In a moment of emotional fragility, I signed up at the gym. The staff, all super enthusiastic with tight bottoms and huge white smiles, weighed me, rolled their eyes at my body mass index, and then with great joy and jubilation, they recognised my surname.
‘Ah, your husband comes here too, lekker to have you as well’ said Ivo, a huge man, the personal trainer I’d just met.
‘No, no, we’re divorced, I just haven’t changed my name yet, you know….’
‘Eish. Oh kay. Well then. We have work to do. I’m going to make you look so frigging good, your ex husband will regret the day he left you.’
I raised my left eyebrow.
‘Actually, I left him.’ I said, in a very even keeled tone.
Dead silence. And then the big guy, the very strong one, the one with all the enthusiasm, left the room. Never to be seen again. Clearly, women should not leave men. And clearly now, I did not need to look fabulous.
Anyway, I called my ex to tell him I was joining the same gym and checked he was okay with it.
‘Sure’ he said. ‘Just don’t come on Saturday mornings between 7 and 10, when I train with my girlfriend’.
We were both very mature about it. Until, on Day One, I bumped into him in the sauna. I love the idea of unisex saunas, although I find it ridiculous that we have to stay covered up. It’s 2014 for God’s sake.
But I digress.
There, in the sauna, sweat dripping into his paunch, was my ex husband. And next to him, his girlfriend. Not a single drop of sweat dripping into her paunch. Because she doesn’t have one. As I sucked in my stomach, I remember thinking ‘Dear sweet Jesus, I should’ve brought my hip flask’. As well as – ‘Who is her personal trainer and how can she look so fucking good in a sauna?’
Anyway. I sat down. Gracefully. Elegantly. Quickly. After slipping in their sweat, burning myself on the coals and stumbling up the step.
I am never at my most attractive in a sauna. My face goes bright red, my hair stands up on end, and if I wasn’t wearing a full bloody stupid swimming costume, sweat would pool into my paunch too. But I am also never at a loss for words, even in a 300 degree hot sauna.
‘Don’t either of you work?’ I said. ‘It isn’t Saturday. You’re not meant to be here. I think you should leave.’
As my ex husband was about to get snippy, something he was always good at doing, there was an intervention.
Ivo. The big trainer, the one with no sense of humour, walked in. He beckoned the girlfriend. ‘Ten minutes up’ he boomed. ‘Time for your lengths.
’ She wasn’t leaving without my ex, who according to Ivo, had another five minutes to go. I wasn’t leaving either, it would’ve seemed petty. So we all stayed. Ivo too. And sweated, and sweated. Until we slowly started talking. And it was all pretty good and grown up and groov.
! We agreed to meet at the gym again, but in the steam room next time. Ivo won’t be there. He has a new job as a Mediator with divorce attorneys. I’ll be there. But wearing a bikini. Because I’m going to the gym every single day, five times a day, until the next time. No sweat is going to pool in my stomach in front of her again!