We’ve all heard word trios that drop on our heads like clusters of miniature anvils. You are overdrawn. The IRS called. What’s our deductible?
But the three words on my adult college registration eclipsed them all.
Dress for exercise. Dress for exercise?
“Lifetime Physical Awareness is required for everybody,” my college adviser insisted.
“But I’m already aware,” I whined. “My knees crack and I injured my back reading the newspaper. Why should I throw away perfectly good money to find out what I already know?—my abs of steel are flabs I conceal.
“I refuse to play soccer with 18-year-olds.” I crossed my arms. “Those people think varicose veins are a new rock band.”
I couldn’t change her mind.
At first, I felt encouraged. Our instructor, a Nice Young Man (over-50 translation for Hunk), prayed for our health and well-being. A Christian college has its advantages; I could use divine help, especially since one glance told me I was at least ten years older than any of my co-sufferers.
He prayed, his voice full of understanding and compassion.
Then he proceeded to kill me.
“Okay, let’s hit the weight room!”
I stared at one of the machines.
It smirked back at me. Deep in its shiny metal innards, it knew the truth: to me, heaven presents no mystery, compared to the incomprehensible operation of any and all machines. But I refused to be defeated by a lower species. I grasped the machine’s cold, skeletal limbs and yanked them toward my chest. The machine fought back, but with grim determination, I conquered my opponent.
I had nearly completed a whole set when the instructor interrupted me. Would I please stop wrestling with the equipment rack?
He stuck close to me after that, introducing me one by one to various torture devices: machines that bent my biceps, pulled my pectorals, decreased my height, reversed my elbow direction. I lay on the floor panting, my tongue hanging out.
“Can you believe it?” I asked my adviser later, after describing my brush with death by machinery. “To top it all off, we spent the last class session talking about managing stress. I’ll tell you about stress. Taking ‘Slow Execution 101.’”
My adviser looked up from her schedule of classes. “You’re mistaken,” she said. “That course is required next semester.”