Monday, February 15, 2010

Evanston Athletic Club, 8 February 2010

At the gym:

Two women who aren't identical twins, but both of whom are a dead ringer for my best friend from high school.

A cross-trainer machine who insisted my heart rate was 50 beats per minute, despite the fact that I'd been on the machine for ten minutes. And, you know, wasn't dead.

A squat white woman in a black and white swimsuit who has lost her belongings. She wanders from one bank of lockers to another, trying her combination on all of the black Master locks, hoping one of them will click open, holding her socks, her bra, her red-orange coat, her purse.

A woman in a long sweater who is on staff wanders with her now, through the locker room, trying to suggest this lock, that lock, have you tried this one yet, no that one has an Ace on the front, mine didn't have an Ace on the front, are you sure you're in the right bank of lockers.

She's a trooper. She's red in the face, tossing her short brown hair off her forehead as she tries to open one lock after another. She isn't crying or shouting--me, I'd be doing one or the other by now.

It's like walking through your own jigsaw puzzle.

I can see that the health club employee is starting to get nervous, probably thinking of the list of phone calls she as to make, trainer time cards that need her signature, even that blouse at Anthropologie that she was ordering when someone came to get her saying, some old lady had lost her things int he locker room. She is chipper, perky even, her eyes never displaying the creeping impatient frustration that her rigid posture makes clear. Never knowing what is the right amount of helpful to be, what is the most efficient way to get this old Biddie her shit and get her out of here so she can get on with her life without having to hold the hand of addle-brained senior citizens.

She makes me nervous, too, this old lady. How narrow is the line between forgetful and unfit, between distracted and disgruntled. How easy it is to feel, or even be considered, crazy because you can't remember which one of these black Master locks is yours.

When the woman in her bathing suit finally finds her locker, the club employee is visibly relieved, heaving a great, "Oh that GREAT!, fan-tas-tic, I'm so glad." I feel the breath I didn't know I was holding rush out in a whoosh. The locker owner, who has seemed nonplussed this entire time, is I'm sure grateful to have the things about her who remind her who she is, and not have to wander some beige anonymous locker room looking--quite literally--for her identity.

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