Columnist

Mike Buzzelli is a stand-up comedian and published author. His book, "Below Average Genius" is a collection of essays culled from his weekly humor column here in the Observer-Reporter.

Now that I’m vaccinated, I have rejoined the gym. I’ve gone every day. In just one month, I’ve lost ... $35.

Warning: This starts with a dad joke and goes downhill.

My return to the gym has been a cautious one. I’m staying away from the aerobics classes. I can’t imagine jumping up and down in an enclosed space, bending and stretching on used yoga mats, sweating with strangers.

Mostly, I ride the bike and “swim” in the pool. OK, I don’t really swim. I walk around in the water. It’s just a stroll through the pool. I hope to transition to swimming when my arm is better.

Earlier this year, I developed tendonitis. It was difficult to stretch out my right arm. It only hurt when I would reach up to grab something from the top shelf. No Grey Goose for me. I wasn’t ready to swim laps in the Olympic-sized swimming pool. But I wanted to be in the water.

I get in the pool and squat, to ensure that my shoulders are submerged (I get chilly). The water is only 4 feet 6 inches at its deepest, but I stay crouched down so that the water comes up to my chin. My head is the only part of me exposed. I walk down the lane, pivot and return. From far away, my head looks like a rubber duck at a shooting gallery.

Out of the water, I am the stuffed teddy bear prize.

I ride the bike like a normal person. The gym has cordoned off the stationary cycles. To align with COVID protocols, every other one is in use. Since I am vaccinated, I take off my mask when I’m sure there is no one nearby. Otherwise, the huffing and puffing would knock me unconscious.

The other day, I coughed. I’ve had a persistent cough for years now. It is a dry hack.

Ironically, Dry Hack is the nickname given to me by critics of this column.

But I digress, like I do. My dry cough is a combination of two distinct factors; it comes from my lactose intolerance and love of a good Gruyere. It is not COVID-related. It’s cheddar-related.

I went into a coughing jag at the gym and people fled from me like I was Godzilla attacking Tokyo. I got the evil stare. That same menacing look you give strangers when they’ve committed a social faux pas. The stare you give people who cut in line. The glare you give people who don’t use turn signals. The glower you give people who pull their checkbook out after the cashier has totaled their items.

I don’t blame them. I don’t wear an “I’m vaccinated” badge. How are they to know? I’m not about to tell total strangers that I can’t process cheese.

I wonder if I can ride the bike and suck on a lozenge at the same time. It sounds above my skill set, but I’m going to have to give it a whirl.

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