Martha Washington [The Mother of our Country]
When the frail-hearted fat man and I rendezvous at the Community Center each morning there are already four women there walking around the track. They look like they're in their mid 70's; they stride briskly in a rightward circle on Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday, and left on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I watch them from the back of a machine that approximates cross country skiing, an activity I did as a boy in snow with grace and fun and now ponderously as a grim old man.
One thing I find remarkable about these women is how well-groomed and put together they are. There isn't a hair out of place among them--each is crowned by a sensible but attractive do--and their clothes are equally sensible and attractive and maybe expensive. By contrast, I've just rolled out bed, tossed on yesterday's carpenter pants, and wear a ball cap to cover the gray mess that convenes on the top of my face every day.
They nod when I first arrive but otherwise pay me no attention--and there is no reason why they should. I imagine that they are all widows, and I suspect that they've paid their dues; they've spent years waiting for their men to grow up, and then later, hours and hours in waiting rooms to hear the verdicts of cardiologists or proctologists or urologists about the futures of these same men.
They stride around and around, merge into pairs, and talk softly. I pick up fragments of conversation, a pleasant humming burble, until it is downed out by a newly arrived exerciser who turns on the television to hear the morning news. It is the same news as yesterday, and the day before, but he is transfixed and riveted to the spot; he treadmills about 1/10 of a mile an hour.
Mrs. Clinton appears on the screen. She is somewhere in the Middle East confabbing with a Very Important Man. She looks tired, and the truth of the matter is that she's looked tired for the last twenty years. And why wouldn't she? She made a President out of a genial and brilliant sociopath who would otherwise have ended up owning the largest Chevy dealership in Hot Springs, or serving time in a minimum security Federal prison. It had to be exhausting.
The news on the television turns to some men who want to regulate uteruses and don't want to regulate coal mines. The women on the Community Center track go round and round. They've been at it for more than 30 minutes now and have become quite animated; they laugh and joke and are oblivious to the two old fat men sweating on the sidelines--and to the boys on the TV who think they know the score.