So the other day I was playing with my nephew the five-year-old engineer and realized: Oh. My. God! My triceps are flabby. I cannot believe my arms could be such fatty space aliens.
You have no way of knowing I was one of the young Title IX athletes – let’s say I was a few years behind the first girls – and that I vividly recall apologizing to boys for having muscular arms in the seventies when pretty girls had as much obvious musculature as rubber dolls. I lifted weights and did calisthenics while other girls studied Cosmo. At one point, I was doing about 250 military pushups a day in sets of 50. A chinning bar has always been installed in my bedroom doorways, and I used it. I opened my own pickle jars and expected to for the rest of my natural life.
Then I suffered an episode of Stupid and forgot to exercise for a few years while I was depressed and gained weight.
So after twenty years of twirling barbells and a few of “pass the marshmallows and kill me, please,” I had a bright idea, “Mamacita, get on the floor and see how many pushups you can still do.’ There was some stretching, some bending. I can stretch and bend. I got on my hands and feet (because girl pushups are for…girls…) and said, “One…and…a half…”
In the words of poet Boni Joi: “Humility helps.”
This afternoon, a woman I berated into getting an I-Turned-Forty-A Few-Years-Ago Mammogram mentioned she hesitated to take calcium. I stared at her. I hyperventilated a little. I’d just told her the whole faux-sad story about my lifelong-and-lost upper body strength when it became obvious that a dramatic gesture was necessary. I dropped to the floor to illustrate: ‘One…and…a half…” I got up. “We’re not children, lovey. Will you ask your pharmacist about the freaking calcium?”