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Friday, January 6, 2012

Odds and ends not in my book, Part 6

Life's Small Triumphs

When I was in my early 30s, I had just joined a new gym. I didn't know anyone there, so when a girl who took the same classes I did started chatting me up, I was responsive.

I don't wish to use her name, as it has an unusual spelling, so I'll just call her S. She was in her mid-20s, married (unhappily, but hubby was very wealthy), and her insecurity made my own crappy self-esteem look like the benchmark of confidence. In 20/20 hindsight, it never was much of a friendship, being so one-sided. She did most of the talking, I did most of the listening. But at that time, I was lonely, and it felt good to be needed. Plus, we did have some fun. We went out to dinner frequently, and it was fun taking the aerobics classes together. We both liked one instructor named Jim -- actually, I had a ferocious crush on him, and I confided in S about that.

Of course, as most of my crushes were back then, it was unrequited. Jim would flirt with me in class, but he flirted with all the women. In fact, there was an inner circle of girls I used to call the "Jim groupies" -- his pets, the ones he hung out with, bantered with in class the most. I always wanted to be in this circle, but as was my M.O., I was on the outer fringes, looking in.

Long story somewhat shortened, SF got into this inner circle. She hired Jim as her personal trainer and she got close with the other groupies. And I guess she didn't need her sounding board anymore. It was subtle at first, but it became more and more obvious -- she turned into a Mean Girl. She'd ignore me in class and in the locker room, and when she did talk to me, she'd make little digs, especially about Jim. How wonderful it was training with him. What a great guy he was. How funny. And oh, I hadn't lived until I had one of his neck massages. (Of course, I hadn't.)

I really didn't understand why she was doing this, and it hurt. But there wasn't much I could do about it, so I carried on, going to classes and watching her and her fellow Jim groupies carry on. Christ. I thought I'd seen the last of this kind of thing in grammar school.

One day in class, we were doing cool-down stretches and Jim was blathering on and on about some flavor of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Then he asked, "Has anyone in here NOT tried Ben & Jerry's?" I raised my hand, and he flipped. "Erica! You're kidding! No way! Oh, you've GOT to try Ben & Jerry's. How could you not have ever had Ben & Jerry's?"

Simple. I had an eating disorder. Ice cream was a binge food for me -- I couldn't stop at one scoop. I'd eat the whole pint. Or the quart, as the case may be. And B & J's was just too damned caloric. At least if I ate a pint or more of fat-free frozen yogurt, it wouldn't go right to my ass. But I wasn't about to tell him any of that. So I just shrugged.

After class, I went into the workout area to stretch a bit more. A few feet away, Jim and S started her training session, and I could hear her giggling and nattering at him. I looked away, but I could still see them from the corner of my eye. I saw her glance in my direction, then whisper something to Jim. He looked over at me and grinned. Oh, hell, I thought. What was this about?

Jim then sauntered over to me, squatted down and smiled into my face. "Hey, Erica," he purred. "If I came over to your apartment and got naked, then would you eat Ben & Jerry's?"

I looked over and saw S smirking. That bitch. She'd told him. He knew I had a stupid adolescent crush on him, and now they were trying to embarrass me.

It would have been typical for me at that point to blush furiously, duck my head and stammer out some lame reply, then go home, kick myself 500 times and think of the perfect thing to say after the fact. However, life decided to bestow one of its Golden Moments on me. I looked Jim right in the eye and purred back, "Honey, if you came to my apartment and got naked, I'd eat gravel."

I'm not sure why I chose gravel, but it worked. It sounded funny without being gross. Jim's eyes widened, and then he gave me a genuine smile before he backed off. S was speechless. That wasn't the reaction she'd expected, clearly.

After that, she left me alone. Eventually, she stopped coming to the gym, and I never saw her again.

What made me think of her, after over 20 years? I recently saw her name and her photo in the newspaper... in an article about mothers with autistic children.

I never pictured S being a mother, let alone one of a child with special needs. This is the same woman who once told me that she couldn't clean her own house because it would ruin her manicure.

Life certainly takes some strange turns, doesn't it.

Speaking of my book, I recently received a tweet that read, in part: "50 pages into your book & I've cried 3 times. You're an amazing woman." Thank you, dear. That made me cry.

Have a great weekend, y'all.


  1. Wow.. just wow!

    Man you're an amazing writer... One of the cool chics. If I come to your house and promise not to take my clothes off.. can we stay up late and eat popcorn and watch old movies on the Turner Classic Movie channel?

    ♥'s you... :-)

  2. Zelle -- come on over! Movies on TCM, Jack Benny / Burns & Allen on Antenna TV, popcorn, champagne and Chambord! :-D ♥ you too.

