Doggie Gyms

About a month ago, I was walking around the Lower East Side with my friends Heather, Kurt and Andrew, when we stumbled upon a couple of hipsters on a scavenger hunt (isn’t this how every story begins?).

“How do you feel about doggie gyms?” the girl asked.

“Like, gyms? For dogs?” I asked.

“Yeah. Ethically, how do you feel about them?”

I must admit, between the issues of healthcare reform and Snookie from Jersey Shore getting clocked in the face, hadn’t spent much time contemplating doggie gyms.

“Do they have treadmills for the dogs?” I asked, needing a better understanding of what we were discussing.

“Yeah!” the girl and guy both shouted, so excited in their little knit caps. A thought bubble appeared beside my head, and I peered off into the night sky.

I imagined that the doggie gym is just like a human (humie, perhaps) gym. Hounds run on the treadmill, while labs take to the elliptical. Rottweilers walk around the weight room, pumping serious iron in tight t-shirts. No one cares, rottweilers. Terriers step onto the scale, and little doggie tears roll down their faces. 1/4 more pound, they think. Just 1/4.

“Well, it depends on why the doggies are at the gym,” I decided, remembering the body-conscious terriers. If the dogs were at the gym because they might not otherwise get any activity, then the gym was a great idea. They could play and frolic with all of the other pups, without the hassel of “nature.” Isn’t that why some people go to gyms?

But then I thought about the other people; the ones who go to get bizarrely fit and make the rest of us feel like Roseanne. These people probably made their dogs feel very self-conscious and forced them to work out for hours upon hours to match their own MTV bodies. Poor little Cookie just wants to eat Kibble and chill with the rest of the bulldogs, but her owner, some stuck up publicist from Soho, forces her to take Puppy Pilates at 6am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. For doggies like Cookie, their may be no way out.

Then, about a week ago, I discovered one of these doggie gyms. I was going for a run (to support a healthy heart, and not at all because I’m scared of getting fat) when I passed Biscuits and Bath in Soho. At first, I was intrigued that I had found a new biscuit place. Hell yeah, I thought, as I huffed and puffed. But no, this was one of the facilities the hipsters had brought to my attention. I could not see much through the window, besides some mats and pads (who takes gymnastics? What is it, 1998?) In any case, it was much less dramatic than I had imagined, which was sort of a pleasant surprise, but I still stick to my idea that there are canines somewhere in this city doing pull ups, while another group of pups are doing yoga in the next room. I bet they can do a killer Downward Facing Dog.


Naked Nanny

The stories you are about to hear are real. The names have been changed to protect the innocent, but more than that, the guilty.

Two nights a week, I babysit for two foul children on the Upper West Side. As seems to be the case these days, the kids go on frequent playdates, and the boy, we’ll call him “Gregory,” goes on Monday playdates with his friend, “Chester,” who is two months younger, and about 3 years behind Gregory.

“Hi, Chester,” I’ll say. The kid will just stand there looking at me with a dumb smile on his face. “Hello,” I’ll repeat. Nothing. No dice. Lights out. Nobody’s home.

Chester is lucky enough to have a 40 year old babysitter from Belize, let’s call her “Zora,” who likes that we all four stay together during the playdates, instead of me taking them both or her doing so.

“If I sit in the house, I fall asleep!” she shouts. Alright, fine, I think. I don’t know why she suddenly becomes narcaleptic indoors, but I guess it is the case. Instead, we go to the library, where the children play on the computer, possibly looking up inappropriate images, or researching how to cook meth, while Zora talks to me. This, for 2 hours.

“Zora don’t like that,” she’ll say about fast food or Chester’s parents’ messy habits. Wait, I think to myself, is Zora someone else?

“No, Zora don’t like that at all. Nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnno.” She shakes her head with the “no.” By this time I’ll look at the clock. 5 minutes down, 1 hour and 55 to go. I look out the window to see how far the drop would be. Only two stories. Only enough for embarrassment and a hefty hospital bill. I stick it out.

Last time, Zora shared with me that her favorite colors to wear are black and brown, and that she prefers to be nude when at all possible.

“Everything I’m wearing, BROWN! Brown shirt, brown pants, brown pantyhose, brown boots, brown…well, no bra. No panties. Nnnnnnnnnno. I never wear underwear. I hate it.” By this point I thought the stay in the hospital might be a welcome escape. “Whenever I go home, I take off my shirt, I take off my pants, I take of my pantyhose. I just like to be free, you know?” No. No, not really.

I, of course, respect Zora’s free nature, and I am glad that she, as a “curvaceous” middle-aged woman feels comfortable enough with her body to walk around naked everywhere permitted (she told me about her time on a nude beach in Jamaica. She had a great time.), but I, on the other hand, shrink back when I hear the word “panties,” and I cry when it is preceeded by the word “no.” I now knew too much. I’d never be able to look at Zora the same. She didn’t wear drawers, and it was all I could think about.

Zora went on to talk about why she no longer went to clubs. I would guess it was because she was 40, but apparently it was because her friend got slipped a ruffie at a strip club. She doesn’t wear fur out, because once she checked her mink coat, and the people there stole it. Her daughter has made some “bad choices.” Go figure.

But while she told me these things, all I could think of was that fact that she was flying free beneath that pantsuit, and well, that was just too much for me to take. I hope to God that she never wears a sundress during a windy summer day. At least not while I’m around. I don’t even know what poor little Chester would do.