It’s Fresher’s Week at the University of Nottingham this week. This means that not only was the supermarket full of students, many squeezing a last trolley’s worth of cash out of their anxious parents, but the gym was full of them yesterday too. They’re pretty easy to spot, on the whole: they’re the absurdly young, skinny ones talking about when their first assignment is due in.
You have to wonder about their priorities. Apart from anything else, the membership to the gym costs them somewhere between £30 and £40 a month (the university gym, by way of comparison, costs £195 a year for full access to the gym, playing fields, pool and fitness centres). Nevermind the cost though – hey, might as well be £50,000 in debt as £40,000 right? – why is going to the gym the first thing that any self-respecting student chooses to do when they return to University at the start of term?
What’s wrong with getting absolutely blasted and/or sitting alone in your room listening to The Smiths and wondering why no one loves or understands you but Morrissey? What’s this unhealthy obsession with fitness all about? No good can come from it.
As I was on my way out of the gym after a swim last night, I saw one of these students preening himself in front of the full-length mirrors in the changing rooms. Sadly, this in itself is not an unusual sight. In “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, Robert Pirsig talks about a monkey trap that involves nothing more complex than a hollowed out coconut filled with rice: an unsuspecting monkey smells the treat inside the coconut and reaches in to collect it. However, the opening, which was just large enough for its open paw to go in, is too small to allow its clenched paw to pass back through. No matter how much the monkey yanks, he cannot escape as long as he tries to hang on to the rice, but is so focused on his prize that he will not release even though his survival depends upon it. It seems that the modern metrosexual male has the same problem with full-length mirrors…. worth knowing, I'm sure you'll agree, should you ever want to trap one.
What caught my eye particularly about this particular student was not that he was carefully teasing his hair into position with loving care, infinite patience and the careful application of hair gel – that’s common enough. This guy finished with the gel, and then reached into his bag for a can of hair spray, which he then meticulously applied on top. Astonishing. Take two hair scuplting products to the gym? When he’d finished, his hair didn’t look all that to my eyes, but in his mind, you probably can’t be too careful, right? I imagine he sleeps in a hair net too. Or perhaps standing up.
I had my remaining hair shaved back to a grade zero on Saturday morning, so clearly I’m not in much of a position to understand this kind of behaviour…. But it did strike me that I must be saving literally HOURS every week by not having hair. Hours that can clearly be put to much better and more productive use.
Um…. On twitter and blogging and shit like that.