I had a perfectly lovely time with Maayan and her daughters. Food.
Friends. Lots of toys for the kids to throw around the room. It was
great. Maayan, I thought, looks wonderful for a woman who had given
birth less than a year ago.
I, apparently, do not.
When I got home, I had this e-mail waiting for me from Maayan: “So … are you?”
I? Am I what, mortified? Yes, yes I am. I am horribly mortified. I
wrote Maayan back to assure her that I am not pregnant. She gave me a
very Israeli shrug of an apology.
“Oh, I'm sorry,” she wrote. “You look it.”
true. After 14 months, I'm back into all my pre-pregnancy clothes, but
I have a little paunch that doesn't seem to know the party's over. I
curse this paunch.
When Mom asked me if I was pregnant a few
weeks ago, I didn't flinch. Women grow accustomed to quasi-competitive,
inappropriate jabs from their mothers. But a girlfriend? Girlfriends
know better. Maayan wouldn't have said anything if I didn't really,
really look like I'd picked up a fetal hitchhiker.
My ever-helpful hubby tried to cheer me up. My belly isn't so bad, he said.
“But Maayan said I look pregnant.”
“She is probably just referring to your acne.”
I plan to start speaking to my husband again in 2008. In the meantime, I IM'd Leslie.
she wrote. I could practically hear her sigh. “I'm about to spell out
your future for you. Are you ready? For your future?
go to the gym with me three to four times a week. You will cut out
sodas. And you will lose your rather microscopic paunch in about two
“In the meantime, you will continue to enjoy your tiny
little jeans and your tiny little birdie arms and your perfectly
sculpted shoulders and whine from your perfectly pouty lips about how
ugly you are.”
Sometimes I think Leslie reads to me from a magic quote book called “Say All the Right Things Right Now!”
I didn't very much like the future she foretold. The sodas I would
abide. I shouldn't drink that garbage anyway. But the gym?
used to be a regular gym-goer. There was a time, in fact, that I went
every day. In my early 20s I contemplated getting a side job as an
aerobics instructor. But then one day, quite randomly, I remembered an
example my professor used in a lecture about cognitive dissonance
theory: “I can say I go to the gym because I enjoy working out. But
maybe it's that, because I go to the gym, I just think I enjoy working
“Hmm,” I thought, while marching repetitively in place on
a machine coated in the thick barbecue sauce of hundreds of strangers'
sweat. “You know what? I hate this.”
That was several years
ago. So when I laced up my running shoes to meet Leslie at her gym,
they were well preserved. Problem was, they were also a half size too
small. I forgot my feet grew three years ago (who knew feet can grow in
I treadmilled. I stationary biked. I stretched. I even watched Anderson Cooper on closed-caption TV.
I did not do is feel the endorphin rush promised me by the Ghost of
Workouts Past. Nor did I feel like doing this three times a week could
have any effect on my abs. I didn't feel anything, really, other than
uncomfortable and silly for wearing too-small shoes.
When I ask
myself if I hate what I look like more than I hate exercising, the
answer is yes. But will I work out as a result? No. First of all, my
shoes don't fit. Also, I'm so paunchy I don't like the way I look in my
workout clothes. It's a vicious cycle. A vicious, potbellied cycle.
Leslie is adamant that exercise is the answer to everything from the
blues to scabies. So she looks at me funny when I fail to share her
enthusiasm after our workout.
“Don't you feel great?” Leslie asked, as she bounded out the gym door.
“No,” I said.
But I can't say the excursion was a total bomb: My feet hurt so much, I forgot about my gut.