A heart rate monitor is probably a perfectly normal birthday present for your median Boulderite, but I’m the kind of weirdo who considers, say, that hiking is a punishment. So it’s pretty damned weird that I ordered one for myself a couple of weeks back.

Why I didn’t get another pair of cowboy boots, or a pet chinchilla, or solid gold poncho, or even a sharp stick in the eye remains a mystery.

I suppose at the time, I felt I was turning 100 and wanted to get myself an age-appropriate prezzie. I guess a heart rate monitor is less embarrassing than a new cane topped with a large silver eagle or something.

Anyway, after I paid for it online, I saw something shiny on the ground and forgot all about the Polar HRM speeding its way to my P.O. Box. So when a package arrived in the mail, I figured it was the “Jurassic Park” DVD I’d ordered for outdoor cinema and got all excited.

I ripped the package open, and started running towards the projection booth.

Then I realized what it was, tossed the puffy Styrofoam peanuts to the wind (sorry, pigeons), whipped the strap around my torso and put on my new, cool, orange watch — all without reading the directions.

I turned it on, and it promptly began beeping and flashing the message: “Not in zone.”

So I picked up a speaker and ran across the parking lot and back. “Not in zone.”

I begrudgingly fished the instructions from the box and entered my height, weight and age, which caused some resentment towards the little orange watch — a gentle-watch never asks a lady such personal information! — but did successfully change the limits of this mysterious zone I hadn’t been allowed in.

Yet it continued to beep, reminding me I was a lazy, non-zone-inhabiting suck for the next few hours while I lifted trashcans and climbed up and down the ladder pushing the projection booth across the lot.

“WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!” I screamed at it while breaking down boxes and tossing them into the recycling bin. The projectionist and gate boss stared for a moment and went back to work.

The next day, I decided to wear the HRM all day long. (Also, it matched my dress.) I needed to see if I could get in the zone at some point over a 24-hour period.

A list of my activities and the resulting heart-rate measurements:

Smoking in pickup truck – 82

Rinsing movie job trash cans at car wash during office job lunch break – 96

Realizing office job clothes now soaked in sickening trash water -120

Eating sushi – 90

Listening to coworker scream on phone about two-foot bass -110

Screaming at said coworker to shut his piehole – 120

Listening to robot music on way home in traffic – 88

X-Files “Shark-Teeth, Brain-Sucking Boy” episode – 98

X-Files “Shirtless Mulder” episode – 120

I am still wearing the damn heart-rate monitor and wondering what it’ll take to be in my zone. I should read the instructions, but instead maybe I’ll go buy that cane. If I can find a silver eagle one, maybe with rubies for eyes, I could use it to smash the little orange watch in the parking lot next time it tells me I’m not in the zone.

Your mom is not in the zone, HRM. Suck it.

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