We bought a treadmill the other day.
At first, I just marched in place for a bit . . .
1) We should get a treadmill, but we do not have money for a treadmill.
2) Ooooh . . . we could buy a cheap used treadmill!
3) This will be great. Lots of barely used treadmills going for pennies on the dollar.
4) I’ll just buy a used treadmill! I am a genius!
5) OK, but not from that guy. He looks like an axe murderer.
6) And not from her – are those cat-litter boxes resting on the treadmill in the photo?
7) And not from the man with face-tattoos of lightning bolts.
8) And not from the woman whose husband dropped dead of a heart attack.
9) I will now stop using my magnetic freak power and just find a nice normal person with a used treadmill!
- What? You have been storing it in the back yard for the last two years?
- Wait. It needs a new belt?
- Seriously? The controls don’t work unless you jiggle the wires?
- Hmmm. It squeaks if the runner weighs more than 100 pounds?
- What is wrong with you people?
10) I just thought of something – an assembled treadmill is so not going to fit in the minivan. Which means I have to . . . or I could rent . . . but what about getting it through the . . .
11) Fuck it. Fuck the whole used thing. We’ll get a new treadmill. There must be a cheap-ass new treadmill in a flat-box that would suit our needs.
12) I’ll just do a little research, and . . . OH MY GOD, THERE ARE TOO MANY CHOICES AND TOO MANY OPTIONS AND TOO MANY FEATURES AND TOO MANY COUPONS AND SALES AND DISCOUNTS TO CONSIDER AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WE NEED I AM OVERWHELMED AND INCLINED TO GO TO BED AND NEVER GET OUT THEREBY OBVIATING THE NEED FOR A TREADMILL AT LEAST AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED . . . YOU FIGURE IT OUT . . . I DON’T EVEN CARE ANYMORE.
Mark soothes me. Enough said.
New treadmill #1 – a way-marked-down floor model – Our whole family stands around it protectively to prevent anyone else from snatching up this incredibly good deal. Seriously. We’re like badgers if badgers are the sort to snarl at interlopers possibly intent on interfering with said badger family’s potential athleticism. After a lengthy delay, the salesman comes over to sadly inform us that this treadmill has “been through the wringer,” and is no longer good for anything but walking. He sizes us up, “If you’re looking for a good indoor walk, this machine will be adequate.” Feeling the sting of judgmental (albeit accurate) appraisal, we leave the store in a walking huff.
New treadmill #2 – a black shiny monstrosity that calls to me with a vaguely threatening sexually masochistic glow – I run a caressing finger along its console, “I like this one quite a bit.” Sadly, this treadmill costs about a bazillion dollars, so I tamp down my spare-change-holding lust and move along.
New treadmills #3, #4, and #5 all urge me to LIVESTRONG and expensively, and a vaguely familiar face smiles down at me condescendingly from a poster which also urges me to LIVESTRONG at a dear price. I turn to Mark, “Wait. Shouldn’t all of these steroid-tainted treadmills be on sale? Let’s find the one most ostentatiously tied to Lance Armstrong – I bet it’s marked way down!” Nope — it is not.
New treadmill #6 might have been the perfect treadmill, but the salesman is too young and too perfectly muscled and too blatantly and insincerely flirtatious. Mark and I flee in a panic of middle-aged mockability.
We’re at the mall now, and so we decide to eat lunch. We amuse ourselves by calculating how many miles we all have to run on our as-yet-unpurchased treadmill to burn off the Panda Express calories plus chocolate-chip cookies we are consuming.
Answer: A lot of fucking miles.
Kallan licks chocolate from her fingers and points to the small candy store in the food court, “Can I go to the candy store?”
I shake my head, “You have Halloween candy at home, and you are eating a cookie, for heaven’s sake. No, you may not go to the candy store.”
Kallan holds out sticky fingers, “I have to go to the bathroom to wash my hands.”
