by Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
would like to tell you about going to the gym with my boys Ė David, who is fifteen
and Andy who is ten. I say that I would like to tell you about it, but I donít
know if I am physically capable of it. At the moment I have a pencil clamped between
my teeth and I am typing by gently bobbing my head over the key board. Odd, I
know, but every muscle in my body is screaming in protest. Did you know that you
use butt muscles to type? Oh, ow, yeah. Especially on the letters "y" and "h."
Whoídve thunk? We started working out again this week after a brief (ten month)
hiatus. We did really great last summer, going to the health club two or three
times every single week. Then school started and . . . well, you know how it goes.
summer Andy worked out with the staff at the gym. David liked the free weights
and the girls and I worked together. We each got on a tread mill and would stroll
along flipping through Cosmo and chatting. We used the weight machines, swam,
and spent lots of time in the whirlpool and the steam room. But this summer the
girls are off blossoming into young adults and Iím left to work out with the boys.
The first day they started me off easy, "Because of your age problem, Mom." Two
miles on the bike, then the stair thing until my knees dissolved. Then they rolled
me over to the weight machines. I argued for "light weight, frequent reps" pointing
out helpfully to them that I was at very high risk for osteoporosis since they
had nearly sucked the life out of me during my pregnancies, but they were having
none of that. "Mom, my shoes weigh more than that. Push it a little, why doncha!"
First they put me on the Screaming Eagle Leg Blaster. They had to adjust the seat
for me because that pin is really hard to pull out. I could barely keep track
of where I was because I found the guffawing distracting. And they are such sticklers!
"Mom, listen to yourself! Eighty-nine does not come after twelve!" The rest of
the session is kind of a blur of agony for me. I think I greyed out. I am fairly
sure at least one of those machines they put me on was adapted from some manhood
ritual somewhere, although I donít see any evidence of needles being bored through
my pects. After the weight machines they tried to get back at me for all the injustices
I had perpetrated on them in their young lives by sticking me in the racquetball
court and proceeding to bombard me with a little blue ball. I won though, because
they kept losing their footing in the big puddles of perspiration I left when
I was thrumming like a high tension line in a windstorm
and I thought we were done after they got mad when I tried to hide that nasty
little ball in the back of my shorts. But no. I thought when we headed downstairs
we were heading for the locker rooms. But no, again. The basketball courts are
downstairs. When I was a kid, we played "Horse." You know, you shoot until you
get a basket and thatís an "H" and then each subsequent basket is the next letter
until you have spelled "horse" and then you go have some Oreos and red Kool-Aid.
We played "Wimpy." I think they made it up. You had to shoot for each letter,
just like in Horse, but then they said the loser had to run around the basketball
court with the ball under their shirt quacking like a duck. I lost, but I didnít
have to do the quacking part. I just casually asked them how many times they wanted
liver and onions for supper in the coming week, and they decided it was time to
go swimming. I might be out of shape, but Iím no fool and I do the cooking. I
just reminded them of what they already knew.
I think itís great that
my boys are interested in getting fit, and I thought it would be a good way for
us to bond, something we could do together that didnít involve any cleaning products.
But once again I was wrong. Itís O.K. though, Iíll still go to the health club
with them. But next time Iím taking Grandma Beth with me and the boys can just
fend for themselves. Grandma Beth knows how important a nice steam is, and she
wonít make me cry.