Monday, June 09, 2008


As some of you know, I have my very own DLF at the Y. Well, he's not a dwarf, but he is dear and a friend, even if I don't know his name. So I just sort of think of him as my own personal DLF. I met him one of the first days I started working out at the Y, back in February. He is slightly patronizing, because he, like everyone else in the world, assumes that I didn't exercise before I came. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, the thing about being overweight is that people assume you never exercise and that you regularly binge eat on junk food. The most frustrating thing in the world to me is that I do neither, but I have to live with this stigma because people assume it is so automatically. The patronizing, "Oh, good for you!" when I reference being at the Y (as if it was my very first time), the frequent comments from people explaining to me that diet and exercise are really important, the surprise (or over-encouragement, as if I'm on some sort of diet) people seem to have when I am eating a salad or not as much as they are, all of that is both embarrassing, annoying, and well, a daily part of my life. My DLF is always preaching at me, telling me how strong I am, how no one else works out for an hour every day, how it will really pay off and keep me healthy, but I have to keep it up, and I need to commit to taking care of myself for life, for my children's sake, and that nothing's more important than my health. I think he truly does mean to be helpful and complimentary, but no matter how many times I tell him I ran track and cross country in high school, continued running nearly every day until I had children, and have been either walking or doing aerobics since being a mom, he still acts like I have just entered the wonderful world of exercise! Also, I watch the Food Network while I run and look at cooking magazines, so I can see that that probably doesn't help my case against the whole binge eating assumption! But anyway, I think I have realized that for the most part, he just likes to have someone younger on whom to bestow his wisdom.

He works out for two hours every day, which is amazing, and leaves a soaking wet machine and surrounding floor mat behind when he leaves. He used to run marathons, but suffered an injury so now he stays on the elliptical machine to avoid the harsh impact (same reason I do). He told me today that his mother is 86, so I am guessing, as I pretty much had already, that he is in his early sixties. He always gets there an hour or so before I do, and then when I arrive, he always greets me with a big smile and tells me how nice it is to see me. Then when he leaves, he says things like, "It's always a pleasure to see you," or, "I'll look forward to seeing you again tomorrow." So see, he is a very dear man. We don't talk too too much- a little here, a little there, but I have realized fairly quickly that he does not want me to tell him about my life, so he doesn't even know how many children I have or that my husband was a student. I think sometimes about how sad I'll be when I have to tell him I won't be seeing him again. I kinda think I'll have to bake him a big ol' batch of cookies and write him a card. But who do I address it to?! "Dear DLF?!"

On several days lately, we have coincidentally both been late and still come at the same time. Last week I didn't get out until around eleven o'clock in the morning. He saw me in the parking lot and drove over to explain why he was late and let me know he would be in shortly. Today, I came in at about two o'clock in the afternoon, and there he was again. I said, "Well, you're running real late today!" He smiled and nodded and I went on over to stretch. When I came back, I asked him if he had had a nice weekend and he said he had but that the reason he was so late today was because he "had a house fire." I said the automatic and incredulous "you're kidding!" because 1) he was working out and 2) he was smiling his usual smile. So I'm remembering the cake that caught on fire at my house a few years back and thinking it is something only slightly more tragic than the loss of a perfectly delightful pound cake. But then he told me the story. And no, it's like the second story of his house caught fire, it took firemen 2 hours to put it out, and he has nothing left! Just like that. No one was hurt. It was an electrical problem in the upper level. Evidently there were tenants that lived on that floor, but the smoke and water damage ruined all of his own things on the first level. I asked him if he had anything that could be salvaged. He said "I might can save a couple pairs of pants."

Can you imagine?! I told him I couldn't believe he was working out the same day his home burnt down! He said it helps him work through things. He said his "feelings are a little hurt," that this was the house he grew up in, but that as long as he has his health he figures he's okay. He went on to tell me a little bit more of his exercise history which pretty much tips past the line of being obsessive. Evidently, in the past, he often ran 35-40 miles a day, not just on marathon days. I have asked him before how he has time to run for two hours each day, and he told me he was retired. But today I realized that he has always run that far at the very least! He also mentioned several divorces which didn't really surprise me in light of the six day weeks he said he used to work considered with how much time he must have spent running (unless his wife/wives ran with him!)! Anyway, what an interesting guy! And I wonder what I can do for him. I feel so terrible that he has lost everything. Has anyone ever known anyone that this happened to? What would you suggest, keeping in mind that I can't really do anything that I can't do for him at the Y, which pretty much just means bringing him something as far as I can think. Well, pray for him if you think of it. I wish I could give you a name for the person for whom you would be praying. I guess I should just break down and say, "you know, I've never told you, my name is Abby." I reckon I will. Well, let me know if you have any ideas of how I can serve this Dear Little Friend.


jennifer h said...

How sad for your DLF! We'll definitely keep him our prayers. I'll be anxious to hear more about how he copes with his situation.

renae said...

Ooh, blue and white, nice... very crisp, summery looking...

If you decided to bake him a batch of cookies, that would be a very selfless act, given the likelihood that your gift would lead to one of his diet/exercise pep talks. (!!!)

Wrights said...

Love the blue--it reminds me of the beach:) I am sad for your DLF that he spends ALL his time running and even had to run the day his house burned down. Maybe he's lonely. Isn't it great to have those types of friends you see at regular places like the Y?! It makes things seem more "small town" even when it's not really a small town.

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