We’ve been down this road before, my friends. It was last year before spring break, when preparations involved getting a bikini waxing from a woman who claimed to be from a country that I’m pretty sure she made up. The language barrier was real enough, and resulted in her mistakenly thinking I wanted her to remove the “full court” instead of the, well, sidelines. Hence the name of last year’s column, “Vacationing with the Bald and the Beautiful.”
This year, for my trip back to Cancun, I had decided to make no spring break preparations — I’d learned my lesson. This decision, however, was quickly reversed when, over Christmas break, I put on my new silver swimsuit and realized that I looked like a chicken pot pie.
It was my six-year-old sister’s family portrait that ultimately did me in, there in all its kindergarten glory in a new shiny frame in the family room. There was the fam, all lined up in a row. My sister had drawn me with extraordinarily large breasts, a fact which I was very happy about (I knew I’d always liked her). And I also appeared in the drawing to be giving my brother what is formally known as “the hand,” which I decided not to question. But then I saw it. I hadn’t noticed it at first, but there it was, plain as day. I was kind of puffy.
Now I realize I shouldn’t have taken this seriously. After all, my mother consisted of merely a head with four appendages emerging from it. Her daughter apparently thought her an amputee from the arachnid family. But the seed of self-doubt had been planted, and it grew out of control like “Audrey” in Little Shop of Horrors.
Suddenly I was having flashbacks to a conversation I’d had with a guy I dated briefly. The man who had once mistakenly thought our relationship had reached the going-to-the-bathroom-with-the-door-open level again overstepped his bounds. He attempted to quell my self-consciousness about my body by saying, “It’s okay, Babe! I like lovehandles!” The man was pissing in a bag by the end of the week.
So I decided to ask the opinion of my friend from home, Skyler. She’s just like me (only nice), and we’ve been good friends since middle school, so I trusted her opinion.
“Have I gained weight in college?” I asked.
She nodded meekly (perhaps she’d heard the fate of my ex). But then she mumbled some crap about how I still had the same “inner beauty.” Inner beauty? Now I’m all for self-evolution and inner growth (in theory, anyway), but inner beauty? Jesus. When someone says that another person has “inner beauty,” they really mean that if you were to actually turn the person inside out, they’d be better looking than they are now.
Suddenly Christmas break had become less Frank Capra and more Tim Burton — a helliday, if you will. What had happened to the bygone days of yesteryear when I dug my body? Back then, guys would comment on other girls’ hot bodies, and I’d say, “Well, she’s no me,” and “What about the high school football game when I was nearly arrested for indecent exposure?” (Note: Never ask me the question, “What would you do for a Klondike Bar?”)
Immediately I found myself eating from the local food vendors on the not-so-off-chance that I’d catch a tapeworm. The problem with this whole thing was that I’d rather dry-shave my pits than exercise. The most athletic thing I’ve done all year is use the Schick Tracer Sport razor. It was that whole putting forth effort thing, really. But I realized that it was going to have to be done. I was going to have to start working out again.
Swimming was not gonna happen. The last time I won a swimming race, I was sperm. And the workout machines were basically out. I refuse to spend time with anything that has the word “master” in its name. And that “elliptical” nonsense sounds like a group IV class.
I finally decided on running. And so in preparation for a month-and-a-half from now, I’ve been spending my afternoons at the Lanman Center. After all, I’d run a lot in high school although it was usually in response to someone shouting, “Hey, why aren’t you in class?”
And so I’ve decided to stick with this whole “exercise thing.” It’s not bad. I actually recommend it — even if I don’t reach my goal of attaining the body I had in high school before March. I’ll still have a great time, because at least I can be sure that I won’t make the same mistake I did last year before break. This time, I’m using a razor.
Noelle Hancock is a junior in Saybrook College. Her columns run on alternate Fridays.