Having done my part to help re-elect my class president, I noticed that one of the ongoing projects for 2007’s USG officers was “Working on plans for a new Dillon Gym.” When I saw this, I was extremely excited. There’s nothing I’d like more than to see certain facets of Dillon ameliorated. I couldn’t care less about the basketball court, or the multi-purpose room, or the squash court, or the pool, or the dance studio, or the locker rooms. All that needs to be fixed, in my mind, is the Stephens Fitness Center.

USG, if you’re out there, there are a few things about that sweat-and-rubber-scented place that really burn me up. I’m not sure exactly what can be done about these particular irritations, but if you can keep them in mind when the building is overhauled, then—even though I’ll have graduated and settled into a stable career that brings me perpetual joy and success—I will return just to use the fitness center without these hassles. Then, and only then, will I truly be happy.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s seen this, but there are a few standout characters at the fitness center. These are the people I like to call Anorexic Grandma, Father Time, and Late-Life Crisis. First of all, having such gym celebrities is distracting in itself. Every time I see Anorexic Grandma, a tiny, unhealthy thin (yet scarily jacked) middle-aged woman, walk by, I involuntarily stop to think about what the hell she must have done to construct such a body. And then I have to force myself not to yell at her for over-exerting herself. When I retire, I might continue to work out, but I’m not going to stop eating at the same time.

Father Time’s situation is similar, although instead of being in perfect shape, he looks as if every rep could be his last. I don’t know why he’s doing this to himself, but he always looks like he’s in such pain whenever he forces his body to lift anything heavier than his own feet that I worry he’s about to keel over. And sometimes he’s standing right in front of me when he’s working out, and I can’t help but stare at the guy. He’s always at the gym by himself, and he’s always there for a long time. And each time he gets ready to put his body through momentary torture, he takes a dozen deep breaths just to prepare himself. He’s fucking freaking me out, and it needs to stop. I don’t want to be in that gym the day he sits down on the ab-machine and doesn’t get back up.

Late-Life Crisis is a completely different story. This is the guy who, ancient as he is, walks around with a smirk and an earring in his left ear. This is a cool old dude. Of the three Dillon standouts I’ve mentioned so far, Late-Life Crisis is the only one I would love to actually speak to. However, I don’t go to the gym to speak to people. Or gaze admirably at them, as I do with regard to LLC, which means that, as cool as he is, he is simply another distraction that I could definitely do without.

Speaking of distractions, why do people feel the need to talk to each other at the gym? More specifically, why does anyone talk to me at the gym? There’s a reason I have my iPod turned up to the max. If you can hear my music, I can’t hear you. It’s quite simple. Yet people decide to start conversations with me. And then I have to take my earphones out, pause my music, and ask my co-conversator to repeat whatever it is he’s just said. If it’s a one-line remark, fine, you’re allowed that much leeway. And if you decide you want to give me fitness advice, you’re telling me things I already know, but I can’t complain here because I do the same thing. But I don’t care how your night was on Saturday. Or how nice it is outside. And I especially don’t want to hear about the motherfucking ALCS for millionth time. Not while I’m at the gym. All I care about there is making my arms, legs, chest, and abs burn, and if you’re talking to me, you’re not helping, so you should stop.

I can’t say I’ve never been guilty of this myself, but it seems that our perpetually beautiful population is also incredibly insecure. Case in point, the absurd amount of staring in mirrors at the gym. And I don’t just mean the requisite “look-how-much-I-can-scrunch-my-face” staring while you’re lifting, I mean the superfluous flexing that people try to do inconspicuously. You know, when people walk over to the mirror to “stretch” but manage to stay in front of it for a few minutes. Stop kidding yourself. I see you. And when I see you, I laugh at your pitiful lack of confidence and then get back to curling 60 pounds so that I can stay pretty.

And so, powerful Princetonians, I ask that you at least remember what I’ve said here when it comes time to make decisions about the changes you might make to Dillon. If I come back from my stable career to see that the Dillon celebrities are still around, or that I still can’t keep people from talking to me, or that the population is still so full of prima donnas, then it’s your ass. So make the changes, and we’ll all be much better off.

On an extremely different note, I also want to say that the world lost a wonderful comedian on March 30th. Mitch Hedberg, who died at only 37 of apparent heart failure, was one of the main reasons I didn’t get swallowed whole by my freshman year. Thanks for the hilarity, Mitch, and enjoy that broken escalator to heaven.