Saturday, August 02, 2008

Like a Virgin

"I crack my knuckles." That's what I tell people when they ask me what I do for exercise. If they press me, I elaborate, "Not just my fingers, I crack almost every bone in my body every few hours."

They think I'm kidding. So, I give them a show. I bend slightly backwards and my left hip goes 'pop' - I continue with my knees, my shoulders and by the time I'm up to my neck most normal people yell "stop."

Apparently, it's disconcerting to watch, to hear and I can see that it may be perhaps something I ought to do in private. Don't ask me about my exercise program, then.

Why do I have to watch sweaty men and women who are decades past looking reasonably attractive in short-shorts walk briskly by my house swinging their arms like military rejects? Stay home on your tread mill or join a gym, cheapskates!

This small rant is a result of my recent dance lesson. The Hustle is making a comeback and so am I. Since February, twice a week, my dance instructor, Rainer Trubere at Dancesport has been tackling a nearly impossible task. I may be too white, too Jewish and too old to stand up straight, but Rainer is determined to break my lifelong habit of zero activity.

This sweet, misguided man has vowed to "clean me up." In layman terms, this means my posture will no longer resemble the Tim Conway character on the old Carol Burnett Show.

Rainer dances as gracefully as a ballet dancer, yet excels in every possible sport. He is totally physical. And, as we know, I'm anything but. Luckily, his rigorous training for his body has bumped up his endurance for the mental anguish I drop on him each session. His sense of humor has kept him from a breakdown and more important, has saved me from being strangled.

The other evening we both learned something significant. I'd like to shout it out here out so I can virtually stick my tongue out to all the middle aged know it all "athletes" who may be taking a break to sit down and read a blog.

I couldn't point my toe. Yes, I can point it, but not the way Rainer wanted me to. Always ready with a creative alternative teaching tool (extremely necessary for this student) he demonstrated limping, "You know, favor one side, like when you twist your ankle."

"I've never twisted my ankle" I said. Too stunned to comment, Rainer stood on one foot (show off!) and simply looked at me. He reminded me of how my dog Tony cocks his head to one side straining to sort out the foreign words.

"What do you mean?" he finally stammered.

"Never happened." I said. "I don't do anything physical so I've managed to avoid torn ligaments, dislocated shoulders, knee problems - all the ailments from..."

"Movement." He finished my sentence. It sounded so odd hearing it from someone else, but it was true. Pushing myself is not finding a close enough parking space.

Flabbergasted that our worlds are so opposite, he shook his head and listed all the injuries he'd suffered throughout his lifetime. The list made me shudder and it also made me smirk.

He saw it and said, "No pain-no gain."
I countered, "No strain -No pain."

Still not past it, he said, "You mean, if we took an xray of you now it would show n o t h i n g?" I nodded. Knowing I'm no youngster he was excited like we were launching a new product - me.

"Do you realize that all your active friends who are your age probably have a chronic problem from tennis or jogging?"

"They do...and not for nothing...their skin is more wrinkled from the sun - which I avoid. Again, another casualty of outdoor activities." I rested my hand on my hip with attitude, just like he taught me.

With a renewed sense of purpose, he suggested that if I do a little bit of stretching (I kinda do when I crack) and aerobics along with my dance lessons - in a few years I'll be in amazing shape (for my age...they always add that to ruin it)

"You will be superior to them physically because you're just starting out. It's like you're a virgin."

And, I am, in so many ways. Jimmy said to me, "We should have danced more." Well, here I go.