Tag Archives: body

Frenemies

27 Jul

brunch

Humans are, supposedly, learning beings – we learn from experience, and, ideally, don’t repeat what doesn’t/hasn’t worked for us. I say “ideally” because every morning, I smack my head against the overhead compartment of the train and say, in the kind of angry whisper a parent uses to scold their child for throwing mints at the back of someone’s head in a theater, “FUCK.”

Like asking the nice girl at my local coffee shop if she “has any skim milk” (even though I know she does), and like wondering why they don’t just put the skim milk out with the other milk options, and like drinking my bitter coffee and wishing I hadn’t used skim milk, hitting my head is just part of my daily routine. How would I know my day had officially “begun,” without that uncomfortable jolt and ensuing flash of anger?

But still, I wonder: what causes me to make the same mistake, time and time again, even though that mistake causes me physical harm? I’ve worked hard to conjure up every bit of science I’ve ever understood, and have come to a highly scientific conclusion: my brain and my body are frenemies.

A “frenemy” is a “friend” who is also an “enemy.” For example: if pressed, I’d wager that Beyoncé and Adele are frenemies; both women are strong, talented powerhouses who support each other, but who also (secretly) hope the other screams too loudly on a rollercoaster and develops nodes. Millennials and New York City are frenemies; Millennials love the trendy opportunities of NYC but hate living with the possibility of stepping in human feces on their way to work. Ice cream and I are frenemies; I eat it uncontrollably and…no, never mind, there are no downsides to my love of ice cream.

My brain and my body are definitely frenemies. They go to brunch together and talk and laugh, only to return to their respective homes and bitch to their significant others about how the other is fake and arrogant and…getting fat.

“She just thinks she’s so smart,” Body complains to her naked lover, Pedro, as she takes off her makeup and jumps into Warrior Pose. “She makes all of these jokes and just expects everyone to laugh. Well, newsflash, Brain, no one thinks you’re funny.”

“I think she’s kind of funny,” Pedro whispers, only to get a swift kick in the gut from Body.

On the other side of town, in an apartment littered with newspaper articles and anxiety, resides Brain. Brain sits upright in her back-healthy chair and complains to her stable accountant boyfriend, Brian, about Body.

“All she can talk about is her love of kale. Most people try to hide the fact that they love kale, but no, not Body. Body has kale recipes, and kale socks, and kale ‘fun facts.’ Oh, and if she asks one more damn waiter for ‘skim milk’ in her coffee, I’m going to scream! Just drink regular milk, you pretentious bitch!”

“At least she’s proud of her passions,” Brian offers, before Brain gives him the most threatening look a woman could ever give her significant other, and retreats to her office to write an article about him for The New Yorker.

Brain and Body see each other from time to time, but never because they want to, and usually because they feel they have to. They attend each others’ weddings – Brain weds in the Boston Public Library, while Body weds at the tail end of a longer-than-usual jog around Walden Pond – but can’t help but feel twinges of jealousy. Brain wishes she could seem as relaxed as Body on her wedding day, while Body wishes her vows were as eloquent and poetic as Brain’s.

Brain and Brian always seem to be enjoying culturally rich and exciting vacations; Body and Pedro go on vacation and Body blows up like a tick, while Pedro somehow manages to lose weight.

On the other hand, Body and Pedro share the same passions, and are often seen biking on a tandem bike, or hiking together in the woods; sometimes, Brain goes days without seeing Brian because she locks herself in her office to write, while Brian finds comfort in his numbers and figures (and potentially his secretary. Brain often wonders about this, but convinces herself she’s just “overthinking things.”)

They’re so different, and yet, occasionally, Brain finds herself wondering what Body’s up to and if she’s free to grab brunch at that new diner up the street. Yes, Body is free, but she suggests that new smoothie bar down the street because…kale. This annoys Brain, but then again, it was Brain who offered they get together in the first place.

During brunch, they feel themselves falling into the same, draining patterns. Body acts like she invented “the plank,” while Brain makes too many Francophone references to be charming. They wonder why they ever bothered trying in the first place.

