A Night at the Gym

So, I went to the gym last night.

The gym was crowded.

I was relegated to one corner where the only thing on TV in front of me was Khloe and Kim taking Miami. (Why are these girls famous, again? They are so gross.)

So, there is a scene where the one who just gave birth is talking to her sister and her sister, in a deep and soulful moment, points to an imperfection on her leg. Unclear whether she nicked herself shaving or what. So the sister who gave birth expresses milk on the blemish to help it heal.

OMG I wanted to vomit.

I turned to my right to see if the person next to me was similarly grossed-out. He was a man in his early 70s wearing 1970s short shorts and head band with a short muscle shirt that would have shown off his abs, if he had any. Ok, I don’t want to start a conversation with him.

Only 12 minutes had passed but I needed to get off the bike for safer ground.

I bumped into my trainer, who was talking to another trainer (someone I don’t really like). He had on headphones that somehow disconnected from his smart phone. The connector piece went inside his shirt and he announced, “wow, I just got a nipple shock! Wanna try?”

At that point I went downstairs and got dressed and took a cab home.

All the retching sensations must have worked about my abs from the inside out.

Training Day

In recent weeks, SOB has taken note of my quasi-buff arms and POB’s outrageously buff arms arms, and decided to inquire about FTOB (fitness trainer of blogger).

While I applaud her desire to tone and strengthen her core muscles, I worry about her gentle internal ecosystem.  SOB does the least she can do at the gym. Really. SOB doesn’t even break a sweat on the elliptical machine, which she does (ir)religiously for a “really long time” before she can’t handle the monotony of it.  In real time, that means 12 minutes, tops.

“How long can an hour-long training session be, 45 minutes?” SOB asks innocently.

Sigh.  Doctors, even non-psychiatric ones, think in different time intervals than the rest of us.  And she is a New Yorker.  So if a New York minute is less than 60 seconds, then a New York hour CAN’T be one hour.  The logic is valid, but SOB has no idea what is about to hit her.

FTOB is wonderful and “quirky”.  She dances during breaks; she uses words for parts of the body that creep me out.  In a moment of Zen, I just thought I will let SOB experience it all, without the usual warnings I might convey.

And, yet you can understand my worry.  I am delivering my dearest SOB into the hands of a fitness freak.  While I can handle FTOB, my gentle big sister may be consumed by the sweat and exertion of it all.  I knew it could be a moral crime, but I needed to check whether wanton disregard for the attention span and general fitness profile of a loved one was a punishable offense under New York law.  So far, there is no crime on the books of New York State for accessory to a fitness event.

Still.

SOB was happy that I “happened into” the gym about 30 minutes (a New York 45 minutes) before her first training session.  (Of course I was on hand for the momentous event.) I made the introductions, even though I already gave FTOB the talk (hurt my sister and you are dead meat).  As I left, I did the “I am watching you” hand signal of touching my eyes and then pointing to FTOB.

So, I lurked about to make sure that SOB wasn’t crying or leaving mid-session.  Imagine my surprise when FTOB said, “walk this way” and started doing something out of Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks (www.youtube.com/watch?v=wippooDL6WE), and SOB did!!

SOB made it to the end of the full hour and then made arrangements to start regular sessions.

Me?  Turns out I was just a stalker without a cause.

 

My new trainer

My fitness trainer abruptly left the gym and I think the city about ten days ago.  I am worried about him.  But enough about him, let’s turn it back to me, because I need Michelle Obama arms for my wedding.

He texted me and suggested one of the other trainers whom I will call FTOB (fitness trainer of blogger).  FTOB is very, how shall we say, vivacious.  She spontaneously lifts people off the floor when she is happy.  She likes to take dance breaks, which makes me think of the Ellen DeGeneres’s show (the episode I saw) during which she danced with her guests. 

Still, the clock was ticking and I have an unforgiving dress.  I called FTOB and scheduled an appointment.  She is high energy and very effective.  But while I was learning from FTOB, I had to teach her two things: (i) I don’t have a booty and (ii) I don’t have ta-tas.  As to the first, I have a tushie, behind, derriere, butt or any number of variations of those words.  As to the second, I have breasts, a chest or, if necessary, boobs. 

