Home November 2011 The “We” Factor

The “We” Factor

A few weeks ago my husband proclaimed that “we” were going to run in the upcoming Jerusalem Marathon.  I gasped in shock, reeling from the assuming nature of the statement, especially since he is a great advocate of “joint decisions” and planning.  At the time of his announcement, I was barely able to walk without grimacing because of suspected misalignment of some spinal discs, advent of osteoarthritis in both knees and an irrational attack of bursitis surrounding the femur on my left side.  Other than that, I was in perfect shape.
“Say what?  Have you been hitting the bottle again???”
“We can do it.  We’re sporty.  Just a little overweight.  Once we lighten the load we’re carrying, we’ll be a couple of racehorses.”
Horses maybe, but we were coming up to the New Year and it wasn’t for me to burst the enthusiastic bubble of Mr. “Yes-We-Can.”  Gingerly, I pointed out that I had already lost a good deal of weight and was happy with my slow but steady progress and that (even more gingerly) when he was on the same program, he raided the kitchen every hour.  “I’m not a cop.  I can’t watch every bite you put in your mouth.  How do you propose to meet the challenge?”
Without stopping for air he announced, “I’m going to a dietician.  I need to report to someone, and it shouldn’t be a wife.  It’s not healthy for the marriage.”
No argument there.  Employing the standard “reality check,” I called his daughter and asked what she thought.  Her answer: “I know my dad.  Don’t work too hard on this.  Good luck to you.”  So much for support and compassion.
The husband returned from the long-awaited appointment in a most upbeat mood, announcing that he’d gained quite a bit of weight since we were married four months ago, and changes were necessary, especially if he were to compete in the full 26-mile race.
“What changes?” I curiously asked.  “I know every program invented and what a balanced eating plan looks like.  Tell me.”
“No caviar for starters.”
“We don’t eat caviar.  What else?”
“No chopped meat and only three cups of coffee a day.  One glass of wine at dinner.”
I gazed deeply into his eyes to see whether or not he had heard himself.  He picked up the signal and answered, “She didn’t say what size glass.  What do you think?”
“I think you are in for a shock.  We aren’t talking ‘goblets’ here, darling.  A glass is about four ounces.”  He smiled.  “I’ll just learn to cut back.”
Ready now to venture into more delicate territory now, I queried, “Did she weigh you?”
Silence.  Finally he muttered, “Uh, yeah.  Don’t ask.  Let’s just say that I’ve gained around ten kilos.”  For the edification of western readers, this equals approximately 22 pounds.  When I stopped roaring with laughter, I hastily apologized and agreed to be a partner in this noble challenge.  “We’ll do this together!  Grab life, grab fitness, grab energy and skip into the healthy-sunset hand-in-hand!”  I sneaked off to the bedroom where I weighed myself for a baseline number, gasped and exited with a determined countenance.
Subsequent to this minor scene, I dutifully began purging the cabinets of dangerous snack foods and related lures that mysteriously lurk in the disorderly cupboards.  We have different weaknesses (I’m a “foodie,” and he’s a junk-food “junkie.”), so the things I tossed caused me no pain.  He, however, entered a hard-core detox zone soon after making his emphatic declaration.
“Where are the candied raisins?  I need a few.”
“Gone.  Pure sugar.  And not on the program.”
“Good. I was just testing you.  Now can I have some croutons?  Dinner doesn’t seem to be ready.”
“Croutons with what?  If you eat croutons, I’ll deduct it from your bread allowance,” I answered patiently.
“Does that work for you?”
“No need.  I’m motivated.  Text me when dinner’s ready.  I’m going for a bike ride.”
No sooner can one say “Lance Armstrong,” the intrepid athlete unlocked his ancient Schwinn and headed out through the winding streets of Jerusalem, wearing a lemon-yellow Adidas “cool-weave” shirt, dark red shorts, bright green helmet and a smile to beat the band.
I swung into action, French-grilling a pullet, tossing together a crisp green salad chock-full of spicy rocket-leaves and other fun veggies, microwaved two medium potatoes, filled the pitcher with iced water along with mint leaves and lemon wedges and slightly chilled a bottle of merlot.
He returned soon after, drenched with perspiration and delirious from the endorphins that pumped through his still-large frame.  “Wow, it smells great!”  This was more than I could say for him as I pushed him toward the shower.  “I’ll be right out.  Didn’t I tell you that this was gonna be fun???”
Sitting down to the splendid repast, he looked at the delectable chicken and asked, “Gorgeous.  And what are you going to eat?”
“Your program says one-quarter chicken.  NOT ‘a’ chicken.  This bird is for two meals for both of us.  Welcome to your new life.”
“Ha ha.  I know.  What’s for dessert?”
“A baked apple.  And water.”
“We can do this,” he chirped, a tad less convincingly.
Clearly “we” means “me,” and I’m up for the challenge.  He traipses the shuk in search of fun things for me to whip up into something edible, and I cook whatever victuals he provides.  He heads the cheering squad and monitors my hours at the gym.  I wash the sweaty workout togs, and he compliments my efforts.  We made it through the holidays, including three-day religious food-fests and break-fast extravaganzas.  His clothing is beginning to bag, and I’m shifting some smaller-sized dresses from the recesses of the closet to the front row.
He hasn’t mentioned the upcoming race in a few days, and I’m hopeful that the need to “prove” something will evaporate like a badly cooked pot of rhubarb, but I, nonetheless, remain vigilant.  Having just finished a grueling series of physical therapy treatments, my legs are feeling much, much better, but I’m hoping that my husband won’t notice and use it as an excuse to push me onto the running track at Hebrew University.
We are due to celebrate Chanukah next month, and I’m in a terrible panic, because I just found something hidden in his night table drawer: a brochure advertising a sale on two-for-one rollerblades!.  A

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