had the foresight to know that it would help me transition from quirky to serious in this post.

Many people walk around carrying with them the grievances of people that wronged them and/or unfair situations from their past. This can potentially raise the blood pressure and stress hormones and negatively influence health.

Aside from that, any anger/anxiety/grief lurking in your mind will leak out in your interactions with others. Most people aren’t magnanimous enough to let this roll off and will assume it is directed towards them.

People are highly attuned to the smallest mannerisms that we normally assume would go unperceived. Perhaps your reaction time in a conversation is milliseconds slower because something else is on your mind. Maybe your brow is just a little furled because you were thinking about a frustrating situation in your past or present. Perhaps you cast your eyes away inappropriately because some memory has you feeling a little insecure.

Everyone has met that person that they don’t like for some reason.

I can’t put my finger on it, but for some reason Mortimer seems really odd. It’s not anything he says or does, it’s just how he is. The best part of a conversation with Mortimer is the end of the conversation, it’s like finding shade on a hot day, or exiting a stinky bathroom.

The real problem is Mortimer is chock-full of all kinds of those little aforementioned mannerisms. People pick up on this subconsciously and what they recognize is their discomfort or dislike. This then colors their reaction to Mortimer and negatively affects the outcome of these interactions.

There is a quick and relatively painless way out of this negative pattern. It works for really deep grievances such as memories of schoolyard bullying or abusive parenting as well as silly things like getting gum stuck on the bottom of your shoe.

First you write a letter to the person that offended you cataloging all of their offences.

You’re not going to send them the letter, it’s for your eyes only, so have at it. Anything goes.

Then you’re going to write a letter from them to you. Their letter says exactly what you would like them to say, that they were wrong, that you were right, that they understand where you are coming from, that they wish there was some way to make it up to you, etc.

Even though they didn’t really write the letter your imagination is fully utilized and focused in this process. It affects you on a deep level. Your physiology responds as though it’s real, the same way you will salivate when vividly imagining biting into a lemon. You will no longer need vindication because you took it for yourself. You have put your mind where you would like it to be and not where they would have it be.

My buddy Mortimer practiced this technique writing letters and responses to the many people that had wronged him over his life.

He wrote one to his sister for shrinking his favorite sweater in the dryer.

He wrote one to his parents for naming him Mortimer.

He  wrote one to me for including him in this post.

He is now sleeping better at night, waking more refreshed and generally living a happier life. Best of all those many almost imperceptible social oddities have disappeared.

You don’t have to be a social deviant like Mortimer to benefit from this technique. Just like working out is also good for healthy people this technique will make an already adjusted and charismatic person more likable and more comfortable in their own skin.

Now people say they like Mortimer for some reason. I can invite him to house parties without worrying about him creeping out my other guests.

I’ve yet to convince him to trash that tiny sweater.