Recently, I was reminded, I am not young any more, nor a beauty, nor apparently worth the space I was standing in while on line. It was once again put clearly in front of me how cruel and unfeeling some people are. How for a brief moment I would have loved to fast forward time, to see them drink in the reality of age – losing muscle mass, an unexplained ache, whitening hair, hearing not as sharp any more. Through no fault of our own. Just time moving forward.
Last night I was reminded that some people do not teach their children well. That being rude is acceptable, that watching someone’s eyes cast down to hide tears is worth the remark and some sort of victory. How it’s okay for them to say whatever they want at the expense of others feelings as long as it wasn’t said to them or someone they love. Love, are they capable of it? I’m not trying to be sarcastic, but do they really, understand what it is? To grasp that someone loves me and would defend me if they were there, yet why should I have to have someone protect or defend me when I’m simply standing in line? Waiting my turn to take a photograph? And why do we always think of a really good come back, after the moment has passed, usually several hours or even the next day.
Yesterday was a long day. It was a full day, packed with a new experience you may not know about unless perhaps a friend or family member takes interest and participates in body building & fit competitions. I give every single participant SO much credit for having the courage to get up on that stage and expose all but about 10 inches of flesh. Shave all hair from their skin, paint on a tan, wear I’m sure the most uncomfortable of swim suits or spandex, hair with 17 coats of varnish, and Tammy Faye make up which slowly melts under the hot stage lights.
It is a world I have never really studied, had an interest in, or understood. This changed for one reason, then slipped into another.
My new client and his wife both have amazing bodies. When I met him, it was the first time ever standing near a man that was literally a mountain of muscle. But with bright eyes and a warm handshake. I tried not to stare, and silently reminded my hands not to touch. His upper arms were the size of my thighs – without the cellulite, age, wear and tear or shape, just the circumference. But they were hard as rocks, bowling balls with definition. All those words started to make sense – “the diamond, the cut, the rip” it was standing in front of me sparkling, cutting and ripping. When I met his beautiful wife, I honestly felt like I was in the presence of Greek gods. The beautiful people, the magnificence of the human body, the best you could get with hard work, sweat, weights and no Hershey’s kisses -not one! I felt myself die a little inside having the night before ravaged a bag of M&Ms.
When I was dog sitting for them, I noticed a post card on the front of their microwave announcing an upcoming competition that the wife was entered in. There were several trophies on their mantle of awards in past events. This one was a month away. From my home about an hour north. Not bad – I’d much prefer driving north in New York, than driving south into the city. NYC is amazing, but it is also extremely expensive to park – especially if you were parking all day. This was at a Civic Center in the Hudson Valley.
As we were emailing back and forth, I asked if it would be alright if I attended. Now that may sound odd to some people, why would I ask if I could attend an event that is clearly open to the public. Well, think about it, if you are doing something you must focus on, work for, and walk across the stage in what is essentially less than your underwear, maybe you don’t want the lady who watches your pets to attend.
They however were very gracious, seemed a little surprised, but welcomed me. Fast forward, my family and I were treated like royalty. Our tickets paid for, both sets of tickets – one for the afternoon which essentially picks the winners, and one for the evening that is more of a show and when trophies are presented.
The morning saw us pile in the Jeep and journey through beautiful displays of gold and orange trees. I love fall. The air was crisp and what started out as a very rainy day, quickly gave way to the fog nestled in the valleys and sun breaking through the clouds. We found a great and free parking spot, and entered the world of gyms, fitness clubs, nutritional supplements, tight t-shirts and samples of chalky chocolate power bars. (NOT one from Hershey’s). I was instructed that we should ask for the tickets that were being held in my name. The staff was very nice, conversation was polite and we were made to feel welcome. It was easy to relax and enjoy ourselves.
The room was not particularly full this early in the day, the first 10-15 rows perhaps, but we could spread out and take it all in. My son is in excellent shape, he is a personal trainer in NYC, with a goal of competing next year. So when I told him about this couple and if he wanted to join me, he was quick to say yes. It was great having him there, he could explain what the judges were looking for – since everyone to me looked like they were in great shape, the judges look at specific shapes of muscles, balance, symmetry and presentation.
The day stretched on, we watched approximately a hundred and fifty people walk across the stage. The youngest a mire sixteen year old girl, the oldest a 75 year old man. At one point a gentleman named Kia arrived and the crowd roared, he placed second in the Mr. Universe competition. He is massive. I have never seen muscles on top of muscles on top of more muscles.
We watched the winners pose for pictures, my client’s wife took third place. We waited to congratulate her, after the crowds had filed out, and workmen came to collect the chairs. Introductions were made, hand shaking and small talk before we started to head for home. And this is where it brings me back to standing on line. As we were going toward the doors, my son noticed there was a small line waiting to have pictures taken with the mega muscle man we saw. Kia was smiling and talking to everyone around him. A smile as big as his biceps he greeted each fan and posed for a picture. How great for my son who stood in front of me preoccupied taking pictures for the girls in line in front of him.
The atmosphere was light and happy – until the young handsome man and his friend pushed near. It was his friend who said he thought there was a line and to stop pushing. It was the handsome man who looked me straight in the eye and said he saw nothing standing there. Looking up and down at my body that used to be cute, tight and perky, now he saw an over fifty, white haired woman’s body and sneered in disgust.
I was surprised how quickly the tears welled up. How the moment went from one of excitement and fun to hurtful. The young man seemed a little surprised I did not step back for his highness. I stood my ground and smiled brightly when meeting Kia taking my time taking the photograph of him with my son. Who he commented on was in great shape himself. I’m just sorry I didn’t take a picture with him myself to make the young handsome man wait a little longer. As I walked away, making sure not to make eye contact again, that overwhelming chill of embarrassment and hurt feeling washed over me.
It upset me I could not control it. It brought back feelings of being teased by bullies in school, how those bullies grow up to be the thoughtless rotten adults we deal with when we’re older. The difference now was I stood my ground – I did not move – but I could not speak. So I bring my frustration, my not sixteen year old body, my feelings to page and share them with you dear reader.
Maybe next year I will be in that same Civic Center cheering for my son to win, maybe Kia will be back and I’ll wait in line and ask my husband to take a picture with me, and maybe that handsome young rude man and his friend will be there too. And I will smile and look him in the eye. And then I’ll walk away.