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The Life and Travels of an April Fool I go to seek a Great Perhaps - John Green, Looking for Alaska

Why One Does Not Exercise on Holidays

GREECE | Thursday, 15 May 2014 | Views [1118] | Scholarship Entry

The salty tang of sweat is strong on my lips and I feel droplets slowly trickle down my forehead into my hair, until gravity forces them to fall onto the bench beneath me. I’ve been travelling for two months now and excessive Ouzo consumption has forced me to utilise my Athens hotel gym. Pausing, I consider how hygienic said bench is; am I swimming in the sweat of the equipment's last inhabitant, an overweight local in a stained singlet? Shuddering, I refocus my energy.
The bench press; my foe.
With all the strength present in my tiny tanned chicken arms, I exhale and PUSH.
Nothing.
I try again.
Nothing.
SHIT. I’m stuck under the demonic grasp of the mother-freaking bench press.
My eyes dart around in alarm. The gym is full. Despite my Greek heritage, my vocabulary consists of three phrases; including ‘Ewo then milas elinika’ – loosely translated to ‘I no speaking Greek’.
I breathe in and try again.
Nope. Not even a slight movement. Suddenly, it becomes apparent that I may just be the first person to die via a 10kg weight.
“Yassou?” This is Greek phrase #2: hello. It's a whispered plea so I retry, ensuring my tone is clear and strong.
“YASSOU?”
I may as well have said nothing.
Sweat begins to gather around my forehead and I frantically take in the details of my surroundings. Young men with slicked hair fill the room; the combination of flickering fluorescent lighting and bright singlets makes me feel like I’m in a well-lit rave cave. Craning my head as far back as I can, I see a man taking a selfie on his iPhone, obviously intending to look impressive.
Good to see that social media hath no cultural boundaries.
Slowly, painfully, I attempt to wriggle myself out from underneath this death-pole. Surprisingly, this makes the situation worse and the bar rolls toward my neck.
Unsurprisingly, no one has even blinked in my direction. With the possibility of death-via-bar-asphyxiation in my thoughts, I persist in my efforts to manoeuvre myself out from its grasp.
I'm now trapped between the triangle of doom that is the bench and the bar that is slowly cutting off passage to my airways. My anxiety heightens as the combination of my hair and sweat join together, a glue binding me between the bar and the plastic bench beneath.
Yet I persist.
Then in three final, desperate bursts reminiscent of a fish on land slowly dying:
Freedom.
At a cost. In my final frantic thrust I fly off the bench, crashing onto the concrete floor.
And in that moment, the Greeks notice me.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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