And then, like a mother-in-law walking into your bedroom, Heart walks through the door. Heart, with her big, white smile and infectious laugh. Heart, with her genuine desire to “do the right thing” and “be there for others.” Heart, with her perfect relationship and her even more perfect relationship advice. They try to hide, but they can’t; Heart always finds them.

“Hey ladies,” says Heart. “I’m so glad to see you two together. Isn’t it great, the way Friendship can endure both Time and Circumstance? You’re both looking absolutely radiant.”

Brain wonders what she can possibly say to outsmart Heart. Body wonders if she could “accidentally trip” Heart. Both settle for disingenuous smiles and some forced nodding.

Heart goes home and kisses her four children hello, before turning to her husband, Cupid, and saying, “I saw Brain and Body at that new café this morning. Those two are a couple of rank bitches, let me just say.” Cupid nods in solidarity with his wife, before offering her a bouquet of roses and a lifetime of devotion.

Brain and Body stay a little longer at the café that day.

“She thinks she invented kindness,” says Brain.

“I know, right? And what was with her outfit? It’s like she dresses however she wants, without worrying what people will think.”

Brain nods in agreement. Body offers Brain a sip of her smoothie. Brain offers to pay for brunch. They make plans to meet at the same time and place next weekend.

***

Hitting my head hurts, so you’d think my body and my brain would be able to coordinate some kind of plan to avoid the pain. For instance, my body could use an “I statement” to explain to my brain why it doesn’t like being smacked into the overhead compartment: “I don’t like it when you let me hit our head against the overhead compartment because it makes our head hurt,” it could say. Then, my brain could respond thoughtfully, explaining its reasoning: “Sometimes, when it’s early in the morning, I have trouble keeping up with all that you can do. You’re so strong and nimble and tan, and even though you have your faults (like how you can’t do a full split or chin-ups, and how you bloat after soy sauce), you’re still the faster one between the hours of 6am and 1pm.” My brain can be kind of a passive asshole, but would at least be trying, and that would be good enough for my body, who, let’s face it, is nowhere near as quick-witted and sly as my brain. The two would then make up and agree to work together to keep my head safe from harm.

Unless Pixar can somehow inhabit my brain and body to give them unique personalities and voices, I don’t think I’ll be seeing coordination anytime soon. Which really does not bode well for the other areas of my life that remain untrained and uncoordinated.

But then again, if Beyoncé and Adele can make it work, so can I.

 

 

 

 

 

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Dancing With Goodman

5 Mar

I am currently enrolled in a “fat exorcism” exercise class.

Twice a week, we gather at the BU gym and our instructor chases us around the room yelling, “The power of Spring Break compels you!” as we spew out all types of sweat and liquefied fat.

The class is actually called “Fat Burn,” but I believe in making things sound much more severe than they actually are.

“Fat Burn” is exactly what it sounds like – an hour of squats and weird, vaguely sexual looking moves that are intended to demolish fat reserves due to any and all combinations of: Sunday night beef nachos, Hershey’s Kisses found in the bottom of a backpack/purse/coat pocket, six glasses of wine (which were purely for throat lubrication purposes), a mystery carrot from that day you went Paleo, three bags of airplane pretzels that were indented to preemptively combat motion sickness (which never ended up occurring), 1.5 cupcakes that were delicious at the time but that left you incapacitated for three hours, a rogue chicken breast that probably shouldn’t have smelled like tuna, and a piece of paper that you accidentally ingested when you got too lazy to completely unwrap your sandwich.

(Please be advised: this diet is not for everyone. Results may vary and are not always positive. Please contact your doctor before attempting to eat like that and then exercise a lot.)

Anyway, Fat Burn is usually an effective class. You spend ten minutes setting up your equipment; ten minutes listening to Pam – our fit instructor – explain what you can expect from the class; five minutes trying to figure out what the heck is tattooed on Pam’s shoulder; three minutes worrying that your sports bra is too loose and will lead to breast sagging; two minutes complaining to friends that your body aches from the last class; thirty seconds looking at yourself in the mirror and determining that your breasts don’t look any more saggy than they did yesterday; one minute panicking about excessive leg hair (and then deciding to let is go); and then about thirty minutes lifting weights and doing crunches and probably causing irreparable damage to your groin after slipping on your own sweat during a straddle stretch.

