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Still Life with Aerobics

She had to admire how he, for purposes of this story we’ll call him her husband, got up early every morning to work out. That’s where the admiration ended.

It ended the first time she saw him working out.

Or not working out.

It was difficult for the human eye to discern.

He stood in front of the widescreen TV wearing his t-shirt, sweatpants and cross-trainers, the svelte man on the video working up quite a sweat and imploring all of his viewers to keep up the good work, but her husband, one of those viewers, was not doing particularly good work.

Or any work whatsoever.

It was difficult for her all-too-human eye to discern.

It was like staring at a painting entitled Still Life with Aerobics.

The first time she witnessed him working out she’d actually asked him if everything was alright. He’d simply waved her off and told her that he was “just getting his heart rate up.” Then every morning since he would get up and go downstairs and work out and she would follow and discretely watch him not working out. She would actually burn more calories being angry at his complete lack of exertion than he did. She bit her lip every morning, fearing she would insult him if she asked him “Why bother getting all dressed up if you are going to put zero effort into it?”, but the question burned within her.

Questions to be more specific.

“Why not move your arms when doing jumping jacks?”

“Why not do sit-ups when the guy on the video does sit-ups, as opposed to just fucking lying there like a beached walrus?”

“You really think you need to shower afterwards? You get a better workout drying yourself.”

Which is why she could never ask the first questions. The first domino. Pandora’s Box and whatnot.

To be fair to her, if he were to fall out of a plane the same way he worked out he wouldn’t need a parachute. He’d simply arrive back on the ground five or six hours later unharmed.

To be fair to him, his wife didn’t work out so she had no idea how difficult it can be. Of course, she would claim that neither did he.

For months she made of point of renting movies for their weekly date night that featured men exercising. The Rocky series made several appearances. The only constant between all of the films was that at some point there was a man working out. Hard. Straining and grunting and dripping sweat and grimacing, and every time those scenes came on she’d look over at him and lift her eyebrows slightly as if to say “Do you see the difference between that and what you’re doing every damned morning?”

He did not. If anything, it only made things worse.

He began to work out with the volume down and the soundtrack from Rocky blaring in the background.

She just rolled her eyes and said “If the eyes of tigers worked liked my husband they’d have to become vegetarians. Grazers the lot of them.” The image made her chortle.

Eventually she made a deal with herself; she would stop getting so upset at his complete lack of effort, and therefore the enormous amount of time he was wasting, just as long as she never caught him wearing a headband. If she ever came downstairs to that scene she would grab a steak knife and plunge it into his neck. A scene that was chortle-worthy but did not elicit one.

Instead she smiled with more than a hint of affection and said “I pity the fool.”

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