Category Archives: getting older

Birthdays Aren’t for Whimps

Let’s be honest. Nobody likes birthdays. Seriously. You’re either dreading the birthday calls, hoping you don’t have to be the center of attention at the monthly birthday gathering at the office or crossing your fingers you don’t have to pretend to LOVE what your mate gives you. Wow, thanks. I’ve always wanted a Big Foot Chia-pet.

Truly, the only one who enjoys a birthday with authorized reckless abandon is a 1-year old. Cake in the hair. No problem. Take their clothes off. No problem. Scream and yell. No problem. Throw the gifts on the floor. No problem. If I did that on my birthday at the kitchen table, I’m pretty sure they’d consider it a break down. “Well you know, she’s not a spring chick anymore.”

I believe I missed the governmental memo on extended birthdays. When did it become the norm to celebrate your birthday for the whole month? I’m going to let you in on a secret, nobody is excited to celebrate your birthday for longer than a day. And that’s pushing it. It’s exhausting. Hip, hip, hooray…let’s do another toast to the birthday person who is turning 22, 34 or 42 and break out the next wave of mandatory gifts and festive attire. This stuff wears down one’s soul faster than an eraser on the SATs.

Don’t get me wrong, I did like birthdays when I was a little kid. Deciding who to invite, dressing up in my fancy dress, having cake and of course, the presents! But at some point, I realized I was just glad to make it through another year. Oh look, where did that body creak, age spot, facial hair come from? It’s par for the course as I successfully roll the stone one revolution up the hill each year.

Speaking of bodily changes, exactly at what age do your toenails start to resemble cat claws? My toenails are two things…thick and sharp. It’s gotten to the point where I’m considering using a Dremel for maintenance. If I’m not careful, I’m going to be like the cats and start snagging the carpet if I go too long between trimmings. A few weeks ago I changed the sheets on our bed and to my surprise there was a tear towards the bottom of the flat sheet.

On my side.

Well, how did that get there I wondered? Maybe the cats were burrowing. Did it happen last time in the wash and I didn’t notice? How old are these sheets? Then it dawned on me. My toe nails.

What is truly horrifying about birthdays are the restaurant celebrations. We have all been witness or unwilling victim to the restaurant fiasco. One of two things happens:

  • A troupe of overly enthusiastic singers arrive with your dessert. It’s obvious they love celebrating birthdays, evidenced by their harmony singing, wide smiles and wild clapping. If you’re lucky, the performance comes complete with confetti and colored lights at your table. It’s such an outstanding performance, you’re left wondering if you should tip them.
  • The other option is where the fearless leader, who has the undignified task of celebrating a birthday in their section, grabs unobservant servers as they cross the room with your cake. Heaven willing, they will NOT be the solo birthday singer today. (Servers who have an eye for avoiding awkward situations have already high-tailed it to the walk-in freezer.) By the time they reach your table, the group looks like they’ve been told to lick the underside of the dining table. Down comes your cake and a hurried “Happy Birthday” is shouted before they retreat.

My husband is not fazed by anything. I could walk in with a face tattoo and he’d simply say, “if that’s what you want.” I could tell a cashier that I would like my groceries wrapped individually in plastic bags so my cats can’t see what I bought….and he would add on to the storyline. “It’s only because we taught them to read and they’re currently the number one You Tube video”, would be one of his potentially added lines.

Awhile back for his birthday, my mother thought she’d get one over on him. We all went to a nice restaurant for dinner. (The kind with table linens.) Somewhere after salad but before entrees, a lady came in with a radio and made a bee-line for our table. I didn’t know what was coming and braced for impact.

A belly dancer.

Hired to dance for my husband.

At our table.

Ching -ching! Ching-ching!

Hip wiggle. Hip wiggle.

My husband didn’t blink. Instead, he moved his chair out so he could participate in the hand gestures. Ching-ching. Ching-ching.

I, on the other hand, didn’t know which way to look. I hate birthdays.

I always feel bad when someone knows it my birthday and asks what the plans are for the big day. It’s such a let down for them. Who knew people lived vicariously through other’s birthdays? My big plan is to go scoop poop at the farm sanctuary I volunteer at, make pesto for dinner and read my murder mystery novel before bed. Although this year I did splurge and picked up a tiramisu for dessert. When you tell someone that, you loose them the moment you say, “poop.” Meh, whatever, it makes me happy.