No-no-no to ta-tas.

FTOB was awesome about this.  The second session contained no references to the “b” or the “t” words.  Strong work, FTOB.

FTOB has a FauxHawk (modified Mohawk, where the the sides aren’t shaved, just very short).  In this last session, her hair was slicked back and it looked like it was all one length.  “I love your hair!!” I exclaimed, almost matching her general exuberance.  “You think so?  It got wet and I gelled it back.  I am getting it cut soon.”  Ahhh, it was only a temporary NoHawk. 

So, in a moment that can best be described as my mother inhabiting my body, I blurted out, “You know, I asked [my old trainer] once to introduce us, because I wanted to say to you, ‘You have such a lovely face, why do you have your hair cut that way?'” 

“Really?”

“A good haircut can make all the difference,” I said.

I think we were both shocked at the exchange and I was a little weirded out having had a Freaky Friday moment with my mother in my body.  And FTOB is so good natured that she took it in the spirit in which it was meant — concern.

It turns out she has a girlfriend who likes her hair.  “Well, then, don’t listen to me; listen to her.  But if you are single again, listen to me.”

Oh, Mom, next time, give me some warning, ok?

Confluence of events and blogs

Last night I was at the gym, in my usual (and clean), well-worn yet dorky gym attire, when I came upon the Sniffer at the water fountain.

As you may recall, the Sniffer (http://40andoverblog.com/?p=3247) feigned an allergy to perfumes so that he could come over to where SOB and I were companionably and half-heartedly “working out” (read, “chatting”) on side-by-side elliptical machines.  He sniffed and sniffed around us and then said, “I knew by looking at you that you weren’t the type to wear perfume. . . . ” And then he took the elliptical machine next to mine.  I think that line would turn off straight girls much less an almost-married lesbian.

The Sniffer has since tried to make conversation with me about various, incredibly odd, things.  I now think that he is socially inept and just wants to chat the way others do at the gym.  I started to feel bad for him, until . . . .

Back to the water fountain.  Sniffer half-turns to me and says in that loud voice that suggests he doesn’t know how to modulate volume:

“I almost didn’t recognize you without your “Friendships are Recession-Proof” t-shirt.  Do you have just one or is the recession over?”

This is what the shirt looks like.

For the story behind the t-shirt, click http://40andoverblog.com/?p=127

Really, sniffer?

Of course, I have to tell him in an equally loud voice that I had them made for my friends and they were popular enough that I had to do a second “printing” and ended up with six or so EXTRA of them.

“And they are always clean!” I bellow in a last exhausted gasp.

“So the recession isn’t over in your eyes?  Technically, it ended in . . . .”

Ok, I had to walk away.  His disquisition on economic markers (which I had overheard before) is mundane yet pedantic, jargon-y yet shallow, almost exquisitely so.

I met POB for dinner after the gym.  “How was your day?” she asked.  “I need new gym clothes,” was my response.

 

The Gym

It is a cruel truth of quantum physics that if there are five people in an otherwise empty gym locker room, all five will have lockers in the exact same corner.

And, two of the five will be half-naked and bent over shaking out their wet hair, another two will be full-on naked about to get into the shower and there will be one (me, in this case) who contorts herself in such a way as to avoid being with in a hair’s breath of someone’s sweaty or writhing body while she tries to open the lock on her locker.

I don’t use my lock that often, although I carry it around in my bag. The other night, I just couldn’t get the combination to work, even after many of the women left so I could stand straight up in front of the locker. After many unsuccessful attempts, I decided that I needed to ask the manager to cut the lock. It was late and I was meeting POB and Cousin California for dinner.

The only person at the front desk was a young man with Justin Bieber hair (or is it the other tweenage idol?). Without looking up, he said, “you’ll have to wait” while he attended to certain meaningless tasks.  I was tired so while I was irritated, I simply waited a few minutes. 

As I waited, I noted various serious looking managerial types (i.e., the adults) going into a “closed door” meeting (except there are glass walls so nothing is ever secret). When the young man finally listened to my predicament, he told me that the manager went into a closed door meeting and I would have to wait until the meeting ended.  How did I know that would be his response?

“When will it be over?”

