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Date With Girl From The Gym

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Arguing with a girl I met, going out with her, arguing more, and not getting a second date.

Age Rating:

I was on the stair master, level fourteen.

A girl got on the machine next to me. I put a hard look on my face. She turned hers up.

I turned mine to fifteen.

I think she was on nine. Then ten.

She went to eleven.

I went to sixteen.

“Come on—Push! It’s like having a baby!”

I thought that was funny. She kind of grimaced at me and her hand moved toward the button to turn it up but she didn’t.

“Hi, Franz, trigonometromy major, it’s great to meet you.”

“Trigonometromy?” she raised a quizzical eyebrow.

“It’s the vegan interpretation of trigonometry. We think it’s more inclusive to … vegans. You’re not a lesbian, are you?”

“No, I’m not a lesbian.”

“You get that a lot?”

“Now and then.”

“Funny, you’re too pretty—you must really just hate men, am I right?”

“I don’t hate men.” she said and set her eyes on the machine’s screen. It was of a POV of running up a mountain trail.

“Well, I appreciate that.”

She didn’t retort.

“What’s your major? Aberrant Sweetiality?”

She rolled her eyes, “Biology. Minor in English.”

“Read a lot of Atwood?”

“Yeah, I’ve read her.”


“No—I’ve heard of him, though.”

“Buk’s the greatest to ever do it.”

She snorted. “Right.—he wrote the greatest book ever?”

“No, but he was great in prose more than ten times—no one,” I took a big breath, “even comes close to that. Three is the most anyone else has gotten to. And … It’s a good thing Shakespeare wrote plays … and not books though. … Because can you imagine how many people would be turned off of reading if he were assigned in every high school lit class?”

She kind of laughed at that.

“But yeah it was Salinger—he wrote literature’s 9th. Even though maybe that’s a poor thematic comparison.”

“You’re some kind of weirdo fanatic, then?”

“I’m a turnip with unrequited roots in a stretching concentration camp of rubber bands.” I recited solemnly.

I turned it down to fifteen and then fourteen.

“You broke.”

“I’m still three over you. Hey—careful, you’re a pretty vase I wouldn’t want you to shatter.”

“Two. I’m not a vase,” she turned it up.

“Well that was kind of an … allegorical metaphor … for your—receptive personality. You know arguing is not a turn on to a lot of people. Like the Bonobos—they don’t like to argue.”

“One. And you’re a guy.”

“So, biology … kind of counter to the whole ethos around here.”

She shrugged, “I’m going to be a doctor.”

“That’s why I find myself enamored with you. You’re really a rebel.”

“I’m going to Harvard for med school.”


“You’ve heard that before, I’d bet.”

“The last guy who called me that had his jaw conspicuously broken. I’m,” I took another deep breath, “so mean I make dandelions wilt and weep their children to the wind.”

“Uh huh. Nerds have very fragile masculinity.”

“Oh god, you’re not trying to hurt my feelings—?” I turned it down to fourteen and she went up to fifteen.

“I don’t know, that could be dangerous, oooooh,” she made a ghost sound.

“I’m very sensitive, you know. I’m like a sea anemone. Or the cli—But I’ll give you a pass, call it female privilege.”

She rolled her eyes. I thought we were headed for a silence but she said, “You don’t play video games, do you?” with primed disgust.

“No—I’m a philosopher.”

“Who works out instead of going to class.”

“Naturally—I’m dedicated to my craft. I take it seriously.—All right,” I looked at her time, it was almost up, “Turn it to eighteen we’ll see who can last.”

“I’ve got news for you: girls last longer than guys.”

“You’ve been real let down at some point, huh champ?”

We both turned it up and sprinted for the last two minutes. She made it and so did I.

I stepped down and my legs were rubber. She got off too and we looked at each other as the other machines banged away.

“God, you are gorgeous,” I said through my breaths. “But you wouldn’t care how guys perceive your beauty anyway.”

“I like to look good so I can feel good.”

“Why is it so fucking hard for girls to admit that they like people thinking they’re beautiful?” I laughed. “I mean why do you ‘feel’ good about looking good? That’s like me saying I don’t need girls to have sex, I have sex so I can ’feel’ good.”

“Whatever,” she said but I caught her grinning.

