When I started doing Couch To 5K, I noticed I was in imminent danger of death. According to the all-knowing machines, which flashed a distressed purple for my heartrate and started dialing 9-1-1, I must be red-faced and dripping with sweat, gasping for breath, and fainting. After sixty seconds of jogging.
In fact, I felt fine. I could have sung while running, which I’m told means you’re exerting yourself only moderately more than changing TV channels with a remote. But to keep the machines happy, I went to the doctor, who screamed and sent me to a cardiologist, who ordered tests that proved nothing (well, it proved my insurance company still has money) and told me to work out for a few months and see if it got better. So I switched from jogging to biking, and after months of 25 miles a week…well, I was back in his office.
I got a heart-rate monitor in the mail. Instruction: CALL US. The nice lady on the phone talked me through putting batteries in the back, and then the moment of truth. “Push the button to turn it on.”
It played ♩cheerful ♬music♪ ♩for several♬ seconds, and I said, “That sounds reassuring. Better than if it played Taps.”
The poor customer service representative busted up laughing, and then, because I never leave well enough alone, I ddi the opening notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, and I forget what other insanely inappropriate songs I suggested, and the poor CSR realized this call was going to be a lot longer than any other in her entire career.
I keep getting in trouble this way. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve felt obliged to donate to some cause or another because I made some smartacre remark during the telemarketer’s scripted intro.
Heifer International: “We’ve got an unprecedented chance to bring help into Viet Nam, so we’re trying to raise a hundred fifty thousand dollars.”
Me, sounding distraught: “Oh, I can’t give you that much!”
(The telemarketer couldn’t talk for two minutes after that. I felt obliged to give something, and then I just couldn’t keep my mouth shut and wished her good luck raising the other $149,950, and she said, “Thank you, Ma’am, and if I ever do get someone who offers that much, I’m going to hang up my headset because I’ll have heard it all.”)
Anyhow, the heart-rate-monitor woman was writing her resume in between giving me instructions on how to Cyborgize myself. She told me the sounds it would make, all of them cheerful, and how it could talk to their computers either by calling them or by singing like a modem through the phone, and how if it got worried, it would alert them and then beep desperately, and the screen would nag me to call them to tell them I was still alive.
I said, “Aww, it’s worried!”
She said, “Now you need to hook it up.”
I dutifully attached electrodes to my body, and then I said, “Where do I put it?”
In your pocket, on your belt… She said, “Some women tuck it into their bra.”
I said, “You’ll just have to trust me, that’s not going to work for me.”
And then… “It’s just too bad the monitor doesn’t have an LED screen. I’d have totally shoved it in there and looked like Iron Man.”
I think that’s when she emailed her resume to anyone who might have a job opening. Where she wouldn’t deal with the public. And my worried little monitor began watching my heart and fretting for my health.
So that’s the upshot: for a month, call me Ms. Cyborg.
I ought to give it a name, since it’ll travel with me everywhere. What do you think?