When Alfie was newborn Carl gave me one of those thoughtful gifts that makes your heart melt. Some people refer to these as ‘push presents’ because they’re usually presented to you just after the doctor has finished with that final bit of suturing. Sometimes they come in Tiffany’s boxes and other times your husband might know of a gem trader and has scored a good deal on the gift so the gift is now attached to a great story that will be told whenever that ‘gem’ catches someone’s eye.
But my push-present wasn’t from Tiffany’s nor was it from a jewellery store nor did Carl have any any gem traders in his list of contacts. My gift wasn’t something I could flash about on my fingers or wear on my wrist, and that’s because Carl had thoughtfully bought me a two-year gym membership which is of course exactly what you’re desiring while lying in bed with engorged boobs and a painful and swollen rear end.
I don’t know how he could have confused ‘gem’ with ‘gym’.
From the outset it was a disaster and not only because the gift wasn’t tangible. The gym was above a shopping centre and you had to park your car in an underground car park. But there was almost always no available parking. By the time I would find a park I could have done three workouts. The gym insisted that all children arrive in a stroller. You weren’t allowed to carry them in so you’d have to go through the ordeal of lifting the stroller out of the boot, assembling it, strapping the child in etc and with all of that carry-on plus the time wasted finding a park, the day would be just about over.
The only way up to the gym was in a lift. There were no stairs and no escalator. The lift was tiny. I think it could only fit about two and a half people. Because I had a pram I would take up all the space so usually people would give me a sympathetic stare but just say, ‘Oh sorry, there’s no room’ and quickly push the ‘close door’ button.
Once in the gym I’d have to pay for the childminding for Alfie. They made this out to be an enormously big deal. You couldn’t buy one session, their preferred option was to have you purchase a year’s annual pass for your child. I told them I thought that was ridiculous as over the next 12 months I’d hope there would be occasions where I could leave him at home. After a lot of unnecessary haranguing (by which time I could have toned my body into an enviable state), I was allowed to buy a book of 10 passes for Alfie but they stressed these were not refundable. Whatever.
I then had to wheel Alfie through the gym and into the childcare room that was completely enclosed with no outdoor area. It was smelly, noisy and full of crying children. I signed Alfie in, left him strapped in his stroller, hoped someone would notice him then left to do my workout.
I hadn’t been working out for more than two minutes when over the loud speaker I heard, ‘Charlie Louie to childcare. Charlie Louie to childcare.’ So I had to relinquish the machine I’d been waiting for and return to the horrible noisy room. When I got there I reported in as required. A young girl said to me casually and dismissively, ‘He’s got a pooey nappy.’ I replied, ‘I’ve got nappies, they’re in the bag.’ She said, ‘We don’t change nappies here, that’s against OH & S so you’ll have to do it.’ And off she went.
So I changed Alfie’s nappy and put him back in the stroller and hurried off to try and start my workout.
I hadn’t been working out for more than five minutes when a voice came over the loudspeaker, ‘Charlie Louie to childcare, Charlie Louie to childcare.’ I went back wondering what on earth they could want me for this time. The girl said, ‘He won’t settle.’ And there was Alfie all red-faced and blotchy from crying, still strapped in his stroller. I said, ‘Well I can’t take him out to the gym with me’. And she said, ‘No you can’t, you’ll just have to go home and come back another day.’ And I said, ‘Well can I have a refund for today?’ And she said, ‘You would have been told when you bought a ten-pass that they’re not refundable.’
I went back the next day, put Alfie in the smelly room, started on the first machine then the fire alarm went off. We all had to evacuate the building.
I just didn’t go back after that.
Carl would have been far better off seeking out gem traders than gym memberships.
Has anyone ever given you a gym membership?
It was Alfie’s birthday last week and I made him this chocolate cake.
BLACK MIDNIGHT CAKE
- 2 1/4 cups plain flour
- 1 2/3 cups castor sugar
- 2/3 cup cocoa
- 1 1/4 tsps baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 3/4 cup (130g) softened butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Pre-heat oven to 180C.
Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat until well combined. Pour into a prepared cake pan.
Place in oven and cook for 45 mins.
Leave in cake tin for 5 mins then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Decorate with your favourite icing.
This recipe is by Andrea McCullagh.