“I don’t know. It could be long.  And, I can’t interrupt.” Customer service at its best.

“Well, I can interrupt!”

He saw that I was serious and he ran around to beat me to the door. It is amazing how quickly “can’t” becomes “can” when a lazy person realizes that his bad service could be detrimental to his continued employment.

The manager came out immediately. He was very cordial, although he did ask if I was sure it was my lock and locker. As I was about to get angry, I realized that he had a point — locks and lockers look alike and I am sure people make mistakes. I was quite sure because I bought my lock for its unusual design.

A young woman accompanied me with jaws-of-life size clippers – the kind that TV police use on locks when they don’t shoot at them.  As she 0was about to engage the jaws of life, she said, “I’ve never done this before and I am a little scared!” At that, everyone ducked and I yelled, “Cover your heads, we are in foul ball territory!”

Luckily, I was right about it being my locker and no one got hurt by the flying debris.  The young woman pivoted and started to walk out.  I had to stop the young girl so I could show her some identification but she waved me off saying, “I trust you.”

“You don’t know me. You need to ask for identification.”

The young woman left, still not comprehending why she ought to ask for some corroboration of my story.  She would hold the door open for a man in a ski mask and machine gun.

After all started to calm down in the locker room, a half-naked woman started telling me about the time her locker was mistakenly cut by a confused gym user.  And then she showed another woman and me that her combo is on the back of her lock, so she doesn’t worry about remembering it.  A little like telling a stranger at the bar how to disable your home alarm system.

The other woman was then looking at the first woman’s stuff,  “to see if I like any of it enough to steal.”  REALLY??? 

Ok, neither is a fashion plate.  And the second woman, whom I see a lot, could use a wardrobe refresher, but now I was thinking that the young ingenue who trusted me had already let in the thief.  I reminded both woman that, in women’s locker room, everyone looks fabulous and has fabulous stuff but we don’t burgle.

Exhausted, I crawled out of there so ready to be welcomed into the bosom of my family.

It absolutely gets better

As a girl (in the 1960s and 1970s), I was fearless, self-confident and wholly comfortable with my body.  That is, until I became a teenager.  Then, as quickly as a flip of a switch (or so it seemed), everything changed.

Aside from the raging hormones that could have alone turned me into an alien, I had unfamiliar feelings and longings.  And I didn’t fit neatly into the role of a 14 year-old girl who had to wear skirts (dress code) to school.  But, generally, I liked the way I looked.  And I liked the way other girls looked, too.

Except, I was supposed to be looking at boys.  Once I realized my “mistake”, I knew “fitting in” was something I would have to study, like any other subject in school.  And I figured it would be hard, like Biochemistry (yes, I was precocious at 14), but I was smart and a good student.  So, I thought, “I could do this”.

It was harder than Biochemistry and you couldn’t learn it from a book.  My high school girl friends were “into boys” in such a natural, innate way. I withdrew into myself because I knew that this difference was too basic and I couldn’t fake it.  I wouldn’t make close friendships because I had this secret and this unease about where friendships ended and romance could begin.  I needed to keep people at bay.  Invisibility was my goal when it came to talking about boys, what you did with boys, make-up, etc.  Just blend in.

All through high school on Saturday nights, I used to take long walks around the East Side so my parents didn’t know that I was friendless or weary of feeling like the outsider.  Only years later, did I learn that someone else was doing the same thing because she had the same issues, except her route was different enough so that we never bumped into one another.  We would have recognized each other because we knew each other from camp and Hebrew School.

Inside, I was confused and sad and I knew, just knew, that my troubles were my fault.  How could I fix something that I couldn’t even talk about?  I medicated with food and alcohol.  Brilliant.  I added significant weight gain to my problems.  And nothing makes teenage life worse than being fat.  Now I was a liability to be around if you wanted to talk up cute boys.  I was less than background; I was avoided.

I remained heavy through my college years.  I was still struggling with wanting to be straight and not wanting to deal with this horrid, scary secret. On campus, a right-wing newspaper printed the names of the members of the GSSG (Gay Students Support Group).  I was secretly grateful that I was too scared to join.  I remained anonymous but I saw the effects of being “outed” on some of my friends. What happened to them confirmed my every nightmare.  “Out” meant parental disapproval (and worse), no chance of having children and discrimination. I wanted my parents to be proud and I wanted a family.  But I also wanted love.  What did I do to deserve this fate?  I had to have done something so unspeakably wrong to be exiled to a long and lonely road.

