I woke up today and knew immediately that this was going to be a terrific day, a day of highs. I opened my eyes and felt rested, happy…definitely charged up. My oatmeal was especially tasty this morning, work e-mail was minimal, and—since the temps are down—I was jazzed through and through.
Giddy on life, as silly myself as any second grader could get, I merrily drove to my gym. As I turned into the parking lot, I mused, This would be a good day to see that fireman I like. I haven’t seen him in a week.
I didn’t see any fire trucks parked outside, though I did see a few firemen working out when I got inside, men I recognized as being in my guy’s unit. Hm. That meant they were parked in back and that my fireman could be playing racquetball. Very promising.
I bopped through the main room and decided that if my fireman was on the premises, I was going to show him that I could work out hard, not just stroll along on the treadmill. I found an empty Stairmaster, hoisted myself up and away I went, stomping and at times gaily running up five million flights of stairs, sweat pouring down my face and back. I would run and climb and sweat and show this guy—if he wandered into the main room—what I was made of. I would be Firewoman.
And then I heard it: the sound of his voice. It was low but not too deep, a little raspy and rough, the kind of voice you might hear from a guy who is used to yelling a lot. If I had to give it a color, it would be magenta; if I had to compare it to a food, it would be medium-rare steak grilled with Omaha steak seasoning, my favorite. That’s what I noticed first, his voice approaching, and then when I looked up and saw him across the room, my heart threw itself against my rib cage, wanting to pump over there with the fireman, not satisfied anymore just pumping for me.
As my blood pressure rose and cheeks flushed, I was doubly glad I’d chosen the Stairmaster: not only did it show what a tough chick I am, it provided good cover: I could sweat and pant without anyone blinking an eye, plus I could hide behind it and pretend to read my propped-up magazine while focusing all of my senses on the fireman and trying to send him ESP messages: come over here, you were meant for me.
I got a good long look at him as he came down the hallway and stood in an open area for a minute or so. I couldn’t help but feel like I was hunting an exotic creature and had just spotted a prized specimen emerge from the brush, just minding his own business, checking the wind for food and females. He is undeniably a trophy, this fireman: a younger Robert Redford with tousled gray hair …an older, ruddy-complexioned Brad Pitt without the prettiness…an older, taller Mark Ruffalo...a younger, more handsome James Brolin...Alec Baldwin if he didn’t dye his hair and hadn’t gained all that weight. I hope I’m making myself clear.
And I've seen him reading a book on the stationary bike. A book.
Seeing him coming toward my end of the gym, I climbed down from my machine, pumped in every sense of the word. I walked stiffly toward him as he walked toward me. The air sparkled, for me. I could hardly move after my workout so he probably thought I had arthritis, which I do, very sexy. I wondered if his butterflies wanted to mate as much as my butterflies did. We didn’t even say hi, hardly glanced at one another, and I know why I couldn't: because he wears a ring. He’s married.
If I want to keep saying that I can go to sleep at night knowing that I’ve done my best that day, then all I can do is admire him from afar, keeping my butterflies in check.