Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Different Strokes

Yesterday morning when I arrived at the gym for my workout, my trainer was out walking his dog. There was only one other woman there. It was just the two of us. We offered the obligatory greetings and each went about our business, she on the floor doing leg stretches with a thick rubber exercise band and me on the stationary bike, warming up.

Glimpsing her from the corner of my eye, I was struck by our differences. Roughly four decades separated us. I was there to strengthen myself for my upcoming hip surgery, as if anything could prepare one for such an assault on the body, the surgeon slicing me open and somehow extracting my authentic hip joint, nestled in there since birth, replacing it with a steel ball and rod contraption made in a factory somewhere in England. She was there to maintain her already muscular body just for the heck of it, as so many people do these days.

She was quite attractive despite the dubious decisions she had made: Exactly one half of her short hair was bright pink, the other half a brownish purple. She sported a nose ring, a silver ball hovering over one eyebrow and five or six earrings cascading down each earlobe. Her toned arms were covered with several large, colorful tattoos, each with its own complicated story line and including fantastic birds, intricate flowers, a pin-up girl and some heavy black Hebrew writing that appeared to be a complete sentence.

I wondered how her parents felt about her various adornments, imagining how, if she were my daughter, I would likely plotz each time I saw her. She probably wondered how anyone could be as drab as me, with just my two tiny gold earrings and a few blond streaks in my hair. Still, we exchanged a few pleasantries about the weather until our trainer returned with the dog, and the moment passed.

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