But sometimes the desire to feel whole can make a person go to crazy extents.  During college, I kept trying to put myself in situations where I might meet lesbians but only at a distance.  Two girls giggling in a bathroom piqued my interest, but I stayed in the background.  Invisible.  My comings and goings seemed mysterious enough so that my friends assumed that I was a Soviet spy meeting my handler.  No joke.  They still tease me to this day.

When I was graduated in 1985, I resolved to live a double life – try to marry a man and have an emotional (or romantic?) relationship with a woman. I had a hard time keeping up with the lies about why I was a no-show with my college friends or why I spent so much time with a particular woman when my mom would ask. I was a handful of shards of glass, each reflecting a portion of me, but not adding up to the whole.

I joined a gym to relieve some of the stress of my life and because I simply got sick and tired of literally wearing the weight of my troubles. I joined a gym to stop the “you would be so much more attractive if you lost some weight”.  I really channeled my anger and fears into exercise.  I was angry at G-d for making me gay and I was fearful of what would happen if I acted on those feelings.  Maybe you can imagine how sweating buckets can calm you down and make you so tired that you needed to adjourn those quandaries until the next day.  And, the next day, and so on.  I used work-outs at the gym to avoid my issues.  The upside was that I was really getting into good shape.

When I got thin, the family’s mantra “you are so thin and pretty now, I am sure the boys are knocking down your door!” returned.  In truth, I tried boys.  There was one lovely man I came close to marrying.  But he sensed the issues that lay right under the surface and called me on them.  “Do you need to sow some wild oats or should we just not have female housekeepers?”  And then, “should I wait?”  “No,” was my anguished answer.  (“If only you were female,” I thought.)  G-d bless him and his family forever.  (He has a lovely wife and two adult children now.)

In New York City in the 1980s, there were still no positive images of lesbians, let alone images of feminine lesbians. What was I thinking throwing away a solid relationship with a wonderful man? But, he and I both deserved to find our heart’s desires and soul mates.  At least he did; I couldn’t see how I was going to meet someone.  I didn’t want to be with a butch woman; I was a woman who wanted to be with a feminine woman.  They were invisible (unless they were on the arms of butch women). I was looking for a hypothetical feminine, pretty, Jewish (not essential), well-educated, funny and slightly neurotic lesbian.  Whoa, tall order.  I figured I would be alone for the rest of my life.  If it sounds sad, you can be sure that this is an understatement of how I felt.

Somewhere, on the other side of town, was a woman in a relationship who was wondering if she would ever meet her soul mate, her heart’s desire. We would have recognized each other if we met because we knew each other from camp and Hebrew School.

If I was going to leave a relationship with a wonderful man because of this “girl thing”, then it was high time I started gluing the shards of my life together.  Even though my father’s “I would welcome him as a son-in-law” echoed in my head and threatened to push out my brains through my ears, I tried to be open and honest with my family, my friends and, yes, me. And that required coming out.

My told my friend NYCFOB (dear NYC friend of blogger) in a cab, “you know my boyfriend John?  Her name is [girl’s name].”  I could see her brain working; a lot now made sense to her.  “It changes nothing between us,” she said simply.  She gave me a gift of a lifetime – in those few words, she said to me: “I am your friend even if you lied to me because I get that you thought it was necessary.  And I don’t care about the gay thing.”  Then, “who else knows?” She needed to know whom she could call and with whom she could shriek about some serious scoop. I still think she doesn’t know that we know that she has the biggest heart and a wellspring of love and acceptance tucked beneath a New Yorker’s veneer.

As for my parents, let’s just say that their rejection was hurtful and ugly, although it had a happy ending. Imagine a nice Jewish girl whose grandparents were the pre-World War II remnant of Russian Jewry, and parents who were poor children of immigrants of the Depression Era.  That means I was raised to need my parents’ approval on a daily basis.  Imagine that nice Jewish girl being cast out.  The gym was my haven.  I could sweat and lift weights and expel some of the anger and hurt I felt.  As I processed all the changes and charted a rough course for my life, I started not to want to be invisible or ignored anymore.  I had arrived – 115 pounds, toned body, good looks.  I was ready to fit in and conquer all social settings – gay or straight.

