Here’s why it NEVER SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED!
First, I’d just RUN A MILE. Seriously. I did it on a treadmill because Northern Virginia has become an aquatic neighborhood of late; it was raining when I arrived for my Body Dynamics session with Barbara. It’s raining right now.
(Advice: If you’re ANYWHERE near Falls Church, Virginia, treat yourself to Barbara. She’s uncanny in her ability to read a body, motivate a spirit, and never set an exercise too hard to actually do.)
Next, after my session with Barbara, I moved one room over to do Stretch Class with Clara. (Clara is moving on in two weeks, which is a tragedy for me but not for her; she’s going to intern with the George Washington swim team trainers, which sounds amazingly cool plus she’s fresh out of college and adorably cute and thus it isn’t creepy for HER to lust after and perhaps have romances with those college men’s triangular swimmer’s bodies – like watching Timothy Olyphant walk across a TV screen, all wide shoulders and snaky hips and puma-like grace… lord, I have COMPLETELY lost my train of thought and need to start again.)
After my session with Barbara, Clara said she’d seen me running on the treadmill and that my form looked really good. That alone is astonishing for someone (me, not Clara) who has spent so many years (MANY years) avoiding running for just about any reason at all. Light changes halfway across the crosswalk? No one WANTS to hit a pedestrian; they’ll slow down, right? About to miss the train? Eh, another one will be along. Rabid dog heading this way? Well, it’s just a series of painful injections to the belly; why run now?
So here was a trained fitness expert (a child, but she’d graduated with a degree in whatever) telling me that my running form was no source of embarrassment. Of course, I’m Barbara-trained; I knew I wasn’t making horrible errors… but still, it was very nice to hear, so I was pumped up and sassy.
And finally, I was dressed in fitness garb. Spanxex-influenced pants to just below the knee in always-slimming black, and then a blue shirt big enough to cover the part of my body where the blooming happens.
That is, my legs are beginning to look pretty good. Naked in front of a mirror, I’m not dissatisfied until pretty high up on the thigh, and then things bloom like algae in the Great Lakes. Ampleness ensues. Oxygen deprivation due to fat clotting. That goes on for another foot or so – flared hips, what might be generously described as a Rubenesque belly, a posterior for which “drooping” is the best descriptor – until the waist, at which point things get better, and the threat of accidental public nudity is no longer nightmarish. Healthiness is working down from the top of my head and up from the soles of my feet; I’m pathetic at about the hinge, and the rest is getting okay.
The point is, I was looking not only pretty good (with effective camouflaging) but I also looked like someone who had recently engaged in reasonably vigorous exercise. I was moving as if my joints had all been oiled and as if nothing hurt, because—thank you, Barbara and Grace and Gwynn—nothing does hurt.
So when the teenager at the cash register awarded me a “Seniors Tuesday” 5% discount on my groceries, I was thrown.
I wanted to reach across the conveyor belt and drag his skinny torso toward me to enquire – with desperation, not violence – do I look like a senior? DO I?? Seriously – really??
I really don’t care much about my age; I’m 58 and consistently getting better. But there were still two ancient people in the check-out aisle in front of me, suspiciously studying the three-foot-long receipt the teenager had just given them as if they thought he might have listed their bank account, their blood types, and the location of Great Aunt Irma’s pearl broach. Shit – THEY deserve the senior discount. Do I look like they do??!
On the other hand – maybe the kid just gave the discount to everyone he checked for. He had a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy of just slapping a 5% discount down for every customer, rightly assuming no one (including me) would say “Hold on there, my good man – I am not yet a senior. I WANT to pay more for my grapefruit and organic Greek whole milk no sugar plain yogurt.”
(All right – and also my container of Ben and Jerry’s. Don’t judge.)
A vast, orchestral argument ran through my brain as I smiled vacantly at the little boy at the register. I accepted my receipt and walked out (passing the elderly couple, still intently focused on the military launch codes apparently embedded in their sales receipt), feeling very out of sorts… but ever so slightly richer. Five percent.
Truth: Would you look at this face and decide you don’t even have to ask if she qualifies for a 5% senior discount? I can take it. You can say “yes.” But… really??
(Nice dog, huh??)