I’ve been thinking a lot about the holidays lately. Likely because as of November 1, Christmas explodes everywhere, but it’s not actually Christmas that I’ve been thinking about. It’s New Year’s. Wondering what 2015 is going to bring, and looking forward to continuing on my weight-loss journey. But, it order to get through into 2015 first we have to get through the whole Christmas Season, and then which tends to be either the best or worst night of the year for most people, New Year’s Eve. And what happens on New Year’s Eve besides the classic kiss at midnight, and the ultimate tragedy of spilling at least one drink down your cleavage? The making of the New Year’s resolutions. Now, I don’t know who the genius was that invented New Year’s resolutions, but I’d like to punch them in the face. As far as I’m concerned, all they are is an excuse to set un-reachable goals for ourselves, and then feel bad when we fail 2 weeks into the New Year. We all know this, and yet we all still make the vows. We wait for the clock to strike midnight, cry out “Happy New Year!” and solemnly swear to give up sugar, or start going to bed earlier, or we wait until the next morning and vow to never drink again. For the last ten years of my life, I have been making the same New Year’s resolution: get my ass in shape. It’s the same story every year. I go to the store a few days before New Year’s Eve and buy cute new workout clothes, and brand new shoes. As soon as the gyms re-open from their New Year’s Day break, I’d show up like clockwork every day for like a month. I’m sure some of the people that work there wait for me to show up every year in January and then take bets as to how long it’ll be before I go missing. How long it’ll be before I have stopped one day on my way home at the grocery store, bought a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream and eaten the whole damn thing. How long it’ll be before my new workout pants become my new fat pants that I put on after a large meal or on days that I feel particularly bloated.
Previous to this year, I always found it difficult to go to the gym and actually enjoy it. I was never one of those people that could get into the rhythm of it. Even now, that I’ve officially made it passed the “Oh, f*%$ this” line and have been going on a regular basis, I don’t know that I would say I truly enjoy it. There is an amazing comic that has since passed away named John Pinette who summed it up perfectly. He said in one of his DVD specials “I see so many people at the gym and they’re thinking healthy. They’re thinking ‘I think I’m going to do some free weights…’ or ‘I hope there’s a Pilates class…’ And here I am thinking ‘If I get through this I’m going to go home and ravioli and a nap… come on, John, ravioli and a nap, ravioli and a nap…” Making a big life change is hard. And when you’re so used to your life being one way, jump starting it in another direction is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. But, here I was, at the beginning of another year. And, like I had done for the last 10 years, when the clock struck midnight I made a solemn vow that this was my year. This was the year of change- the year that I would honestly and truly make a difference. I had decided a few days before that I was going to try swimming this year. I have ankle and knee issues, and I had been told that swimming, while being a great form of cardio, was very easy on your joints. So, before I went to bed on New Year’s Day, I pulled out my new bathing suit and was ready to head to the pool the next day to start my brand new life change. It was bound to be at least better than hot yoga. When i tried that I started hallucinating about 20 minutes in that I was smelling a roasted ham and then realize it was coming from my thighs.
Fast forward about 3 weeks into January 2014. For once in my life, I was actually doing pretty well. I was swimming on a regular basis and I was starting to lose some weight. Seeing as I had chosen a gym where no one knew me, I hadn’t seen any betting happening, and I was even starting to get to know the people that worked there. I was starting to feel that I was well on my way to a healthier life style, smaller and better me. I was even making healthier choices in the kitchen. Whereas I used to choose sandwiches and pasta for lunch, I was starting to make salads and take the time to cut up vegetables. Gone were the days where I would declare I was too lazy to make a lunch and instead buy a foot-long sub for lunch. I was really and truly starting to feel better about myself.
One night in late January I was sitting at home. At the time I still lived with my grandma, grandpa, dad, and younger brother. Now, I come by my loud and obnoxious personality honestly, so as you can imagine, it was sometimes a little bit too much to handle when we were all home. I was sitting in the living room doing nothing on my computer surrounded by my brother, who was tearing about the house looking for a text book, my dad, yelling in the kitchen that someone stole his favorite Tupperware container, and my grandparents, who were watching TV way too loud, because neither one of them can hear all that well. I was full of nervous energy, and despite the fact that it was almost 8:30, I decided to go swimming. The pool was open until 10:00, and I knew that if I didn’t do something, I was going to eat something, so I got my gear together, loaded into my car, and drove to the pool.
