I’m at the gym tonight, on the treadmill warming up for a run, and in the next row up and to my left is a tallish blonde in black tank top and black tights, on the elliptical trainer, working pretty hard. Her tank top only partially covers a large word in Gothic lettering tattooed across her back from shoulder blade to shoulder blade, and her tights mostly cover another butt-hat tattoo of a red heart with some vines or something.

I’m trying to read the word but it’s kinda hard ’cause she’s moving and at an angle to me, and it comes to me in a flash. The word is “L O V E R”.

Geeze, that sounds familiar, I think… where have I seen that before? The seconds tick by and when several have accumulated they payoff because I realize that I’m looking at Storm Large (minus her Balls) in the flesh.

I try to get a better look at her face but I’m not sure. Her face seems… I don’t know… plain. And even though it’s difficult to judge height because she’s up on the machine, she doesn’t really look six foot tall. In heels, sure, but in her New Balance trainers? No.

Of course, I’ve only seen pictures of her on stage or made up for the stage, which might account for the difference. But honestly, there can’t be many tallish blondes with “L O V E R” tattooed across their backs in Portland. It’s a small town, you know?

All I know is, I’ve got an excuse now to talk to her. Wouldn’t it be funny if it’s not her? I finish warming up, I go stretch out, and then walk by her machine. I stop. “Excuse me…”

“Yeah?” She’s all sweaty and her face is puffy from working out. I’m still not sure it’s her.

“Are you…?” and I point at her, vaguely. My confidence in her identity is draining away.

She shakes some sweat out of her eyes and looks at me expectantly.

“Are you… Storm?”

She breaks into a big smile and nods. “Yes!” She suddenly seems pleased to be recognized.

“OK.” My courage is draining away. “I didn’t want to interrupt your workout…”

“It’s OK!” Now she seems interested in what I have to say next. I realize that I’ve got nothin’.

“Uh, I, uh, I recognized you by your tattoos.”

“Yeah,” she nods and agrees.

I give her a thumb’s-up, and, overcome by late-blooming shyness, head outside for my run, leaving her probably perplexed about the abrupt ending to the conversation.