Work Out


“1,2,3 -NIKE!”

I stared in judgemental disbelief with a very visible grimace.

There – in front me, was the floor staff at Nike – shouting their morning mantra in unison.

The manager, or who I assumed was the manager, was way too over enthusiastic in her salute to the sports line, she even included a passionate fist pump. The rest of the expressionless staff, were a combination of kiss asses and college students – which made for a very unenthusiastic cheer.

“I could never work here…” I muttered under my breath – the place was a temple of forced team work and minimum wage.

The store smelled like my fifth grade gym class – it reeked of rubber and despair.

Suddenly, I was transported to every game of dodgeball I ever played.

It was always the same. The all star gym heroes would nobly perform god-like acts to catch balls and save the team – only to usually be brutally slammed in the face with these projectile weapons. They would rush back to the line, slamming their sweaty palms in a high five with the beaming coach. Β They would proceed to encourage their team mates to catch something so they could return to the game and fulfill the crucial role of winning for the team.

This never appealed to me – I would typically huddle in the corner for protection. Fortunately, my tiny height, ridiculously hairy legs, and quiet persona ensured that nothing approached me.

Until of course, I was the last one standing. My team would split between the optimists and the realists.

The realists would always stomp and groan – understanding full well that there was no way in hell I would be able to catch the ball.

The optimists would silently pray to Yeezus in hopes for a miracle – Β like some huge sports god to penetrate my body and catch the ball.

I would look nervously at the unanimous 15 or so children who had absolutely no faith in my athletic abilities – then I would stare towards my impending doom. I could feel a full on anxiety attack approaching.

Nine balls would come crashing down on me like a shower of pellets from the sky.

My team would scream in agony. The athletic gym heroes would fall to their knees cursing their 12 year old dexterity – blaming themselves for letting the whole team down by letting me be the last one up.

I would walk home with my head hanging low, kicking at invisible stones around my feet. Once I got there, I would beeline for the carbs (usually chips) and dramatically flop on the couch.

Mom would greet me with the obligatory, “Hello!.”

“Mom!” I would wail, “I didn’t catch the ball at Gym and I made my team lose.”

My mom would replace my chips with a carrot and would direct me to my room to finish my homework. Life events like these, were inconsequential to her. She was a woman with her gaze firmly planted on the long term. And to her, this was nothing in the grand scheme of things.

She would always say the same thing,

“Who cares about today – 15 years from now you wont even remember this.”


I still remember mom.

The woman at the cash register woke me from my reverie. I took the bag of athletic gear and with the same dejected manner of 12 year old me – I walked to the car.

Staring at the steering wheel, I scolded myself for being so insecure and superficial. I mean beauty – like weight, must be in the eye of the beholder, right?

I was here because of that damn video.

This one:

There I was, reading one of my pieces at a story slam – and all I could focus on was the mean muffin top I was sporting and my massive thunder thighs.

It was time to put the cupcakes down and do something about it.

I marched in the rain towards the massive generic gym with the generic slogan. I repeated my sets of speaking the word “Awesome!” then signed my million and one page contract.

And here I am now, enjoying my last supper of chocolate, pizza, and ice cream.

Here I am – eating all of this, and thinking with a goofy grin on my face.

Sometimes you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone and do something crazy – something new.

And a few days ago.

I did just that.

I read a piece at my very first Story Slam – and I didn’t do as bad as I thought I would – because you were with me.

And while I was nervously reading, stuttering, and body swaying like a totem in the wind – not once did I think of dodgeball.

And it felt pretty awesome.

Sweet Dreams World.


