Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sweet Caroline, my calves hurt!

Where it began, I can't begin to knowing
But then I know it's growing strong
Was in the spring
Then spring became the summer
Who'd have believed you'd come along?

With Neil Diamond Month coming to a close, I'm feeling pressure to get some other songs up. What is Neil Diamond Month without Sweet Caroline? Huh? Or Soolaimon (soolay...soolay...soolaimon!)? Or who can hear Heartlight and not think of E.T.? How can I not write about Coming to America and call myself a fan? These are the things that keep me up at night.

Another thing that keeps me up at night is pain, particularly when I exercise. I try really hard not to exercise because my body seems to not like it. When I was an asthmatic kid, I was told not to exert myself. Okay. (And don't think for a second that my high school friends didn't LOVE to razz me about my trifecta of asthma, my speech and debate letter, and the Flock of Seagulls haircut. Don't even get me started on your haircuts, girls!)

Last spring, Mommy got punished. (I realize this is an older bit I wrote last year, but it was very traumatic and bears repeating. And I can make it work with the song, so zip it.)

I'm not talking about "Oh, is Big Daddy going to spank me?" kind of punished, but actual, public, physical punishment. Mommy attended a Boot Camp workout with a bunch of crazy people, and it took four days to sit down without crying out in pain.

I should have known what to expect by the person who invited me in the first place. She's a clean, organized mom who is uberfit and very energetic, like the head cheerleader/prom queen/track star all rolled into one. I say this with the greatest affection, because I have witnessed her drinking beer and eating dessert, so she's not scary-perfect. She sent a chipper e-mail to a group of moms from the school, saying, "Hey, let's all get together and exercise! One of the moms is a trainer, it will be SO FUN and we can all do it TOGETHER!!"

After deleting the e-mail that was clearly not meant to come to me, I got a follow-up call from her: "Julie, you have to come, it will be fun! You are always talking about getting in shape; this is a great way to do it with a bunch of people of varying fitness levels! It's only an hour, YOU CAN DO IT!"

And then I said yes. Because I have absolutely no spine, and if someone asks me to do something, anything, my first response is to say yes and then spend the rest of the time trying to figure out how to get out of the commitment. I knew full well that I was the weak link in this fitness chain. I'm the mom who wears workout clothes so people think I work out. I'm the mom who will sometimes drive the block and a half to school because it is too cold to walk or it might rain.

After I said yes, I remembered that this session was to be called "Mom Boot Camp," not to be confused with "Making S'mores" or "Singing Around the Campfire" camp. This was not a "Mom scrapbooking party" or a "Mom candle party" or a "Mom sex toy party." This was a "Work your ass off until you cry like a baby" party, and I had already RSVP'ed.

Another friend, who is secretly at the same yoga level as Madonna, e-mailed to plead with me to come to Boot Camp, as she was purportedly out of shape. I met her in the park that fateful morning, me in my dumpy tank top and black sweats, she in her skin-tight Lycra shirt that showed off her sinewy guns. Damn her. Cheerleader Mom showed up next, fresh from her MORNING workout (yes, I mean before Boot Camp!), so damn her, too. Then Trainer Mom showed up, chewing a bar of steel and spitting out bullets. Damn them all!

The Big Engine That Couldn't looked for an escape hatch, but the session was starting. We all ran around the park, past the group of City workers spreading mulch at the play set and anticipating the show. We then progressed to the park picnic tables, hereafter known as the Den of Pain, to climb up the tables in rapid stair steps and then down into lunges, triceps curls, dips and push ups. This was followed by sprints up a hill that has a 10% incline, and then over to the tennis courts to do Navy Seal crunches and jumping jacks.

Hands, touching hands
Reaching out
Touching me, touching you...

Let me make a few small observations. First, I don't do sprints unless the ice cream truck is at the top of the hill, so I didn't. Another mother in pain joined me as we pretended to power walk up the hill while the suckers sprinted it. Second, I don't have triceps, I thought those became extinct during the dinosaur age. Third, anything the Navy Seals are doing should not be on my list of activities, and therefore I threw my legs up in the air and waved them like I just don't care. Finally, anyone who has survived one vaginal childbirth, not to mention three, knows that all the Kegels in the world won't get you through a session of jumping jacks dry. It is just a fact. In my one moment of comfort, I was doing push ups on the picnic table benches, and every time I would rise, I would see a Nazi symbol and a "f*ck you" carved in the table, no doubt by an empathetic teenager. Indeed.

I'm not sure how I got through that hour and fifteen minutes, but I lived to tell about it. The rest of the day I flaunted my post-workout body for my husband, throwing in terms like "feel the burn" and "quadriceps" and "optimum heart rate." The next morning I woke to a world of pain I hadn't known since labor. Who injected lead into my legs? Why do these children need me? How can I get to the hospital?

And when I hurt
Hurtin' runs off my shoulder
How can I hurt when I'm holding you?

I do not belong in something called "Mom Boot Camp." I am too old, too soft, and too weak, and not one of those women brought snacks. Someone needs to remind these fitness-obsessed moms what reckless abandon looks like. And that is exactly why I went back. With donuts. And that time, good times never seemed so good.


Heather G said...

Could I laugh any harder?!! I could totally picture you "feeling the burn!" By the way, you have lovely triceps!

The Insatiable Host said...

I am not lying when I say that the laughter that has consumed me has made my mummytummyof3kids hurt. I knew I had abs...you made me feel them again!! I am eternally your reader...not only do I understand the feeling of being roped into a LuluLemon Firing Squad where the cheerleaders didn't bring the cocktails like they promised, instead they show up with the mega-soy-infused-ginkobaloba-lofat/halfskim latte's; they neglect to bring anything that a normal person would consider food! I dont get what the eff is the additiction to feeling completely spun is; it's seriously beyond me! AMEN SISTER and in the words of the great "As I said before, stones to me is meant things that hurt people, things that cause pain and thats what this song is about" Stones = Bootcamp...ah ha!

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