“OK, but only the bathroom and then right back here. Do not stop at the candy store.”
Kallan runs off and Maj stares at me, “You know she’s going to come back with candy, right?”
“Maj, I am watching her. Look, she went into the bathroom.”
“She’s so coming back with candy.”
“No way! Look, here she comes – straight back from the bathroom – no stop at the candy store.”
Maj starts clearing her tray, “Whatever, Mother.”
Mark speaks decisively, “The only place we haven’t looked is Sears. I have a good feeling about Sears.”
I sigh, “Whatever.”
We buy a treadmill at Sears.
Here’s why . . .
1) Mark and I are filled to bloat-capacity with unhealthy food and guilt-twinges.
2) The salesman is about 70 years old, and Mark and I feel all spring-chickenish in comparison.
3) The salesman gives the girls the activation-keys to the treadmills that fall within our (suddenly expanded) budget, and we stand and watch our daughters run like small perfect dream-versions of our younger selves.
4) We are tired of comparison shopping.
5) They have the treadmill we like most in stock.
6) This treadmill is on sale, marked down from an astronomically high price at which it was surely never sold but which makes us feel good nevertheless.
7) Maj and Kallan bounce around the sales-floor in a giddy acquisitive fever.
8) Mark and I are tired.
Ring that sucker up!
While Mark takes care of the actual purchase, I wander Sears with the girls. Or rather, I lag behind as they run from display to display. Wait, what is Kallan doing? I stare at her for a minute as she tips her head way back and opens her mouth, and . . .
I call to her, “Kallan?”
She races back to my side, “Yeah?”
“What were you just eating?”
“How can you possibly have candy? I watched you walk into the bathroom. I watched you walk back from the bathroom.”
Kallan reaches into her pocket and pulls out a tiny plastic bottle, from which she squeezes a few drops onto her outstretched tongue, “I bought candy in the bathroom.”
“You bought candy in the bathroom?”
Maj arrives, “I told you she would buy candy.”
I am still trying to work this out, “They sell candy in the bathroom?”
Kallan nods, “There’s a silver-box vending machine on the wall in the bathroom.” She ticks off the possible purchases on her fingers, “You can buy tampons, sanitary pads, flavored chapstick, and sour-drops candy.” She holds up the tiny bottle, “See? It’s from Oralabs . . . Extreme Sour Candy Drops. Seventy-five cents.”
I put out my hand, “Let me see that.”
“What, you don’t believe me?”
I have to squint to read the tiny bottle’s labeling, “I just want to make sure you’re not eating some sort of personal-hygiene product. This better not say anything about vaginal refreshment.”
Maj snorts, “That sounds like you are offering snacks to your girl-parts.”
Kallan giggles, “It’s Extreme Sour, Mom.”
Eeek. I do a few involuntary Kegels of horror at the thought. I hand the candy back to Kallan, “Seriously? You bought that in the bathroom?”
“Kallan, you better not be lying to me.”
Maj shakes her head, “She’s not lying. I’ve seen that machine before, and I always wondered who would possibly be stupid enough to buy candy from a bathroom vending machine.” She stares at Kallan, who has once again tipped her head back to drop a few sour drops into her mouth, “I told you she would buy candy! Ugh. Bathroom candy. Mother, I may Panda-vomit from the horror.”
I want to go see the vending machine for myself, but it is all the way across the mall, and honestly? I have done enough walking for one day and I am tired.
Mark reappears with the receipt and we all walk together out to the car as I relate for Mark the story of how I have been outsmarted (yet again) by my younger daughter and “I-told-you-so’ed” (yet again) by my older daughter.
Maj pats me on the shoulder, “Mother, maybe this treadmill will help you to keep up with us.”
Maj and Kallan laugh until they cry.
Stupid small mocking dream-versions of me.
Running on a treadmill after drinking a large glass of water is not wise if you have minor post-pregnancy bladder control issues.
A few of those Extreme-Sour Kegels were required.