October 30, 2004
I may not be bitter, but God, I’m
getting tired. The endless parade of
doctors and tests and hospitals is a pain in the ass, but not having a
definitive diagnosis is making me nuts.
So far the working theory is that I had a small stroke because I didn’t take enough of my meds, and
if that’s the case, I have been told that its effects will (in all likelihood)
It didn’t paralyze any part of me
or completely zone me out, but for a while there I was absolutely unable to
perform the simplest of tasks having to do with sorting or organizing things
and I’d find myself grasping for a word and not being able to remember it. Scary and very frustrating. I can deal with my body not cooperating with
me, but when my brain starts to do it too, I feel I must draw the line.
To add to the fun, I’ve been
having cluster seizures and have reluctantly gone back on medication to control
them. I hate this stuff – I can’t think
on it, it makes me throw up and I could sleep for most of the day. In fact, staying awake is a constant
So on doctor’s orders, I’m evolving into a gym rat – a truly
humbling experience for one not blessed with natural grace or even basic motor
I joined the club close to my
house because I know myself well enough to recognize that if I have to go out
of my way at all to work out, chances are I won’t. It’s an expensive, upscale gym and although I didn’t realize it
when I joined, it’s a major meat market.
I’ve always frequented women only gyms and this coed one has been a
surreal environment to work out in.
While I stagger in wearing ripped
up sweats and an old t-shirt, the rest of the women do their hair and makeup
before leaving the change room. Their
workout gear is expensive and revealing because apparently the name of the game
is to attract a man – you can tell they think I’m lowering the tone. It’s amusing to observe – I feel like I’m
watching a Discovery Channel program on mating rituals. I sweat, turn red in the face, swear and drop
weights on my feet. They primp, simper
and flirt while lounging in provocative poses at the juice bar clad in designer
spandex. I’ve got no time for that
crap. (That being said, if anyone can
recommend a good sports bra, I’d be forever grateful. Victoria’s Secret just isn’t up to the challenge of restraining
the twins in aerobics class and I’ve got enough to worry about without fretting
over the possibility of knocking out my front teeth or blackening my eyes with
the impact. Besides, underwire hurts
when you’re leaping around like a fool.)
Perhaps in compensation for
smiting me with almost every disease known to man, God has blessed me with a
natural six-pack – which really is the least he could do, considering. You won’t find me in a spinning class
because I’d never survive it – I do 30 minutes on the lifecycle and another 45
on the weight machines. It’s hell on
your nails, but I’m really starting to get into it. I’m going every day, mainly because I’m paying through the nose
for the privilege. I never believed it
when others told me they were addicted to exercising, but I’m beginning to
change my mind about that. I have so
little control over most of the rest of my life at the moment that engaging in
something over which I do have dominion is quite reassuring.
And I’m looking forward to the
day when I’ll be able to bounce quarters off my butt and kick the crap out of
anyone who pisses me off (and that list has been compiled and is growing).
But the club does have its
drawbacks. I never for a moment
imagined my past would sneak up on me from behind, but yesterday as I was
straining to hoist a 10-pound free weight an inch off the ground, I heard the
voice of the Most Hated Man in Law School (at least while I was there).
I didn’t like the look of him way
back when, and now a decade later, I like him even less. Apart from the fact that the man resembles a
Ken doll come to life, his oily, superior manner only seems to have deepened
over the years.
“Well well,” he began. “I didn’t expect to see you here. Are you a member?”
“Yes,” I replied through gritted
“Wow. And you can afford
that? Legal Aid must be paying well.”
“I quit law.”
“Really?! Why?” he asked
absently, preening at his reflection in the mirrored wall.
“Because I hated the people it
“Yeah, I know what you mean” he
said, the irony sliding off him like sweat.
“So what are you doing with
yourself?” he asked, obviously bored and disinterested. None of the babes in
spandex were in evidence, so he was stuck talking to me. I couldn’t figure out why he didn’t just
move along. I loathed him while we were
in school – and he only sucked up to me because I was Dean’s List and he wanted
to steal my notes.
“I’m writing some. Reading a lot.”
“Reading, eh? I like getting lost in a good John Grisham
myself”, he mused (as I fake-hurled in my head). “You ever read him?”
“Once – when I was taking the
train to Windsor. Someone left it
between the seats and I’d forgotten to buy the Globe.”
“So, you don’t like Grisham. How about Scott Turow?”
“No, I’m talking about actual
“Shakespeare, eh? Yeah, he’s OK,” he said magnanimously,
throwing me a bone. “Well, things have
been going great with me.” I didn’t remember
asking, but that didn’t stop him from regaling me with the Tale of His Life.
Turns out he’s done quite well
for himself, the prick. He’s on his
third wife (the guy is maybe 35) and made partner at a big Bay Street law firm
about two years ago. My bet is that
he’s making at least $300,000.00 a year, unabashedly shielding corporate
polluters from those who would make them account for their misdeeds. He has a new Lexus, two homes (one in
Toronto and the other in Vancouver, where the firm has offices) and a condo in
He favoured me with a disdainful
glance. “Yeah, I remember what you were
like in law school. All “save the
world” and pro bono shit.” He laughed,
dismissing my ideals as youthful naiveté.
“You were always so afraid of selling out.”
“You weren’t.” That one slid right by him too.
“Well – it isn’t really a matter
of selling out. Let’s face it: we’re
all in the rat race. I just intend to
be the one who wins it.”
“And that makes you…what? The fastest rat? ”
He glared at me and stalked off,
in search of spandex clad lovelies who would be more responsive to his sleazy
Sadly, in no time at all, he
found one. I don’t know if these women
are suffering from extremely low self-esteem or are inherently masochistic but
there always seem to be hordes of insecure females willing to bask in his
bullshit and the bullshit of guys just like him.
Women experience a great deal of
anxiety about themselves and their bodies and this is mainly the fault of the
media images we’re bombarded with. It causes some otherwise sane women to go
right off the rails trying to live up to an artificial, impossible standard of
This was vividly illustrated by a
call I got in the wee hours last week.
When the phone rang at 2 a.m., I was startled and worried.
“Mmmm?” I said blearily.
“It’s me”, Caroline whispered
urgently. “I need your help.”
“Are you OK?” I asked, instantly
awake. “Where are you?”
“I’m at home. And I’m fine.”
“Then why are you whispering?”
“Well, remember that jerk I broke
up with? The one with the video
“YOU DIDN’T!” I shrieked.
“No, no, of course not. But that whole experience really threw me
for a loop and I was a mess for ages after.
And I didn’t handle it well.”
As it turned out, Caroline did
not stick her head in the oven as a result of her betrayal. Instead, she stuck it in the fridge and was
now sporting an extra 15 pounds.
“Well, I started seeing this guy
about a month ago – you’d love him…” (I rolled my eyes at that one) “…and he’s
here now. I want him to spend the night
but I’m so fat I’m sure he’ll hate my body.”
“Nonsense – you were a twig
before and I’m sure you’re still gorgeous now.”
“I don’t know…….” she trailed off
“OK, where are you? What room?”
“The one with the big mirror?”
“OK – get naked.”
“Just a sec”, she said, as I
heard her clothes drop to the floor.
“OK – ready.”
“Look at yourself straight on.”
“Now from the side.”
There was a pause.
“Does it look like you’re wearing
“Then you’re good to go. Have fun.”
I never did hear back from her,
so I assume things went well. If not, I
can always drag her along to the gym with me.
I know a guy who’d just love to meet her.
Till next time,