Thursday, April 30, 2009

Beauty Misadventures: Smooth Away Layers of Skin!

Dear No One in Particular,

I am a huge fan of infomericals. I think they're hilarious, and if they're good (or at the very least, ubiquitous), I'll consider buying whatever they're shilling. I blame this on my mother, who is Billy Mays's dream customer. She'll buy almost anything, so long as she can convince herself she really does need a special chair to help her wiggle her way to a smaller waist. But this isn't about her -- not yet, at least.

Ok some background information: I am a hirsute lady. I'm not about to join a sideshow or anything, but I've always been aware of -- and therefore painfully self-conscious of -- my general furriness. No joke, I've met men with less arm hair than me.*
Only recently have I adopted an "Eh, fuck it" attitude about these things, but that changed when I saw the informercial for that best-selling European depilatory product, Smooth Away. $10 and I can have the hairless arms I've always wanted?! Jiminy Cricket was right: when your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme. My request? Not looking like Teen Wolf.

About a week after my television beamed video of some toothy dame gleefully rubbing her hair off her arm into my living room, I traipsed into my local As Seen On TV store and was greeted with the glorious sight of a Smooth Away display. I eagerly grabbed one of the shiny pink-and-white boxes, daydreaming of my soon-to-be naked arms.

When I got home, I opened up the package to find a little blue plastic oval with something that looked like fine-grain sandpaper stuck to one side. It reminded me a bit of a curry comb, only more industrial.
I decided to try it out on my legs before I moved to virgin territory. I followed the directions, gently rubbing the Smooth Away in circular motions over my skin. It took a bit of time, but it did what it advertised: it removed the hair and left smooth, if slightly grey, skin in its place.
So emboldened, I went to town on my forearms. Again, it took some time (probably somewhere in the vicinity of 45 minutes) and a lot of effort, but my arms! They were bare! I danced around my apartment singing "Nooo hair! Nooo hair!" for about five minutes before the burning set in.

That's right: burning.

I don't know why I was so surprised (although, in my defense, the ad did say it was "painless"), since I was rubbing my hair off with "superfine crystals". My arms hurt so badly, the Boy suggested I apply some aloe vera to soothe the irritated skin. I don't know what happened, but "soothe" the aloe did not. It felt like I had dipped my arms into carbolic acid. I spent the rest of the night with ice packs on my forearms, whimpering about what went wrong.

We eventually chalked it up to applying too much pressure when rubbing with the Smooth Away pad. It sounded plausible enough, so a week later, after the burning subsided and the hair grew back, I (idiotically) tried again. Despite my best efforts to be as gentle as possible, the burning returned, and this time, it brought friends! Along with the pain, redness and rash decided to join the party. More weeping, more ice packs, etc. I decided that the Smooth Away people were sadists -- rich sadists, no doubt -- and liars, so I ended up tossing the whole lot.

Two weeks later, I get a call from my mother.**

Mom: You know that hair remover you bought? Rub Off? Hair Away?
Me: Close; Smooth Away. What about it?
Mom: I saw it at Walgreens and decided to try it!
Me: What? Why? I told you about what happened to me.
Mom: Yes, but that was you. I wanted to try it anyway. So, I bought it a while ago but I forgot I had it until last night. I wanted to try it on my moustache.***
Me: Oh God.
Mom: So I rubbed like the thing said and it hurt!
Me: Why didn't you believe me? I told you.
Mom: [swears that I shall not translate] And then, when I woke up this morning, it was all red! Really, really RED. And I had little ... you know, spots? Like pimples. ALL ON MY UPPER LIP.
Me: *can't breathe, I'm laughing so hard*
Mom: WHY YOU LAUGH? DON'T LAUGH. I had pimples! RED PIMPLES all over my lip. I didn't know what to do! Oh God, Aman, I had a big meeting this afternoon, and I was talking to, you know, a manager, and she couldn't stop staring at my lip! She was giving me this ... look ... like she was so grossed out. She was so grossed out.
Me: *gasping for breath* Stop! I have to go to the bathroom!
Mom: Oh. My. God, I looked AWFUL. It kept getting worse as the day went on, too. And that's not the worst part.
Me: You're kidding.
Mom: I was talking to my coworker, and I told her about the Smooth Away, and how it made my skin blister and she said "Oh, thank God. I was going to ask my husband to get me some tonight, and now I know to stay away." BECAUSE OF ME.
Me: She owes you $10.
Mom: I'm the opposite of a billboard for Smooth Away!

