Saturday, 10 February 2007

Salsa Lessons

Hubby, frustrated that his wife is yet again under the weather has given me an ultimatum, “Alice you better be up to speed next weekend”, he complained, when after getting under the duvet with me he had to remove a pile of snotty tissues and a Vicks inhaler before he could put his head on the pillow, “Or I shall spend next Saturday night salsa dancing with other, less contagious women,
“Sorry” I groaned, wheezing and snuffling, “I don’t intend to catch a cold midweek just to thwart your prurience. In fact I can hazard a guess that I am far more cheesed off than you are”.
Unfortunately, another week has passed, Hubby is home again and my sinuses are still more congested than central London. In a few hours time I have to apply make-up to a red chapped nose, split lips and take enough tissues with me to ensure that, when I am getting my groove on, I am not hindered by an unattractive snout, emitting mucus.
Hubby ever the subtle soul declared, “Good God Alice love, I’ve seen you look better. Are you sure you want to go out?”
Well, as I’ve been looking forward to a night out for ages and as the last couple of weeks has seen me in bed with a Lemsip by 8.30, this is not what I want to hear, especially as the friends we are going dancing with are slim, gorgeous and supple – as Hubby endeavours to point out, “Alice is as bendy as a step ladder.”
To be honest my self esteem has taken a battering this week, spurred on by a visit to the rheumatologist. My back, knee and toe have been playing up for so long that visits to various consultants are now a regular thing. The knee chap, after a little exploratory surgery last Easter – washed his hands of me and handed my case to the rheumatologist. Of course, the NHS being what it is I had my first meeting with him just before Christmas, when I had no choice but to take the 2 year old with and where, predictably, she created havoc, although even I didn’t foresee her playing with all the vials of formaldehyde and thus ensuring that the nurses abandoned me to take the toddler off to be surgically washed.
This week I went alone. It comes to something when a couple of hours spent alone in a hospital waiting room is akin to ‘me time’, but to be honest, sitting in a plastic chair, with a Klix coffee in one hand and a two year old copy of Horse and Hound in the other, is my idea of rapture. I was alone, no-one to read stories to, no noses other than my own to wipe. Basically, no one to entertain other than I and all that takes is a little peace and quiet. By the time my name was called, I was feeling quite serene and with a skip in my step I entered the consultant’s room. He is a dour man, with little facial expression. He nodded in my direction and rifled through my notes, then he scratched his head.
“No doubt it will come as no surprise to you that your x-ray results have not been forwarded to me”.
“None whatsoever”, I replied cynically.
“Your blood tests have though and as far as I can see, there is nothing to indicate anything degenerative”.
“I must admit though that you are very fat. And the enzymes in that fat are like parasites attacking your joints”.
“Well”, I answered, rather winded, “Thankyou for your brutal candour”
“No point beating about the bush. Do you exercise?”
“I would like to but with four children it is very hard to get out regularly?”
“Navy wife”.
“Also, I am very aware that I am in a lot of pain and the idea of my sacrum being pounded on an exercise mat makes me despair.” What he said next though made me want to retreat to the inner depths of a cave and stay there until I had starved myself to the current, mythical media size zero
“The thing is I’d like to suggest that you go swimming, but of course you’d be far too embarrassed to do that”.
I’m quite a bold person –not really much of a wimp, but even I reeled at this diagnosis. My head started to spin. Good God did I really look that frightful? Should I not go out now, or if I do, should I cover myself in a shroud?
I retreated to my car, my tail firmly between my legs but after a couple of miles of figuratively licking my wounds I got very cross. How dare he make the assumption that just because I am over-weight I feel too disgusted to be seen? Surely weight and body image are two different issues; besides there are plenty of ropey looking skinny women at Luxe Park pool as well as those, bigger fatter and older than I. Now I’m not suggesting for a minute that I have the confidence to stand there in my cossie and call out “Coo-ee! Here I am” to all and sundry, but neither would a fat arse and jelly belly stop me from going swimming with my kids.
Of course a cold compounded my unattractiveness and as I said, later today, I somehow have to elicit a sexy poise and self-assurance as my husband twirls me around the dance floor to some Latin American vibes.My son, recently safely returned from Snowdonia is keen for me to go out. “You look smashing mum. It’ll do you good, don’t rush home”. I can smell a rat a mile off, especially a teenage one, which is why when I’m out dancing and he and his lovely girlfriend are here- his sisters, their DVD’s, their Barbies and their Playdoh will be the chaperones. I’m not daft.

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