Offering up the rationale that she had to go out of town, my trainer canceled our appointment.
I knew the “real” reason: She had grown tired of me, leaving to find another greybeard to tutor; tossing me to the curb like yesterday’s recyclables. As revenge, I would forgo my exercise regiment; opting instead to sleep late, eat immense amounts of sugary snacks, gain lots of weight, and make her feel guilty. Don’t mess with the male ego; it is a bewildering and convoluted place.
However, fate interceded and my eyes popped open at 3:30 AM, leaving me restless and incapable of returning to the embracing arms of Hypnos. Since I could not sleep, the question became, “what do I do at this hour?”
I could exercise.
The notion of huffing, puffing, bending, and squatting in the cold morning dampness – with no trainer guiding over and coercing me – struck me as being as appealing as bathing in ice water. Yet, in this pre-dawn mentally fuzzy state, activity sounded more attractive than staring at dark bedroom walls; so I ventured out doors, thinking, “I can walk to the bakery and get a donut.” Strapping on walking shoes, iPod, and fleece vest, I set forth into the inhospitable chilly climes of dawn.
Soon my fitter angels won out; I detoured to the park, and was indeed huffing, puffing, bending, and squatting at my usual workout locale. As uncoordinated as I felt, I assumed passing motorists would deduce I was in the midst of a seizure and stop to offer assistance. Since none did, I continued uninterrupted, completing my routine well before the bakery opened. I then urged myself to kill time by actually jogging, establishing short goals to avoid over-exertion.
Upon reaching the sidewalk that bounds the park, I thought, “That’s easy” and set my sights for a telephone pole down the block. Pole by pole, house by house, I advanced until, flush with the ecstasy of accomplishment but reaching my limit, I prepared to stop — until I saw a woman running ahead of me.
Still smarting from being jilted by my trainer, a greater cause now made itself known. No longer about me seeking conditioning, this was now a battle between the sexes. For all that is good, noble, and fit in men, I must outrun this lone female jogger, demonstrating what I can do on my own so I could boast to my trainer, proving my independence.
Summoning all the machismo inherent in a middle aged, slightly soft, non-runner on the verge of collapse, I nonchalantly accelerated next to her, acting as if this was a typical practice. Without breaking stride, she waved, “Hi.”
Attempting to return the salutation with a husky, deep-voiced, “Howdy,” I was stunned when, instead of my usual manly, dulcet tones, all that exhaled from twixt my lips was a thick gasping, airy, sickly wheeze; akin to a pipe organ blasting with rotted bellows. Stunned (and probably frightened), her eyes opened huge and she stopped dead in her tracks.
Humiliated beyond belief, I accelerated with the last remaining tidbits of energy I possessed, disappearing behind a tree and collapsing in the grass, where I lie until I had enough strength to crawl to the bakery and claim my donut.