That’s what it’s all about. Be yourself and be happy. You don’t need the extravagant celebrations to appreciate and acknowledge your accomplishments or who you are as a person. Love yourself every day, not just on your birthday. Be proud of all your creaks, hair in unusual places, gray highlights (Now people pay money for gray hair!), stress lines and laugh lines. It means you’re a survivor and you’ve got this.

Oh yeah, after the belly dancer episode, The Mother and I signed up for belly dancing classes. We lasted 3 classes. Honestly, I only went so I could get a pair of the ching-chings.

Lift This. Sweat on That.

Who invented the idea of going to a gym?
Who decided it was a good idea to go into a room and sweat with a bunch of strangers?
No. I mean really.
Who?

gym 4
Have you seen what they were doing? The first gym rats willingly went to sweat and do physical activity with strangers in a dark room. Actually, kinda sounds kinky, but you know…why not…Marge said it would be good for me.

And so they went.

I get the whole men going to the gym, back in the day. The lifestyle changed. No longer were they running around hunting and killing animals. Dinosaurs weren’t trying to eat them all the time. They didn’t have to carve instructions into stone. Fields were plowed by tractor, not ox. And they no longer had to walk to work, uphill both ways, in the snow, without shoes….cause they had a horse and buggy.

How did all this get started?

Gym5

How exactly did you get selected to be a guinea pig for these contraptions? Here just step into this and strap this on. No. Really. Trust me.

Yeah and that’s exactly what Sweeney Todd said before he trimmed your hair. Then you were the main ingredient in his lover’s meat pies. Oh so delicious. Filling, yet half the calories.

I’m not impressed.

And when did women think it necessary to start torturing themselves on these mind-boggling machines? The women of yesteryear were, without a doubt, in better shape than most are in today’s society.

Their movie star golden girls had curves and softness, voluptuous bodies that were adored by men the world over. So who said this contraption was a good idea? Jiggle it, make the fat disappear and the muscles appear. Gym 3 is just a little too much pushing and pulling going on in this example. I mean, how exactly do you make it go?

I’m suspicious that there were quite possibly other enjoyments going on with the early exercise machines.

I’m also not seeing any instructions on these machines. Did it just come to Marge automatically? So obvious how this works, type of moment? Did they fumble through the steps after watching someone else? Or did they have personal trainers? Was there a posting in the daily mailer reviewing the necessary steps to getting the Betty Boop attributes?

I’m just curious.

Did they sweat? There doesn’t seem to be any sweating going on here. And if you go to a gym today and I would assume this goes for ANY gym – they smell. Some worse than others. But it’s like they say on the crime shows, “just breathe normally and you’ll get used to it.”

No getting over it. Gyms smell.

Bad.

No doubt the men sweat. It was therapy for them.

Women, I’m thinking not so much. They didn’t start sweating until Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons hit the scene. Then I’m fairly certain they were sweating to the oldies and goodies.

gym 1 No sweating here.

I bring all this up because I’ve been going to my local gym. It’s a new place for me since we’ve only been in this area for 3 months. Less than a 5 minute drive from my house, couldn’t ask for anything better.

Since college, however, I’ve belonged to a handful of different gyms and I’ve concluded one thing:
It’s like signing up to become a resident of another country.

I can only speak to the environments of the countries I willingly joined, all seemed like good ideas at the time. Flash back on some of them and I think WTF?

First.
There are the ones in town where people join to go and be seen. There’s no sweating allowed. In fact, as you walk in, they spritz you with glittery body oil….just to make you shine and sparkle even more. The residents of these gyms are usually the ones who are half plastic.

Top to tail….fake. Fake. Fake. Fake. Fake.

Fake.

They laugh loudly and prance like reindeers from one side of the room to the other. Did you see me? No? Here, let me go over there and look at the magazines. Wait, did you see my butt? No? Let me go this way….

Just stop the insanity, please. I’m may throw up.

Second.
There is the local gym, which houses two different types of residents – mostly:

1. Older residents who have been told to start a gym program for their health.
2. Middle aged people who just want to try and look better.

The side note for this type is sometimes you get a local gym, owned/operated by a locally grown person who is definitely into good health and weight lifting. In which case, you may get some serious body builders. But, that’s okay, they’re doing their own thing and really, the owner of this particular country just wants to keep it going and is happy you’re there. In fact, so happy, they will even help you learn new exercises! Score! Didn’t need a trainer for that!