Moral of the story: Smooth Away is terrible. I can't get over how something so simple caused so much pain. For all the irritation, I'd rather wax and have the results last longer.

Anyone else try it and have a positive experience?


*I've also met men who insist on pointing this out. Yes, I have hair on my arms, thank you for pointing that out. You will have intense pain in your groin in 3 ... 2 ...
** She'll probably kill me for telling this story, so shhh! She already thinks I'm the Bad Seed.
***Her word, not mine.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Voices Soft as Thunder

Dear No One in Particular,

A week ago Susan Boyle was not a household name. Now the 47 year-old Glaswegian is all anyone can talk about.* Since I'm an only child, and therefore the centre of the universe, I feel the need to weigh in.

What troubles me about Boyle's newfound fame is this ridiculous obsession with her appearance and its apparent relationship to her ability to carry a tune. Shows like "Britain's Got Talent" and "American Idol" rub me the wrong way because, as much as it is a search for a genuinely gifted individual, it's also freak show: attention seekers and clueless individuals alike are humiliated on national (and now international) television, creating a sort of weeks-long Roman holiday for the tuned-in masses. Naturally, this always works out well.
People are lauding Boyle as this season's Paul Potts: a working class schlub who most unexpectedly turned out to be a hit. Articles on Potts and Boyle often have an oddly reverential tone, as though they triumphed over great adversity -- but, really, they didn't. They overcame grinding mediocrity to become national sweethearts. That's the rub -- they're almost aggressive in their total normality.

Contrary to what people are saying, Boyle is not ugly. Sure, her brows could use a quick pluck and she could benefit from a slightly more flattering frock, but she's not exactly the monstrosity the media is making her out to be. Granted, she won't have a She's All That transformation should she make a threading appointment and slip into a new dress, but she's not climbing down from the bell towers in her current state, either.
So why are her looks as important as her singing voice? When token lady-judge Amanda Holden bestows Boyle with the backhanded compliment "I am so thrilled because I know everybody was against you", you can be sure the audience wasn't rolling their eyes because Boyle lives with a cat named Pebbles**. Why was the state of her hair enough to set an entire nation against this sweet, unassuming Scottish spinster? What shift occurred in our thinking that makes us equate external beauty with talent? Katy Perry is conventionally attractive, yet she doesn't exactly have the voice of an angel. Why, then, are we so ready to dismiss Boyle based on her looks? What prompts Ant or Deck to point at her gleefully and squeal "didn't expect that did you? Did you?! NO!" as she sings?

When I first watched Boyle's audition, I was actually a bit scared that she would be the British version of William Hung. You remember William Hung, right? God, I felt terrible for that man. The optimist in me would like to think that he was in on the joke, yet the realist in me knows this not to be true. Watching so many people laughing at him made me feel like the entire world was back in high school, bullying the poor "weird kid". I hated what happened to Hung, and I really wish that on no one.

There is no doubt in my mind that if Boyle was not in possession of a good singing voice, she would have been laughed off that stage. Hell, she was laughed at the second she walked on.
And here's where I express my most unpopular opinion: I don't think she's that good of a singer. Don't get me wrong, she has a beautiful voice, but she's not exactly blowing my mindgrapes with her rendition of "I Dreamed A Dream". She hits the notes perfectly (though she struggles a bit with the low notes), but there's no oomph. The whole performance, frankly, is a bit reminiscent of karaoke; I don't get a sense of strong emotion driving the song and "I Dreamed A Dream" is all about emotion, you know? It should sound like her heart is breaking with every syllable. I'm sure the standing ovation from the people who, just seconds before, were laughing at her affected her performance, but ... ok, I'm really cynical, but I think that if she had just a so-so voice she would have had audience support, and I think this is because the audience had lowered their expectations of her due to, you guessed it, her appearance.

