Despite the negative stereotype, lifting weights is pretty awesome and benefits almost every aspect of life… or so I thought. My ex was a gangly, waifish Starbucks addict who didn’t go to the gym, none of which were a problem until she made them one:
1. Working Out Together
I had to go to the gym at 6am so I could finish my workout by the time I had to leave for work, so after she hit snooze and I got dressed I nudged her awake.
“Did you want to go today?”
“Hmm, sure, give me five minutes to get ready,”
She didn’t move, in fact, she rolled away from me on her side. I nudged her again.
“So, are you going to get up?”
She gave a one-armed ‘wtf’ gesture, “You can’t give me five minutes?”
“You’re not getting up, though. I’m just gonna go, it’s fine.”
She grabbed her phone and reset her alarm clock, “Whatever.”
2. Volunteering My Services
When I got back she was drinking a caramel Frappuccino and I was enjoying the calmness of my endorphin rush. By her silence I gathered she hadn’t forgotten my leaving without her.
“So I told Jess I’d ask if you could help her and Robert move this Sunday.”
This wasn’t even a question. My tacit friendship with the effervescent ‘Jess’ and her annoying boyfriend who liked to arrogantly talk about the joys of not having a TV would become a physical chore as well as a mental one. I had no choice though but hesitated too long with my, “Oh, ok.”
“Is that ok?”
I filled the blender with my usual selection of fruit, ice, and protein. “Yeah, that’s fine. What time?”
“I’m not sure, why? Do you have something planned?” translating to ‘I know you don’t.’ I could tell her that I’d rather watch football, relax, or individually tweeze my nostril hairs than move their stuff, but that wouldn’t be nice.
“No I was just wondering, hopefully I can catch the night game,” I poured the milk as she took a drag of her Frap.
“Ok, Robert said he’d get some beers for you guys to share afterwards and you can watch the game there. And this way you don’t have to go to the gym.”
Perfect, Robert’s been in on this catch-22 from the beginning but the beers will be the icing on this shitty Sunday’s cake, “He doesn’t have a TV.”
I shouldn’t have said that right before I turned on the blender, hopefully she’d accept that as a fact. I poured the shake into a cup then drank the leftovers from the blender while she watched in silence.
3. Questioning Nutrition
“Is it good to have one of those every day?” The words vibrated irony from the slurp of her Frappuccino. I could tell her that she just drank almost three times her recommended daily intake of sugar, or that I was simply drinking fruit and protein.
“Yea, I think it’s fine, I get super hungry after my workout… Do you want some?”
“Does it bother you that I don’t work out?” She probed my face with her eyes, awaiting my response with her lips clasped around her straw.
“Not at all, I just have to leave early so I could finish before work.” She stopped sipping and I drank some of the shake, hoping the cup would cover the part of my face revealing how ridiculous that question was.
“I know, but it’s just…that one time in Big Bear, you seemed upset about it.”
Oh my god, that ‘one time’ was when we went to the mountains and she wanted me to teach her how to snowboard, and after she fell six times on the bunny hill and every time I tried to tell her how to turn toe-side she’d yell, “I’m trying! I can’t!” which was basically acknowledging the obvious: her legs weren’t physically strong enough to resist the force of gravity, but that was my fault and it was ‘fine’ and she’d ‘wait in the lodge’ and ‘you’ll have more fun without me.’
“I told you I don’t care about that, it’s been a month, why would I?” I didn’t succeed in stifling the ‘what the fuck?’ from my question and she took offense to that.
“Obviously you do if you’re getting worked up about it.”
“Because you keep bringing it up! I don’t care whether or not you work out, why would I?”
We both set our drinks down, she was ready for this, “How am I supposed to believe you care this much about how your body looks and not about how mine looks?”
No way. “I don’t care how it looks, that’s not really the point, and I’m supposed to stop working out and taking care of myself because it makes you self-conscious?!”
I lost. We both knew it. She smacked my shake off of the table as soon as I finished the word ‘self-conscious,’ grabbed her keys and frap and walked to the door, but not before giving herself the last word, “Fuck you.”
I couldn’t believe the ridiculous shit I just heard. I thought about it all morning at work and I did wonder if other women shared her feelings about male vanity and gym rats like myself, so like any rational person I browsed the internet for answers. Lo and behold, she was not alone. There seems to be a split between women who say stuff like “I love when he can toss me around and we can have standing-sex” and women who say “If a guy’s that into his appearance, he’s superficial and definitely judges me.”
First of all, that’s confusing. I wasn’t coming home from the gym and asking her to oil my body while I flexed into the mirror. I started to feel bad. That whole time she was only going to the gym with me because I unknowingly made her self-conscious, because she thought I was judging her physique when in my heart of hearts I wasn’t. I didn’t care if she couldn’t snowboard or didn’t workout, why should those things matter? I cared for her. She had her flaws but we all do. I didn’t want to let go so easily, especially today when no one seems to give a shit about trying to make things work.
I tried to call her a few times but she didn’t answer, so I texted her, “Hey, I had no idea you felt that way. Saying what I said was out of line, and I’d hate for things to end over something like this. Can we get lunch and talk about it?”
And she texted back, “No, fuck off.”