The other day at the gym, a pretty twenty-something asked why I worked out after I completed a hundred squats. The look of incongruity covered my face. Huh? The answer required a few seconds of thought because people speak Spanish too fast for me to understand at first. Exercise is the best thing in the world for me and I love it.
This little girl at the age where her body hasn’t even rounded out, looking like a skinny teenager said in Spanish, “Por salud? For health?” In her eyes I could see her sincerity; she wasn’t being a smartass. None the less I could read in her face the wonder why a fat old lady worked so hard. After all, you’re still old, why not just rest on the porch until your time comes? How sweet, her big brown eyes pitied me.
After processing the magical mystery tour of a young girl’s thoughts all I could do was nod and say, “Yeah, for health.”
Her face scrunched up like she wanted to cry. Oh, shit, she thinks I’m going to die. Lord in heaven, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be young and that stupid, but now it comes back to me like the memory of skin so soft.
“I exercise so I can continue to be strong enough to do things around the house.”
Her look said, “Like what?”
“I buy dog food in fifty-pound bags. If I didn’t exercise moving it would hurt my back.” Perhaps this practical answer would justify my presence at the gym.
Her face said loudly, “You poor thing!”
Who, me, came the internal reply. Believe how glad I felt that she didn’t verbalize this!
What could I do, but return to my workout? Her big kind eyes made contact with mine and we smiled as we moved to a new machine. She lowered the machine settings by about half each time she got on one I’d just finished. About the third time, I smiled and winked at her as she adjusted the weight. “Yeah, you’ve got a long road ahead of you; enjoy!”