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Easy, Breezy, Beautiful...Army Girl

May 25, 2010

After the 5K (that I mostly walked), Margaret and I went to a Little Black Dress party at BlackFinn benefiting Dress for Success. Even though I hadn't washed my hair after the run, I felt super hot.  Running is probably worth it if for nothing other than the ego boost.  But maybe we were too hot.  It seemed suspicious that when we walked in and there were few other females.  They had advertised a raffle for a Gucci bag, for goodness sake!  Where were all the girls? 

Turns out BlackFinn is a sports bar.  Excuse me, saloon. A saloon that attracts frat guys and severely old men who think their senility is license to say inappropriate things to young ladies.  Margaret and I, donning our little black dresses (mine a strapless bubble dress, hers a jersey frock with an empire waist), found a table right smack dab in the middle of the boy action.  We didn't mean to -- honestly.  They were pretty obnoxious and loud.  But we did get a ton of attention.

It started off slow, kind of like how Noli acts when you give her a new toy -- she's always unsure of it at first and tests it out until she finally gets up the nerve to just go for it.  They'd slowly approach us, then one would get up the nerve to drop a line like, "My friend really likes you!" then run off giggling.  This went on for about half an hour until one of them finally actually hit on us.  Except he was probs a little two old for the both of our ages added together. 

"I'm so glad to see you girls wore your short black dresses tonight!" said Gramps.  Margaret and I glanced at him then locked eyes with each other, panic stricken. 

"So," he went on, leaning onto our table with his beer.  "You ladies like hockey?"

As he carried on about all the hockey games he was going to and how we should attend them as well, we laughed nervously, which, if you don't care about being creepy, probably eggs you on because we're smiling at you.  Finally his knees gave out and he left us alone to sit down at a nearby booth.

Shortly after two more age-appropriate guys swooped in and sat down at our table.  "What are y'all drinking?" the hot one asked. 

We had ordered sangria but it wasn't very good, and we weren't planning on drinking anymore.  But, not knowing what else to say, we answered, "Sangria!" 

Now I have to hand it to these guys -- even though we weren't remotely interested in them, they kept the drinks coming all night.  We didn't drink them, but they were there aplenty.  Some poor frat boy was probably dared to chug the sangria after we left. 

So the hot one hit on Margaret and the cute one hit on me.  "We would have really tall kids!" he told me. 

I laughed politely.

"We should get married!" 

Okay, seriously?  What is it with guys handing out fake marriage proposals?

In the mean time, hot guy was staring just a little bit too intensely at Margaret.  After a while she gave me the look and I gave her the look right back, and she announced she was going to go pay our bill and left. 

"So, your friend tells me you work with Army guys," he said, shifting his gaze to me.

"Yep! It's a lot of fun," I said.

"Well I'm in the Army, and I'll tell you what the biggest problem in the Army is -- sit ups."

My reaction to this was much the same as my dad telling me that after days of praying in college about what he should do about his money problems, God told him, "Eggs."  (Turned out he was able to pay his tuition and keep his biceps buff.)

When he saw the confused look on my face, he explained, "Sit ups are required but they kill your back and they're not necessary." 

Cute guy was listening in with a big grin on his face and standing a little too close for comfort.  Margaret hurried back and said we were all set to go, so we said good-bye...just as more drinks came to the table.

The next week I kept up the running and found myself craving it during the day.  Then Friday I found myself in Philly to write a story, and someone invited me to do PT (that's Physical Training) with some of the other Soldiers.  I didn't think he was serious.

"We'll go easy on you, I promise," he said. 

"But I'm a wimp!"  As the words came out of my mouth I realized this was the very "lousy" attitude that had kept me from running my entire life.  So I agreed to do it.

At 1730 we met at a local track.  The drill sergeant showed us how to do the exercises before we began (I'm guessing this was done for me and the other non-Army wimps).  Everything was going fine -- I even did the run without too much of a problem (okay I came in last, and it's not a race, I just kept falling behind) -- until we got to the sit ups.  Suddenly I was frozen with fear.  What will happen to my poor, fragile back?

I tried to pull myself up, but it wouldn't happen. 

"You can do it!" a familiar voice called out.  I looked over and saw the same Soldier who had invited me. 

"No, I can't!  Someone told me this is bad for your back, and I don't have any ab muscles anyway!"

"Those people are doing it wrong.  Squeeze your thighs and do it!  You can!" he urged me.

I did what he said, and magically I sat all the way up, and no back pain!  Before I knew it I was doing sit ups in rhythm with all the Soldiers!  Talk about an ego boost!

Now push ups...that's another story.  (Let's just say the advice I got on those was to drop my butt, and I never succeeded.  You can imagine what a spectacle that was.)

So I have discovered, the year before I turn 30, that I really like exercise!  And challenging myself to do it might be the best decision I've made this year. But I'm still wishing for the day I run a half marathon and am allowed to eat unlimited cupcakes...


  1. So the question is, will you do the next scheduled PT test? I've been claiming to participate for 1.5 years now. Never done it. My concern would be the push ups. No way could I do more than one. And the sit ups? They don't count if you don't do them the "right" way. I'm a failure waiting to happen!
    But good for you!! Go Mary El!!

  2. Hey Mary El, I'm a good friend of Jamies. She turned me onto your blog to get the scoop on her New Years Eve 2010 and now I'm addicted. Thanks for the entertaining stories. I love reliving my single days through you and Jamie. You guys are so much fun. You've also inspired me to start my own blog because I realized how much I like writing. Thanks again for keeping it current - and us entertained.

  3. Yay for liking exercise! It's hard in the moment, but totally worth it in the end!