The beautiful thing about going to the pool an hour before it closes, is that there is next to no one there. And the pool that I had joined was not very big, so it was nice to have the whole thing to yourself. To avoid naming the gym, for argument’s sake lets call it the “ZNDB”. Generally this only happened when you’re there late at night or in the middle of the afternoon right after aqua-sizes when all the large old men in Speedos vacate the water and head to the sauna to talk about the things that their wives don’t let them talk about at home. I swam for 45 glorious minutes in the sweet silence. Lost in my own thoughts. Finally kicking the “ravioli and a nap” mentality and thinking about things that were coming up in the year ahead and why I was doing what I was doing. I was very much looking forward to feeling better about myself and my self image as the year began. Once I was completely swum out, I climbed out of the pool, grabbed my towel, and headed into the change room.
The change rooms at the “Z” are set up like any other. You walk from the pool into the shower area, and then continue on into the locker room. There are shelves in the shower area, and the shelves have hooks on them, so that you could leave towels and shampoo and soap there while you’re swimming so you don’t have to go back into the change room dripping wet get your stuff after you come out of the water. There are even signs everywhere that say “Please Dry Off Before Entering the Locker Area”. Which I totally get and respect, but there is not a lot of room in the shower area, and drying off out of the spray zone usually results in an exhibition like display of boob and thigh right outside the door to the locker area. I used to be all self-conscious in the change room showers when I was naked- trying to hide the fact that I was fat from the rest of the women that were in there. This year though, I came to the realization that when you’re as big as me, it’s hard to hide anywhere, never mind when you’re naked in a big empty room. That brings “Elephant in the room” jokes to whole other level. I have had little kids come up to me and stare while shouting, in a voice that echoed as only voices inside change rooms can echo, “YOU HAVE BIG BOOBIES!” Some things are just not worth caring about.
I opened the door to the change room and walked into the shower area. I took of my bathing suit and hung it up on a hook while reaching up to grab my shampoo and soap bag. It took me a few moments to realize that there was nothing there. I looked at the empty shelf and thought really hard. I was sure I remembered bringing it into the shower before I went into the pool, but I started second guessing myself. I have been to the pool quite a few times in the last few weeks, and all of the outings were starting to mesh into one large, healthy experience. So, having already taken my bathing suit off, I grabbed my towel, half-assedly dried off, and attempted to wrap it around me to head to my locker.
Now, before I go any further, let me tell you a little bit about towels. Skinny people, take note. You all take towel coverage for granted. When you’re fat, it is next to IMPOSSIBLE to find a towel on an everyday basis that will completely go around your body. It’s like trying to wrap a present with the last piece of wrapping paper on the tube. You pull it off the role and you hope and you pray that it’ll cover the box you have to wrap. And then it doesn’t. It’s always about 2 inches too short to go around the box. And you start to pull on the wrapping paper in all different ways trying to make it fit at 6 different angles until the corner of your box rips a hole in the paper and you briefly consider using newspaper to wrap the present, but it’s for your mother-in-law, and you don’t want her to think you’re too cheap to buy wrapping paper, so you mutter a swear and go and find a new role. I’ve never punctured a hole in a towel with my hip or my boob, as they’re too round to be considered “corners”, but I did rip one once, trying to pull it around my waist. Now, you have to make some choices when you’re fat and trying to cover up with a towel. Are you going to cover the boobs? Or the ass? Never both. It’s like when you’re shimmying down an aisle at a concert and you have to decide if you’re going to put your crotch or your ass in people’s faces as you awkwardly move passed them. When it comes to towels, I usually cover up my front half. When you’re walking into a room, that’s generally what people see first, so, to me, it seems logical. This time, however, and because it’s easier to manage when walking, I wrapped the towel around my back because I figured the locker room was going to be empty anyways, as I hadn’t seen a soul but the life-guard since I got there.
