Jon of All Trades

Workout Song of the Moment #11

Since my fat ass has actually been going to the gym consistently, I’ve had to add several songs to my workout rotation. What will follow is a periodic update of whichever song has given me added juice on the lifting machines or elliptical trainer. Download these yourselves and enjoy.

“Wake Me Up” – Avicii

Taken on its own, “Wake Me Up” functions as a decent enough workout song. It’s propulsive and upbeat with a full sound and catchy ass beat. That said, it’s not really in my workout wheelhouse. I need my songs to be, I don’t know, edgier or grittier or METALER or something, when I’m toiling away on the elliptical machine. And, after a long hiatus, I’m back in the gym at least semi-regularly. I had forgotten how much better I feel when I do, so it’s been a welcome turn of events.

What makes Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” my favorite workout song of late is the unique way it gets the adrenaline pumping for me. And for that, I have one batshit crazy cab driver in Naples, Italy to thank.

After the wedding, Kristin and I found ourselves traveling with Jamie’s mom and her boyfriend, and Jamie’s sister and her boyfriend. We took a ferry from Capri to Naples, from which we would take a train to Rome and continue our vacation. After the ferry ride, which I’ll remind you, included a view of this spectacularly named boat:

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We found ourselves across town from the train station. As European cabs are not built to deal with six people, we decided to split up. I’m not sure how Kim and Kirk mustered the gusto to volunteer to separate for the trip (I’m not leaving my wife for ANY duration in a strange European city for any amount of time – I know what the Taken movies are about, and goddammit, we’re going down TOGETHER, if we’re going down at all), but Kristin, Kim, and I hopped in the first cab.

And then, holy fucking titboulders, did we haul ass to the train station. Driving in Europe is already like Thunderdome. There are no rules. It’s positively terrifying, yet it also feels more efficient and, paradoxically, safer than driving in the US. Why? Because everyone is on their fucking game anytime they’re behind the wheel in Europe. In the US, we’re lulled into a false sense of security by all of our rules, so we become complacent, which by extension, causes laziness and you get people constantly in the wrong lane, not paying attention, and engaged in anything besides the task at hand. I don’t think I saw a single traffic light in all of Italy the whole time I was there. The entire country seems comprised of roundabouts where no one ever stops for anything, rather, cars just join the tide of chaos ad hoc that swirls in frenzied-yet-Zen perpetuity.

Given that everyone in Europe has this punk rock approach to the wheelmanship, our cab driver was the punkest of them all. He was like top 1% of crazy motherfuckers because we cut through parking lots at 35 mph, merged when there was no daylight to merge, and traveled where it didn’t seem like cars were supposed to be. We were in a video game, and I was convinced we were playing my last guy, and that this would be the end. It almost was the end for one poor pedestrian, who got clipped by our taxi. Thankfully, he was the only one who physically felt the wrath of this cab, which I speculated was a personal best for the driver.

The only time we stopped for an extended period of time, which, now that I think about it, may have been an honest-to-God traffic light, the only one I can remember, in fact, we were placed conveniently outside an antique gun/pet store. Dueling pistols adorned the outside of the store while dogs in stacked cages barked their asses off inside. I wondered (and still wonder) who is the ideal market for such an establishment.

We cruised down an alley adjacent to an active construction site, and I had no idea where we were in relation to the train station. I wasn’t entirely convinced I had conveyed where we were going properly to the cab driver because he didn’t offer much in the way of affirmation or conversation, so I was pretty much on faith. As we emerged from this alley lousy with pedestrians who were either oblivious to the imminent danger of this deathmobile (or merely defiant to it), I saw the station in front of us, and my brain did a fist pump. We made it! We were going to live another day! Hooray!

I paid him, tipped him a shitload (truthfully, that ride was some of the rawest fun I’ve ever had that included an element of pure, uncut fear), and unloaded as we waited for the second cab. It arrived a few minutes later, and we departed for Rome shortly thereafter.

So, what’s this got to do with working out? One of the biggest contributors to the adrenaline of this ride was the fact that not only were we tear-assing through the streets of dirty ass Naples, we did it while the driver BLASTED American pop music at full volume. One of the songs that rattled through the car and the surrounding streets: “Wake Me Up” by Avicii.

Anytime I hear that song now, it’s Pavlovian. My adrenaline is kicked into another gear. My legs pump on the elliptical, and I’m suddenly back in that cab cheating death and zipping through Southern Italy at breakneck speed. Fuck yeah. Thanks, Avicii.

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Enjoy!

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