This week, Bonnie and Emalie and I arrived at our Monday class ready to be greeted by Pam and her mystery tat and her incomparable Pitbull playlist.

But Pam was nowhere to be found. Instead, were greeted by John Goodman’s cousin – a slightly smaller yet equally not small version of John Goodman.

Billy Goodman (let’s go with that) was a hair short of 50 years old and was sporting bright white sneakers and tall socks. His Bruins t-shirt dangled down to his knees and his smile said “You will leave this class feeling sweaty and confused.”

And confused we were.

Billy’s approach to exercise was completely different from Pam’s. He believed in the old “fake left, dodge right” approach; he lulled us into a false sense of ease and security, only to rip the rug out from under us and make us wish we’d had the good sense to cry, “Lady troubles!” before entering the room.

Emalie and I arrived slightly late to class and found Bonnie and the others engaged in what can only be described as a “Falcon Mating Ritual.”

In my 21 years of age, I have never seen dance moves like Billy’s.

Picture this: a room full of young women and one man, flapping their arms around like they were swatting away a fly while under the influence of Ecstasy.

We swatted. And we kicked. And we pelvic thrusted.

All of my swatting and kicking and thrusting attempts were always slightly behind…probably because I really struggle with choreographed dance moves.

I took two years of ballroom dancing classes. And by the end of the second year, I still couldn’t tell you the difference between the Mambo and a Salsa. (The second one I knew quite well, but only in a “mild and sometimes with peach, if we have guests coming over” kind of context.)

None of the boys wanted to dance with me because I seemed so confused and uncertain…NOT because I wore “fancy parachute pants” to every rehearsal and worked myself into a mute cold sweat every time a boy approached.

Not to toot my own horn (I swear, I’m leaving my horn in my backpack as I write this), but I am an exceptionally gifted freestyle dancer.

I can do the Worm. And the shimmy. And the Worm-shimmy combo. And the reverse shimmy-Worm combo. And the butt shake. And the “WOO!” (For that last one, all you have to do is drink a lot, lift your arms above your head, and yell, “woo!”)

Okay I lied, I’m tooting my horn left and right and it’s actually causing quite a scene. But I don’t even care because I’m just that good at freestyle dancing…

While one of my many nicknames may be “Lordess of the Freestyle,” I am not good at choreographed dance moves.

Unfortunately, it turns out that ballroom dancing and dance-like fitness classes have a lot in common.

Well, not for Billy. Billy moved with experience and grace.

He kept weaving and dodging and squeakily yelling things like, “Can you keep up with THESE arms?” and “You know you love this!” and “What’s she even doing back there?!”

Falling. That’s what I was doing.

There’s really nothing quite like watching yourself do a “Reverse Grape-Vine Twist” in the mirror and then bumping into your neighbor and causing a domino effect in the front row.

We looked like we were trying to play basketball on ice skates.

We also couldn’t stop laughing, which was not helping my balance. Every time we laughed, Billy looked at us like we were making fun of a crippled dog. His movements said “I want to be a butterfly!” but his annoyed expression said, “I will cut you with my razor sharp butterfly wings if you don’t shut your pie hole.” (I bet he loves pie.)

Once the dancing was done, we thought we were in for some light stretches and a motivational pep talk.

No, no.

Billy decided to get serious. He whipped out barbells and dumbbells and other scary looking things that weigh a lot. (Honey Boo Boo’s mom.)

He made us do push-ups and yelled, “Ladies love push-ups” to whomever would listen.

He announced, “Spring break is next week,” and expected us to work harder and faster. (My response? Yes, thank God I will be drunk in a week and won’t care about my “tricep definition.”)

When it was all over, we felt like we’d danced and squatted our way to ruptured discs and torn ligaments.

Luckily, Pam returned for the next class, and so did Pitbull and her WATER LILLY tattoo. (Took an extra minute to figure that out.)

She apologized for the sub and said she’d never abandon us again without forewarning.

I forgive Pam. But, I’ve decided it’s time to listen to my body. And my body chooses to exorcise the effects of winter.

Hello spring break!

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