For the past twenty years, Ginny Gower has been inspiring millions to meet their fitness goals with her wildly popular Ginny Gower's Power Hour exercise tapes. But time isn't on Ginny's side. And neither is Ginny.
Published in The Red Clay Review
Excerpt: I’m a fraud. Mornings remind me of this in the same way ill-fitted shoes remind a runner he’s got feet. This morning, I am sitting in one of those contemporary coffee shops, the kind that in reality harbors a disdain for coffee as evidenced by the several hundred coffee combinations offered, all of which have the sole intent of disguising coffee’s honestly bitter taste. I’m unmoved. I order a plain black coffee. I’m a purist. That, and I’m broke.
The picassoed tapestry on the booths and chairs in this place is just as deceptive. Although it looks like a fashionista’s attempt at chromatic brilliance, the truth of the matter is that the fabric is practical, hiding a plethora of stains from the edibles consumed in its presence: the coffees, the lattes, the cherry cheese danishes, the pomegranate passionfruit smoothies, the organic chai green teas. I sit in a booth, discerning stain from pattern, waiting for Monroe to arrive.
“Another refill, ma’am?” A thin girl with a space-age pitcher stands next to my table.
“Please,” I say.
“Can I get you anything else?” She fills my oversized coffee cup with the skill I imagine Aquarius acquired after years of perpetual water-bearing. “We’ve just taken some cinnamon rolls out of the oven. They’re nice and warm.”
“I’m good. Thank you.”
She taps her name tag. “I’m Barista Lindsay if you should happen to change your mind. Everyone should indulge in a little cinnamony yumminess from time to time, don’t you think?”
I smile. She recognizes me. I can tell. No sense in playing coy now. “As long as they follow that indulgence with a rigorous workout,” I say.
“Absolutely,” Lindsay says. “I just have to say, Miss Gower, I have all of your workout videos. My personal favorite is the Ginny Gower Power Hour Upper Body Workout. I try to do it every other day.” She sets down her coffee pitcher and flexes her arms. “Get a load of these.”
“How wonderful, Lindsay. I’m so glad my videos are of some help to you as you reach your fitness goals.” My stomach is queasy; my throat dry. I sip from my coffee, intentionally letting it burn my tongue.
“They are the best videos out there. I’ve got my sister and my mom doing them, too.” She picks up her pitcher. “I’ll leave you alone. I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your work.”
“Thank you, sweetheart. I appreciate your commitment to fitness.”
Lindsay's smile is big. “Well, I sure as hell don’t want to be a blubber bomb.” She winks and turns from my table.
I smell the cinnamon rolls as they are transferred from their oven pans to their counter trays. Had Lindsay not made her admiration known, I may have broken down and bought one. But I suppose fate works in mysterious ways. For if I start today with a cinnamon roll, it just might lead to a day worse than yesterday.