  3. You had me at "Zell-o".

    (actually.. it was the chambord!)

  4. Hi Erica, I HATE mean people like S :-(She had no right to hurt you or embarrass you like that :-( I like the gravel reply hehehe LMAO :-)I know and knew people like her UGH What trouble making backstabber's they are and were.Look's like karma sort of bit her in the ass though hehehe LOL :-)I Love you i want to come over and watch movie's with you and Zelle too that would be load's of fun :-)Wishing you and John a nice relaxing and fun weekend :-)Big hug's from your naughty girl Jade XOXO

  5. Can we make that a threesome? I'll bring chocolate chip cookies. I'd bring some of that delicious concoction called ice cream (well, frozen yogurt, but I am too addicted to that myself! LOL How about some

  6. Jade -- yeah, it was kind of a shock to see her picture in the paper. Her life certainly went in an unexpected direction.

    Bobbie Jo -- you just said the magic word... See's! :-)

  7. Nice shnapshot into your life there , I know how you feel about the right comeback 5 min to late . Butt ittsss sooo sweet when it comes isnt it .

    Ohh btw ... was this an Odd or an End ?


  8. D -- (sorry, I just can't call anyone by that name) Hmmm. Good question. Considering my life, probably more of an Odd.

  9. It seems she was much more insecure than you. And some people like her "frenemies" lash out in asinine ways like that because they want others to feel as lousy as they do. Or they're actually jealous of you. And YES, this crap still exists in bars, the work place, etc. I wouldn't feel any sympathy for her whatsoever, just compassion for her kid's struggles.

  10. Kelly -- the article gave several details about how, because of their financial status, her son has live-in help, goes to a special school and has his own personal assistant there. So no, I'm not feeling all that sorry for her, just for the kid.

    I suppose it's naive of me to expect that people leave childish behavior back in grade school...

  11. Erica, as I, and many other 'spanking enthusiast's have already stated, you have such a wonderful gift for writing. 'Part 6, touched my heart, as well as a 'hanky'. It give's me such true pleasured honor, in corresponding with good people like you, in these blogs. XXX Love.

  12. Nope, behavior like that is rampant throughout life for some people. Your reply to Jim was hilarious! And I agree with your Tweet fan, your book is quite the tear-jerker. I'll have to waterproof the pages for my third read-through. ;-)

  13. My experience is that you just have to watch someone's behaviour towards those he considers less powerful or those whose support or service he does not seem to need to learn a lot about his character. At work, I have known quite a lot of persons who just like to humiliate others in front of all colleagues, especially those who cannot defend themselves. On the other hand, those who I admire most have hardly raised the voice against someone who is lower in rank.
    One of my favorite sayings: It is politeness that makes us forget we are all just beasts.
    Have a great weekend.

  14. Hi Erica

    Nice story and I have to say been there, done that. Really easy to crush on the instructor, I always signed up to classes with female teachers. The classes that I attended did not seem so mean to me but as I was the in the minority, the only guy, I just may have been excluded.


  15. Mean people suck! Hopefully she's grown up a bit. I will never understand bullies or why they are the way they are????

  16. Six -- thank you. :-) That's a lovely compliment.

    Lea -- third? Wow. :-)

    Fenris -- very true, that saying.

    Emanuele -- yup, I've had my share of instructor crushes, including the one who ended up spanking me. Very fond memory!

    SnP -- they sure do. I think I understand a bully's motivation, but it doesn't make it any easier to take!

  17. De-lurking with quite a mouthful -“Every clique is a refuge for incompetence. It fosters corruption and disloyalty, it begets cowardice, and consequently is a burden upon and a drawback to the progress of the country. Its instincts and actions are those of the pack.”
    Madame Chiang Kai-Shek quotes (Chinese Head of the Chinese Nationalist Government in exile on Taiwan, 1898-2003)

    So my reason for quoting that is to point out how common, dull, destructive and basic, cliques are and have always been How unenlightened. Cruelty seems to be a venerated part of the clique/pack mentality. You are a original, gutsy and true person. It shines through in what you write.Its easy to join, easy to betray and easy to mock. So much harder to be true to who we are.

  18. Newt -- welcome! Wise words indeed. I know you're not Newt Gingrich; this post is far too intelligent. ;-) Thank you.

  19. I realize I'm late to comment, but what a melancholy story. You're full of 'em, aren't you? ;-)

    That person wasn't your friend. She was a shallow, self-absorbed user.

    I'm proud of your for coming it with that line. I could have come up with a few more, but there you go... Well done!

  20. Craig -- :-) Well, I reckon everyone has their melancholy stories. I just share mine more freely!

    Yeah, the ability to come up with a line while flustered often eludes me, so I was happy it didn't this time.