What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Music Video Melange

I detest treadmills. Although I run regularly on rubberized asphalt, packed dirt, turf and, yes, really hard cement, something about putting my full, unrestrained weight on a thin strip of textured plastic while running at speeds in excess of 10 miles per hour is unsettling. I'm afraid I'll fly off the back like a bad Schick Quattro Titanium ad or step on the strip of unmoving platform and twist my ankle. I feel like a spoiled horse on a hot walker, high stepping for my owners beat. I feel like an experiment.

My coaches see treadmill workouts as excellent pace work and the holy grail of cross-training. They advise a liberal dose of machine running, especially when the weather outdoors is not conducive to performance-level athletic training.

The local gym is a friendly place that, at this time of year, is busier than an anthill in the fall. Most guys who work out head straight to the weight rooms after saying "hi" to Shirley, the front desk attendant. Most women go to the cardio equipment (including the treadmills) and start marching. On a good day, there will be more women in the cardio section than on the first life boat off the Titanic. Social and exercise psychologists have tried unsuccessfully for years to determine what draws the female gender so exclusively to treadmills, but the research is as of yet inconclusive.

In an effort to encourage male use of the treadmills (and thus collect a hefty check from the Surgeon General) the gym has kindly placed a bank of televisions in front of the machines presumably so that we can be entertained as we pound off the pounds. Unlike the TVs at BestBuy, these units are tuned to several different channels, designed to reflect the demographics of those watching. That is, they are all tuned to various editions of ESPN.

The other day the gym broke from the unspoken rule and put one of the sets on CMT, Country Music Television. Like most treadmill runners, I listen to my own tunes when I run; something motivating, with a quick beat and a happy disposition. My current running playlist includes Nickelback and Avril Lavigne, but I'll sometimes throw in some 90s dance music like Madonna, Cascada and Whitney Houston. It's music I would never listen to under less calorie intensive circumstances, but that pushes me toward faster times on the otherwise stimulus-free treadmill.

Without sound, music videos are difficult to understand. Why is the attractive blond swinging a bat into a nice car? Why does the fat guy dance around? What's with the old guy?

By far the most disturbing thing to watch is Sugarland's "Stay" a music video commonly thought to be about requited love and a woman who doesn't want her man to leave to see another woman (although I maintain that it's a song about a meddlesome mother-in-law). In the back of the viewers mind is the pervasive thought that any man leaving Jennifer Nettles is an utter buffoon. But if you haven't seen the music video, I don't want to ruin it for you. I have embedded it below for your viewing pleasure:

How can she sing so well while crying so hard? How can anyone produce that many tears to a simple guitar and organ accompaniment?

Imagine watching that muted while running in the fourth mile of a six mile distance workout with Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" playing in your ears. Because that is exactly what happened to me. Lavigne tackles the same moral and social quandary as Sugarland, but from a completely opposite perspective. The conflict causes a stunning confusion.

While tears are flowing on screen and rosary beads clutched tighter for prayer, the sound in my ears tells me to go away. The girl on screen is resigned, the girl in my MP3 player is taking control. The girl on screen is wearing white to Lavigne's black.

Maybe the conflict was a good thing because it got me thinking about something other than how much treadmills scare me. Then someone changed the channel. Arizona was playing Illinois and the Wildcat's star was having a big game. My player started on something from Nickelback and I continued running.


you can call me batman said...

I not much for treadmills. either. I had a bad experience as a small child.

guitarbob said...

nickelback is lame...
to YCCMB, i wish you had video of that... i would die

Kirk said...

I counted five guys on the treadmills today at my campus gym. There were five guys, one girl, and nine treadmills.
Actually, all the women congregate on the elliptical trainers at my gym.

Mrs. L said...

While I am sure that it is extremely ego-gratifying for a male to have two women fighting over him - where does that fit into your worldview? Is that the kind of woman you are REALLY looking for? Not that the blabbering cry-baby would be any better...dignity, honor, respect - if they aren't there at the beginning, they won't be there in the end.