There're only two of us in Tabata class today, 40-something fabulous me and a 20-year-old UCLA student. I'm gonna take her down to Chinatown because I'm badass and she's probably in Delta Gamma where they do calisthenics in full hair and make-up while wearing their grandma's pearls and chanting sisterhood songs as the house mother darns their lace thongs in the powder room.
"Okay, ladies, we're gonna sprint for thirty seconds," yells former private-military-contractor-in-Iraq-turned-Tabata-instructor Mack (short for Machiavelli). "Let's see how many times you can sprint across the room, touch the floor and sprint back."
I'm having a hot flash, but will use it as a self-cooling mechanism. I've got this!
I am running, bitches! I am fleet of foot. Oh yes. I beat the sorority girl to the wall and touch the floor first. I'm running back now. I'm so fast things are getting blurry. I'm still running back. And. I. Just. Touched. The floor again. Ahead of that adolescent. I'm... what is that sound? Is a phone ringing somewhere? Only there are no intervals in the ring. It's just rinnnnnnngnggggggnnnnnnggg and seems to be coming from inside my head. The room goes dark!
Mother? Mother, why is it so dark?
SLAP! 'm lying on my back with the Delta Gamma slapping me in the face. Is it just me or does she sound like Michael Shannon as she shrieks, "Punch yourself in the face right now so that I don't have to f**king find you on campus to do it myself!"
"What did you say?" I ask between slaps.
"I asked if you're OK."
"Let me help you up."
"I don't need your pity!"
"If you're up for it Shannon, we're doing Burpies next," shouts Mack, jogging in place like a paratrooper to Fergie's "My Humps," my lovely lady lumps.
"Of course I'm f**king up for it. Do you hear me crying like a little girl?"
Shake it off, Shannon. You've got this. You can out-Burpie the infant.
Mack yells, "And go!"
Squat, jump, plank. Squat, jump, plank. I'm laying waste to the Burpies, I can hardly even feel my legs. Or my hands. Or my feet. But wait... is sorority girl faster than me? I will not let her beat me. Squatjumpplanksquatjumpplank. I'm killing it. 40-something is the new 12. squatjumpplanksquatjumpplank.
My bladder lets go.
The world recedes to the pinpoint of sorority girl's left pupil staring down at me for the second time as she yells, "Newsflash: Frats don't like boring sororities!"
"What did you say?" I whisper.
"I didn't say anything," she lies. "You're hallucinating."
"You'd like me to believe that, wouldn't you!"
Mack finishes mopping up my pee. "OK, ladies, it's on to Ab-Ripper X if Shannon's bowels can hold!"
"I'll have you know I've never crapped myself. Except for that time in Clapham on my semester abroad, but I'm not at liberty to discuss it."
"We're starting with Crunchy Frogs... and go!"
Crunchy Frogs. That's the worst Mack can throw my way? I could use a little challenge here. Crunch. Ribbit. Crunch. Ribbit. crunchribbitcrunchribbitcruanch... who is this man standing over me? Oh.
It's Ryan Gosling.
I wish he weren't wearing a shirt. Wait. He's saying something to me, but I can't hear it because the ringing is back. Would somebody answer the f**king phone!?
"Shannon," Ryan's voice echoes from a great distance, "You're still do-able. I would totally let you cougar me because you're still hot So much hotter than that ridiculous puberty case over there. You'll always be hot if you just crunchribbitcrunchribbitcrunchribbit."
I tell Ryan, "My pancreas just shut down."
But Ryan's gone and for the third time sorority girl yells down at me, "I will f*cking c*nt punt the next person I hear doing something like that. I don't care if you SOR me, I will f*cking assault you!"
Mercifully, I go deaf and the world goes dark.
I awaken on a stretcher, is it minutes? Hours? Weeks later? My husband, Henry, hovers over me looking stern: "You tried to out-exercise a 20-year old again, didn't you?"
I can't respond because my larynx is frozen and I've swallowed my tongue. But what I will eventually tell him is... I didn't let that little bitch beat me.
Me in my 20s