She was new. It's so hard to be new.
She was talking to me but I had to unplug to hear her.
"Excuse me?" I said.
"Oh, sorry. Where's the women's locker room?" she smiled sheepishly in apology. "This is my first day."
I smiled. "It's downstairs," I said, pointing behind her to the stairwell.
"Thanks," she said, gratefully. I don't know why it's hard to ask questions about things you don't know, to admit you don't know something, but it is. It was for her. I felt bad as I pulled on my coat and watched her walk away that I hadn't given her a star.
"Damn," I thought.
As I walked downstairs I saw her, heading the wrong direction to get to the locker rooms.
"Excuse me!" I yelled then caught up with her. "They're this way..." I said, "here, I'll show you." I walked her to the top of the stairs and pointed, told her where to get a towel, the whole drill. Then, I reached into my bag.
"Wait, I have something for you..." I said. Just then, my friend, a trainer at the gym, a two-time gold star getter, one for his funny, stalker-esque comments, came through the gym door. He had been playing basketball with some buddies. I had waved down to him from upstairs, as I box-danced to Michael Jackson.
"Hey!" I said, "I'm giving her a gold star." I turned to the lady and did just that. "I give them out for trying," I said, "and you're here for the first time, that's great!"
"She's crazy," my friend said first-timer, gesturing his thumb at me. The woman looked at me like she' might agree but thanked me anyway, heading down the stairs.
"Hope to see you around! Good luck!" I said.
I turned to Trainer Stalker. "How are you?" I said.
He went off, listing the many things he was, most of them bad, but with a smile. I like that. So much more honest than the standard, "good," or, worse, "fine." I laughed.
"What are you dissecting next?" I asked.
His eyes lit up. "Cow eyes!" he said. Last time I'd seen him, he said he'd dissected a rat in school for physical therapy. He is learning so much science it makes my head spin. He began to spout it at me, in rap form, studying in song for his next exam all about atoms,something about G? He showed me a photo of him in glasses and lab coat, wielding a knife to inspect a giant rodent. He looked like a natural. I told him so and, of course, gave him a gold star.
One of his basketball buddies walked up and, in the spirit of giving, I gave him a star, too. "He's going to college soon!" Trainer Stalker said, patting the guy on the back, offering up the reason he deserved the star I'd given him and even another. He took off his own star and gave it to him. I had to give Stalker another one.
"That's the rule," I said. "Anyone who gives their star away gets a new one for themselves..."
I took a picture of the two of them, standing proudly with their stars on a Sunday morning, but I am electronically challenged as usual. Stalker, if you're reading, can you text me a photo of you with your star? I have to stay modern, I have to go multimedia. Soon, soon.