This man looks at us. Me and Big Mike. Small Mike as Emma Claire has started calling him because she sees the small.
He will get there. Someday.
And I only use his real name because he has told everyone in town that I’m his trainer. It’s not exactly a secret.
But this man. There’s this old man and we are in the gym and we are working and Mike is sweating and he is giving me everything and this old grouchy man says, “You’d better stop or Big Mike here won’t be able to walk home.”
OK, but I’m pretty sure he has a car.
I am so annoyed. I take a breath. “Yep!” I say, “He’s really workin’ hard.”
The old, grouchy man continues. “Yeah, but look at that tire around his belly. Gonna have to work a heck of lot harder to get rid of that.”
Uhm, OK. Pretty sure that’s what we’re doing.
At what point did we decide it was ok to talk about big people; overweight people, all-in-all fat people? In front of them? You know they can hear, right?
And I think. I’m not sure Emma Claire should call him Small Mike. We meant getting small. But this man is making him feel small.
I don’t like small. New name. Strong Mike.
I breathe again. Somehow hopeful that maybe in fact Strong Mike can’t hear and we move on. Away from old, grouchy man.
Old, grouchy man who needed a cane to walk out of the gym and I know y’all think I’m nicer than this, I’ve been “accused” recently of being “real religious” or maybe it was too religious? I don’t remember and that’s another blog entirely because I am in fact not religious at all, but I am faithful.
And I believe.
Just not very highly of this man. Anyway, I know y’all think I’m a nicer person than this, but evidently I’m not because as he walked out I looked at Strong Mike and said, “See? He can’t even walk with out a cane.”
Shame on me. I’m sure he is a sweet old man who doesn’t know better and probably calls black people “Colored folk.”
I let it go.
Seriously. I did.
And then today. A not very old, probably not very grouchy, in fact quite attractive younger woman with a beautiful smile looks at Strong Mike and says, “So, got yourself another trainer, hu?”
She turns to me.”He’s been through quite a string of trainers, just so you know.”
“Well, Mike and I are a team. I’m sticking with him.”
“Oh, it’s not the trainers it’s him. He can’t stick. He won’t stick.”
And HE. Is standing right there.
My face flushes hot and it’s one thing for friends to tease and friends to jab and friends to encourage and hold him accountable. It’s entirely different for random gym lady to think she gets a say.
I have to get away from her. I tell Strong Mike. Get some water and I walk away.
And as I walk, she thinks I don’t hear, but turns out strong and fit girls can also hear and she leans into Mike and says,
“She’s reeeeal pretty, Mike.”
And I’m not reeeeal pretty, but his last trainer was Josh, so maybe in comparison I’m a little bit pretty, but that’s not her point.
And Mike knows that. Knows what she’s getting at. And his face, already pouring sweat and red from exhaustion flushes even more brightly and he’s not embarrassed.
And I’m mad.
And you know what I think? I think we should all. be. mad.
All. Get. Mad.
At social injustice and bigotry and hatred and all the phobias we carry around which are lame excuses to cover sexism and racism and fat-people-ism and all the other isms. And let’s get mad at people who speak unkindly and act unkindly and this week let’s speak up.
I will act in kindness but if you humiliate my client; my friend; right to his face, then I’m gonna speak up.
Well, maybe I’ll act in kindness. I will for sure try to act in kindness. I guess it depends on how many diet cokes I’ve had that day.
And knowing that I fall short and knowing that we are all broken and messy and heavy with weight, be it on our bodies or in our minds and heavy weighing down our shoulders and hearts and knowing all of this I will also watch my words and choose my words and lift up with my words.
“Encourage one another and build each other up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
So come on, people! Let’s encourage one another! And pass the word that if you mess with Strong Mike, I’m gonna have to hurt you. And then of course, I will encourage you and build you up. 🙂
Fear is not an excuse for hatred. And humor is a lousy camouflage for being cruel.