Twinkle, twinkle, little health club

Who should walk into the men's locker and glimpse me in all my glory? None other than Kramer himself, Michael Richards.

Published June 30, 2000 7:00PM (EDT)

Dear Button,

Working out can pay off, even if you don't lose fat and gain muscle -- I'm living proof. About two weeks ago, I returned to the gym hoping to discharge some of the goo that had accumulated around my middle since I hyperextended my knee in February. Climbing back on that horse was difficult. I was winded before I walked in the door.

But there was light at the end of the treadmill. As I glumly suited up for what promised to be 90 minutes of confidence-shattering misery, who should walk into the men's locker and glimpse me in all my glory? None other than Kramer himself, Michael Richards. He moved past me with grace and ease, casually yet deliberately averting his eyes. Wisely deciding that this was hardly the moment for an introduction, I let a pithy joke about my own Kramer go unsaid.

Now, this was not my first encounter with star power at the gym. Several months earlier, I had seen David Hasselhoff in all of his glory, sort of. I was heading out to the balcony for a stretch in the fresh air when I ran smack into a view of some guy's ass as he leaned over the railing, chirping into a cellphone. Not unlike a Randy Johnson brush-back pitch, his jeans were riding unfathomably high and deep. They formed, in fact, an unspeakable crevice, shadowy and strange enough to possess a magnetic power all its own. I didn't mean to look at his ass, I had no choice. My eyes were literally sucked in.

Thank God he turned around. The spell was broken, only to be replaced by my incredulity at discovering the identity of the possessor of said crevice. Then, before I could get a handle on the situation, he was gone, and I was left with only a vague, nauseated, empty feeling.

Experience has taught me that star sightings, like jetliner accidents, happen in threes. Now that the Messrs. Hasselhoff and Richards had been spotted, I wondered who would be next. So, armed with Walkman and towel, I hit the stairs with a little spring in my step. I had decided, you see (it's my fantasy world, after all), that the third star I saw at the gym would be a young, beautiful, single woman wearing a form-fitting workout number. She would be at the top of those stairs on that very same day, and she would be really glad to see me.

But I was wrong.

I set the pace on the treadmill a little higher than usual in order to get the whole thing over with. It didn't help; I just sucked wind all the harder. Then, just as my anguish plumbed new depths, she plopped herself down on the stationary bike right in front of me -- Stevie Nicks!

OK, Stevie Nicks was not exactly who I had in mind, but still, I found myself wanting to buckle down for Stevie. After all, she had given me "Landslide," so she deserved better than to have to suffer through the pitiful sound of my gasping. So I started humming "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" and ran like a man.

Is that ludicrous enough for you? I've done worse. Case in point: Bernie Taupin's birthday party. Matt, Trey and I had met Bernie, who is Elton John's lyricist, at a recording studio when he and Elton were recording a song for "South Park's Chef Aid" album. This was just what I tried to remind Bernie of as I shook his hand at the party in the packed Sunset Room, with the music blaring. He immediately cut me off by introducing me to his daughter and her friend. As a guest of a guest at this hoedown, Taupin does not care about me, nor should he. I am an idiot. But part of me wants to connect with him, hang out, be cool, have a story to tell. It's just that my story sucks.

To make matters worse, I run into Davey Johnstone, who has been playing guitar for Elton for about 30 years. We had met at the same recording studio, and again backstage at a concert he and Elton played at the Anaheim Pond two years ago. So, of course, I try to remind Davey that we've met, because I don't learn. He cuts me off by introducing me to his girlfriend. Trey and I stand with them for a few awkward moments before I get up the courage to ask Davey what he's up to these days. He tells me he's been teaching guitar. This response opens the door for me to say perhaps the stupidest thing I have ever said.

"Do you find it rewarding?"

I can't really blame Davey for the look he gave me. Finally, he laughed, said "Yeah" and walked away.

What I had meant to add to the end of the sentence was "... or do you want to get back to touring?" which would have made it a different question entirely.

I was feeling pretty stupid when I climbed back into the trusty A4. The fact that Trey was following his own Scotch-fueled agenda suggested he had not witnessed the gaffe. He slid the Kottonmouth Kings into the CD player, rolled down the front windows and cranked the volume, eager to see the looks on all the stodgy old faces as we pulled away. The ubiquitous glares of condescension boosted my spirits, and by the time we hit Sunset, I was pounding on the dash screaming "Bump! Bump-bump! That's the sound of the '50s while they're hittin' in my trunk!" Whether Trey saw me bonk with Davey or not, my boy always looks out for me.



By David Goodman

David Goodman, like Steven Spielberg before him, grew up in Haddonfield, N.J. He writes for "South Park" and is the editor of

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