Thursday, January 12, 2006

Heads Carolina, Tails California

For the past 4 weeks, I’ve been trying really hard to literally run my ass off. 60 minutes of cardio, at least 4 times a week, weights, walking and taking stairs when I can, extra hair brushing strokes in the evening – pretty much anything. My joints hurt just to type about it. This evil age I’ve become is one unforgiving bitch. After 4 weeks of doing this 3 or 4 years ago – even with the occasional burrito Sunday glitch – I would be seeing results already. But no more.

Yesterday, since I had no freelance booked (ahem) I got to participate in my favorite 2 hours of gym fitness: a 1-hour ultimate conditioning class which consists of an allover weight workout followed by a 1-hour Booty Kickin’ step class (yes, real name). I’ve been going to this class fairly regularly since I’ve lived in San Francisco so even though my fitness levels have gone up and down over the years, I’ve mastered a lot of the harder moves taught by the instructors that have come and gone. Quite an accomplishment for an un-rhythmic white girl from the south. This isn’t one of those corner-to-corner-knees-only kind of classes, no sirree. It skews a little dancey. So in my fitter days, when I’d gotten the moves down, I felt like quite the Laker Girl. Ok, so I didn’t look like a Laker Girl but damn, I could move and I could keep up and some days I just swore I was Paula Abduhl.

But that was then and this is now.

I showed up to class yesterday with many of the very same people who’ve been in it for the past 6 years. All of us were in standard SF gym-wear: mainly tank tops and yoga-like pants and/or sweat pants. We exchanged nods and hellos and went back to our pre-class activity of standing around.

And then she arrived. A woman, my age-ish, who had somehow hijacked the instructor on his way in to explain to him that she was new to our gym, new to San Francisco, fresh off the United Airlines boat from the great state of North Carolina. And oh, was she representin’.

Dressed in a Carolina blue fleece jacket and extremely tight, short, lycra Carolina blue shorts (typically worn UNDER a longer pair of shorts), she explained that she’d been extremely active in her gym back home. She took her Carolina baseball hat off and removed her Carolina blue fleece to reveal – that’s right! – a Carolina sorority t-shirt of some ilk which she then removed to reveal a half-tank top that perfectly matched her Lycra, Carolina blue shorts. She donned a Carolina blue and white sweatband on her head and began to enthusiastically stretch while the rest of the class watched - mouths agape and unmoving- and listened to her explain to the instructor that she’d just had a son.

Now, before I get on with the real reason for this entry, I have to point out a couple of things that are probably fairly obvious. I must preface these points by saying I mean no offense to my southern readers, you’re my people, after all, yo. Nor do I mean any offense to you Carolina fans as you will most assuredly see me wearing some ridiculous Kentucky hat come March. But come ON:

- If you have a child, you should not wear sorority gear anymore. In fact, I’d say sorority gear should be phased out by 12 months after graduation, if not sooner.

- When in Rome, step, lift, sweat and dress as Romans do. Translation: DO NOT matchy-match gym wear in San Francisco. This kind of shit may fly in Atlanta (I lived there too) as does curling one’s hair, applying a full face of make-up and showering and applying perfume before going to the gym. But not here.

- Do not announce your incredible fitness abilities when you’ve moved from one of the most unfit areas of the country to the most fit. This is a recipe for disaster. Which brings us to yesterday’s class.

Upon announcing her incredible activity at her gym “back home” a change in energy came over the class, a collective bristling in the air. I almost felt sorry for her for a second. Who the fuck did this woman think she was impressing? Aside from me, most of these are Californians you’re talking to, sweetie. They were eating wheatgrass when you were putting back Dip ‘n Licks. (a favorite of mine, circa 1974). Clearly she was fresh-off-the-first-class-United-boat. I noticed a couple of eye-rollings and overheard a few grumblings. Several people began to effortlessly stretch, the top of their skulls touching the floor a foot behind their legs. Uh-oh. To capture the mood with a favorite movie quote: “You better bring it.” “Oh, it’s been BROUGHT-en….”

The music started while she was talking. “How’s this, guys?” our instructor asked.

Carolina: “Um, wow, this is REALLY fast!”