As it is, Boyle really does have an immense talent and deserves to be praised. But what really floors me is how delighted people are to be proven wrong. If the media is to be believed, Potts and Boyle save us from our shallowness. Just as that teenaged snot in the audience rolled her eyes at Boyle, I can't help but roll my eyes at society: if we are simply giddy over our false judgements, why don't we actually take the necessary steps to remove such misconceptions? Why don't we stop the painful, mortifying auditions for American Idol and its ill-gotten ilk?
Why don't we do as Boyle recommends and learn the big lesson to stop judging a book by its cover. Since that book has no interest in being made over, let's focus on her lovely voice for once.***



Apparently, whether or not Susan Boyle needs a makeover is the talk of the nation -- I just listened to an interview on NPR's Talk of the Nation discussing this very topic. The contributor, Robin Givhan, a fashion editor for the Washington Post (natch), was insisting that Boyle be "polished": pluck her brows, get her hair did, etc. What galls me about this nonsense was Givhan's insistence that this is simply the way the music industry works. Boyle is talented, and will no doubt get a recording contract and then go on tour; she is expected to pretty herself up for her performances and be "the whole package". End of story. Now get in that salon chair, woman, and shut up until you're asked to sing again.

I call bullshit on this. No one is going to buy a ticket to a Susan Boyle concert expecting something on the level of Celine Dion. She isn't going to put a show on the for the masses, she's going to open her mouth and sing -- which is what she should be doing. I still don't see how the thickness of her eyebrows relates to the quality of her singing voice.

Givhan kept pointing out that singers -- really, performers -- are expected to look a certain way, and Susan Boyle does not fit that mold. While Gihvan points out that Boyle is something of a Cinderella story (I don't believe she is, but no matter) for the normal person (a fairytale in which someone who dares to be average reaches above average heights), she seeks to penalise Boyle for that very normality. Boyle has a gift, and we have to pretty up that package in order for her to be anything of interest.
Disgusting, and I can't believe my beloved NPR allowed such ignorant drivel to be spouted on the airwaves. Instead of insisting that this is the way the music industry works and condescendingly patting Boyle on the head, saying oh, it's lovely that you're you, but now you have to change, we should be engaging with why we believe that Boyle needs to slip into some Spanx and have her hair frosted in order to be a worthwhile musician. Again: bullshit. She's a worthwhile musician because she can sing, not because her highlights look nice under the stage lights.

All I'm trying to say is: the question should not be "does Susan Boyle need a makeover?" but rather "why do we insist that she does?"

*The weirdest part about Boyle-mania? My father, who watches only 24 and CNN, knows who she is. Listening to him talk about her is like like listening to Paris Hilton wax intellectual about Keynesian economics.
**For whatever reason, I think 'Pebbles' is the most hilarious cat name ever.
***I love her for refusing a makeover. LOVE her. Her sensibility is refreshing and hopefully contagious.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

If I Were ...

Dear No One in Particular,

I first learned about Isabella Rossellini's new project, Green Porno, through the following quote:
"I was reluctant to do mammals, because they look so similar to us. But what's interesting about the whale is the female puts her vagina on the surface of the water, out of the reach of the male. Then she can see the males fight and she can select which one she likes, and then she turns over and lets him get to her. I thought, I can do that!"
I had no idea what she was talking about, but I wanted to know more.

Green Porno is a webseries hosted by the Sundance Channel. Starring Isabella Rossellini, it chronicles the sex lives of various animals. The first season was all about backyard bugs; the second, which premiered on 1 April, is about marine animals. The videos are super short -- only a couple of minutes long -- but chock-full of information and utterly hilarious.