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38 replies

  1. Great job! It can only get better form here πŸ™‚

  2. I was one of the “gym heroes” when I was in school. I’m guilty of being the guy that hurled dodgeballs at the last little girl on the court just to take my team to victory. I hadn’t realised until now how much the other kids must have despised me haha

  3. great reading, lovely blog as always πŸ™‚

  4. What muffin top? What thunder thighs? Girlfriend!!!=D
    Great post!

  5. I would like to share my story of shopping. I had just Rs. 1500 in pocket and I thought to buy a jeans for me. In Dolmin Centre when I saw the outlet of Levis, I felt relieved that I found it at last.
    There was a sale representative in the outlet. Unfortunately there was no one in the shop when I reached. So I was all at her focus. She was following me wherever I was going. Please sir, try this, this jeans is awesome for just Rs. 4500… [ Oh my GOD 4500? :-o?? ] I just have 1500 include my bus fare..
    I said to her I have changed my mind, I want to buy a T-Shirt now.. She said why not , come this way… There i saw tag on a t shirt that didnt attract me as well for Rs. 2000… Oh God .. Why I came here was my feeling.. I said , I am just coming back.. wait…..
    I got escaped and never visited that outlet again.. πŸ˜€

  6. I realy enjoyed that. Is that the only kind of comedy you do?

  7. Well done you, and I especially liked that post you read.

  8. Bet my thunder thighs beat yours! You look great … sod the sporties.

    I get a bit sick of sportsmen and women in our country (UK) getting awards from the Queen and being knighted etc. when there are all sorts of quiet people doing amazingly important work and never being recognised.

    It’s sort of β€˜Ooo, you won a long race? Here have a knighthood,’ β€˜Oh, you cured the world of HIV … whatever.’

    Really … that’s how it looks to me. πŸ˜‰

  9. At least nobody takes your good food for some carrots now (dont go diet with the gym).
    you did great at the storyslam, felt nice to have read the story before watching the performance.

  10. Awesome story! Great job (with everything) πŸ™‚

  11. I still remember mom. – that made my morning (as did the rest of the words). As always Shareen your writing is excellent, a great job with the reading πŸ™‚

  12. that awesome, rememebr reading it in blog form and laughing, glad u made others laugh with it,,,yet is what it is a memorable life yep , thanks! loved the vid!2 kewl fer skewl!…Q

  13. I’m glad that you liked my post on “Swords, Specters, & Stuff.” You’re welcome back anytime!

  14. Purely out of a sense of scientific curiosity, I watched this vid 9 times – full screen, with my nose pressed against the screen – and found no evidence of . . .

    ‘mean muffin top’ and ‘massive thunder thighs’

    All I saw was an attractive young woman with a melodious voice

    From which I conclude that, like many women, you have too low an opinion of your appearance or . . .

    I need to see an optician to have my eyesight tested πŸ˜†

  15. Thanks for the “like” on our promo art!
    Looks like you slice a mean piece of prose.

  16. This is such a perfect description of dodgeball. I’m afraid I could have written this line, “Fortunately, my tiny height, ridiculously hairy legs, and quiet persona ensured that nothing approached me.” I, too, was always the last one standing. My pediatrician actually wrote me a permanent excuse from gym because he thought it was negatively affecting my self-esteem and my ability to interact with peers. He was right.

    Actually, looking at the video, I’d say we have similar figures, or, rather, yours is like mine when I was younger. So I know this is really hard advice to take because I’m still trying to internalize it myself, but exercise for your health and overall well being. Also, when I’m out in public, I try to look at women who don’t look like fashion models but who never the less strike me as looking great. I took this picture because I liked the way the woman in the green scarf looked:

    She’s petite, she has womanly thighs, but she looks great. I hope she feels as good about herself as she looks.

  17. You go, girl! Don’t let memories of your miserable 5th-grade gym class keep you from realizing your dreams. Otherwise, you’ll wind up like me, in your mid-50s and just getting started πŸ™‚

  18. This is the VERY reason I started Geek and Gamer Fitness. People need a safe place where they can reach their goals and work on themselves without feeling judged. It annoys me to hear stories like this, because it reminds me of similar experiences when I was a child. Experiences I refuse to let my clients face today!

  19. It sounds like the audience at the StorySlam loved you and either way, don’t worry, in 15 years you won’t even remember this!

