I remember playing field hockey on a long gone October morning, a breeze on my legs as I chased the ball down the field. Low slung sun rays divided the grass into light and dark, wet and dry, warm and cold. My baggy school shorts showed thighs blotchy red with exertion. For years after the eighth grade, I hated running. I blame the shorts.
“Get changed into your shorts,” the physiotherapist said.
Each visit I explain I do not own such clothing and each time she says “Oh, yes. I forgot.” She pulled a pair from a pile neatly stacked like pancakes and handed them to me.
I would rather walk naked through the waiting room than be seen in public in these shorts, I thought.
Knee length with an elastic waist, they are black sacks made for moving and sweating. Baggy enough to hoist up my leg and tuck into panties so the damaged muscles, joints, and tendons can be massaged. Baggy enough to make my legs look slim. So baggy my bum disappears.
It’s a lie, of course. I wouldn’t walk naked through the waiting room. The mirror I stood in front of confirmed what a bad idea it would be. I focused on the recovering knee and did as instructed – bend, straighten, lift, straighten – a kind of goose step for an old bird. Alas, the shorts reveal all I would like to conceal. Where did those knobs of flesh at the sides of my knees come from? I felt like a tree trunk with knots conveniently placed for climbing.
Physio shorts look good on my husband. When he exercises, I avoid the grunting and sweating as he lifts weights, squats and lunges, elongating his muscles like pie dough. I feel like I’ve eaten fresh lawn clippings I’m so jealous.
Now, at the end of October, most of the leaves are off the trees. Today the wind is resurrecting the fallen ones. Sepia air fermented from rain soaked leaves brewing winter makes me thirsty for beer. It’s a limited time offer because the sky is thickening with snow-tire rutted clouds and soon I’ll be craving a hot rum toddy and a cardigan after a visit to the physiotherapist.