“So, Scott,” she said, “What are you going to do to get more in shape?”
“I’ve been considering more exercise.”
“Do you still ride a bike?”
“Not since the accident. Besides,” I justified, “It’s still broken.”
“Wasn’t that accident a year ago?”
(Looking at my feet, mumbling), “Um, yes.”
“How long until you repair it?”
“Um, I don’t know. Soon? I guess…” (my voice trailed into silence)
“Okay, that’s going nowhere. Are you still doing yoga?”
“Not since my bike accident.”
“I don’t see the correlation, but if you’re not riding your bike or doing yoga, what are you doing?”
Reaching, reaching, reaching… “Walking!” I snapped back. “Yeah, right! I walk soooo much now! Wow! I’m a walkin’ fool.”
“Good for you! Is it helping?”
“Um, no, not really.” (I returned to starting at my feet and mumbling.)
“Why don’t you do something else?”
“I don’t like anything else.”
“Really?! Out of all the possibilities, you can’t think of one single thing you’d enjoy?”
Realizing how silly I sounded, I decided — per Mark Twain — ‘twas better to keep my mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.
They had me cornered; they were circling.
“What about Zumba?”
I had heard Zumba involved a lot of coordination and a great deal of sweating. I was low on the former and weary of the latter.
“Not for me,” I replied. “I’m not a good dancer.”
“You don’t need to be. They teach you; you go at your own pace.”
“Oh… (pause). Well, I’d feel awkward with a bunch of young women and me being the only middle aged guy, old enough to be their dad.”
“I go to Zumba,” said the woman who was about my age.
“Me too,” added another.
“But you are women. I don’t want to be the only man.”
“There are other men.”
They almost trapped me, but I scrambled through an opening. “I might — and I say ‘might’ — consider it if; if was a male teacher; but they’re all women, aren’t they?”
“There’s Greg. You’ll like him.”
“Yeah, but, my competitive side would kick in. I can’t keep up with a younger guy, so I’d still be embarrassed. It wouldn’t work.”
“He’s your age. He teaches on Fridays.”
“I’d like to go,” I lied, “but I’ve got appointments until 5:00.”
“Class starts at 5:30.”
“I’m not a member of the gym, it would be too expensive.”
“You can go on a drop-in basis. I’ll take you,” said one of the women. “It’s settled. I’ll meet you there.”
End of discussion.
All day Friday, I tried to come up with excuses. But, you know how it is; when you’ve made a commitment to someone else, you honor it more often than when you promise yourself. So I went.
Greg was indeed my age, extremely friendly, donned in black shorts and an orange t-shirt with “Zumba” emblazoned across the front. “You looking forward to this?” he asked as he shook my hand.
“Not really. I’m really clumsy.”
“I know how you feel; after all, we’re a couple of stiff middle aged dudes. But, know what? You can’t do it wrong. If you’re moving and you’re smiling, you’re doing it right.”
The music began. I copied as well as I could the other three folks, focused on every mannerism, not wanting to be the odd man out. Little by little, I left that head-space and started to get into the thumping, Latin, rhythm. As I watched my classmates laughing, clapping, and spinning, propelled by the joy of simply being able to freely move, I caught my reflection.
Yeah, I looked awkward — but I was smiling. I guess I was doing it right. And if not, I’m going back next week to try it again.