After 40, It\’s All Maintenance
Recently during Pilates class, my teacher sent me to the wall for a set of standing push-ups. “Place your hands on the wall at breast level,” she instructed.
I placed my hands on the wall at breast level. I saw that my hands were headed for the Gulf of Mexico. “How did this happen?” I asked, sorrow catching in my throat.
“You know what they say,” said my Pilates partner. “After 40, it\’s all maintenance.”
I gritted my teeth and performed three grueling sets of push-ups, determined to show that my strength and agility were not sliding nearly as fast as some of the rest of me. I did not cheat, exactly, just leveled the playing field, so to speak, by sliding my hands north on the wall closer to California, where the rest of my body lives. This made the push-ups much easier to complete. But my deeper pain was realizing that my 40th birthday had passed a few years ago. Clearly I was overdue for some desperately needed deferred maintenance.
At home, I immediately fished out a catalog of women\’s sports clothing that sold bras for every possible shape and fitness need. Sure enough, I found a model designed by a researcher in New Zealand who had a doctorate in Newtonian physics. This great humanitarian had created a bra for women just like me: past our “best by” date for the cheerleading squad, but far too early for the shuffleboard squad. The researcher had actually attached sensors and electrodes to women as they jogged to determine how much retro-fitting they\’d need to stay in their cups. The bra was called “Stand and Deliver,” and I paid extra to have it shipped to me overnight.
When I heard the telltale diesel chugging of the UPS truck on my block the following day, I ran out the door.
“Must be something special in there,” our friendly UPS man said, observing my eagerness.
“Uh, yeah, the rat glue traps finally arrived,” I said. “No matter what we do, we just can\’t seem to get rid of those rodents.”
“Totally understandable. Well, I hope it works!”
“You and me both!” I waved goodbye.
When I looked at myself in the mirror wearing my new suspension rigging, I was amazed. Had I only known how much I would benefit from a close study of Newtonian physics and its application to my ability to perform wall push-ups, I would have paid more attention in high school science class.
My new bra was not the sexiest-looking underwire garment to have ever left the shores of Macau. It had an uncanny resemblance to building scaffolding, but I didn\’t care. At least I was not a “problem fit” who would require the services of one of the nation\’s leading bra sizing consultants. (My friend Jenny, for example, once admitted to me after a few glasses of wine that she had needed to be measured for a new bra with a carpenter\’s level.)
Already, this first strike in my deferred maintenance program has had striking results. My neighbor stopped me the other day, looked at me quizzically and said, “Something\’s different about you, I can tell. You look younger and happier. Did you finally get rid of those rodents?”
Still, walking past Victoria\’s Secret, that bastion of female object glorification, remains a painful experience, but at least now I do so holding my head (and my mammaries) a little higher. Sure, Victoria\’s skinny models may look better in a push-up bra than I do, but those scrawny arms of theirs will be their undoing in a contest with me for wall push-ups.