My relationship with the airlines thrusts me into moral crisis. When I fly, they make me angry. They treat me condescendingly; they torment me with their itty seats; they feed me not; the handlers bark at me when I inconveniently have to use the bathroom during Beverage Service.
Of course, if the handlers could bother themselves to whip up a free screwdriver for me from that beverage cart, I’d be more than willing to draw upon a decade of Kegel exercises and apply it to achieving the urological wonder called “holding it.” Indeed, Airlines, you should know that if I have a free drink in hand, my bladder becomes gloriously bathed in a numbing solution that allows it to exceed normal human limits. O Airlines, you parsimonious curs, if only you would ply me with vodka, I would stop trying to hurdle your beverage cart. I am eminently pliable. I’m so pliable that my gangsta tag is Triple-Ply.
Yet DeltaWestAmerinental gives me nothing, save a leg cramp, a ripped suitcase, and a false “buh-bye” at the door upon my limping exit.
Strangely, though, despite this torment, I keep going back. I hate them, but they have made me feel I need them. They have created in me an uneasy reliance. I am loathe to question the power dynamic between us; rather, I would prefer to cloud my vision by peering through my single Ziploc bag full of 3 ounce bottles and blindly do as they say. If they look askance at me, I will apologize for my cosmetics. I give them money, and I am their client, yet, queerly, they own me.
Such is the case, as well, with the fitness instructor at the local Y, a Gym Nazi with AK-47’s for arms and Jaivana cannons for legs. GymNastika makes me whimper, but I love her**.
In particular, I am obsessed with–yet hide in the back during–GymNastika’s weekly Pilates Fusion class, in which my well-padded abdominals search for life and sunlight while being throttled by a series of exercises involving one of those big balance balls.
Some of you crunchy types are probably sitting on one right now, in front of your computer screen, with some misguided idea that the give and malleability of it will save your spine. If you are one of those people, give me a call, as I have a really amazing complementary ergonomic elbow saver–it looks a lot like a felt-covered plank on top of some sawhorses, but trust me, it’ll revolutionize your posture (and I’m the only licensed dealer in the Lower 48).
So if you’re sitting on a balance ball right now, you’re either My Kind of Sucker, or your contractions are about three minutes apart; either way, stop your whining, stand up, and look at that thing. It’s big. It’s fun. It has just the right plasticy bounce. It’s the happy-clown-pinwheel of desk-sitting, baby-catching, and exercise equipment, ja?
Not in the hands of the GymNastika. For her, it is the instrument of a very specific torture. You wouldn’t believe what she gets a gym full of spray-tanned-women-swathed-in-gold-jewelry, four men, and me to do with that thing.
Check it, Moondoggie:
Now do each of these things fifty-ninety times, and that’ll be your warm-up. Sure, as I am stretched on the Rack of Balance Ball, I find solace and motivation in the driving beat of Bananarama singing “She’s got it/Yea, baby, she’s got it.” What fool wouldn’t?
But mostly I groan and sweat and pray to Saint Brucejenner while I rub his gold medal (and stroke his waxy facelift). Every now and then, when my oxygen stores are depleted from doing a shaky one-footed side plank…
…I fade off into my own reverie about H.R. Pufnstuf and how I wish I had a talking flute that could bolster my spirits when Witchiepoo (or GymNastika) tried to freak my shit right off the Living Island.
(extra-credit homework: compare Witchiepoo and Bruce Jenner, and write a paragraph making a case that one is distinctly more horrifying than the other)
Eventually, though, Bananarama stops singing, Bruce Jenner’s face melts into magma, I tuck away my magic flute, and all that’s left on the floor of the gym are my screaming abs and tattered self-esteem.
As I roll up my mat, delirious with the promise of escape-at-hand, I am, simultaneously, grateful to my captor and tormenter, the GymNastika. I have been through agonies at her hands; I will be back. I am a heteroclite.
Which does not mean I only like clitorises of the opposite sex. You. Depraved. Pree-vert.
Perhaps strangest of all is the fact that the escapees, in both a soaring Pilates class and on an overseas airline flight, burst into spontaneous applause at the moment of release.
The bastards had us in their grip. We hated the experience; we loved it. But as we dash off into the fresh air, we are happy. And we know it. So we clap our hands.
**If you want to see the GymNastika in person, you can watch a video of her from the local news . Just keep in mind she’s playing nice in this clip; try imagining her wielding barbells and yelling at you that every bite of pizza contains 500 calories.
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