So, I joined a hip and groovy gym. It is a rule of life that if your gym is hip and groovy, you will work out in a sea of tall and beautiful women in that blond, willowy way with perfect gym outfits.  I wasn’t ready to be “out” because I still preferred ambiguity. Secretly, I wanted cute boys to talk to me as some sort of vindication of my sexual appeal – that men might want me even if I wanted women.

The muscled, handsome straight (and hell, even gay) guys talked to them and not to me.  Even the trainers didn’t pay attention to me.  I was still invisible. I know it doesn’t make sense, but nothing relating to body image, sexuality, and desire has anything to do with logic.  It was probably because I was too scared that if I came out, there was no going back.

Life got a lot better over the years.  I realized that you have to be a little out in order for people to find you.  Family hurts healed (with my mother’s wanting to ride on our synagogue’s Gay Pride float and my father’s making a huge stone sculpture of two women with a child). I had good romantic relationships (and some horror shows, let’s be honest).  I was happy.  I had friends.  I was an up-and-coming lawyer.  I found my groove.

Still, the gym was complicated. Working out made me feel strong, in control and let me expiate work anxiety and stress.  I started to understand that maybe I didn’t fit in because, for me, the gym was not my primary social outlet.  I went there to get sweaty and release endorphins.  Ahhhhh.  Still, I wanted to be noticed.  I know, I know.  It doesn’t make sense but it is what it is.

At Rosh HaShanah evening services in 1996, I was living the quintessential lesbian drama – my present girlfriend sat to my left and my ex-girlfriend sat to my right.  I was looking up at the ceiling, finally introducing myself to G-d. (This alone should have wiped away my sins for the year.)

In the midst of this bad movie, I heard a singing voice I recognized.  I turned around and I saw her. She was my best friend at sleep-away camp when we were 10 year-olds.  We went to Hebrew School together through senior year at high school.  I thought, “she is too cute to be gay”.  It’s that internalized homophobia ingrained in many of us who came of age in the 20th century and, no matter how we try, it still sometimes slips out.   (And I had very attractive exes.)

I looked for her after services, but she had left in a flash.  Ten days later, at Yom Kippur service, I was carrying the Torah around the synagogue during a ritual where the Torahs are marched around the sanctuary. I saw her again. POB (soon-to-be partner of blogger).  I knew somehow that we were living in parallel bubbles that “kissed” ever so slightly over the years.  We were both in relationships and just looking for friendship.

Our friendship was deep and supportive.  We leaned on each other when things got hard in our relationships.  We pushed each other to re-invest our emotions in those long-term relationships.  Nevertheless, our relationships ended between 1998 and 1999.  In spring of 2000, we realized that we were each other’s intended ones.  We fell into a happy rhythm of life together and started to think about having a baby.

Still, the gym was an important part of my life.  Sometimes we would go to the gym together after work, around 8pm.  We didn’t work out together; we needed our separate areas at the gym. I was working out the toxicity of life as a young partner in a law firm; she was just getting a fitness work out.

Then my mother had a recurrence of breast cancer.  I needed a punching bag and boxing gloves.   Our gym had those.  I watched others and then just copied them.  Tears would stream.  The rings on my fingers under the boxing gloves cut into my flesh.  I was bleeding and I was punching G-d as hard as I could.  In summer 2002, POB and I had a little boy.  In January 2003, my mother died.  I needed to punch out my unspeakable pain and sadness, but with newborn and two working moms, there was no time for the gym.

2002 through 2008 were rough years.  Setting aside various economic and professional upheavals (which don’t matter much in the end, anyway), POB’s mother’s chronic illness worsened to a point that hospital stays on respirators were not uncommon.  Ultimately, she died.  Our son presented with some developmental issues, which are resolving (something for which we are grateful everyday).  There was much joy and happiness, of course, in those years, but joy and happiness don’t make for interesting writing.  And besides, as a neurotic, urban-dwelling Jew, it is my cultural duty to emphasize the gut-wrenching, the embarrassing, the bizarre and the ooky.

