I asked myself, “Self, what would make this a perfect day for you?”
And Self answered, “Well, I’m not so sure. I’ve already found my sink full of ants, taken a shower in luke warm water, eaten a pound of cookies I didn’t need to**, sat through a two-hour meeting entirely in Portuguese, sat through another one in which we talked about chairs, had a dry hamburger for lunch without the bun (not out of choice, but because it’s served that way: just the burger), and spent a half hour spelling the words “exquisite,” “flesh,” “pelt,” and “perspiration” with 15 seventh graders. I’ve had a pretty decent day.”
So I replied, “Sounds like you’re living the dream. What’s next on the agenda?”
And Self said, “I’m going to go sweat for two hours at the gym where the guy running on the treadmill behind me is going to be staring at my ass that is bouncing left and right as I run in the same place for forty five minutes, looking at the kilometers increasing ever-so-slowly in the hundredths decimal place. And then I’m going to sit on a mat to stretch and be afraid to stand up because of the sweaty ass mark that’s left behind. So I’ll continue to sit and stretch until it’s fairly obvious I don’t need to anymore.”
“Hm,” I responded. “Well, let me offer this alternative, although I know your plans are hard to beat: how’s about sitting on that same ass, minus the sweat and the staring man, alone in your dining room, hunched over a plate with a Subway sandwich on it!”
“Oh, I don’t know,” said Self.
“You know Subway. With the turkey breast? And the pickles?”
“Well…really, I think it’s better if I go to the gym,” was the reply.
“Really? No mayo? or the red pepper flakes? or chipotle southwest sauce?”
“Uh…” I could feel Self beginning to weaken.
“And they have those cookies there if you get the extra value meal, remember.”
“You could even, dare I suggest it, rent a movie.” I could tell Self was warming up to the idea. “It could be a total YOU tonight. It could be all about you. You choose the sandwich, You choose the movie. I won’t say a thing. It’s all You, baby.”
But Self surprised me, putting up a fight: “Yes, but…the gym! I should really go. I mean, I have lines to wait in! And conversations to overhear! And people talking on cell phones while using the stationary bikes to watch! I’m needed there!”
” Bullshit, Self.”
“But, no, I…”
“…but if I go tonight I…”
I shook my head quietly at Self in disappointment. How could I get Self to understand that Self was the only thing preventing Me from having a perfect day? This resistance, this conscience, if you will took me by surprise. Self had never before been so attached to the gym, so intent on running. Was she just trying to establish a routine so that in a few weeks’ time it would become automated and she wouldn’t have to convince herself to go anymore? It would just happen by itself? But if that were the case, how could I get Self to understand that pleasure is more important that principle? More important than routine? At the end of my life, would I regret not going to the gym one day when, in fact, I’d been there several times?
In the end, we made a deal. Self told me to at least put gym clothes on so that way if we felt the need to go to the gym on the way to Subway, we could. But Self must really have wanted Subway because she left the house wearing flip-flops.
**As opposed to the kind I do need to eat which, according to the fabulous Jennie, who today offered to mail Hershey Kisses and Dunkin’ Donuts all the way here to Brazil, is ridiculously full of chocolate, butter, and sweetened condensed milk. She sent me the recipe for this cookie. If I no longer write it is because I am busy making love to its batter.