The local gym, out of all the ones I’ve experienced, has been my favorite…..thus far.

Third.
A gym that is part of your housing community.
One word.
Children.

Fourth.
Is only allowed for individuals with estrogen.
The pink ladies gym.
I’m not talking about the Grease Lightening Pink Ladies either.
The color pink.
Pink walls. Light pink carpet. Pink towels.
Pink.
And the competition is so high that you can’t hear the music on your head phones.

Conversations, are flung with these one line, free roaming daggers:

“My butt isn’t as big as hers, right?”
“I can’t believe she’s wearing THOSE pants.”
“She smells.”
“Her tan is so fake.”
“I can lift more than that girl.”
“Are you looking at me?”
“Look! At how much she’s sweating! GROSS!”
“Do you think they’re real?”
“Slut.”

Yep, that about sums it up.

So here I am at my current gym. This was after I realized the gym associated with our housing complex was not going to work out…..see above explanation.

I’m on my second month now. It’s not bad.
Smells? Yes.
Lots of equipment. Bonus.

I have been going after work. It’s a enormous mix of younger folks (translate that into college kids), a smattering folks my age (some grey hair sprinkles) and few older folks (translate that into white hair and balding.) It’s crowded, but not terrible. Definitely have to wait for things like benches to do free weights, but meh, I can find something else. Definitely no ginormous body builders here – that I’ve witnessed. So we’re all doing about the same and hoping to look as good as that person over there.

The bonus here – no grunting. Seriously. There could be a law about that in this place. Thank you.

When I go, I’m in the zone. I’m not paying too much attention to who is looking at who or not looking. I’m in and out. I don’t have time for the piddly nonsense of the gym social scene. I mind my etiquette and move on.

Confession though: I do notice that I am one of the older women. I do notice the college girls looking at me. I don’t care, I’ll march over into the mix of the boys and use the free weight leg press just like any of those guys wishing he was like Popeye, but these college girls won’t. I will hop up on the assisted pull up / dip (cause my arms are weak and I need the help) and not give two flying monkeys what anyone thinks. If nobody, after careful surveillance of course, is using one of the Smith Machines, I will walk over and do some squats. the-smith-machine-good-or-bad
Life is too fucking short to worry about what everyone else is thinking about you. In all honesty, they’re probably not even noticing.

Unless I fall off the assisted pull up – then I’ll be damned they would of course be watching, with a spotlight, sports commentator and I’d get a 3.7 combined score for landing it.

Or if I collapse under the Smith Machine because my hands slipped and I can’t get the weight off my collapsed body. (Talk about awkward positioning.) The next day’s headline will read: “Woman crushed by mere 50 pound weight while squatting. Should have used gloves to avoid slippage.” Hindsight.

This morning I decided to switch things up and go first thing. No make up. I didn’t even comb my hair – just put a clip in it. 5:30AM – and there I was at the gym.

THIS, for me —— insanity! The cats were even confused with my early wake up. If sleeping were an Olympic sport, I could get a bronze medal!

The gym parking lot was nearly empty. What is this great fortune I have? Park by the front door? Are they open yet?

Turns out all the college kids come after work. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

I walk in and any machine I wanted could have been mine. The age bracket – completely different. I was one of the young chicklets walking around. Everyone was in sweat pants or baggy shorts. Nobody was wearing liquid latex body paint outfits….oh, this is nice!

I’ve found my people! This is when the people in my age bracket and older come to work out. They’re serious. They’re here to get a job done and then jump head first into the rest of their daily routine.

They aren’t here to fein idiocy at how to do a bicep curl.
They aren’t here to twirl their hair and laugh at the guys doing bicep curls.
They aren’t here to prance from one side of the room to the other. Wait. Did you notice my butt?
They’re not here to try and out weight the guy next to them in the mirror!

We’ve got shit to get done and in under 60 minutes.

Go!
Go!
Go!

I can’t wait to go back tomorrow! We’re like a little early morning gang!

Maybe tomorrow I’ll wear my Jazzercise thong!

Jane Fonda thong

That has as much of a chance at happening as me finding Forrest Griffen on the machine next to me.

In which case, I’d totally be twirling my hair and feigning how to do a bicep curl.