Metabolism raised a lazy eyebrow at my panicked query.
“Age, my dear,” she inclined her raised eyebrow to her companion sitting beside her, “Age has slowed me down too.”
“But what am I supposed to do? Look at my belly! It looks like someone stuck a round-bottomed cooking-pot in it and forgot it there!”
“Not my problem, dear. You need to exercise.”
“But I never had to exercise before, NEVER! You saw to that!”
Metabolism shook her head ruefully, as one might to a child who doesn’t ‘get it’.
“You just don’t get it do you?” she intoned gravely. “At that time, I was ‘High’ Metabolism; now I’m just Metabolism.”
“So what does this mean for me?” By now, I was getting frantic.
“It means,” exasperation had made her voice tight, “that whatever weight you put on, you can’t ‘put off’ just like before. You have to work it off.”
I wanted to scream above the sound of Billy Ocean’s voice crooning to his Caribbean Queen in the background. I wanted to yell in frustration; to stamp my feet and pull my hair like I used to as a child. I wanted to throw a tantrum, the size of Loma Mountains until my face turned lava-red.
Size 14/16 for goodness sake! When? When did that happen? I had always been a size 10/12; not quite 10 but not quite 12 either – just somewhere in between.
I had always been able to eat whatever I wanted, however I wanted to and whenever I wanted without so much as gaining a gram.
But…all that changed when Age visited.
“Everyone gets older”, Age pronounced sagely.
“I know that,” I replied stiffly, loathe to disrespect and risk her wrath. “But do you have to be so brutal? Look at my boobs; they are almost at eye level with my feet! My laugh lines? Well, they are carved so deeply, I have to use my nail file to scrape my face cream out of them! To cap it all, I’m developing some kind of beer gut and I don’t even drink beer!” The last line came out at an octave higher than Amaechi Muonagor’s screech when Aki and Pawpaw pranked him in Aki Na Ukwa.
Age turned to Metabolism; they both turned to me, their gazes intense.
What seemed like millions upon millions of seconds passed by.
I squirmed like a dying worm under a cascade of salt; I hopped on one foot and then another like a village grasshopper; I looked up to the ceiling and down to the floor, lizard-like. Their gazes never wavered.
“Alright!” I snapped. “Spit it out!”
“Please?” I mollified my tone.
“Is that all you think of when you think of me, of us?” Age queried gently. “Do these words – Wisdom, Experience, Patience – mean nothing to you?”
“Try Slow, Dull, Past Sell-By-Date,” I muttered under my breath.
Age shook her head sadly, her long grey locs whipping gently back and forth.
Metabolism heaved a sigh, deep as the deceptive Mmili-Ani where children played river ball one moment and drowned the next.
“Curvy, Sleek, Real?” She sounded sceptical, as if she’d concluded that she was wasting her time with me?
They were both right. I was just too stubborn to accept it. Time had passed, Age had visited and High had left Metabolism.
But, I couldn’t deny that as Age came, skin blemishes fled and acceptance settled in; as High left, Metabolism carved me into a body that any Renaissance painter would have died for. The next deep sigh to be heard was mine.
Age rose gracefully, her grey locs swaying majestically. Metabolism followed, undulating, as sleek as Ide Mmili. They looked at each other once again then back at me.
“You are a sleeker, finely-honed version of your former self. You should thank us.”
I felt a shift within. All of a sudden, everything felt so crisp, so clear. Billy Ocean was still playing but he was now in the ‘Love Zone’.
“Are you going to waste that tune?” Metabolism asked, her body undulating even more.
My legs replied and my hips followed shortly.
“No, no I’m not. This is exercise isn’t it?”
“No, it’s nothing but a number,” Age replied cheekily, “Dance.”