Rossellini plays the animals featured; she begins each episode saying "If I were a ____", filling in the blank with the creature of the day. Various body parts attach to her, making her a male bee, an earthworm, a right whale. She then earnestly describes and acts out the mating rituals of whatever animal she happens to be, copulating with paper cut-outs or papier mache partners.

The webseries is unlike anything I've ever watched. It's so bizarre, I don't know what to make of it, but I know I like it. The script is fantastically funny -- I now pepper my speech with non sequitur quotes from the show, saying things like "I would light up my ass at night" and "so I don't get screwed by a bear!" -- but always smart. The science of reproduction is first and foremost; the humour and dry wit simply season the science.

Rossellini has said in many interviews that her goal was to make people laugh, but also to educate them. You giggle at the snail's confession "sadomasochism excites me!", while you learn that they shoot daggers at their mates.

My only complaint is that the videos are too short. While, admittedly, there's only so much you can say about starfish sex, the episodes are addictive and engaging. I want more! I only hope that season 2 hasn't finished yet. I want to know more about the sex lives of fish, plankton, whatever brings us more Green Porno.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What's in a Name?

Dear No One in Particular,

Last night, the Boy and I stayed up until 2:30 am talking about baby names.

Hold on -- let me be perfectly clear, in case someone I know finds this: I am not pregnant. I am so far from having children, I am not joking. I don't think I can handle a dog right now, much less a miniature human.

Ok, moving on. Back to the story.

So, for whatever reason, we were talking about what we would name our totally hypothetical future children. I love the Boy, but he's not allowed to name anything. He came up with some really awful options* but my favourite was far and away "Christian" for a boy.

The Boy's last name has very strong ties to the Roman Coliseum. Normally, this is just a neat little factoid about his family history. Yet with the first name "Christian" tacked onto it, it becomes a slightly different story: it is believed that many early Christians were executed in the Coliseum, oddly making it a holy, yet gruesome, place for modern Christians.

The hypothetical name is totally hilarious when taken as a whole, considering the Boy's surname and its connotations to the Coliseum's bloody history. Naturally, the Boy was delighted by the history lesson our hypothetical son's name would bear, especially since this apparently isn't common knowledge? So while most would think nothing of it, a handful would consider us to be either totally insensitive or big fans of gallows humour. I agreed so long as his middle name would be Leo.

Now I can't help but think that if our names shape who we are, what kind of person would a son saddled with such a name be like?


*One of the suggestions? Wyatt. Totally serious. Yes, that would be a perfect name, especially if we have another boy named Jethro. They can play dueling banjos and and run around in overalls with no shirts on.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Epic Fail

Dear No One in Particular,

I arrived rather late to the "AmazonFail" party. I spent most of Easter Sunday either completely unconscious or feverishly delirious. When I became lucid enough to actually read up on the scandal, there were still few facts and a whole lot of theories floating about on the Twitterverse.

For those still unaware, news broke this weekend that online bookstore behemoth was systematically pulling the sales rank numbers from gay and lesbian books, labelling them "adult", thus excluding them from searches and best seller lists. The ramifications of such an action are massive. First of all, labelling such material as "adult" is patently ridiculous, especially since vibrators are available with sales ranks intact. How is a butt plug less "adult" than Ellen Degeneres's biography? Second, due to the massive stripping of sales ranks, when you enter "homosexuality" into Amazon's search engine, the first title that pops up is "A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality"*. I'm not linking to that mess, but as of 7:53 pm Hawaii Time on Monday, 13 April, it was still the #1 spot.

I can't begin to express my rage and bitter sadness. I can do what Amazon claimed they were doing and think of the children. The tortured, scared queer youth who desperately want help coming out to their friends and family that click onto Amazon to find some literature and instead of finding something empowering, like the The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students, they're bombarded with homophobic tripe. That won't just send people back into the closet, it sets them up for a lifetime of depression and intense self-loathing.

