Looking back, I realized that I made several fatal errors on the day the spin instructor learned my name.
I had seen him walking into the gym with his daughter, and she was so cute that, reflexively, I smiled at her. And when I looked up again, the damage had been done: though people and things continued to spin all around us, as if time had not frozen in that second, he had noticed me. I knew it. For taking notice of his daughter.
Were those halcyon days of slinking into the back row of bikes just as it turned 9:30 am now just a hazy memory? Had I finally, irrevocably singled myself out, made an impression? Would it last? Blast it all! Could just one row of bikes and bobbing asses be enough to conceal me, the woman who had smiled at a young child, from the notice of her doting father? Hardly!
I deceived myself into entertaining that hope, what with the way things are on those kinds of days, people rushing to and fro, the fog of sweat glazing over everyone’s eyes, the fact that I had rushed away before any conversation had taken place. But alas, when I reached my bike–the bike I had signed up for online, at exactly 7:30 am on Thursday morning, 26 hours before the start of class, no earlier and no later, hitting refresh repeatedly until the system allowed me in so that I was sure to get a place in the best class, that bike–#10–had a pair of cages on its pedals! Remnants, they were, from some other, more elementary spinning class where someone–a beginner so new to spinning that they didn’t have the correct shoes yet–had used my bike. My bike, with the scars of its ignominy still hanging off its sacred pedals!
There was no choice to be made: I would have to get them off myself, because Todd, in #9, was busy flirting with the woman who just had a baby six weeks ago and besides, he was no stronger than I, since spinning strengthens your legs to superhuman heights but leaves your arms flabby and vein-ridden. I toiled and twisted at the cages, finally succeeding in pulling off one side, but the left was stubborn and wouldn’t budge. It was 9:28. There were no alternative measures: I would have to ask the spin instructor to remove them for me.
And if the encounter in the hallway, outside of the Kids Club hadn’t done it, well, he would notice me, then, wouldn’t he? Because even if he couldn’t remember my name, there would always be the class sign-in sheet there, my name perfectly rendered in Helvetica for the world to see! No, not even poor handwriting could save me now! He would see the name and match it to the bike number . . . oh cruel fate! that my beloved #10 would ultimately be my undoing! Yes, he would see it there and it would only become a matter of time before he was yelling my name along with all of the others he tortured throughout the class–Marianna! Maria! Yuna! Rebecca! John!–people with rock-hard quadriceps and hamstrings that tucked neatly into their compact derrieres, all covered in the latest lululemon stretch hotpants–
“ANNA! GIVE ME A HALF-TURN OF RESISTANCE AND FOCUS!”