Finally I made it to the health club for orientation on the machines. They do this in groups so there were two other ladies waiting at a table I was directed to when I arrived. At the front desk we all been told to sit and wait for Cody, our machine guru, to arrive. Being good newbies we sat as instructed and struck up a conversation. Shortly, an exquisitely sculpted young man came over to our table and introduced himself as Cody. Lush hair, perfectly proportioned, tan, and blessed with a set of blindingly white incredibly straight teeth. Barbie would have left Ken for this boy. Up until Cody walked up we’d been chatting away amiably. Upon his arrival, the three of us sat with our mouths agape as Cody the Magnificent laid out the plan for the upcoming hour. Apparently August was eye candy month for me because I had the glorious Dr. Puddinface just last week when I got the splinter in my palm. Telling Rick about this when I came home, I said the female instructors were equally as dazzling. If he wished to exercise his option to look but not touch he was welcome to get a membership. He said he didn’t think so. It seems he secretly suspected they’d want him to exercise while there.
It makes all the sense in the world to me that health clubs and spas hire beautiful people. One does not hire a bald man to promote hair products, nor a person with severely crooked teeth to man the front line at the dentist’s office. We are addicted to beauty in our culture. The myth they are selling, I would assume, is that after you use their hair products, slather their cream on your skin, or sweat on their equipment you will ultimately look like their representatives. Even I, who leans toward taking most everybody at their word, can’t buy into that.
For a young guy Cody was surprisingly patient and engaging. Their HR person did a good job in recruiting him. Before proceeding, we were asked to fill out a questionnaire and answer some questions to narrow down the muscle groups we wished to target. It turns out my target group includes everything from the tip of my pointed head to the bottom of my flat feet. Basically, there was nothing between those two points not in need of some attention. Good to know. It’s fortunate I have fairly good self esteem or I might have gone into the tank about then. The thing that is deceptive, I believe, is that I’m small. In clothes I look fine. It’s when summer comes along and I have to free those upper arms or legs that I start noticing the skin isn’t as tight as it once was. I don’t expect to achieve anything near perfection but I would like to give gravity a little push back. I have a friend who is quite large busted, a curse I have never had to deal with. Her “girls” as she refers to them, have moved to a new location beneath her arms and refuse to return to the front unless confined by a bra. Vindication for me for all those years in gym class when I was entering puberty.
Once the questions were answered, Cody ushered us along a bank of huge machines stopping at one on the end. Men and women red faced and sweaty struggled on the machines in the main cavity of the room. Ah, exercise looks like so much fun, smells like it too. Cody sat in the seat provided for the user on the machine. He set the difficulty, placed his feet on a long metal bar, and breathing in and out moved the bar effortlessly back and forth bringing his knees to his chest and back. Looked so easy. Gesturing for me to go next, I sat down. As instructed, I planted my feet squarely where his had been. Waiting a minute or two with nothing happening Cody asked if the machine was on. As it happens it was. My brain was sending a message to my knees to push the bar. Clearly push came through several times. As much as I felt my knees straining to comply with the request, my muscles simply couldn’t make it happen. After some adjustment, probably reducing the torque to “newborn”, the bar moved when I pushed my knees. There’s nothing like a good workout to point out what truly abysmal shape you’re in. The other ladies had the same issues, so at least I wasn’t alone in my humiliation.
Over the next fifty minutes we became acquainted with ten machines, all working different muscle groups. On each machine we did about six to ten reps. Doesn’t seem like much does it? I didn’t think so either. Easy peasey. Waking up the following morning each muscle group addressed announced itself loudly. First they counted off in order, and then all together. Ow.
As luck would have it it was my day to work at the animal shelter. To add to my good fortune, I was volunteered for all the bottom cages as several of the other volunteers in that day were hurt or had had recent surgery. Crawling around on the floor feeling every muscle I’d pulled from the day before none of the cats questioned my movements. Animals can sense when to engage and when not to, and that day definitely weighed heavily on the side of the not pushing the envelope.
So, I embark on a journey of self-improvement once again. I get myself to where I think I’ve improved enough to stop and then find I’ve a long journey ahead beyond the bend in the road. Sigh.
This delicious appetizer or side is usually served on toast points, bruschetta, or in a sandwich. When serving it on toast points I give each guest a steaming packet to open and spread on themselves. Usually you use anchovies in the traditional version of this dish, but my family won’t go near them. So, I came up with this delicious alternative.
Mushrooms in Parchment (Funghi ‘Ncartati)
1 lb. mushrooms (your selection), sliced thin
8 slices Coppa Ham, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 green onions, chopped white and green
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped fine
4 Tbsp. olive oil
4 Tbsp. Italian bread crumbs
4 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, shredded
Juice of 1 lemon
Generous grind of black pepper
6 squares parchment paper, 12″ x 12″
Extra olive oil
Preheat oven to 375
Slice mushrooms thin. Place in medium bowl. Add remaining ingredients up to lemon slices. Mix well.
Brush one side of each piece of parchment paper with olive oil in the center. In the middle slightly towards the front of the paper place 1/6 of the mushroom mixture. Top with a slice of lemon.
Fold paper in half over mushrooms and crease. Beginning with upper left hand corner, fold and crease, fold and crease. Follow all around the outside of the paper to form a half moon.
Place on cookie sheet. Bake for 10 mins.