oh fer auld lang syne!

July 10th, 2008


I’m not really a competitive person. No, really, I’m not. I hate competitive sports. Kids would always pick me last for softball because I tended to daydream. I’d sit on the warm grass in the outfield and daydream, often wishing I had a book to read. I yawn at the thought of watching grown men wear extensive padding and skin-tight uniforms as they fight over a pigskin ball. And, um, well… the drama and excitement of the world cup is completely lost on me (sorry Euro-readers, nothing personal). I’d much rather compete against myself, which is why I’m more of a karate/yoga/tai chi person than a football/soccer(er, football)/racquetball person.

So this morning I’m schvitzing away on the treadmill at the gym. I hate the gym. The treadmill makes me feel like a giant hamster. But it’s right downstairs, and the machines there tell me things like how many calories I’ve burned off, which the lake, pretty as it is, does not. I’m up to level six, thirty minutes a pop. I’ve been gradually working ny way up from level two or so. I figure I’ll slowly work my way up to the highest level—with the biggest gradients and fastest speeds—and then extend my work out to a cool 45 minutes. But that’s a way off… at level six, I feel like my spleen is about to burst.

To keep my mind off the tedium of it all, I’ve got my MP3 player on, surfing the radio stations. Oh yeah! Vintage Janet, now I’m cooking! I pick up the pace and start miming “What have you done for me lately?” Just as I hit the “oooooh oooh ooooh yeah,” in walks this 18 year old on his summer vacation. He’s a skinny little tyke. Aw… he’s probably tiring himself out getting in shape for the ladies. How cute.

He gets on the treadmill next to mine and, without so much as stretching a hamstring, begins to run. And I mean really run. His sneakers are pounding the rubber faster than my lungs can remember to breathe. Holy running shoes, Batman. If this little pisher ran any faster his shoes would be smoking.

Suddenly my thighs feel heavier, my butt feels like jelly, and I could swear I’m developing auntie arms. You know, like when your aging aunt lifts up her great big arms to hug you and thirty inches of flab dangle from what used to be her triceps. Or biceps. Or something. I pretend that the 15 minutes remaining on my treadmill timer are my cooldown period. Yeah, that’s it. That’s why I’m moving slower than a tortoise in comparison. Maybe I’ve actually been running for 45 minutes already. At lightning speed. I’m just slowing it down a bit now, yeah. To the tune of Janet.

Jeez. I’ll bet this kid’s never even heard of Janet Jackson. He probably thinks Rhythm Nation is a Native American tribe that reaaaaaaaally likes to party, dude.

Aw Christ. I’m old.

I do my real cool down, slow as molasses.

My birthday is next week. I’ll be thirty three (a less scary number when it’s spelled out, n’est-ce pas?). I’m in—gulp—“my thirties.” When did my twenties recede into the distance like the dusty horizon in a road trip movie? How did I get here, running a mental race with a boy nearly half my age?

Thirty three.



At least the college kids in the elevator still hit on me. “Hey gorgeous,” says my young coffee-complexioned neighbor. Me? Is he talking to me? Shucks. I grin like an idiot and laugh nervously. I’m nearly old enough to be his mother. Doesn’t he know? Maybe he likes older women. Still, how cute. This little pisher made my day.

33. As they say in Yiddish: “wear it in good health.” Yeah, I think I will.

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