There are places in this world that are like no other. These configurations of elements and designs coalesce into a realm that exists in one place only. To visit one is to ponder, “How can such a thing possibly exist?” Such is the state of my apartment complex’s recreation room.
My title for it looks more like a mathematical location, but The (W)Rec(k) Room is too much of a hodgepodge to express otherwise. To enter the room, you walk past the landlord’s office and enter through the office door. If it is outside of office hours or you are just that anti-social, you can go to the red door on the side.
Management decided to paint all the doors in the complex the creepiest of all colors. Not just red; deep, dark, disturbing, Passover Feast-red. This hue resembles ketchup that has crusted on the countertop after a hotdog bananza. Its location on a color wheel is nearby the look of blood on a Kleenex two hours after the nose has stopped bleeding. Yes, there is nothing quite as soothing as coming home when the day is done, having survived all the traffic, all the stress of work, and having the first sight you see at your domicile be one that reminds you of carnage.
To enter said door, one need only type in the code. Sounds simple enough. That is, if management has not changed the code recently. They do this sporadically. (Read: when a sketchy resident moves out or when tomfoolery occurs.) Sometimes it is once a year, sometimes it is twice in one month. Roll the dice and take your chances.
Next up, the door has to have adequate battery life. There is no high-tech wire backup to this door mechanism, only batteries. The more popular the room is, the greater the risk that the motor will conk out. There is a keyhole, but one’s apartment key will not work. Again, you simply hope that it works out in your favor.
As soon as the door opens, the first thing that meets ones’ eyes is the support beam. Because nothing says roomy and airy like a two-by-two column blocking your path. This, by the way, is the only support beam in the entire room. Every other section is supported by walls. They chose that place, that prime location, to greet you upon entry.
Posted on that post are a framed copy of the rules and stipulations. The paper the rules are on? Why yes, that is red too. (It must be why they framed it, so no ketchup could spoil the virgin dyes already hard at work.) The list is rather typical. Only residents are allowed, consult a doctor if needed, make sure that if you are a middle-aged person who is overworked and burdened with stress that you have someone to stand over your sagging belly and slap you back into consciousness after the treadmill has thrown you backwards and knocked you unconscious. Standard boilerplate.
Slightly to the left of the entrance are the weight machines. Military press, leg lifts; several heavy-duty options are available on one industrial-strength, sturdy looking, clump of steel and iron. It will not win any aesthetic awards, but it has yet to kill anyone. Officially.
In the corner are a pull-up station, a cruches bench, and a TotalGym.
There is one catch to our apartment’s TotalGym. No metal cord. You have me to thank for that. I was rowing away. It was about 5:30 in the morning, my arms were circling away when- SNAP! That little sucker went and broke on me. Contrary to popular belief, two partially frayed cords lying on both sides of a machine are not as desirable as one solid cord running through it. I informed the landlady about this and she stated that she would order a new one.
That was about three years ago. (To be fair, in that time I have been gifted a new garbage disposal, a new washer/dryer combo, and a new water heater. For free. I figure I’m still on top.)
To the left of all this muscular enhancing gear is the restroom. The door there is the only one that residents can open, and thankfully, lock. Do not get too comfortable in there, for somewhat discreetly (i.e., I’m tall enough that I can see it) is a key wedged into the top of the doorframe. Enjoy some privacy, but do not get carried away.
The curious thing about the bathroom is that it is twice as big as any resident’s. It is essentially a long hallway and one passes each station as they enter. First off is a counter with sink and a mirror, decorated with a wall of small mirrors. (In frames, of course.) After that is a walled off toilet. After that are the spare folding table, cupboard, and shower. I have never had cause to use the shower, but it has a shower curtain and the mop and bucket that have taken up residence in it seem quite comfortable.
