Week three of Fionnula and Frankie's Christmas countdown series.
WHEN two friends in their 30s realise their lives are going nowhere, they initiate a strange challenge to transform their lives by Christmas Day. Can they do it?
Over 10 weeks, we'll find out as this column charts the highs and lows of Fi and Frankie's hilarious quest.
THE gym instructor's hot. His name's Jim. If I could see what shoes and pants he wore on a 9-5 basis, I'd probably give it a shot. I signed up to Silhouettes and he's had me crossing the bridge twice this week…twice. I think he knows I have a mega-crush because he's always joking around my treadmill.
"Why didn't the Irishman iron his four-leaf clover?" he asked on Friday.
"Why?" I said, trying not to sound breathless.
"Because he didn't want to press his luck."
"'Ha ha!" We both laughed, and it was even genuine on my part.
De-friending Greg was more of a challenge. If I was like Frankie I'd distract myself from Facebook by doing something creative, like downloading podcasts or taking up sketching, but adding chilli flakes to my spaghetti bolognaise is about as creative as I get.
So there I was, mouse in hand, hovering above the de-friend button for what felt like half an hour, when Louise, my Persian princess, jumped up to say hello, sat on the mouse and bingo... Louise de-friended Greg for me.
A huge sense of relief then washed over me. Maybe now I could continue checking Facebook without a knot of anxiety in my stomach.
Maybe I could send Jim a friend request? They say one door closes another one opens, don't they?
Buoyed by this mini-triumph, I decided to tackle some of the old boxes stacked underneath my bed. It was then that I had my second turning point for the day.
I came across a photo of my cousin Amy and I, climbing a tree in the backyard of mum and dad's old place at Allenstown.
We were 10, and I looked so happy and carefree, and it struck me that I was betraying that little 10-year-old me a bit with the person I'd become. So I stuck the photo on the fridge and vowed to become more cheerful.
Oh yeah, I can't believe Frankie went and got that dog. It's a cattle dog, for crying out loud. She doesn't live on a farm. That girl cracks me up. I can see why she gets herself into strife sometimes. But then, perhaps I come undone because I'm the opposite and weigh everything up too much.
Anyway, my challenge this week is to ask Jim out for coffee. As if I'm going to do that. As if!
POPPY thinks I'm her mum. I can see it in her eyes. She's practically writing me Mother's Day cards. I'm locked in now.
The turning point came when I went to the dog park with the intent of ticking off my challenge from last week and joining a group. Poppy was tearing around the park, chasing some brown fur ball called Muffy or Merlin, when suddenly she stopped, and I saw her look around for me.
Then, when she spotted me, she limped over and held up her little paw so that I could remove a prickle. It was too cute, and so the responsibility has struck home.
We just have to make this situation work now, me, mum, dad, Poppy and Glen and Gladys, the elderly labradoodles ... particularly since I booked a fare this morning to Thailand.
I haven't breathed a word of it to anyone but look, it just all seemed to make sense. Please note the following reasons and tell me you wouldn't make the same decision.
a) I've had a rough six months and need a circuit breaker.
b) I still have enough savings to get me to Bangkok, and purchase delicious penang curries.
c) Apart from watching Midsomer Murders and playing guess who the killer is with mum and dad, there's not much excitement happening at home.
So I leave tonight. I've thought it all through. I'll tell mum that Fionnula and I are going shopping for sports bras at Shopping Fair, at which point Fionnula will pick me up and drop me at the Rockhampton airport, where I'll catch my flight to Brisbane, connecting through to Bangkok.
It's foolproof. And, to top it all off, tonight's Saturday, so mum and dad will be so distracted watching Midsomer Murders re-runs that they won't notice I'm gone until I'm halfway to Thailand. Perfect.
This column is brought to you by the travel experts at Flight Centre. Follow Frankie to Bangkok for four nights accommodation at the 3-star ibis Bangkok Sathorn in a standard room from $129pp. Call 133 133 or visit flightcentre.com.au/holidays/bangkok for more details.
I BELIEVE that Frankie has turned a corner. Yes, we had the initial hiccup with Poppy, but I can see a new level-headedness in Frankie now... she's accepting the reality of her situation with honesty, wisdom and, dare I say, maturity.
I'm very grateful for this shift in her attitude. I've challenged Frankie to get a job this week, and to her credit she solemnly agreed.
So I can happily report it's been a wonderful third session today with the girls, and the icing on the cake is that it's a Midsomer Murders marathon tonight.
PS: That Persian cat of Fionnula's is worth her weight in gold.
Next week: Will Frankie get away with her great escape? And can Fionnula muster up the courage to ask Jim from the gym on a date? See you next week.
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