  20. Rubber and despair. Love.
    Good on you for the Story Slam performance! That’s guts.

  21. First off, awesome StorySlam presentation…hilarious . Secondly, no “muffin top”…you’re beautiful. Thirdly, terrific post…you transported back to my middle school years.


  22. I will trade you my sheet cake top and tropical storm thighs for your muffin top and thunder thighs.

  23. Good read upon the stage.

  24. I couldn’t find your “About” page, possibly because I might have had one or two few many beers but I wanted to say thanks for always finding my posts and liking them even though they maybe (are) sub par from most. Anyway, I loved your reading and I applaud your courage. You’re a lovely individual Shareen. Cheers!

  25. Hey, that rocked, Shareen…. The finer moments to life and humour, standing up to ride the wind. Had a sister in-law living OS a couple of months back come down with Typhoid. She was already on a fitness kick, but then weight loss escalated out of control.. All good now though… Enjoy what ever works for you, and cameras never tell you how you really look, it all to do with aspects, and ratios to the frame, they are never kind. All the best for whenever the next slam hit you up to ride the wind again..

  26. I just wanted to let you know that it’s been almost a month and I am distinctly missing your blog posts! πŸ™‚

  27. I loved your read and your thighs are nearly as pretty as mine! Nearly…

    I wonder how much of this lack of sporting prowess is a writerly thing.

    Remembering my own school days, I was forced (shanghaied, compelled, directed, required) to play Australian Rule Football.

    Anyone not native to Australia will have a big question mark about that, but we play with a ball about the size and shape of a grid-iron ball (although more rounded at the ends) and we wear no armour. We think that armour is for pussies! The game is more like soccer, except you can use your hands, and leaping upon other players in order to get the ball is encouraged. It is very much like another game you probably don’t know, gaelic football.

    Most of time on the field I spent eyeing the ball so I could keep as far away from it as possible. That thing was not coming anywhere near me!

    Then, in the last game I ever played (wonder why), I must have lost my concentration, because the ball did approach — and I was the only one anywhere near it!

    I could have tried running away, but that would’ve been a bit obvious, so I thought it over…

    So long did I think it over that some other kids were approaching. One of them kicked the ball away, and I was already running. Towards it, not away from it…

    As I bent down to pick up the ball, I ran over my right thumb.

    Yep — I was going through a growth spurt, did not know my own body terribly well, and I planted my size 9 football boot down onto my right thumb. It bent, I heard something pop!

    But the crowd was screaming in what I was oblivious enough to think was adulation, so I ignored the pain of my right-angled thumb and kicked the ball… right through the goal posts.

    The other team’s goal posts…

    I enlarged my vocabulary that day, because a barrage of rather colourful language did ensue. Much of it came from the teacher, and still more from the coach. I never had to play football ever again!

    It was worth the dislocated thumb! Wish I had thought of that earlier!

    The next week, I was able to give oranges to the other players during half time.

    For some reason, many of the oranges came back to me…

  28. I’m so sorry about your beautiful homeland.

  29. I loved dodgeball! Shame I always forgot that I was actually allowed to jump out of the way.

    Keep the posts coming. It’s been a while since your last one (as with mine). πŸ˜›


  30. great to hear and see you! πŸ™‚

  31. I just wanted to thank you for your life

  32. On behalf of all the PE teachers in the world, I am sorry. BTW Dodgeball is in the PE Hall of Shame. But… if you had caught that ball, what then??? πŸ™‚

  33. Thanks SO much for the like… It means a lot!

    Do check out [and like. And comment. And follow :P] my other blogs,

    Thanks a dozen!!

  34. Loved every bit of this post, but that Story Slam…OMG–most especially tuning into Fox for accurate news coverage. And the highlight of your day being your son’s “accomplishment”. Thank you so much for starting my day right! Am sharing this…

  35. What the heck is that chair doing flying through the air? LOL!

  36. I worked for at least two places, including as a temp at Wal-Mart, that forced such demoralizing morale boosters.

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