The woman who destroyed my self-image had never met me before and, as it happened, saw me for less than a second, but that was more than enough time to make me totally reassess my place in the world.
Years ago, I was working in West L.A. and would slip away on my lunch hour to work out at the YMCA. At one point I started lifting weights. Okay, I was never going to be the next Schwarzenegger but I was proud of my development. Yup, I was feeling pretty good about my physique.
Then one day after a particularly tough workout, I’d showered and just thrown my towel on the bench and was opening my locker to start getting dressed when behind me I heard the unmistakable click of high heels on tile.
Not thinking, I turned.
A woman had wandered through the wrong door. She saw me, screamed, and sprinted for the exit.
I understood that it must have been embarrassing and a shock for her. Still, I have to admit that one small (or not so small) part of me wished that, for even a nanosecond, something akin to appreciation had flashed through her eyes instead of the utter terror I saw.
I’m still working out, but these days I don’t spend too much time in front of mirrors.