This goes beyond Amazon trying to make a statement about homosexuality -- some books, such as Full Frontal Feminism and Chelsea Handler's memoirs don't quite fit the anti-gay purge -- which fits the original excuse offered by Amazon: that this is nothing more than a "glitch". But this fails to address the fact that author Craig Seymour's books were stripped of their sales ranks in FEBRUARY. This is not a weekend "oopsies", like Amazon would have us believe. There's something systematic about this, and it feels slightly sinister.

Amazon controls a LOT of data. They sell more than just books; they're becoming more and more of a lifestyle company: selling you stuff from conception to coffin, and everything in between. I don't believe that this is part of a grand scheme to bring an end to homosexuality (*snort*), but rather, a powerful, persistent push to further the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) and devastating homophobia that pervades societies world wide. And that is incredibly damaging.

Normally, I would give Amazon the benefit of the doubt. Like I said, they control a ton and a half of data: cataloging errors, as they later labelled the issue, are expected, and are expected to wreak utter havoc with the system. But again: this is not the work of a single, slightly inept man in France who mislabelled something during a long weekend. This has been going on for months. And I have no patience for Amazon's shady side-stepping and complete inability to apologize. Their PR department totally mucked this up, making it seem like the company really was up to something nasty, and the hesitation on Amazon's part was more than enough to send the rumour mills a-turning.
Really, I would have given them the benefit of the doubt if it weren't for the fact that Seymour's books were stripped months ago. That, coupled with the non-responses issued by various representatives and total lack of a formal apology, was enough for me to boycott Amazon.

This is a little painful on my end, since I've been a loyal Amazon customer for years. I've purchased many a textbook from them, and I buy at least one Kindlebook every two weeks. Hell, I've even bought lip balm and music through Amazon. I know it's folly to think that my tiny contribution to their bottom line will hurt them, but I can't give my money to a company I can't trust. I'm heading to my local library and independent used bookstores.

Now. If anyone knows how to get e-books for the Kindle without going through Amazon: I'll send you cupcakes and/or brownies. Seriously. The Kindle changed the way I read books, and I almost flipped when I realised that I'd have to tote around a 600 page hardback.


*Let me answer this oh so pressing issue of how parents can prevent homosexuality: don't breed, you homophobic hate-mongers. You're welcome. You may now send me the money you would have spent on the book. Spoiler alert: I'll donate that money to a local LGBT advocacy group!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair

I woke up this morning with an intense bout of homesickess.

I don't know what brought it on. I suppose I had a dream about San Francisco, and the emotions that came to me in sleep carried over into wakefulness.

My friends and I jokingly resent the fact that we were lucky enough to grow up in the Bay Area. To us, it is the perfect place to live: temperate weather, incredibly diverse population, a city nestled between the sea and mountains surrounded by former hippie enclaves. There's no way we can move away and top that. (And we have tried. Trust.)

I also blame the Bay Area for making me a food snob. I see San Francisco as the gastronomic capital of America; the incredible diversity of Bay inhabitants leads to an incredible diversity of restaurants: some serve up deliciously authentic ethnic foods, some are on the cutting edge of culinary trends, some are hole-in-the-wall mom & pop operations serving up French toast so divine you will see God.

Of all the things I miss about the Bay Area -- Chinatown in all its morbidly hilarious glory; gold and red cable cars rumbling up the hills; former hippies mingling with "ironic" hipsters in notorious neighbourhoods; the chill, slightly salty air; stinky, barking, bellowing sea lions; The Palace of Fine Arts's terra cotta dome; passing over the salt flats as the plane dips into SFO; the Berkeley Bulb and the hidden, graffitied castle, perfect for wine and cheese parties -- I miss the food. Cheeseboard, Fentons, Citizen Cake, Kan Zaman, Sol Food -- oh, God, I miss Sol Food! I dream about their tostones. I wish I were kidding -- the entire Ferry Building: I could travel around the Bay Area and never eat the same food twice.

