Anyone observing me as I stumble through my workout at the gym might be put in mind of a particularly slapsticky* episode of The Three Stooges. But where three stooges are considered a laugh riot, one lone stooge is a rather pathetic sight. In the space of a forty minute workout yesterday, I managed no fewer than half a dozen embarrassing incidents, from working the resistance on the equipment backwards (in which I dangled awkwardly from the handlebars of the shoulder press machine, ineffectually trying to pull the equivalent of four hundred pounds with my hundred and *mumble* pound frame) to catching my foot in the pedal guard on the elliptical machine, only narrowly avoiding a violent nosedive into the athletic Jane Goodall doppelganger panting away on the stair climber next to me.
And that count doesn’t even include the many small embarrassments that go along with being out of shape. For example, I start off my workout with ten minutes of cardio on the elliptical, but only because eleven minutes would kill me. And I choose a program and a level of difficulty that will permit me to keep moving for the entire ten minutes without awkward pauses to drink, gasp for breath, or throw up. That level is one. So there I was, heart pounding, lungs whistling, watching the clock and trying not to die, when along came Jane Goodall. She took the machine to my right, and, although I tried not to stare, I caught a glimpse as she chose her program. I’m pretty sure it was called “Everest”, and I swear her difficulty level had three digits in it. When she turned her head to check the clock behind us, I casually tossed my towel over the screen on my machine. As I see it, there’s no need to feed Jane’s superiority complex.
I could go on, but I know you’re waiting for me to get to the topless part, so let’s move on.
Since I leave for the gym at five in the morning, I try to plan ahead and pack my duffel bag the night before so that I can just grab it as I stumble blearily out the door. I prefer to take a shower and get dressed at the gym before heading back to the house to pick everybody up for school. That way I can arrive at home all fresh and ready (and, more importantly, I can finish an entire shower without a little fist pounding on the door or a little head poking into the bathroom to ask me where I put the breakfast bars.)
Yesterday, I pushed myself hard on the circuit training equipment. After a workout that would have made Spartacus cry, it was a relief to finally drag my sore, sweaty body into the locker room and ease it under the hot water. Unfortunately, when I stepped, clean and refreshed, out of the shower, I made a dismaying discovery. I had neglected to pack a clean shirt. Jeans, underthings, socks, shoes—everything was there except a top.
It took only a moment to evaluate my options. With two fingers, I gingerly picked up the perspiration-streaked T-shirt I had worn while I exercised. The thought of pulling that damp scrap of material over my freshly scrubbed and deodorized skin was appalling.
So I did the only other thing I could do.
I pulled on my coat, buttoned it up to my chin, and held my head up high as I made my sweeping exit—a secret streaker, boldly (if covertly) defying the spirit of the “no shirt, no shoes, no service” sign on the door. I couldn’t suppress a tiny giggle as I made my escape into the brand new, dawn-streaked morning.
Arriving home, I found Paul getting dressed in the bedroom.
“Hey, guess what I forgot this morning?” I sang out, whipping open my coat.
“You forgot your shirt?” he gasped.
“Yeah; isn’t that hilarious?” I grinned.
He didn’t look like he thought it was hilarious. In fact, he looked faintly horrified. I didn’t understand what his problem was, until his next question cleared it all up:
“Then…what did you work out in?”
*I don’t care what Spellcheck says; it’s a word, and I’m using it.