Here is ‘so and so’ looking utterly fabulous at the opening of a fridge…. Wow! How good does that bloke off the TV look with his caramel tanned, size zero girlfriend?
I do my best to block out this propaganda, but even I can’t help being silently mocked from the shelves of the newsagent by Men’s Health magazine. Every issue has some steely eyed bloke staring down at me as he laughs scornfully and shows off a six pack that has more ridges than the packet of crinkle cut crisps I am currently comfort eating.
You’re a loser, Six Pack Man silently screams. I have biceps to die for, triceps to kill for and that’s only what you can see on this magazine cover! What do you have, fat boy?
However, none of these magazines play on my self esteem issues or make me feel as insecure as The Impossible Ladies who Lunch, a group of thirtysomething women at my gym who make the Kardashians look like frumpy housewives.
Every month I like to waste an exorbitant amount of cash on a gym membership under the self delusion that one day something in my life will change and I will have the energy and interest to go three times a week and exercise until I look like my 25 year old self again. Deep down I know this is never going to happen but denial is a very powerful emotion.
One good thing about this gym is that as part of my membership it has a crèche and when I do get the energy to work out I can place my baby son in the crèche and go off and “enjoy myself”.
However, here is the thing. In the morning my routine consists of rising, silently showering before the boys wake, preparing breakfasts, ironing a school uniform, making a packed lunch, getting the boys up, getting them dressed, explaining why the moon shines, fighting with the baby to try and get him to eat, shouting at my older boy to take his Transformers off the kitchen table and eat his breakfast, finding that lost shoe, leaving the house, going back to the house for whatever it is I have forgotten that particular morning and then finally driving our older son to school before going on to the gym to deposit the baby in the crèche.
By this point I have already worked up a sweat, haven’t eaten a thing and consider it a victory if I have only got Weetabix on my tracksuit bottoms OR my sweatshirt. My hair looks like I have been dragged through a hedge backwards and last week I actually left the house without my shoes on.
But not The Impossible Ladies who Lunch. Oh no, they are perfect in every way.
As I blow into the gym in a tumbleweed of bags, bottles and buggies looking like Pigpen from Charlie Brown they are already there. They are queued outside the crèche doors with their beautiful children in their Boden clothes. I look down and notice my baby is wearing odd socks. I quietly tuck his foot under the blanket of the buggy.
The Impossible Ladies are composed and manicured. Their hair and make up is professionally done and their gym gear looks like they have just ram raided a Nike catalogue. They chat about school fees as they hold their coffee cups and act like their morning routine couldn’t be simpler or more stress free.
What planet do these women live on and why don’t I live on this planet? Is it to do with hours in the day? Did I somehow get short changed and these people have more hours in their day? Perhaps an Impossible Lady Day has 36 hours to my measly 24.
They drop off their children and head to Pilates, Body Pump, Spinning or some such class that will help push back the tide of time. Obviously they have booked these classes in advance. Damn these Ladies! Not only are they physically fit they are organized too! I consider sacking off the gym and just going and sitting in the sauna with a bar of Dairy Milk.
I aspire to be a Marvelous Man who Lunches but realistically I know this is never going to happen. My life is destined to always be filled with the chaos of clutter, no matter how hard I try.
Did you go to the gym today? My wife asks me later that evening.
Oh yes, popped the baby in the crèche and went for the burn! I reply.
Well done babe, she says as she loads the washing machine. You deserve it and it’s great you are exercising.
Thanks hun, I mutter guiltily.
Is this a king sized Dairy Milk wrapper in your swimming shorts pocket? She remarks as she stuff my trunks into the drum. How very odd!
Indeed, I say. How odd is that! And I quickly offer to help prepare the vegetables for dinner.