Recently, I used a half vacation day I had bank-rolled from The Grind on what turned out to be one of the most glorious days of summer in the Big Apple. It was sunny and warm with low humidity and a welcome breeze. I felt like I was a in soot-dusted paradise.
Unfortunately I had to undergo my annual poking and prodding exam at 10 am.
Of the four women sitting in the waiting room I was the one from the earliest vintage. In fact, I was the lone dried fruit. I brought my own reading material, a copy of The New Yorker, since I have no interest in magazines about starting a family or raising children. Opposite a sign that requests patients to silence their cell phones a woman in her twenties sat obliviously playing a game on her Android that emitted a steady stream of shrill whistles and pops. I tuned her out and proceeded to read a short story written by Alice Munro, Amundsen. It seems that every year I’m due for this exam The New Yorker publishes one of her exquisitely crafted tales set in Canada, Munro’s homeland. I no longer need to keep a note in my calendar about when to schedule this appointment. The telltale reminder will be the publication of yet another bleak yarn authored by Munro.
My concentration was destroyed by a loud, high-pitched child’s voice in the distance repeatedly screaming, “Hi!” The voice comes closer and the culprit, a rambunctious toddler sporting a head of tight red curls, enters with his entourage — his massively pregnant mother (who makes a mad dash for the bathroom), his father, grandmother and stroller the size of a Smart car. They must have forgotten to pack the dog, cat, hamster, parrot and goldfish. In his left hand the tot is holding a toy airplane. The index finger on his right hand is digging so deep in a nostril I half expect it to wriggle out an ear. His voice is raspy and I ascertain that he must be recovering from a cold. He and his posse are on the far side of the waiting room. I say a silent prayer: stay there Little Germ Factory.
Even though I arrived fourth, the nurse appears and announces my name first. I reason that this is because I’m essentially dead inside so examining my internal ashes can be completed at warp-speed. If any of the others object that I’ve been elevated to the top of the pecking order, they don’t show it. I’m so small and quiet, it’s possible that they have mistaken me for an end table.
While waiting for my doctor I photograph the replica Monet on the wall.
I am infinitely more intrigued with the pain intensity scale that’s decorated with emoticons in various stages of pleasure, stress and agony a.k.a. my life story in four words.
If I had designed that chart I would have shown the tortured emoticons with their mouths agape screaming silently for the entire neighborhood to not hear.
When my doctor arrives to give me the professional finger I have put my camera away. We chat briefly. She asks me the usual questions that prompt the usual lies concluding with:
My Doctor: Do you exercise?
My Doctor: Really? You’ve gained weight. Two pounds.
Me: I’m sure my metabolism has slowed.
My Doctor: Eat healthier. Exercise.
Me: I actually eat very healthy – fruit, vegetables, fish [inaudible muttering] all that sort of boring thing.
My Doctor: Cut back on the carbs. Really exercise. Okay?
I don’t argue. As I dress to leave I know that she’s right. Over the course of the next year, not only will I shed the two pounds I’ve so gluttonously gained, I will lose three more. Yes, I am going to shed two and a half times the pounds I’ve gained over the course of the next 365 days. Therefore, when I return a year hence, demarcated by The New Yorker publishing yet another downbeat tale quilled by Alice Munro, I will be lean as a whippet. Losing five pounds is attainable.
On my brisk walk home (this counts as exercise), I’m feeling determined. Goals are good things. I will kick-start the new leaner me by going to my grocer’s where I purchase four yogurts.
Then, I eat this.
I’ll wrestle this beast of a goal starting tomorrow.