top of page


Sometimes I don't know whether to be impressed or appalled. A particularly daring move at an intersection will elicit my mental applause even while I am slamming on the brakes. A mean but truly funny comment at a party will leave me speechless. I would never allow myself to drive or speak that way, but my hat is off to those who do so dare. I guess I am both impressed and appalled -- impalled. Which brings me to today's incident. I was at the Y, huffing away, adding my own internal dialogue to the soundless TV screen (a movie with Nicolas Cage and a brunette who spent part of every scene with her hand to her mouth. Her lines were easy: Mmmff, she would say. What kind of mmmff do you think I am?) when a young woman in impeccable workout gear took the machine next to mine and said, That's not all! in a loud voice. I looked over but she was focussed straight ahead, talking on her blue tooth type phone. I know it's ridiculous, she said, punching buttons on the treadmill. But there's more. And there was. For the next twenty minutes she spoke without stopping or moderating her voice. It had been a tough shift at her restaurant, and she had every detail fresh in her mind. It did not occur to her that we (I was not the only one in earshot) might not want to hear about the picky patrons, jealous co-workers, missed orders, lousy tips, etc. None of us told her to shut up. I think an older guy wanted to, but she didn't give him an opportunity and he was too nice to interrupt. I have to say, I was fascinated. She was a storm, heedless and destructive but entertaining, in an awful schadenfreudey way. (Imagine living with her?) I gave up on my TV movie, which had developed a boring office plotline (What is the mmff on those sales figures, JB?) and paid attention to the totally unself-conscious public monologue. Not the incidents so much as the idea that she thought this was okay behaviour. On and on she went, swinging her muscular arms, working the treadmill hard, and talking all the time. Nothing wrong with her cardio shape -- just her personality. She had no sense of other, no concern for the world outside her own experience. Total self-absorption. I was ... impalled.


bottom of page