“It’s charismatic to be able to laugh at yourself,” I said. “The only person I know of who was charismatic and couldn’t laugh at themself was Hitler, and …” I shook my head, “he was not a good dude.”

She laughed again and I said, “Let me take you to lunch.”

“So you can fuck me?”

“Do you think they’ll let us right there in the cafeteria? There’s probably sanitary restrictions at the very least.”

“Just the caff then?”

“I’d take you to a fancy restaurant but I want kids—and I’m just not sure you’re a great investment. Kids to raise, I mean—not at the restaurant. For lunch. Not for lunch. … But, you know, I could be wrong. Imagine if we did—I mean our kids would be like the craziest combination of sexy doctor and mad soulful genius it’d be …” I shook my head, “It’d be like raising Mozart on Hendrix.”

“Where does the doctor part come into it?”

I shook my head again, “A kaleidoscope of fireworks ticking clocks backwards and setting poppy fields aflame. Extinguishing seas of unblinking taillights gazing through yawning lonesome tunnels. We could name the girl Charlotte and the boy … What do you think of Adolph—with a P H?”

She tried not to smile but not that hard, “Okay, I’ll meet you at the Caffeinated Phoenix after I shower—how about.”

“Sure, I’ll buy you coffee. I’ll buy you a thousand coffees, you’ll have so many coffees other girls will start to wonder why their boyfriends don’t buy them five or six coffees on each date like me but all the stores will be empty because I’ll buy the Pacific Ocean and make it all into coffee—just iced coffee and strawberries spilt on love letters you’ll take out of a fancy wooden box and show your grandkids—and that way every time we meet I can make you. a. latte. with soy.”

“I can—”

“But I don’t know how we’ll manage to get through all that coffee unless we go on a bunch of dates. It’s—the Pacific—How do you think we should do it?”

“I can pay for my own.” she was smiling easily, “Espresso.”

“You’re gonna break my heart.”

“See you in an hour.”

We parted ways and showed up at the coffee shop forty-five minutes later.

“You’re early.”

“What can I say, I’m an inexperienced guy, it’s part of our ethic.”

“Tell me about it.”

“You on the other hand … must really like me.”

We walked inside.

Sat down opposite each other.

I looked into her eyes. They say that’s how you fall in love.

“So, doctor then—do kids come into the picture or is that clock just gonna tick away?”

“I might want kids at some point.”

“You’re just gonna let that one figure itself out?”

“I’m focusing on my career.”

“You know if I wanted chow mein I wouldn’t wait until they threw it away to go get it.”

“That’s gross.”

“So are old women.”

“No,” she said dogmatically, “You don’t get to decide that. Mature women can be beautiful—it’s about how you feel about yourself.”

“Yeah that’s the postmodern English feminazgûl in you, isn’t it, just like messing around with definitions to fit whatever you want. Like gender, or ‘equality for women’, is a good one, or the vital importance of safety and tolerance.”

“Did you ask me out just to be a dick?”

“All right,” I eased off, I didn’t want to make her feel bad. I was about to say something but she got there first.

“And there’s too many people in the world, anyway. It’s overpopulated as it is, we don’t need more people.”

“Definitely not more intelligent beautiful altruistic doctors, it’s true.” I grinned, “Come on—don’t play dumb. People always say that and it’s like If your paradigm is you want your kid to have a good effect on the world and that’s why you may or may not Drano it—then it’s like, Just raise your kid to be a good person—right? We don’t all have the same impact on the world because we all eat food. That’s fucking ridiculous. I’ll take a world full of twice as many MLKs over half the Ted Bundys—and, sweet honeycombed hair curler,” I should’ve saved that one for a blonde but it still sounded nice, “I know people have thought of that. They just make this goofy ‘but my kid would drive a car sometimes so I’m just going to be old and alone’ because they like to be devoted to anti-naturality in the name of goodness.”

“Yeah. Maybe. I don’t know.”

“So what’s your plan for locking down a fella and some babies?”

“I don’t have a plan,” she said hotly. Then she tried to continue more evenly, “I can focus on my career. That’s what’s important. Men come and go. I don’t need them. Tell me what I need them for. Go on.”

