Thursday, April 30, 2009

Why I Hate Telemundo

On Sunday afternoons, the New York Sports Club at 94th St. is invariably packed. Those who attempt to use cardio equipment must wait in line and stare awkwardly at the wall while, aboard rows of treadmills, voluminous individuals undulate in simple harmonic motion, oblivious to both their hygiene and the thirty-minute time limit. If you’re exceptionally lucky, there will be a treadmill available, maybe even a Star Trac Pro. That was the case today. My exceptional luckiness, however, was purely illusive.

The Star Trac Pro is no ordinary treadmill, oh no. In addition to the standard features (a tread that mills), it boasts a fan to keep you cool, an emergency stop button to keep you alive, and a personal television, complete with remote. The screen is on the small side, but, since it’s so close to your face, the effect is IMAX. Normally, I keep the television off so that world news doesn’t distract me from the musicals playing on my iPod. (Today was “Call Me Madam” and its sequel “Call Me Mister.” Heterosexuals: you don’t know romance until you hear Ethel Merman croon/shout a love ballad to a man fifteen years her junior.) Upon mounting the treadmill, however, I noticed that the remote control was broken. This wouldn’t have been a problem but for the fact that the television was (a) on and (b) tuned to Telemundo.

Since no other treadmills (let alone Star Trac Pros) were available, I attempted to jog while ignoring the images that flashed before my nose. When this proved impossible, I reluctantly watched what was, I think, an infomercial for A&Y, the Telemundo version of Proactiv. For half an hour, a matronly spokeswoman (“matronly” is code for “having large hair”) interviewed people in varying degrees of undress whom A&Y had transformed from hideous (“Antes”) to passable (“Despues”). All it required was A&Y, flattering lighting, and lots of makeup.

With one mile of treadmilling left, the infomercial ended, and Telemundo’s next program began. Its title was, as best as I could understand, “Women in Bikinis Hump Cars.” I do not like women. I do not like bikinis. I do not like cars. Mix any two, you have hell. Mix three, and it’s Telemundo. For seven minutes and thirty seconds, large-bosomed women gyrated in swimsuits that were formfitting to the point of subcutaneity. The camera would zoom in on bulbous regions and hover there while, in a split-screen, anchors interviewed the gyratee with questions I imagined to be, “How does that top support your bounty? As you age, do you worry about continental drift?”

Soon, I grew concerned about the female gymgoers walking behind me. What if they glanced at my screen and saw the Telemundo programming which, by the minute, grew more and more mammarous? What would they think of it? What would they think of me? I wanted to cry, “You don’t understand! I don’t want women to be objectified. I want them to wear burkhas and conceal all evidence of their femininity, be it breasty or bloody.” To their dubious gaze, I would shout, “Don’t judge me by Telemundo! I’m not a misogynist. For God’s sake, I’m listening to a show about your kind: ‘Call Me Madam’!” But you can’t shout things in a gym, at least not without appearing crazy, so I had to brainstorm a different tack:

Could I look at the screen in a way that conveyed, yes, I was watching boobs, but I was watching them ironically? Could I jab the remote to demonstrate that the current programming was beyond my control? Could I play up the gay card by jogging with a loosened wrist, humming the musical playing on my iPod, making out with the man on the treadmill next to me? (No dice on the last one. He was watching Telemundo.)

Time slows down when you’re in suspended awkwardness, and that final mile seemed the longest I had ever run. But, just as all good things come to an end, so do all things involving large televised breasts. At last, I was finally free to retreat to the showers and, more importantly, to suppress the previous five miles, 37:30 minutes, and 703 calories of my life.

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