On How Physical Therapy Builds Character

I’m just going to say it: I’m basically sedentary. Although I do walk a fair amount (what up, Manhattan!), I don’t go to the gym or do yoga, I don’t like “the outdoors,” and on my life resume, one of my most developed skills is reclining.

My knee doctor was the first person to expose me for the atrophied lump that I am. I’d been having excruciating knee pain for quite a while when I had my first appointment with him. As it turns out, I have a knee disease that normally affects men in their forties – a D’OH seems appropriate here – and I’m going to need an operation on my leg in the next few months.

To prepare for the surgery, I’ve been in physical therapy three times a week for the past two months. Some aspects of PT have been fabulous – my trainer, for example, is the man. Other aspects, though, have been kiiind of degrading. For example:

1. The center that I go to for Physical Therapy is located IN New York Sports Club. Not next to – IN. You have to walk past hoards of meathead finance bros and sporty former sorority chicks to get to the office. I HATE this walk, mostly because my luminous white sneakers and pendulous gut clearly demonstrate that I’m an ‘other’ amongst them.

2. The office itself is set up like this: you walk into a little waiting room with three chairs. Just beyond the waiting room is a larger room in which there are 5 or 6 cots that everyone can see all the time. There are private side rooms with curtains flanking this main room, but those cots, man, those cots – they’re right out in the open. The first time I ever went to PT, I was asked to sit in a chair that looked out on that room while I waited for my therapist to become available. There was a decrepit old woman on one of the cots; her cane was propped against the wall jauntily, her shoes were off, and she was laying perfectly still with her eyes closed and what appeared to be a blue airbag tightly wrapped around her upper body. When the receptionist asked me to sit there, I’m sure I said something like, “Oh, sure, no problem, my pleasure,” when on the inside I was thinking, “OMFG. What the hell am I looking at? Is this woman dead? How do we know that she didn’t just drop dead on the table? What if she’s dead? Jesus Christ. I want to go home.”

(Don’t worry, guys – she wasn’t dead.)

3. The actual physical therapy has been really beneficial as far as making me feel better, but some of the stretches and muscle exercises that I have to do during each session are totally mortifying. A few times, I’ve found myself laying on my back and having my thigh vigorously massaged by my male therapist to ‘move the fluid around.’ I asked him once if he ever thought he’d grow up to massage strangers’ thighs for a living, but he didn’t really laugh.

4. I wore the same pair of bike shorts to around 10 of my sessions because I hate wearing shorts more than anything and these were relatively long and stretchy and therefore more acceptable. Then, one day when I got home, I discovered that there was an ENORMOUS HOLE in the CROTCH of the SHORTS – like, so big that it had definitely been developing/growing for quite a while. Oh, the INDIGNITY! And the worst part is that I’ve had to go back to my trainer multiple times since I made this discovery.

5. Once, I was doing an exercise in which I wear a resistance band around my knees and walk sideways across the room. For the whole set, this mutant crone with a bad facelift who was sitting on a stationary bike wouldn’t stop STARING at me. I wanted to shuffle over to her and rip her little Versace baseball cap right off. There are few things more degrading than having someone watch you wheeze and schvitz your way through a very basic/easy exercise routine, especially when that someone looks like a bad guy from Scooby Doo and is wearing sunglasses inside a gym.

I’m sure more hilarity will ensue when I go under the knife – stay tuned for updates, and make sure to check the crotch of your gym shorts if you’re going to be doing the splits on a table in front of a room full of people.

A Little Chat About Jenny Craig

At the beginning of this summer, while I was down in DC visiting family, my aunt took a photograph of me and all of my cousins standing together. It should’ve been a beautiful shot; we had posed in her garden, the light was mid-afternoon light, and it was the first time we’d all been together as adults.

When I saw the photo on Facebook, though, I gasped audibly. We’ll put it this way: my first thought wasn’t, “Awesome, I totally had that whole ‘John Goodman-meets-Jiminy Glick’ thing going for me that day!” I was totally bummed that I had ruined what could have been a lovely memento by looking like I should’ve been wearing a burlap sack and ringing the village bell.

My aunt had joined Jenny Craig a few weeks earlier, and soon after I saw the photo, I went with her to one of her meetings and to pick up her week’s allotment of food. For those of you who haven’t been blessed with a hearty appetite for pie and/or Lady Television: Jenny Craig is a weight loss program on which you eat ONLY Jenny Craig food (and vegetables) until you’ve reached the halfway point to your goal weight.

At the Jenny center, two different women asked me if I needed help while I was waiting for my aunt. I figured this probably meant that the Eileen Fisher shmata I was wearing was not doing as great a job of concealing my girth as I had previously thought. Then I figured I should probably join Jenny Craig.

So I joined Jenny Craig. And lost all this weight. Just kidding! I paid hundreds of dollars to gain five pounds and get harangued about being fat for a month.


A Hair’s Tale

When I was 16, I had my hair chemically straightened for the first time by a surly gentleman in a hair salon in Koreatown. It was a surreal experience; the whole process took – I kid you not – 8 hours, and I was left with a lasting memory when the guy BURNT MY SCALP so badly that the hairs on that patch of head don’t grow right anymore.

Anyway, since then, I’ve been on a quest to find my holy grail of hair conditioners. When I saw that Ulta was selling something online called a ‘Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Masque,’ I knew I had to have it. It seemed so exotic – and people said it magically transformed their hair from dry, straw-like birds’ nests into silky, touchable Mermaid hair. I bought it.

The little brown package finally arrived in the mail a few weeks later. As I was opening the wrapping, I could hear a chorus of angels softly humming a Take 6 song. I felt like King Arthur. And when I finally untwisted the top of the jar and smelled the glory of the Macadamia nut? Well, hey, I’ll admit it – I cried a little bit.

I decided the best way to make use of this ‘masque’ would be to leave it on overnight. That way, it would have time to work into my poor, dry hair, and in the morning, I would look like Alessandra Ambrosio. When I finally rinsed it out, I decided not to put anything else in my hair, to just let it dry naturally. You know, mermaid hair, a chorus of angels, etc., etc. And so I let it dry.

It was like a scene out of a horror movie when, a few hours later, I finally looked in the mirror and saw a member of the Westboro Baptist Church staring back at me.