September 20, 2017
In the Venn diagram of life, there is not a lot of overlap between me and Michael Jackson videos… but there is this tiny, almost invisible little crescent, if you squint hard and pull out a magnifying glass. It is only this:
In the 80s and 90s, I would take aerobics classes. Then as now, I was a tall, goony woman in the back of the room, too much solidity in the backside and too little natural rhythm to EVER be found in a neon-lined nightclub.
But I could grapevine like a mad woman, as long as no one was paying attention. Back then, aerobics classes were big deals. The one at work had 20 or 30 women in it; the one at the rec center was maybe 50 women, all of us doing huge, sweeping arm circles as we leapt and turned and slid aaaaaaand CLAP!
Oh, it was awesome. Sometimes you’d get a dud of a song (like “I Just Called To Say I Love You,” which PLEASE, no line dance in the world can maintain its self-respect to THAT puddle of treacle), but more often you could strut around to “Walking On Sunshine” or “Dancing At The Zombie Zoo” and then step back because mama needs some ROOM.
For a few brief moments, once the routine was learned for the song, I could feel like Subway Dancer #14 in a Michael Jackson video. Nowhere near the camera – just another body, way in the back, creating a wave of movement that showcased the lead dancer like black velvet around a diamond. COOL!
Did you think I was going to say I’d been IN a Michael Jackson video? I snort in amusement. Nope; this is not the bizarro universe.
In fact, reality was an ever-looming threat. I was infamous among aerobics instructors for the staggering rapidity of my pulse. After each song, all the women in their shorts and t-shirts would immediately thrust two fingers into their own necks, each searching for her carotid pulse. We’d walk briskly but aimlessly, focused on that internal beat, while the instructor marked off a set amount of time. “Okay!” she’d call (sometimes she would wear a sweat band like Olivia Newton John; she was SO groovy), “who got up to ten beats?”
Hands would shoot up.
“And eleven? And who got to twelve? That’s good! Anyone higher?”
Even when enjoying the anonymity of the back row, I have a hard time shutting up. “I counted thirty.”
“No, you didn’t.”
“Yes, I did.”
She would approach, with concern “How do you feel? Maybe you should just walk around a bit for this next song.”
“I feel fine. Do I look like I’m having a heart attack?”
She would regard me dubiously. “No…”
Now that I look back on it, I wonder if I wasn’t counting the “lub-dub” of a single heart beat as two beats… and if you go counting that high and that fast, perhaps you can be forgiven for missing a few. I was probably between twelve and fourteen beats; fast, but not the kind of response that might explode, launching me off the rec room pinewood to land me with my head through the roof and feet grapevining madly across empty air…
I loved aerobics. This evening, I’m going to a free introductory Zoomba class at Body Dynamics in Falls Church, taught by Devin. I can’t wait to see if there’s any difference between aerobics and Zoomba… and oh, how I hope Devin will sport a jaunty Olivia Newton John “Let’s Get Physical” sweatband!
Darkness falls across the land…