Bypassing the pub after work is a feat in London. Crowds spill out onto the streets, sipping pints of beer, smoking cigarettes, chatting and laughing.
This standing-outside-and-drinking phenomenon is most prominent in warm weather, but is still evident in the winter. I have stood outside pubs that were too crowded to offer seats in the dead of winter, clustered around a lit cigarette for warmth.
At a TV company where I worked in London, the pub culture was so ingrained in the work life that the pub across the street was called “Edit 3″ (edit rooms 1-2 were inside the building. Chances were that you could find most employees in “Edit 3″ after work, during lunch, and at other intervals during the day).
I thought that the Edit 3 code was invented to fool the boss. But no — he too spent many afternoons and evenings in the pub, which one had to walk by in order to leave the office. Usually, it too tempting to pass by: your friends/colleagues sitting (or standing), laughing and drinking their pints.
So I have missed the old beckoning to the pub that I would hear almost every day: “Fancy a pint?” Here in Atlanta, the local custom seems to be catching up over a beating at the gym.
This morning, while enjoying a leisurely workout on an exercise bike, a woman from my book club told me she was headed to a class called “Boot Camp.”
She asked me to join her. “You’ll like it,” she said. “It’s hard.”
Boy was it. It was more than an hour long (the instructor actually moved the hands back on the clock to allow more excruciating minutes of class time), and included sprints, squats, arm curls, lunges, and minutes of pressing against the wall in a sitting position without a chair (but with arm curls, and weights!).
I am now so stiff that I will have to miss my rendez-vous with a preschool mom at 6 tomorrow morning. In my effort to meet people, I told her the prospect of an early morning gym class sounded like great fun. Getting up at 5:30 AM, however, sounds like less fun.
My friends and colleagues in Edit 3 back in London would have been appalled by the suggestion of a dawn class at the gym. In fact, if the pub were still open at 5:30, that’s where they were probably be. And they may not be as fit as my new Atlanta chums, but they’re having a bit more fun.