For months, I’ve been telling myself, “When I get back from Scotland, I’m hitting the gym.” Toodling around castles and crannogs was fun, but I’m painfully aware that one of the curses of aging is loss of muscle mass. The cause is hormonal, the solution is to use the muscles if I don’t want to lose them.
The conversation with the gym manager went something like this: “So what are your goals, Grace?”
I don’t set goals. “To get stronger, so I don’t end up going into assisted living twenty years too soon, where I will sit on the throne three times a day calling for help until somebody slouches over to the bathroom to deal with me.”
Blink. “You want to get stronger.”
“Yep.” And I was serious about the assisted living part, but this woman was at least twenty-five years my junior. Mustn’t scare the children.
“And… what about weight loss?”
“Nope. I’m not here to lose weight.”
She stared at her clipboard as if trying to recall the bonus question from the final in Difficult Clients 101. “Do you want your clothes to be looser?”
“Nope. Strength. That’s what I want. I had it once, I want it back.”
“Well! Strength is a part of any well-rounded fitness program…” And on it went. I’d timed this get-acquainted session for when the gym was empty, and sure enough, when I embarked on my solo workout, the only other person on the equipment was the cleaning lady, who was goofing around with one of the personal trainers on the machines I wasn’t using. They were having a high old time, giggling, laughing, frolicking in my purgatory.
When I finished, the cleaning lady (complete with bandana on her cleaning lady hair), asked me, “So how do you feel?”
Persecuted. Hopeless. Exhausted. Resentful. “Like crap.”
She beamed at me. “Like good crap? Like you just kicked it, y’all can’t touch this, good crap?”
“No. I. Feel. Like. Crap. Thank you for asking. I’ll see you Friday.”
After that exchange, I felt worse than crap. She was trying to be kind to a newcomer, and I snarled at her. True to my word, however, I went back Friday, did my circuit, and yes, it was just as un-fun on Friday as it was the first time, and the zillions of other times I’ve done weights. The cleaning lady did not ask me how I felt.
I approached her, though. “I owe you an apology. You asked how I felt last time I was here, and I was rude. I’m sorry.”
She beamed at me, though in a different way. “I’ve heard worse. I wished you a blessing and went about my day. Don’t worry about it, we all have bad days.”
My body still felt like crap, and I wish, if modern science is going to create little blue pills for amorous old duffers, it would also create a safe, legal, cheap pill for people with slow metabolisms, but apologizing did lift a weight from my heart.
I’d done wrong, I was ashamed of myself, and I apologized. Not complicated, but profound. How grateful I am that I could undo some of the emotional stink I’d left in that gym by a few sincere words.
When was the last time you apologized after making a boo-boo? Or maybe somebody surprised you with an apology? Did it help? Makes things worse? Fall flat but at least you tried?
To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of Ashton: Lord of Truth.