When our son was six years old, POB and I were able to clear some personal time in the family schedule.  I chose to return to the gym.

What a difference six years makes. My first day, I was in the locker room and to my horror I discovered that I packed form-fitting running tights that go down just below my knees and a geeky t-shirt that stopped at my waist.  Two things to note: I couldn’t remember when last I shaved my legs, and if this outfit looked good on me, I wouldn’t need to go to the gym.

Now, our son is 9 years old.  He is 70 pounds and still jumps in my arms when I come home, so I need strong leg, stomach and arm muscles so as not to end up in traction. Now, I do sit ups and pull-ups.

I hate pull-ups but I do three sets of three (sometimes four).  And all the gym boys think it’s really cute that a gray-haired, middle-aged lady can do unassisted pull-ups.  No, joke — I get compliments, fist pumps and high-fives from male trainers and regular gym rats.  And they give me technique pointers.  And I know that some of the women are watching me. They are not checking me out; they are wondering how they could try a pull-up when no one is looking.  At long last, the “buff and beautiful” (even the trainers) notice me and talk to me.  It took some gray hair and a few pull-ups to be the belle of the gym.  Of course, now I don’t need that kind of attention.  At 47, I have lost some elasticity and agility, but age has given me determination and self-confidence, and, yes, helped me negotiate a comfortable detente with my body.

And now I am visible at the gym? The gym gods must be crazy indeed.

So, this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for my life, my family and my wholeness.   It does get better.

~ note from Blogger:  Special thanks to the Soeurs for editing and remembering and loving me, in all my guises.

Pulling Up

I do pull-ups at the gym.  Apparently unlike other women.  The beefy, muscled boys love to give me pointers.

One trainer refers to the pull-up bar as a “girl”.  So when he sees me, he asks, “Did you visit your girl?” and “Did you do right by your girl?”

In what can only be described as an out-of-body experience, I respond, “Hey, I am always respectful to the girl.”  What middle-aged, white, middle class, Jewish woman talks like this? (Apparently, I do.)

“All right.  That’s the answer I wanna hear,” he says.

Ok, gym talk is nuts.  And, even nutsier? That I am talking the talk.   Imagine that.  Actually, DON’T.  It is too ugly.

My sister, weighing in at approximately 98 pounds soaking wet, comes over after doing a non-work-out on the elliptical machine.  She didn’t even break a sweat.  “It was the least I could do,” she says.  No lie. It is hard to imagine 30 minutes on a cardio machine and not one bead of sweat.  But my sister has always been exceptional.

She wants to try a pull-up.  I offer to give her an assist.  “I can do this,” she says as she waves me off and grabs the bar.  And then dangles helplessly like a fish caught on bait.  “I had no idea that this was hard!!”  This is clearly not the least she could do.  So, she kisses me and goes to the locker room for a shower even though not even a little sweat was shed.

But don’t mess with my sister.  She’ll drop you in 5 seconds.  She may not have abs of steel but she has a force of will that would humble professional boxers.

 

Rushing, rushing, rushing

Today, I was just rushing.

Rushing here, rushing there. But getting nowhere, really.

I finally left the office and rushed to the gym.  I did a few exercises (because I was rushing, of course).  Pull-ups (pull-ups are good exercise when you don’t have time to do a full exercise regimen. I hate pull-ups. And all the boys think it’s really cute that a gray-haired, middle-aged lady can do pull-ups. (I can do about three sets of three, so don’t be impressed.)

I missed the uptown bus and hailed a cab because I was rushing home. I got out of the cab and rushed into my building because I was rushing.

I stop in my tracks.

Our coop [for those of you outlanders, a homeowners’ association] is having its annual shareholders meeting in the lobby. I gave the president my proxy but still I cannot walk through the lobby past all my neighbors toward the elevator. It is the grown up version of doing the morning walk of shame across the college quad after a night of beer goggling.

So, I CAN’T.

I am effectively locked out of my home until 9pm. My family is happily relaxing upstairs and I am left to loiter and hover.

Rushing to no avail. The story of today.