After checking ones’ weight on the scale slyly stashed under the sink, one opens the door and sees an exercise bicycle. If you desire a free-wheeling experience with no digital display and no resistance whatsoever, then go to town. However, if you are looking for a more rugged workout, you will need some batteries. D batteries. Whatever company designed this contraption must have been a subdivision of Duracell. That is right, travel back to the days when you carried your stereo around town with you and spent half of your music budget on monstrous D batteries that made up half the weight in themselves.
There are a few more exercise options as the resident walks back towards the post. There is the yoga mat that the cute twenty-something gal likes to use. There are the free weights that lay scattered about here and there. And resting in whatever spot it rolled to last, is the exercise ball. Use it for crunches, bounce up and down on it, or fantasize what it would be like to pop it as your least-favored coworker rolls back and forth while typing up endless memos.
To the right of that entrance (Hi again, beam!) are the leg-machines. Closest to the window is the treadmill. And as we all know, treadmills should not exist. Unless they are Cosmic Treadmills.
Alas, here is one. You can even look at the read out and see that the last person took 47 minutes to walk 1.98 miles. One can only assume that it is .01 miles to their door and .01 back.
After that is an elliptical. And beside that? Another elliptical! That is right folks! Why spend your time walking around on the lovely lakeside trail (located all of a half mile away) with the one you love when you can coup yourself up in doors? Why, it even faces a giant TV! All the comforts of home, all the exercise, none of the nature. Ahem. I think I have made my point.
The couches sit in front of the elliptical machines and treadmill, with perhaps the least comfortable throw cushions known to man. There is a metal plate in the middle of each cushion which is pulled tightly enough that the central point feels hollow. I, being the logical person, throw the throw-pillow aside. And to the left of the couches is the massage chair.
Happily, the massage chair works quite well. As a chair. The massage parts seem to have rubbed the wrong way. Last time I tried to use it, it made a grinding noise. When the massage machine has more knots and noises than your back, it is time to give it up.
Finally, and most entertaining to me, is the kitchen. The right part consists of three things. There are linoleum floors, and desk, and a computer. The computer itself is hilarious. The managers have password protected it from downloads and such. Unhappily, they did this after it was too late.
With multiple residents, multiple skillsets among them, and little use in being responsible (think of how rental cars are treated and apply those techniques), the computer has pretty much called it quits. The internet is possibly the slowest connection known to man. However, that is offset by the fact that the hard drive is long gone. It has a blue screen of death that I have never seen before. Back before I paid for internet, I hoped for a solid twenty minutes of computer help. Many days that was optimistic. It makes for a great conversation piece, though.
On the left side is the kitchen proper. There are notes asking residents not to eat or drink anything that is not theirs. However, when I looked in the freezer a few days ago, I saw a half-eaten box of lemon squares. Those were given out as a little treat to each resident. Frighteningly, that was in mid-December. Perhaps they need help eating those? And if they need those cut into small pieces, there is always the knife.
That knife is always there. With all the signs asking people not to take food, there is not a single one about the knife. The blade is the length of my forearm. What the sam hill this thing is doing sitting out on the kitchen countertop 24/7/365, I have no idea. I do find it mildly terrifying though. It seems like a scene from a horror movie waiting to happen. Either that, or Crocodile Dundee.
Now, do not get me wrong. I appreciate The (W)Rec(k) Room. I really do. I have never paid for a gym membership and this room is part of that. I did not ask for it when I signed the lease, it was simply a perk. The weights work. I get the exercise benefits of a gym and none of the crowds.
Part of that might be the fact that the denizens skew older. Or, it might be the fact that I like to be in there at five a.m. and most find that notion abhorrent. Regardless, nine times out of ten I have the place all to myself. No gym I have heard of can offer that.
Also, a TV is nice to have when you want to watch a program and you refuse to pay for cable. But c’mon. This room is full of quirks! It is a mish-mash of wacky, zany, kooky devices all crammed into one space. Sometimes I look around and shake my head is disbelief.
If you are now curious enough to visit, I am allowed to take a guest with me. We could have a Crawling through the W(Rec)kage Tour! Of course, given the inherent unpredictability of the room, it could all turn Horribly Awry.