“You could use a hug, now and then, at the very least. I imagine having kids is like ultra-running. People who aren’t doing it just think it looks painful and they can’t imagine why the fuck you’d want to, but they’re not there, in the zone, with the meaning it gives you. With the will to truth.”

“Okay I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.”

“I’m trying to explain that I love you but I’m very clunky with my emotions. And English isn’t my first language, I grew up speaking Swahili.”

“I’m focusing on my career.”

“Yeah, you keep saying that, but honestly, if you want to know my opinion—”

“Hit me.”

“Having a job fucking sucks. Everyone has it all backwards—you work so that you can do meaningful shit like have a family or lay down tracks toward thunder, you don’t do this shit you wouldn’t do without pay because you want to do it.”

“I do want to be a doctor, actually. Kids are a hassle.”

“You’re gonna be a physician?”


“Yeah see cutting people up when you’re sixty-four years old—it’s like, you’re gonna be so fucking lonely you’ll start hugging dead bodies and crying and the words and laments will just spill out onto cold dead ears when you’re alone in the fucking—morgue. The dead bodies will think you’re insane and they’ll try to comfort you but they’ll really be checking the clock and getting kind of tired of it. Some of them might ghost you. Ooooo.” I laughed at her, “But you’ll be respected in your field. So that’s something. Portrait of a twenty-first century woman, you meadow of petal-less dandelion greens: angry, successful, alone, loopdeeloop. Gooficurlicuely. And kids are a hassle—they’re a hassle who are worth dealing with even. if. you aren’t paid!”

“I’ve got ambitions, and I told you, I’ll find a husband, I’m twenty-two years old, I’ve got time.”

“You know,” I said, “I’ve got some intimate knowledge of male psychology that I’ve come across through work in the field, and when you’re thirty-eight you’re,” I leaned in close to her and whispered, “Actually not as hot as when you were twenty-two. But hey,” I said at normal volume again, “Just tell a fella you’re actually the same as the bright-eyed bouncy twenty-some-year-old over there because you feel like you are, that should convince him, he won’t even know the difference. It’s all about how you feel about yourself, remember?”

She took a second to respond, “I’m focusing on my career, and—”

“Yeah, so I’ve heard.”

“—And living as a housewife sounds fucking miserable, and it’s not something I’ll subjugate myself to.”

“That’s cool. No one’s asking you to. It was more fun before birth control anyway.”

“But you just said—”

“Imagine being in your mid to late thirties. Your fiery looks of the present are smoldering cigarette ashes, your chances of conception are drying up, even if you do have a kid he’s more likely to be fucking retarded or have some problem like that,” she twitched to protest my use of the R word but let me continue, “Which is a problem let’s not play the Oh I’ll love my kid however—you don’t want a fucking retard, or why not brain-dead? Why not, right? You tell me. Anyway, you’ve got a full time job that’s demanding and you’ve been telling yourself for years you don’t need a man or that you’ll get a husband ‘at some point’ and that you like being single and always will and you’re supposed to say it, so you do, and now stretched before you is the beginning of a cold tundra of anxiety-ridden late thirties—”

“I—” she started.

“And then you start to realize that that’s all there’s gonna be, is a paycheck and trying to hang on to friends who’ve got their own families. It’s cold sleeping alone.”

“I can do charity work. And I can get a husband. If I need to.”

“You’ll be in your late thirties ‘getting’ tubs of ice cream,” I prophesized, “And trying to lock down mediocre man after mediocre man ’cause the isolation of the next forty years’ll be looming but it’ll be like having a bunch of chickens and you throw in enough food for half of them. Only it won’t be good food, like this documentary I saw—So there was this guy in a POW camp in Nam but he wasn’t getting fed hardly anything and he weighed like seventy pounds by the end of it, but so what he’d do is when they took him to use the men’s room sometimes there’d be rats in the hole and they couldn’t catch the rats, but if a snake had just killed one, then they could steal if from the snake, and that was how they survived. … So that’s like, that’s how you’ll be ‘strong and independent’, you know?”

I paused and waited for her response. She glared at me, looking really pissed. She opened her mouth and then shook her head. I guess I’d won. She stood angrily, spilling the coffee in my lap, and rushed out of the shop. In the end I paid for the coffee.

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