Tomorrow I will take time to smell the garbage (there are no roses in New York City).

Being 51

Being 51 isn’t as hard as I expected.  (Ok, I am really only 47, but you would understand this all from prior blog entries.)

I can do things that any 47 year-old can do, only I look GREAT at it.  I was doing some unassisted pull ups at the gym and one guy came up to me and said he was impressed and that he doesn’t even see young women do that.

What do you think gave it away?  The gray hair, some wrinkles, that way my body imperceptibly (at least to me) changed with time and gravity?

I asked him, “What tipped you off that I wasn’t young any more?”

He was embarrassed — poor guy — and took out his wallet and showed me his fat pictures.  I guess he felt he owed me.  Here is this young guy with a sculpted body who was a candidate for the “Biggest Loser” about 6 months ago.  Up close, I could see the faint stretch marks around his outrageously toned biceps and triceps.

I told the guy he could even call me old lady.  Of course, I didn’t say that I would smack him if he actually did.  Then again, with his new body, he wouldn’t feel it if I tried.

Life as seen by blogger

Maybe you will understand a little more about the inner-working of my psyche after you read the following:

SOB (sister of blogger) and I planned to meet at the gym this evening, where we would silently and companionably exercise on adjacent machines, with me perspiring and her, not so much.  Per the plan, she would hand off some necessary documents to wind up my mother’s estate, thereby completing a highly-charged emotional task in the middle of sweating, grunting people.  Precisely the juxtaposition that would humor Mom z”l.

Then a received a message at the office from my secretary. “[SOB] called.  Nothing urgent.”

I called her back, thinking she was calling to bail on the gym part and set up another rendezvous of the document transfer.

She answered, “Hello?”

I gave my usual “Hellooooooooooooooooooooooooo” response.

Pause. “I’m here with Dad.” Pause.

Already, I am having visions of the ER and heart trauma, because SOB doesn’t just drop by Dad’s in the middle of her ICU work day.  My heart sank.  So this is what she means by nothing urgent?

“He looks ok.  He fell on the street and landed on the right side of his face.  But he’ll be fine.” In fact, my dad at 90.5 years-old is agile and still has some awesome Fred Astaire moves.  But still, he FELL.

She handed the phone to Dad.

“Dad, are you ok? Are you still at the ER?  Did you get stitches?”

“No stitches.  [SOB] thinks I look ok.”

“Dad, give the phone back to [SOB].”

“You mean a real doctor didn’t look at him?” I asked SOB.

“Oh, you mean like a juris doctor, like you?” Ok ok ok ok ok ok.  She had a point.

Dad was checked out and he is fine.  He just has one really bad bruised, swollen eye, made worse by his heart medication that thins the blood.   He fell but he got back up which is the best part.

SOB has a way of sugar-coating things, so as not to unduly alarm people.  But, SOB and I are a team and we need to deal with family issues together.

“Really, don’t come,” SOB continued, “Dad made me take a picture so you would feel like you were here.”

“Wait, Dad wants to tell you something.”

“Yes, Dad?”

“How much do you pay for your eye glasses?”

“why?”

“Because my $35 glasses didn’t break or cut me and I bet your fancy $400 glasses wouldn’t hold up so well.  Would you like me to pick up a pair at Costco for you?  Just give me your prescription.”

OK, there is nothing wrong with my father.  But I didn’t want to tell him that I spend more than $400 on my frames lest THAT give him a heart attack.

Crisis occurred and resolved in 1 hour.  Priceless.

Later at the gym, SOB whips out her cellphone and shows me a picture of Dad smiling with a huge bruise and swelling around his eye.  “Dad says you’re the family archivist, and this is one ‘for the books,’ so here,” she said.

Dad looked bad — horrible in fact, but he was smiling.  I think he was smiling for a lot of reasons, first among them, he is ok.  Second, he only had to call and help was immediately dispatched (albeit SOB).

But there is more.  He understands that SOB and I have this pact to share the funny, the macabre, the good, and the sad when taking care of our family members.  That way, we stay strong.  And his insisting on the picture was his way of telling us he understands us.  And that he is amused by us, too.

Two hours later, he was fine and glad to be home, resting, with his children nearby.