I need to get some exercise. They say it’s good for you. Also, I would like to look more like Blake Lively from the neck down (and from the neck up, but that’s a different story for a different day). How do you achieve this? Plastic surgery. But I can’t afford that. I suppose I could just eat less. Hah. Ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha. *snorts entire burrito into nose through rolled up dollar bill*
So exercise it is. The poor man’s plastic surgery.
I’ve avoided joining a gym, because paying to work out seems stupid when I can jump up and down on my own for free. All I really need is a place to do it where I won’t look like a crazy person. I should probably just get over that little hang-up, since doing jazzercise on the sidewalk in front of my house would make me only the third craziest person on the block, behind Can Kicking Guy, who mumbles to himself while acrobatically kicking detritus from the ground into distant trash cans with disturbing accuracy, and Dangerously Psychotic Sean, who spends most of his time having loud arguments with his imaginary frenemy Arthur. But I don’t know, maybe crazy people have territories, and I really don’t want to get into a turf war with Can Kicking Guy. Never make an enemy of someone who can weaponize a Snapple cap, my grandma always used to say.
So a while back my dear friend TK tipped me off to the aerobics videos on Comcast On Demand. Perfect! I could work out in the privacy of my own home for free (or at least for what I’m already paying for shitty Internet service and near 24-hour-a-day access to Law and Order reruns).
Most of these videos feature perky women with terrifying abs taking you through a short cardio routine. Since staring dead-eyes into the camera while silently doing lunges for a half hour would be off-putting, they keep talking for the entire time, encouraging their imagined audience. “Come on, you can do it!” “Yeah!” “Imagine the fat melting off your slovenly frame!” Then things start to get weird. “Tank tops!” one woman shouts halfway through a set of light weight lifting, presumably to remind us of how good our shoulders are going to look in tank tops after a few weeks of toning. Or maybe she’s just reminding herself of what she needs stock up on at H&M.
But my favorites were the Crunch Dance Rhythms videos with Marc Santa Maria, who has no doubt done gay porn at some point in his life. The Crunch videos are styled like a class, with Marc leading five other perma-smiles through various dance-themed workouts (including one called “Lyrical Hip Hop.” I’m not sure what makes it “lyrical” aside from Marc’s occasionally shouting “Ungh!!”).
I watched these so many times that I had concocted elaborate backstories for each student in the class. The two blondes up front are obviously competing for Marc’s attention. Dina may look better in stretch pants, but she has no idea how willing Brook is to fake a pregnancy if that’s what it takes.
But even these get old after a while, plus I was starting to wonder if my downstairs neighbor might be less enthusiastic about my daily samba sessions than I was.
So I decided to start running, something I’ve eschewed in the past because I don’t like being seen in public in ugly shoes. Seriously, do you know what athletic shoes look like on someone with size 8½ feet? I look like an adult woman with giant toddler feet.
But you can’t very well run barefoot in this shit- and shattered glass–strewn neighborhood, so a trip to Niketown was in order. There I was helped by a kindly flunky wearing a nametag and a giant pin that said “IT’S MY BIRTHDAY.” Ugh, Nike, where do you come up with these creative ways to steal people’s souls? Do you make the eight-year-olds in your sweatshops wear those pins too? “IT’S MY BIRTHDAY FOR THE MAJORITY OF THIS 36-HOUR SHIFT I’M WORKING AT THE LASTING MACHINE.”
As I tried on pair after pair of fluorescent pink and green monstrosities and resigned myself to the fact that I was going to look like Sideshow Bob, a pair of young Asian tourists were trying on the same shoes a few seats down from me. And you know what? Those shoes looked ADORABLE on their tiny feet. But apparently they were having size trouble too. “You’ll have to try the children’s section if you need something smaller than 4½,” the flunky said. She turned to me. “You might want to go up to a size 9.” DAMN YOU, NIKETOWN!
$135 later I was ready to start running and fully expecting a call from my bank about suspicious activity on my credit card. “Athletic shoes? Ha ha!” I imagined the bank people saying. “The most athletic thing account number 154799-11 has ever purchased was a Ritter Sport.”
The first run was horrible. An hour and a half of pure hell (ten minutes running, an hour lying on the couch moaning about the fire in my lungs, and twenty minutes trying to decide which color iPod Shuffle I should buy). The second run was still pretty shitty, but by the third time I was totally getting into the groove of running a mile and a half every other day.
That lasted exactly two weeks. My knee started to hurt! Stupid knee, do you KNOW how much I paid for this pink iPod Shuffle?! I bought a Ritter Sport and pretended to be sad about not running anymore.
After that I pretty much gave up on exercising and started wondering if there was a way to concentrate weight gain in my boobs and hair. But I was caught off guard last Friday night when my friend Bina texted me to ask if I wanted to try Zumba.
There are only two correct answers to the question “Do you want to go to a Zumba class tomorrow at 9 a.m.?” Those answers are “No” and “Fuck no.” (Saying “I’ll think about it” and then faking your own death will get you half credit.) But as I said, I was caught off guard, and by “off guard” I mean “drunk.”
As it happens, I was at a standup comedy show with some wonderful friends who do things like take us to standup comedy shows, and we had just had a lovely dinner and I was in a good mood and did you know that comedy clubs have a two-drink minimum? I am not one to shirk my duties when it comes to drink minimums and wow, that is a serious pour for a place that purports to be about comedy. And oh, what’s that you say, phone? Zumba? Sounds hilarious. Let’s do this. Yes, I will meet you at 8:45 tomorrow. I should get home from this comedy show just in time.
When my alarm went off at 8 the next morning, everything seemed less hilarious. “Why did you set the alarm?” Stephen asked.
“I don’t remember.” Then I remembered. Zumba. “This is going to be hilarious,” no one said.
Zumba is about as hilarious as trench warfare. Is trench warfare hilarious? What about if you’re doing trench warfare while really hung over? Zumba is a tiny Brazilian woman dressed as Flashdance-era Jennifer Beals leading forty other people as they thrash around to loud music and try not to throw up. Okay, maybe I was the only one trying not to throw up. I was also the only one doing every dance move wrong, shuffling forward instead of backward, shaking my shoulders instead of my ass, shouting “Fuck my life” instead “Woo!” It was like one of those I Love Lucy episodes where Lucy tries to get in on a performance at the Tropicana but doesn’t know any of the dance steps. Like that except, as I mentioned, NOT HILARIOUS.
After class, I waited while Bina chatted with her friends, clutching my hoodie to my chest like someone who had just been assaulted and barely lived to tell about it.
“Did you have fun? Would you do it again?” she asked me.
“Yes, sure,” I said. “I would do it again.”
I will not do that again. I will fake my own death.