I started taking conditioning class at my gym a few weeks ago, and at first, I couldn't even make it through without a break (which is even more embarrassing when the 70-year-old next to you doesn't need one). But after a few classes, my legs started finding their rhythm, and I even rediscovered a bit of my old athleticism. Soon after, Lindsey said (unprompted) I was looking 'buffer'. Heck, I felt buffer.
But the best part of class was the instructor, Mike. Mike pushed us to the limit, but knew when to let up. He had fun with us, but commanded respect. He was always on time, but didn't get mad if we were late.
And most importantly, he thought I was the best.
Mike usually just watched students do ladder drills, but when it was my turn, he'd step in behind me and follow at top speed, pushing me to work harder.
"You know you're only the third person I've ever seen who can backpedal on the ladder without looking down?" Mike asked me one day.
"From my DB days," I answered, like a true meathead.
"Aha. I knew it was something!"
Every night after class I'd come home raving to Lindsey.
"Babe, guess what Mike said today??"
"You're not gonna leave me for him, are you?" she'd joke.
But I really was smitten. I couldn't wait for next class. Mike was the best thing to happen to my post-athletic career.
After class this past Saturday, I was stretching my hamstrings while Mike made the rounds. I'd never talked to him outside of class before, so I thought it would be a good time to pick his brain on the NFL a bit. I couldn't wait to hear his insights on the AFC and NFC Championship games.
"So who do you like tomorrow?" I asked him.
He looked confused. "What do you mean?"
"In the games. Who do you like in the games tomorrow?"
"Oh," he said. "Well, who's playing?"
Haha, good one, Mike. "What?"
"Who's playing in the games?"
He wasn't kidding.
So I told him who was playing, and he started giving me some long-winded, football-for-novices answer about Peyton Manning being really good. I don't know. I wasn't listening.
All I could hear was the sound of my heart breaking.