I often get made fun of for having a GNC (General Nutrition Center) Gold Card fob on my key chain. The usual gay workout jokes fly (i.e. "Oooooh. Everybody get their protein shake that day!") but the truth is, I'm brand loyal to the oddly evolved, not-quite-health-store for a variety of reasons. Most of all though...
I blame my mother.
Before the age of workout enhancers and protein powders and rip-your-ass-up supplements, GNC was kind of a hippy enterprise. It was a 70s superstore. I remember going there with both of my parents in the mid-70s where they bought things like Tiger's Milk and papaya juice and carob chips.
I thought carob chips were magic: they were chocolate I was allowed to have anytime. That's some crazy, dirty talk to a kid with a sweet tooth.
Whenever I'm in the store now, I think of a specfic incident from my adolescence. My mother dragged me into the store (which was then in the throes of a mid-80s jazzercise fiesta) since she had to pick up some multi-vitamins. She handed me her shopping list as she scanned the aisles for what she needed. Halfway down the list - written in all capitals - was a single word that jumped off the page:
My eyes lit up. I looked around, wondering if there was some secret marijuana superstore running out of the tiny vitamin bodega. My mother turned around to see me flushed. She grabbed the list back from me.
"Let's see - what else do I need?" As she scanned the list - she giggled to herself.
She pointed at the word POT. and asked me - "Can you ask for this at the counter? I don't think they stock it on the shelves."
My mouth dropped and I stood there stunned.
"Go on - just ask for it. No big deal."
I halfway turned to the counter - behind me, my mother's giggling now cascaded into full-blown laughter.
She grabbed my shoulder and stopped me.
"Sorry to excite you like that. I need POTASSIUM, honey - not weed."