I have rituals whenever I go home; I have to eat at specific restaurants, eat certain foods I can't find in Honolulu. I have to have burritos, I have to visit Sol Food at least once, I have to have Cheeseboard pizza. It doesn't matter who I go with, I just have to eat these things -- these foods -- that I can't help but associate with home.
There is one restaurant, one ritual, that I absolutely have to do with my mother. As soon as I get home -- like, as soon as we get in the car to leave the airport -- we make plans to go to Out the Door. We must share a MANGO PUDDING as soon as possible. That's how we talk about it, in all caps: MANGO PUDDING. "Are you free Friday to get some MANGO PUDDING?" Naturally, they serve other things -- they have the most delectable summer rolls I have ever eaten. Seriously, I hate peanut sauce, but I just about lick the bowl when I order their summer rolls -- but for us, it's all about the MANGO PUDDING.

[all photos via: The Boy]

I haven't lived in the Bay Area for about 3 years now and sometime this summer, I'll be moving back an unemployed college graduate. I don't know what the future holds for me, but I know there will be much eating. Who knows -- I may find myself yearning for Honolulu.

So, no one in particular, is there a place your heart yearns for? Home? A favourite vacation spot? A fantasy home or vacation spot? Share with me and we'll pine together.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

There Must Be Something in Books

This is, perhaps, old news, but I was recently introduced to the heartrending photographs taken at the Detroit Public Schools Book Depository, aka the Roosevelt Warehouse. I spent the last 15 minutes clicking through the set with my heart in my throat.
Granted, Jim is an incredible photographer, but it's the sheer destruction of the book depository that causes me to tear up. I still can't get over it.

My first reaction was "what the hell happened?" Apparently, it was everyone's first reaction. Jim wrote up an incredibly detailed history of the depository and the series of events that eventually led to the ruins that we see today. Short answer (in case you don't want to read the whole story, which you really should): a major fire ravaged the warehouse in 1987, seemingly destroying everything, causing officials to abandon the wreckage; it later became apparent that not all supplies had been destroyed, leaving perfectly good textbooks and much-needed school supplies abandoned. The building was eventually purchased by a local magnate, but the building and its contents were left to the elements, vandals, drug addicts, and Detroit's increasing homeless population. While the warehouse was once ridiculously easy to break into, security measures were tightened (albeit superficially) only after a frozen corpse was recovered at the bottom of an elevator shaft.

In another post detailing his photographing the book depository, Jim muses that he is "struck by the way people respond in the comments with a sense of 'sadness'". He goes on to ask his readers:
why is it "sad" for a building to be left to decay if there is no one willing to use it? Can decay be something more than sentimental? Can it ever be beautiful? Can it just be respected for what it is, and not further corrupted by our emotions? And what is it that draws us to ruination? Why do some of us find it so compelling?

My sadness, if you can call it that, stems not from the fact that this old building is crumbling. It comes more from the history of it, the stories of the people whose very lives revolved around the building and its contents. Detroit is the quintessential blue-collar city, and it is impossible for me to remove the workers from the warehouse when I click through the photographs. I can't help but imagine the warehouse floors free of decay and bustling with workers. Distribution records, charred along the edges, but still legible, litter the floors. Someone spent their day filling out forms; someone spent their day moving boxes. 1986 feels so far gone, yet it's only recently passed. I wonder what happened to the people who woke up one morning and started their day like it was any other, only to watch their livelihood go up in flame -- literally. Did they simply move to another depository, or were they forced into the unemployment line, trying to find another marketable skill?

