The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky | Chapter 12 of 65

Author: Jana Casale | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1061 Views | Add a Review

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CHAPTER 9

Joining a Gym

For breakfast she’d meant to have a yogurt but decided she didn’t feel like a yogurt, and why would I ever want to eat a yogurt anyway when I can have a jelly donut? she thought as she passed the donut shop on her way to school. It was so lovely: the silent indulgence, the sweet jelly, the gleeful $2.57 with tax.

The day felt as if it had started off right. In class she offered to read out loud, and when someone asked who Derrida was she had the answer at the ready. Afterward she walked down the hall and smiled at a boy she’d once talked to. He didn’t notice her, but she didn’t care. In that moment she even thought maybe she’d have another jelly donut on her way home. Maybe I’ll get two. As she turned the corner it all fell away—the donuts, the linearity, the boy and his faultlessness; she caught a glimpse of her jumbled reflection in the window by the elevator, and it was awful. She was disgusting. She was fat. She was shaped like a teardrop, a hunched teardrop walking around and smiling at people and living her life like she deserved a place on this earth. Who in the hell do I think I am? she thought, and she fixed her shirt and sucked in her stomach and walked past that reflection as fast as she could, as fast as any teardrop could have managed.

That night she sat down and looked up gyms online for nearly two hours. She found one by her apartment that was rated highly on Yelp, apart from one girl who complained that “the bathroom is filthy” and included a picture of a crumpled-up piece of toilet paper beside the sink. Despite the toilet paper, Leda decided to e-mail and ask what their rates were. A guy named J.C. got back in touch with her nearly immediately and tried to pressure her into signing up for a personal trainer. “Do you have any idea about the potential of your body?” he wrote. “No,” she responded, “but I’m just looking to do the elliptical for right now.” He scheduled an appointment with her, and two days later she was walking herself past the donut shop to the gym.

J.C. turned out to be gay, and it may have been for this reason that she signed up. Maybe if he had been a straight guy, the judgmental straight guy in her mind who’d kick her out of bed and make her feel bad about her hip bones, she may not have wanted to pay $49.95 a month. J.C. was kind, and he talked about his boyfriend. He didn’t care about her hip bones and that was refreshing.

Her first day at the gym she felt vaguely motivated and completely out of place. She walked in wearing the new workout clothes that she’d frantically shopped for all weekend. She tried to seem as together as possible. Am I meant to take a towel along with me? What are all these little towels for, anyway? She made her way from the locker room through the weight machines, all of which were being used by men. She walked past machine upon machine, each with an angry-looking man of varying size, lifting and squeezing and bending and pulling. Where are all the women? she wondered, and then she saw them. They were all together in a group at the back wall of the gym using the cardio equipment, running, stepping, pedaling away to a more linear reality. She climbed onto one of the few empty stationary bikes and started to pedal slowly. The girl to her right was wearing earphones and was watching a Real Housewives episode as she pedaled at a calm, rhythmic pace. The woman to her left wasn’t watching The Real Housewives, or anything, for that matter. She was pedaling as hard as she could. The display on her machine said she’d already burned 467 calories. She was drenched with sweat and looked tired and unapologetic. Which one am I? Leda thought as she pedaled harder than the rhythmic girl but less hard than the unapologetic woman.

As she did this she thought about school and about the summer ahead. What she wanted and where she’d be. On occasion she caught a whiff of cigarette smoke from the open window. On occasion she felt melancholy about the potential of having to come back to the gym tomorrow. After about fifteen minutes of rhythmic, fast pedaling, she felt tired and less worried about being a teardrop than she had the day she’d eaten the jelly donut. She got off the bike and felt the pull in her hamstring with each step, a physical reminder of her desperation. As she walked past all the men and their weights, she looked back at the women running and biking and stepping. Keep running, ladies, she thought. You’ll never get away.

In the locker room an older-middle-aged woman was crouched down naked.

“I dropped a little gold key,” she said, looking under a bench, “if you happen to see it.”

“Like a diary key?” Leda asked her.

“Wow, that’s a great reference,” the woman said. “A little bigger than a diary key.”

She helped the woman for a few minutes, looking under the sink and by the showers. The woman’s body was linear enough, but it was still lumped in places. Leda figured there might be something wrong with her for not being more ashamed of how lumped she was, but in the moment she didn’t pay much attention to it. Finding the key felt pressing and more important. She helped her look for a little while longer, but in the end they both gave up.

“I’m sure someone will find it,” the woman said, but Leda didn’t think it was likely. She couldn’t imagine what this little gold key looked like, and she couldn’t imagine that anyone else would be able to either.

That night she canceled her gym membership and ate a piece of cake. Two days later she’d think about rejoining as she tried on a pair of jeans. In her was a yearning greater than hunger and greater than thirst. It was an unyielding trauma and torment that plugged away in rhythmic consistency. It was sanity and insanity and cellulite that would never go away.

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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