It’s a nursery rhyme, or so they say; the story is that it was an impromptu translation of a Latin epigram, lampooning the dean of Christchurch College, Oxford.
I do not love thee, Dr. Fell;
The reason why I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not love thee, Dr. Fell.
We’re lucky if we only ever once in our lives run across someone who makes us feel like this. During my school years, it happened regularly – a teacher, a fellow student, someone who made my skin creep a little but whom I couldn’t entirely avoid. Since then, not so much; one or two one-time clients (I made sure they were one-time by referring them to someone else “who is better trained to work with your issue than me”). Not at all for years, actually. And then.
She parks it on the recumbent bike at one end of the row — at four machines long, it is way too short a row — setting down a big sugary dome-topped drink from Starbucks with a straw in it. She always wears running shorts that expose her skinny, pale, completely unmuscled legs. For them to be so lacking in tone, she must set the bike’s resistance at zero, because she pedals the damn thing nearly the length of my workout. She always has a newspaper in her shoulder bag, and sits and pedals and sucks and leafs through it, the expression on her face never changing. Her haircut is the sort of soft butch that looks good on soft butches but just makes her look unfinished. I think she is the one who has commandeered one of the lockers and keeps her Adidas bag there day and night, because before she left I saw her carrying around the Adidas bag, but she walked out without it.
There are plenty of reasons there not to like her. Sucking sugary drinks while you work out seems to be a cardinal stupid. Anyone who spends that much time in the gym without developing a visible muscle is there for some weird reason. And no one likes a locker hog.
But it’s something else. One day, she actually sat down next to me — something I’ve been working to make not happen ever since I got that first squicky feeling from seeing her knees pump up under her chin from the too-short pedal setting.
I jumped up as if I’d heard a loud noise, and took my water bottle back to an elliptical trainer to finish warming up to a starting sweat. Not much caring if the move was obvious. What could she complain about to the management? That I got off a bike with intent?
There’s no rationale for feelings like this. I just refuse to ignore them.
Non amo te, Sabidi, nec possum dicere quare;
Hoc tantum possum dicere, non amo te.
I have to practice it, in case someone ever does ask me what the problem is. I can book while they’re puzzling it out.