Red Faced: the cause, not the effect, of my embarrassment

I’ve never been much for exercise. I don’t like to sweat, and I don’t know how to breathe. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true.

I don’t breathe right. Mostly, I hold my breath. I also get confused about directions on how to breathe – when am I supposed to inhale? Should I be exhaling through my nose or mouth? I can never remember, then end up holding my breath while I think about it.  It just does not come naturally to me.

This is why I was the girl who either hyperventilated or passed out in middle school PE class every time we ran.

(The upside of passing out multiple times in PE is that you learn to feel it coming, so later, when you are pregnant, you will lean into a wall and lower yourself slowly to the ground, thus avoiding injury to you or your unborn child.)

So, I’m not a natural at exercise.  I can walk or ride a bike.

I love to ride my bike. It almost doesn’t qualify as exercise because:
1. I don’t make myself go fast.
2. It doesn’t require special breathing.
3. The wind mostly counteracts the perspiration problem.

Recently, however, I’ve developed another issue that is causing bicycling to fall into the exercise category.

My face turns bright red.

I can imagine Hitchcock’s face turning bright red.

By bright red, I mean cooked lobster. Fire engines. Stop signs.

This is almost as embarrassing as passing out in gym class.

I like to ride my bike to places. The library tops the list of places I like to go. It’s only five miles away.

It doesn’t help that there is a bit of hill just before the library, which means I’m also slightly out of breath when I get there.  Maybe more than slightly. There is not a lot of oxygen where I live, and remember I don’t breathe correctly.

The last time I went to the library, because my face was bright red and I was feeling the lack of oxygen, I decided I would sit on the comfy chairs while I cooled off. I was hoping to go unnoticed. No such luck.

This man just stood and STARED at me. I know I looked bad, but really? Move along, mister. I’m not a freak show.

I was waiting for him to ask if I was okay, or offer to call 911, so I could say I’m fine, but he just continued to stand there and stare.

I couldn’t take it. It was almost as bad as hyperventilating into a paper bag while classmates stared in horror.

I went to the ladies’ room to put a wet towel on my forehead.  That’s when I learned that eco friendly towels disintegrate when wet. I splashed some water on my face and went back out, face now bright red and dripping wet, checked out my books, avoided eye contact with everyone, and left.

How can I age gracefully when my body won’t cooperate?

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