So, half-wrapped in my towel, which I should note was a Harry Potter beach towel (hey, I like Harry Potter), I opened the door to the locker room. Now, picture this if you will. The locker room is a large, square room. There are lockers on all 4 walls, and a long row of lockers up the middle. In one corner was the door I had just walked through. Diagonally across the room was the door to go out into the rest of the building, and in the other 2 corners were bathroom stalls. After I came into the room I turned left and headed to the far wall of lockers where I had left my stuff. I went to put the key into the locker I had thought I used and realized that I couldn’t because it already had a key in it. I stepped back. I looked at the whole row. Every single locker had a key in it. I stood there for a moment, staring and not really believing what I was seeing. I was beginning to think I was losing my mind. My shampoo was missing. My soap was missing. And now my locker was missing? What the hell was going on? As I started wondering if I was even actually at the pool at all, I heard a cough come from the bathroom stall to my left, followed by the flush of a toilet. I jumped about a foot in the air. Apparently I was not the only late night traveller at the pool. It was still sinking in that I wasn’t alone when the door to the stall opened.
Oh. My. Good. God.
Standing in the doorway of the bathroom stall was one of the very large, old sauna Speedo men from afternoon aqua-sizes. Except he wasn’t wearing his Speedo. In fact, he wasn’t wearing anything at all except some very unfortunate yellow flip-flops, and a look of sheer shock. We stared at each other for what was the longest ten seconds of my life. These thoughts went through my head:
1) I’m dreaming.
2) Don’t look down.
3) Keep eye contact.
4) Oh my God, you’re looking down.
5) Wow, that’s really not in proportion to the rest of him. That’s kinda sad.
6) Oh my God, stop it.
7) Why is he in the women’s change room?
9) I’m in the wrong change room!!!!!!
10) I am half wrapped in a Harry Potter towel, currently completely flashing this man.
And as I was coming to full realization that I was basically also completely naked, he laughed and broke the shocked silence.
“I appreciate the gesture, honey, but I usually take my girls out for coffee first.”
“Oh my God, I’m so sorry!!!” I gasped, and I turned, and half-ran, half-waddled, half-still wet, and half-covered in a Harry Potter beach towel, out of the locker room, through the shower area, grabbed my bathing suit, and flew open the door that lead back to the pool. Realizing that I was now flashing the lifeguard, I swore loudly, because I needed to draw more attention to myself, and pulled the towel around so that it was covering my front. I side stepped the ten feet through the pool to the women’s change room door so I would at least leave the visual of my ass up to the lifeguard’s imagination and opened it. As the door gloriously closed behind me, and I embraced the sanctuary of the correct shower room, I looked up and saw my shampoo and soap hanging out on the shelf, exactly where I left them. Following a horrified shower, I dried off as fast as I could, entered the locker room to find the rest of my stuff hanging out exactly where I had left it, and, after carefully scanning the hallway outside of the locker room, a ran like hell for my car. Not even stopping when the nice lady that sat at the front desk said to me, “Are you ok? You look like you saw a ghost!”
When I got home I flopped down onto my bed thinking that this was a sign. Or at least divine intervention. New Year’s resolutions are just simply not meant to be kept. And if we somehow do start showing signs of being able to keep them, the universe will intervene before we screw up the Earth’s equilibrium and all hell breaks loose. Which, as far as I was concerned, did break loose. In the form of a sadly small old man penis. Just my luck to have missed the intervention and gone straight to the aftermath.
Laying on my bed, my stomach began growling. As it always did after a workout. Any normal person would have lost their appetite after going through the ordeal that I had to go through at the pool that night. But I am not a normal person. I am a fat chick. I have nerves of steel, and a stomach with a voice that must be heard. I am also a stress eater, and what I had just gone through was sure as shit stressful. I hoisted myself off of my bed and headed to kitchen to accept the sign that I had been given and eat away my New Year’s resolution. With a bowl of ravioli.
Disclaimer: Following this experience i actually continued swimming. Not religiously, but I kick-started again in June and have been NOW going religiously since. But believe you me, I triple check the change room door before I go in.