Yet what really slays me are the abandoned supplies. Granted, the fire destroyed quite a bit of the warehouse's contents -- what wasn't burnt was severely water damaged, but so much was simply written off as unsalvageable. Mountains of unwrapped textbooks still on pallets are now covered in mold; it's pretty easy to see that these books were perfectly fine at the time of the fire -- why weren't they redistributed? Some workbooks appear to have sustained minimal damage, 20+ years later.
Detroit is one of nation's poorest school districts. Administrators are sensationalist newspapers' darlings, never failing to provide scandal purchased with money from the district budget. My heart aches not for the ruined building, but for the children whose futures went up in smoke and/or were simply abandoned. Student achievement scores are sickeningly low and it is impossible to pretend that this is a recent occurrence -- 47% of adults in the Motor City are functionally illiterate. How many of these men and women would have benefited from the piles upon piles of unused material found in the book depository?
I must admit, this is a subject that is close to my heart. I once taught in an outreach program for at-risk youth. The kids were incredibly smart, but because of poor living situations and because they weren't receiving the necessary attention in school, they were falling through the cracks. 14 year-olds couldn't tell time on an analog clock, could barely write a simple sentence. And while I was far from working in the nation's most financially-needy school district, I didn't always have enough books or worksheets for the kids. Paints and markers were purchased with our own money -- and we didn't make that much. The sight of all those unused school supplies makes me bitterly angry and sad.
The photos stand as a testament to the failures of the system, of, as Jim puts it, "abandoned hope". I look at the pictures and see so much waste: wasted chalk, wasted paper, wasted opportunities.

But of course, there's always some silver lining. Some of my favourite photos from the set are of a tree called the "ghetto palm" growing from a soil made of burned textbooks. While the destruction is heartbreaking, there is something poetic and beautiful about some life bursting from the ruin.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

"Gym" comes from the Latin for "nest of neuroses"

Dear 24 Hour Fitness Employees and 'Roidy Bodybuilders:

This concerns both of you so I'm saving time by writing a single letter. So come, sit, and listen to some damn sense.

Dropping weights is against the rules of the gym. I know this because it is posted all over the place, along with all the other rules. I know the employees know this because no doubt they were the ones who had to paste the little plaques on the walls, and it's probably knowledge imparted to them during their training sessions. And I know that the bodybuilders know this because they have eyes. I'm certain they can read, otherwise how did they manage to get a gym membership?

So what gives with the dropping the weights?

I have four words for the bodybuilders: cut that shit out. Now.
Ok, that was five, but my point still stands. It's really dangerous; if you let an enormous amount of weight drop from a great height, you could shatter the weights. Some poor granny or teenager with an eating disorder could be seriously injured because you had to prove that you were the manliest man that ever manlied. Not to mention that you could totally wreck the floors, forcing the gym to shut down while they repair all the costly damage. I like my gym. I hate the one downtown; the whole building is too narrow and the cardio room is constantly flooding. If my gym is shut down because you just had to lift all 200+ lbs in the chest press machine, I will hire a donkey ride, track you down, and end it all.
I know you're oh so proud of your bulging muscles and the fact that your bicep is larger than both my thighs put together, but honestly. There is no reason for you to grunt like a warthog in heat while squatting a tour bus and then dropping the weight on the floor while roaring at the top of your lungs. Stop it. You are not Simba, and this is not Pride Rock. Common courtesty will go a lot farther than your overdeveloped trapezius.

And gym employees, don't think you're off the hook. I haven't even begun to show my rage.
I'm so sorry if doing your job is such an inconvenience, but please. I know you can hear them dropping weights. I know you can feel them dropping weights. The entire gym rattles like an elephant just jumped up and down. The first time it happened, I almost fell off the elliptical, partly out of shock and partly due to the shockwave reverberating through the floorboards.
We all know you know this is against the rules. So please enforce them. I get it -- you're afraid to incite the roid rage and damn, those men are SCARY. They could easily break you like a toothpick using their pinky finger. But for the sake of the rest of the gym patrons, do your job and tell off the obnoxious ones. It's what you're paid for.

If we follow the rules (which are there for safety, not to inconvenience you) going to the gym could be -- dare I say it? Enjoyable.


P.S. To the men with the overdeveloped forearms: stop. I like well-defined arms on a man as well as the next girl, but you're overdoing it. It's starting to look like your only hobby is masturbation, which is not a chick magnet, no matter what you read on the internet. xoxo