I’m a firm proponent of working out at the gym, as any self-respecting masculine individual should be. I follow a strict regime of nutrition and exercise, and reap the rewards physically.
Just as important though is that we do not neglect keeping our other attributes in peak condition, not just those that are physical. I arrived in Sihanoukville tired, grumpy, and introverted, coming off the back of one of my infamous 10am drinking binges (and a close call with a lady boy – the less said about that the better) and subsequent 3 day hangovers coupled with depression. My socialism muscle was weak, and had atrophied through underuse over the last few days. All I really wanted to do was go to bed, but something inside me wouldn’t let me – before I knew it, I’d spruced myself up and walked out the door, and sat down at the first bar I came to.
I opened my mouth, and out came the words “Hey, how’s it going” to the very first people I saw across the bar from me. The first few sentences were self-conscious, my responses stilted, and a few comments led to a torrent, and a 2 hour conversation later, I’ve met two new friends who I have a great deal in common with, and will hang out with no doubt numerous times over the coming week.
If you have previously attained a level of physical condition, but then let it go somewhat, you may be aware of a phenomenon known as “muscle memory” – when you begin training once more, you can get back to the top level of performance you reached in less than half of the time it took to get there in the first place. Socialising is no different – even though you may be feeling out of sorts, and not in the mood to talk to strangers, just force the words out of your mouth, as you would force the first few reps out in the gym, and in no time at all you’ll be back to your old self, and then hitting new personal bests.
(As a caveat though, in light of my recent resolution to stop getting so drunk, I really don’t know how I’m going to summon the motivation to game these backpacking girls sober. For the most part, they are drunken, slobbish, out of shape youngsters with absolutely nothing of interest to say for themselves. It’s hard to be congruent with a frame of genuinely finding a girl attractive when you simply don’t. What was it Hemingway said? Ah yes – “I drink to make other people more interesting”. That topic probably warrants a post by itself.)