Instructor: “ Yeah, it is. But this is how we do it in San Francisco. Have fun in your first class!” And for a second, I really thought I might want to marry my gay step teacher.

After that, I’m not sure what happened. The world’s fittest athletes and most accomplished dancers took over my body. I spun where I normally shuffled, I added jumps where only kicks were necessary, I did jumping jacks during water breaks. In fact, I noticed everyone had stepped it up more than a few notches. Someone took a lap around the room during a water break. One woman even added a toe-touch cheerleading jump after a cross-over, a move that we all tried to master (but I never could) at least three instructors ago.

Carolina looked concerned but she wouldn’t be defeated. I was exhausted and sweating like a farm animal but I WOULD. NOT. STOP. I WOULD. NOT. BREAK. FOR. WATER. NO!!

Finally, Carolina missed a crucial jazz-step turn mambo-shuffle. She stopped. She watched, slightly hunched over, red-faced and defeated as the rest of the class moved as one-finely tuned, ass-kicking stepping unit. And then the final battle cry: “One last time – FROM THE TOP!” Was that a small smile I saw cross our instructor’s face as Carolina broke down and left for a water break? We all knew what had just happened and the next 2 minutes were pure booty-kickin’ step bliss. Each of us had triumphed in the face of southern, post-sorority, know-it-all-gym-girl wearing too-short Lycra matchy-match shorts. And it felt fantastic.

I’ve been wondering lately if I have that competitive spirit still in me. Freelancing, job-searching and apartment-searching don’t always allow you the opportunity to see who you’re up against, or at least give you the chance to stick around long enough to make a valiant fight/argument for yourself. Even human golden retrievers like me need a face to associate their “battles” with sometimes, It’s nice to know I’ve still got it in me, that I’m not all collaboration and smiles all the time.

Here’s to kicking your ass again tomorrow, Carolina. I’m looking forward to it.


Anonymous crazyvirgo said...

PUUUUUUHHLEEAAAASE!!! For the love of all that is good in this world. PUBLISH THIS!!! do you know that people would PAY for this? I mean, I'll do 1/2 of it with you. BEtween this, the tampon in the gym story and my kick you headlights out with my flip flops story, I think we are marketable!
This is hilarious. It was all playing out in my head too...and it resembled Flashdance a little. Bravo.

10:50 AM  
Blogger DP said...

That. Was freakin. AWESOME.

Loved it! And honey, I KNOOOOWWWW that woman! I see her every stinkin' day in the great city of Dallas. And each and every time I think to myself, "Puh-LEASE. I have seen more cities in this world and have experienced cultures well beyond that which you know, sister. You, living in your "I-don't-have-a-career-since-I-married-a-rich-doctor/lawyer/investment banker" can only think a quarter inch past your peroxide roots."

I need to move.

11:31 AM  
Anonymous MetroDad said...

Is there anything worse than an over-aged sorority girl from Chapel Hill? Oh well, at least she wasn't a Dukie. Then, you might have had to really kick her ass.

(My condolences on your loss to Vandy the other night. Sad, sad loss.)

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Macfisto said...

Dearest RB,

A book proposal is about eight pages long, double-spaced (and a lot of that is form-type info) and typically requires 2-3 sample chapters. With some minor polishing and tightening, the sample chapters are all here. I can send you a template for a book proposal.

Yank this entry in a week, along with everything else you deem publishable. Think of a theme and a narrative structure and get to work. It's not just sad if you don't try to get a book deal, it's outright dumb. Do you know how many times in the last three years it's pissed me off that I can't get the chick lit money (sexist, oppressive clams) because I'm male and write about masculine stuff.

I'm not playing around anymore. I've had it with you. There's enough pure shit on bookshelves nowadays that it would be an act of madness and moral terpitude not to try and get this into book form.

For the love of God, at least submit it to a magazine or journal. Don't make me come up there and grab you by the nape of the neck. That's right -- it's been brought-en.

If you don't sumbit something or start working on a book proposal in a week, I'm changing my name to Stephanie (MacfistA?) and passing this off as mine.

1:26 PM  
Anonymous Nancy said...

