It began with a barbell. A solitary rusted-out barbell that sat under our neighbor R.'s white pickup truck with the faked "Delivery Vehicle" placard (there so he could double park.) I wondered if it was leftover from his Garage Sale days. Every Saturday, R. would haul out odds and ends - a white pleather sofa with cigarette burns, a lone bicycle tire, a side table missing a leg. It wasn't until we saw the selection of little boys' clothes and board games that we became concerned. There haven't been children in this building for over 40 years. Y'know how there's always one person in your apartment complex that you think sure, he could be a serial killer...well, in our complex, we have more than one. But this guy topped the list.
Will asked R. point-blank where the clothes had come from, and he told us that he had been dumpster-diving in Beverly Hills. Someone had told him that Garage Sales were where the money was at, and he was certain rich people in Beverly Hills threw away perfectly good stuff. We were thankful that we weren't going to have to bring in the police to find a stash of boys' underwear under his bed, but everyone in the building came to the same consensus: moving trash a couple of zip codes doesn't make it treasure. The Garage Sales stopped, and R. returned to doing whatever it is he does.
Which brings us back to the barbell. It rolled back and forth between the cracks in the driveway, shedding flakes of rust like a snakeskin. I've lived here long enough to know not to touch it. Clearly someone had a plan for this barbell. I just had to wait it out.
Sure enough, a few weeks later I pulled into the driveway to see another neighbor, P. working with the barbell. He was alternating biceps curls with swings from the bottle of Stella that sat on the bumper of R.'s white pickup truck. If the number of empty bottles were any indication, he'd been through a regular Ironman workout.
I climbed out of the car. Hey, P.
Y'wanna work in? he asked.
Nah, I'm good. The beer's a nice touch, though.
It's what Hulk Hogan does.
I couldn't disagree.
Over the next few weeks I noticed other people had joined him. Our neighbor G. added a rusted chair for dips, and the guy without teeth who doesn't live here but who always hangs out in our backyard is always handy with a spot. Morning, noon, and night someone's out there throwing around some iron, swigging a beer, and washing themselves off in our hose. Instead of going around the building to his side door, P. climbs in and out of the open window of his apartment to adjust the music and fetch another six-pack.
The biggest excuse for not going to the gym is that it's not convenient. I have no excuse.
There's a 24-Hour Hobo Fitness. In my own backyard.
More on the hobos here.