1st Dazzled

Peering through the gym window, I goggle slack-jawed at our instructor hanging upside down by sheer willpower. Or superglue. I have no idea how she’s attached to that pole, but I know I’ll never master her technique.

For a start, she weighs about twenty percent of my body weight. And most of that is from the holographic spangles on her impossibly tiny thong bikini. Do they even manufacture poles to support my Rubenesque curves?

As a newly single woman, I’ve become a pet project for my work colleagues. My happiness has become their mission. What they fail to understand, cannot and will not understand, is that I’ve never been happier. Being out of condition – okay, fat – isn’t an issue for me. I honestly don’t care that I have lumpy, bumpy bits. Being single is fan-freaking-tastic! I answer to no one. For the first time ever, I’m free to do what I want, when I want, and only bloody well if I want.

Last week, Linda had looked pityingly at the contents my shopping trolley. ‘Is this really the way you want to live? Frozen meals for one and family sized chocolate cakes?‘

‘Hell, yeah!’

She’d tutted and shook her head. ‘You’re saying that now, but I know you don’t mean it. Not deep down. Not in your heart.‘ Linda assumed the fervid expression she always wears when she takes on a new project and I quailed. Linda is a juggernaut of good intentions, and she’ll bulldoze you into submission with her frequent but usually short-lived enthusiasms. Her history is littered with squashed and abandoned relationships and objects, but true to form she refuses to notice. Always the next new shiny object to pursue in her exhausting and never ending safari to bag a personal fulfilment trophy.

My colleagues’ only conception of fulfilment is framed in terms of being size zero, and snagging a man. A young, good looking one is preferable, but I suspect in my case they may lower their expectations to ‘still breathing’. Possibly one foot in the grave and the other on a banana skin.

I watch, hypnotised, as the teacher spins around, contorting her pipe-cleaner carcass in ways not only unnatural, but make me dizzy. The eye-stabbing glare from her holographic sequins threatens to give me a migraine.

‘Let’s do an exotic dance class,’ they said. ‘It’ll be fun,’ they said.

I need to check the dictionary, because this looks as far removed from my idea of fun as it’s possible to get. This is torture. I’m willing to bet there’s a stern mention of this in the UN Charter of Human Rights.

My workmates have shed their office attire and are wearing… not much, except their lip gloss smiles.

‘You can’t wear a track suit. You won’t be able to grip the pole… between your thighs,’ giggles the blonde with the high-set ponytail, blushing like a schoolgirl.

Linda drags me to the exercise-wear shop in the foyer. The stick-insect behind the counter offers a twisted smile when Linda explains my predicament. Looks more like a sneer, but could be the Botox doing its toxic thing. But that’s all she offers. They don’t stock my size. She’d have to make phone calls, see if she can locate ‘something suitable’. The skinny bitch actually makes air quotes.

‘I’ll sit this one out. You can tell me all about it.’ As soon as they slip into the torture chamber, I rummage in my bag. It’s still there. A bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich left over from lunch. Moaning with pleasure, I look up to see a chunky janitor wielding a broom, and frowning at my snack.

I blush and stuff my late lunch back into its cellophane wrapper. ‘Sorry. Wasn’t thinking. Didn’t mean to drop crumbs. I’ll take it outside.’

The janitor raises a thick, untamed eyebrow. ‘Missed lunch, eh? A gorgeous goddess like you deserves more than that miserable offering. Fancy coming for pizza? Great place around the corner, cheese crust, deep pan, double everything.’

I shimmy to the door, and wink over my shoulder. ‘And a wicked dessert to finish?’


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