“You’ve picked a hell of a time to get a life!”
~ Me, in a text to my friend
My world has been turned upside down this past week—just not in the way you’d think.
It is not Trump or world events that have me feeling like I’ve been thrust into an alternate reality (Okay well, maybe they started it) it is the fact that my “accountability” friend has decided to get all “human” on me.
Sally, I will call her Sally because that’s her name, has been my friend for well over twenty years.
We served side by side in the jewelry trenches. Even then I counted on her to get me off my ass and outside in the fresh air. Spurred on by her desire to lose some actual baby weight she convinced me to run three miles with her every day after work. Since I had put on ten pounds of imaginary baby weight, and given the fact that I’m just a damn nice friend, I acquiesced.
But not without protest.
Since I’d never so much as picked up my pace to catch a cab or board a plane, actual running by choice was as farfetched of an idea to me as having a baby. And what do I do when I’m talked into to doing something I don’t like? The mature thing. I bitch and moan every step of the way.
Sally didn’t give a shit. She is the honey badger of accountability friends.
She was always several paces ahead of me talking away, paying absolutely NO attention to my protests.
“Oh my gawd, I’m gonna die!”
“This is so hard. Isn’t this hard?”
“It’s so hot today, can’t we stop at the corner and go get ice cream?”
“I can’t do the hill. You do the hill. I’ll wait here and jog in place.”
Deaf ears don’t hear complaints.
These very valid reasons for quitting always fell on Sally’s deaf ears, and let me tell you I can be persuasive. I could argue a case before the Supreme Court and win. IF she replied, which was about as infrequent as the sex I was having in those days, her response was always the same “Come on, you can do this.”
Rain or shine we ran. Pouring rain in the winter and in temperatures well over one hundred degrees in the summer. I cried. I begged random gardeners on their rounds through those manicured Beverly Hills neighborhoods to spray me with cold water from their hoses for relief from the heat. Honey badger wasn’t having any of it. She just shook her head in disbelief and ran on. After a couple of years, she even convinced me to bump our daily mileage up to five.
‘Fuck me running”, as my friend Sandra would say.
Fast forward two decades and she has maintained her role as my Chief Exercise Accountability Expert—only now we hike.
Every Sunday and Tuesday. Those are the days we hike together. Sally hikes seven days a week. But since she has to be at work by ten, she starts most days when the sun comes up. I cannot subject myself to that kind of torture before I’ve had my coffee and pooped, so most days I get there by 8:30 and by that time Sally is long gone.
She still starts by seven on Sundays and Tuesdays, but since those are her days off she does the hike TWICE and I catch her at a civilized hour on her second go around. You heard me. She does a brutal, mostly uphill, three-mile hike TWICE on Sundays and Tuesdays.
Sally is a beast, a stone cold half-way bitch—and a soul sister.
When she swings past the stairs where we meet, (she doesn’t stop), she is barely out of breath. Her arm and ankle weights in place, she sets a pace that would challenge an Olympic athlete. Does she slow down at all? Nope. But I know the routine. I just try my damnedest to fall in line. It’s a lot like jumping into a round of Double Dutch. You get up to pace and jump in—or you fumble and fall out. As per our routine for the past two decades, I fall in step several paces behind her while she chats away—and then I commence the whining.
I love her for that. I love that she cannot be bothered with me and my resistance to exercise. I love that she talks over my complaints and that her only answer if she acknowledges me at all is “Come on, you can do this.” I love her persistence and reliability. I know with the same certainty that I know that the sun will come up, that Sally will be on that mountain when I text her.
Except for this past Sunday.
I was actually looking forward to the hike since I’d been away for a week and we had a lot to catch up on. I geared up and enjoyed my prerequisite cup of coffee waiting for her text from the hill. That time came and went. Finally, around eight thirty (which is noon in Sally time), I texted her to make sure she hadn’t been bitten by a snake to eaten by a hungry bobcat because those are the only two reasons I could think of for her silence.
What she texted back was even more horrifying.
“Believe it or not I just woke up.”
Wait. What? Had the earth stopped spinning? Did pigs have wings? Was my exercise-nazi friend in trouble?
We agreed to meet and I actually got there before her! When I stopped checking the weather on my phone to see if hell had frozen over, I saw her pull up next to me. She didn’t even notice my car. When I went and stood next to her driver’s side window she jumped. She was slow, she had a cold and felt…wait for it…tired.
Oh, the humanity! Here was the proof that we had actually fallen through a portal into an alternate reality. This is not a woman who lets a cold or lack of sleep sidestep her! That is MY gig!
This is a woman who hikes when she has the flu. Or an injury. She limp/hikes. She would commando crawl if she had to. With a dog on her back. I swear to God.
Sunday she hiked one round. One lousy round. I was concerned but tried not to show it. I just shamed instead her because that’s what old friends do.
We still had Tuesday. Viruses don’t survive long on Sally. Tuesday she would be back to her old self and all would be right with the world. I would be the sick and tired one and SHE would go back to her role as the none-shit-giving honey badger.
Here is how yesterday, Tuesday, went.
8:22 am — I texted her the eyeballs which is our symbol for “Where are you?”
She texted back: I’m planting. Driving there soon.
My response: Wtf? Who are you and what have you done with Sally!
Sally: It’s just 8:22.
Me: Exactly! I was worried. You’re usually on round two!
Sally: I was amending soil and planting.
Me: You’ve picked a hell of a time to get a life!
Truth be told I’ve always wanted Sally to slow down and smell the flowers. Just not on Sundays or Tuesdays. I always figured she was immune to the seasons just as long as she could hike—so I’ll be happy for her when the shock wears off.
What happens if she decides to live life so fully that she becomes completely unaccountable?
It’s too much for me to think about today. I’m going to eat some pie for breakfast.