So… two mornings ago, just as I’m dejectedly preparing myself for another uncomfortably hot day cooped up in an over-sunny office, Mum comes out with the equivalent of “Dude… You’re FAT!” As you might suspect from this statement (made in front of our househelp and my sis,) Mum is not the person you want to go to, to make you feel better about yourself –no matter what the circumstance. In fact, though she has an extraordinary instinct for people, I frequently thank God that she never went in for Psychology, because every last one of her patients would go home after their first session and gratefully commit suicide. I also frequently wonder how I ever made it through my teens.
Anyhoo, yesterday, I wander down to the gym that is closest to the office, tell them what Mum said, and ask them to help. The owner (a lovely person and fiendishly beautiful woman who, naturally, weighs almost nothing) immediately launches into the usual soothing exclamations (“Don’t know what she’s talking about, you’re GORGEOUS…”; “Size doesn’t matter, attitude does…”; “It’s how you feel about yourself that matters…”; “It’s all about confidence…”) which, I’m ashamed to say, actually made me feel a bit better. She then promptly produced Mike, THE GYM MEISTER. (To be said the way an announcer introduces a wrestling champion.)
Now… how to describe Mike? Let’s just say that my hopes of ever enjoying exercise vanished the moment I laid eyes on him. He isn’t tall (he’s Kenyan, after all) but he’s –what’s another word for people with not a fraction of an ounce of fat on them, biceps and thighs of steel, and legs so strong, it looks like they’ve bent in the middle? As if this isn’t enough, THE GYM MEISTER has a no-nonsense look about his face that isn’t so much scary or intimidating as it is TERRIFYING. I must have inherited some of Mum’s instinct about people, because, the next moment, Mike has looked me up and down, with his head cocked, then, I don’t know how, I find myself atop a weighing machine… I’d actually managed to avoid that Devil’s tool for quite some years. Whatever the result (as if I’d tell you) not only do I realise that am I heavier than I’ve been in YEARS but my lower lip begins to quiver. Perhaps Mc Mushy and I not working out hasn’t been as painless as I thought it was. I mean… how did this HAPPEN?
“Yup, you’re fat. And it’s a shame, you know, because you’re aging.”
I kid you NOT. If that wasn’t going to make me go and eat an entire pizza by myself (followed by a few barrels of beer) I don’t know what would. Though actually it didn’t (except the beer part.)
As I’m standing there, stunned (and a little hurt) THE GYM MEISTER is still looking me over. I don’t realise that the suffering is about to begin –and I haven’t even touched a barbell yet. He begins to talk about THE PROGRAMME that he’s going to put me on, but after the part where he informs me that he’ll be expecting me every day of the week after work, all I hear is white noise. When his mouth stops moving, I immediately begin to beg, deliberately using my most wheedling tone because Mike? He looks like the type who would go looking for you if you missed a class, and, as I mentioned above, it’s a very short walk down from my office. Please, I whine, couldn’t we begin, at least with three times a week? Four, he barks, which gives you a day’s break in between –which, by the way, you haven’t earned. Tears are beginning to rise, and the back of my throat is preparing to send mucus up my nostrils. Because being fat and teary with your nose running is exactly how you want to look in front of your new trainer, isn’t it? I’m suicidal.
In a few moments, after some more white noise, I thank THE GYM MEISTER and try to vanish from his sight –only he’s not having it. He follows me doggedly to the reception area, and watches me meekly fill out a form and register. When I was done, the almost smile that had begun creasing his marble face disappears and he claps me on the back (I had my sis put ointment on it later that evening.)
“See you Monday!” He barks, and shoves off with his bent legs and over-bouncy step.
I guess I’ll see him Monday! If I don’t see YOU again, though… Just remember that I loved you. I’m grateful for every moment we’ve been together. I’ll never forget this experience. I’ll miss you terribly…