I’ve been out today, now that’s not unusual in itself, and I didn’t go anywhere different, what I did do is go to several places I would usually go to at different times, all in a matter of a couple of hours. I escaped. I ran for the hills and just kept going. I was let loose, and all the other analogies you might hear a woman with young children shout as she gets a day to herself without the kids. I don’t have children at home, but what I do have is a nervous dog who at the moment is ripping herself to pieces. She isn’t left on her own for very long and I have to either get a sitter or pay for Doggie Day Care. But today I have Mark at home, and I escaped. Making the most of my time.
Firstly, I’ll explain the self-devouring dog. She gets allergies, and it seems that grass is the worse one. At this time of year, we have grass seeds which give her the itches, which leads to scratching, chewing, biting, bald patches, sores and puss, oozes of puss. We have tried the antihistamines, which last year worked like a dream. We’ve tried olive oil, Savlon, antibacterial spray and gel, we’ve tried the cream from the vets, (that was a waste of the price of a good meal.) In fact, we’ve tried everything. The next step is pepper, I’m serious, only I don’t hold my hopes high, this dog is a sucker for curry.
So today with Mark at home, I booked an Aqua aerobics class, cancelled my grocery delivery and headed for the Retail Park. As I found an empty locker I could hear the music from the pool. It just wasn’t right and the woman running around looking lost wasn’t Michelle. I dreaded the thought of a new instructor with a new routine and new music. Holding my breath, it’s all very dramatic don’t you know. Holding my breath, I entered the pool as the ladies that ‘do’, turned as one. I was late. So late I missed the warm up. I glanced at the clock (I hope you’re reading this as if it’s a scary movie script, because that’s how it sounds in my head. I mean honestly, you imagine 30 women, none younger than 70, staring at you and daring you to ask them to move over as you scramble to find a place in the pool.) The clock read 11:30. Bang on time, it must have started early. Without a warm up I started knee lifting and bending before I had a chance to bend over and get my nipples wet. Then we were treated to some new songs. They were new to me, I’m not young enough to know all the words to SEX BOMB by the Welsh man himself. Tom Jones didn’t figure in my musical education and by the time he had his second coming, I was too old to care or notice. Then the unmistakable Kinks started and I cringed at the thought of knees up mother Jenny to The Kinks, “You really got me now.’ Which I might add I only know because I listen to Radio Two.
Unmistakable out of sync, out of tune, (We all had to sing a chorus which went, Sha, La, La, la, la.. don’t ask me, I haven’t got a clue) and out of ideas as to whether to put my float under my arse cheeks or in between my legs, when it was under the water, I did my best. Swopping floats with the lady next to me as hers sprung open, I kid you not, these were the long round floats and we had to twist them in a knot. Strange shenanigans. Swopping from a purple one to a green one I realised that they weren’t just pretty colours each one weighed a different weight. I’d taken purple because it was my favourite colour. My legs are now telling me I should have got a yellow one as I’m no Aqua Man..
The ordeal at an end we all went our separate ways. The ladies that ‘do’, will know this one, if you are in an exercise class by yourself, it’s like being ostracized as the class disbands. Those that come together in twos and threes huddle to discuss lunch and afternoon shopping, or even as in the case of the ladies that ‘do’, at our gym, the next class. But if you’re not in the loop, you find yourself going from a prancing member of the troupe to a Billy No Mates. This was the first time I’d been to a Thursday class and I found myself quite alone, the women that ‘do’, on a Monday and Tuesday, obviously ‘don’t’, on Thursday. The gossips huddled and gossiped, the ‘doers’ got out of the pool to do, and the lonely ones like myself just wondered into their own world. Well at least I thought they did. I did and it felt brilliant. I swam a little, floated around for a bit, stretched and swam some more and then I leant against the side of the pool and put my head down. It just felt so good to be on my own and feel good about myself that I didn’t have a care in the world. However, I drew more than just a few looks, I drew the attention of one the woman that ‘do’. The Jacuzzi was full of them, and as I lifted my head all eyes were on me. I could have sworn that they had all just come out of pods and were about to point, open their mouths and scream. Instead the one nearest just asked if I was Ok.
“Yes, yes, I’m fine, I’m just..”
You know those times when you have to make up an excuse that won’t prompt further questions and the first thing out of your mouth is usually the wrong thing. Yep, Jen did it again. “I’m just tired.”
What I should have said was, “I’m just taking a moment to take in my own presence and be mindful of the silence I can create in own mind.” That would have shut them up. Instead I said the completely wrong thing. Who knew there were so many women in the world that just don’t get enough sleep. Get over it, my average sleep cycle is four hours, up for two and back to sleep for two. The conversation was painful. I heard about snoring husbands, hot flushes, although I doubt any of them had suffered with that affliction over the past ten or twenty years. I heard about noisy neighbours, dogs farting, I sympathised with that one, and then there was the one woman that could survive on three hours a night and felt fine. What a bloody hero!
With the lack of activity, I found my body cooling down and had to make my excuses. I was tired and I had to do the shopping. Why didn’t I just tell them I was meditating and mention a fictional guru to avoid the onslaught.
I showered and found myself in the dressing room with the lady who’s weight I had swopped for my own. She too was going shopping and messed about with her very short hair until it was perfect and it was perfect, once again putting me in mind of going for the crop. Just image it, going out to Aqua and coming back with short hair. Mark would have a fit.
Shaking off the idea of not only joining the ladies that ‘do’ but also the urge to look like them I checked for grey hairs in the mirror. Yep just the few, I could live with that.
Saying my goodbyes, I visited the café and was about to sit down to a jacket spud and salad. The ladies that ‘did’, where there in the corner. Spotted I smiled politely. One called for me to join them. Don’t get me wrong they are nice ladies, but the thought of those few grey hairs becoming integrated into the grey brigade, I had to decline. I made my excuses, and once again, did I say the right thing, no I bloody didn’t. I should have said, “Look, cheers for the offer, but I need some me time, I have been let out and I just want to sit and eat my lunch, read some of my book and drink my coffee.”
No not me, I had to decline and say, “I don’t want to interrupt you, I’ll let you carry on. I’ll be ok.”
“Join us.” A chair was pushed out.
The chorus of encouragement to join them continued.
“It’s Ok, I understand.” The lady who had asked if I was alright in the pool continued, “You just need me time, I get it.”
I gave what can only be described as an awkward smile. It seemed to work as they turned back to each other and continued their conversation. I felt guilty, why did I feel so bloody guilty? They left before I’d finished and I felt a gentle hand on my shoulder.
“It’s Ok,” the wise old lady looked down at me, “We have all been there, you only have to say, not today, I want to be alone. We understand. See you next week?” She really did understand.
“I’m not sure.” I stopped myself before I started another one of those dumb arse conversations and blurted out about Savlon and grass allergies in dogs. “I’ll see.”
Smiling she caught up with the ladies that ‘do’. I suppose at their age they have all been Billy No Mates at one time or another, all needed their time, and maybe just maybe some of them have dealt with scabby dogs. If I’m up to it next week, I’ll have to ask, I’m sure they will all have an opinion, and you never know I might learn something.
I trotted off to the Supermarket. I was very vigilant. I didn’t want another encounter of the ladies that ‘do’ kind. Not three times in one day.