I don't even know where to begin.
See? Still voiceless, and it was my plucky, 93 year-old Aunt Ruby who had the stroke this week – not me.
I'll begin in a strip mall, I guess. Good things seldom begin begin a strip mall. But that's where it happened. Dumbstruck by a simple question in a suburban strip mall.
Silenced I was.
See, I am stalling. This hasn't been a good week. Okay I am just going to spit it out.
"So... Cindy," the perky girl said, "Are you retired?"
Everything fell silent, at least inside my head. The room was actually quite noisy, with blaring dance music and 30-second intervals of a voice yelling "change stations".
Retarded? I thought to myself. Did she just ask me if I was retarded?
I prayed she was inappropriate and said retarded. Please, make her have said retarded. Yes! I am retarded, I thought. I've always been retarded. I've been retarded for as long as I can remember. I'm here training for the Special Olympics. Clearly I must look retarded or she wouldn't have asked me. Pleeeeeease tell me you meant retarded. I have never wanted to be retarded so badly in my entire life.
"Are you retired?" I heard her ask again, in what seemed like slow motion.
I saw her youthful lips moving but I was deafened by the voices in my own head. I would have cut my arm off like that guy in 127 Hours just to get the fuck out of there.
I finally spoke. "Retired?" An inaudible whisper, after what seemed like hours.
"What kind of work did you do?" she continued, cheerily.
"Did?" I said in a whisper.
"Really?" I pleaded meekly.
Out of sheer desperation I found myself at Curves. Curves! The gym where women supposedly change their lives 30 minutes. Mine changed in less than 30 seconds flat.
There I was surrounded by women – so old and fat in some cases – that I felt like a starlet on the red carpet. Or at least I did. One simple question and suddenly I felt like I belonged there.
And I didn't like it.
The rest is just a blur. I went through the motions like I was shell shocked. The instructor introduced me to the weight resistance machines, and to some of the ladies bouncing up and down for 30 seconds in between each brittle-bone "workout". Everyone was so nice and supportive, but I couldn't move past the voice in my head that kept assuring me that I was indeed quite obviously retarded, and didn't look a day over 35. Retarded people have such a youthful glow about them – always jolly and eager to please. I am often mistaken for being politically incorrect and retarded. It happens all the time.
Will I go back?
I don't know.
That's a difficult question.
Curves has several locations in HRM. For a free week, and a fitness evaluation click here.