I agree, RB. Frickin' awesome, well done. I love this: "It skews a little dancey." and "They were eating wheatgrass when you were putting back Dip N' Licks."

p.s. -- not all of us Carolina grads are like that. I never go all matchy-matchy at the gym, and I certainly wouldn't brag about my fitness in a class I'd never attended before. Nuh-uh.

4:30 PM  
Blogger concha said...

oh god. i remember these girls in college. 5'5" blonde, tan, and with butt cheeks the size of both my knees side by side. and the really sad part is, i secretly deep down wanted to be like them. but i'm 5'9" pale and have a serious paranioa about the size of my head (developed in the 7th grade when the boys nicknamed me melon head on account of its gargantuan size). the only comfort i take now is that these girls may still be tan and mini-cheecked, they're still the same people they were in college.

and yeah, i agree. screw advertising. it's my ultimate goal anyway. work for 7 yrs and then write a book. and look at you. you're about to do it already. (and if you call it a memior and it turns out to not be true...i want my 14 bucks back, bitch)

5:27 PM  
Blogger Shopping Diva said...

Gawd! I agree with Virgo! You guys should be SO PUBLISHED! My kids go to school with Carolina's kid. She's a beeotch that thinks just because she's been to a charity auction, she knows how to run one. I hate her uppity ass! And I am thrilled to know that at least you got to kick hers with your all-impressive, awesome moves!

5:50 PM  
Blogger steveohville speakeasy said...

didn't kentucky lose at home to vanderbilt?

1:27 AM  
Blogger DP said...

If you get a book deal, can I be your assistant at your book signing? I love the smell of Sharpies.

You bad ass hottie writer, you. :)

8:11 AM  
Blogger Jaime Schwarz said...

Great, I just started doing the exercise bike and now I feel like a whiney little bitch cause my legs hurt and I'm tired.

8:45 AM  
Blogger Tweets said...

You crack me up. Even when it's about sweaty ass.

If she shows up again, tell her PAGEANTS SUCK AND WRASSLIN' IS FAKE. That should do her in.

10:31 AM  
Blogger RBrown said...

Clearly y'all all had the kool-aid samples I sent in the mail.

Seriously, guys, I had to look back and see what the hell I wrote on here that was so funny. Cause that woman-in-Lycra truly did piss me off. But many, many thanks. I'm not sure people would pay to read what y'all read for free. But you are just lovely, so lovely...give yah-selves a round of applause (name the movie? anyone??)

Nancy, 2 of my dear friends are Carolina grads and they are the best, most wonderful gals in the world so no offense to Carolina. If i was at a gym in lexington, I'm 99.999% sure that 99.999% of the ladies (AND gents) would be decked out in KY gear that wasn't even as nice.

MD, you hit the nail on the fricking head. If that'd been Duke gear, I'd be conferring with my attorneys right now on how to get the charges whittled down to manslaughter.

SteveOh, yeah, my team sucks this year. It hurts. The only thing that comforts me is knowing that Carolina and her team are still 2 championships behind. Why ya think I got all dancy and shit? Somebody's gotta step it up when my basketball team can't get the job done.

PS - I slept through step this morning. After all that.

10:52 AM  
Blogger TheDShaw said...

Oprah's Book Club, sister. Brownie, this was a great one. Keep 'em coming. Love this story while I'm eating Skittles and La Salsa. DBS

2:37 PM  
Blogger mabel said...

God I have missed you! I have been out of the loop for a bit and am trying to catch up. I hereby swear to NEVER miss a day of my Bacon Grease. PUBLISH!! I'll buy 20!

5:28 PM  
Blogger Skormore said...

Fantastic. Finally the world evens out.

I loved the face you showed Mizz-thinkin-she's-so-hot-but-really-not-Carolina! You made MY day!

10:35 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

Awesome. This is my biggest excuse for not working out in a gym environment... I would probably have to throw a smack down on chicks like that and I consider myself a southerner, just not the fakey-fake, nice to your face but stabs you in the back, too much makeup, big hair kind.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Alison said...

where you at yo? I'm having w/drawls!

2:28 PM  
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