"Are you confused?" asks the teacher. "Do you need me to show you?"
"No. I just can't do it. Sorry."
"You will. It just takes time."
I would have to be reincarnated with a different set of joints to be able to bend that way.
We are doing Pilates. I have done Pilates before. But not in about a year. I used to be able to do "the cat" and "the 100s" and all the other moves without feeling as if my spinal disks were as brittle as fresh Pringles.
I look around. The other five women in the class are college students. The gym is right by campus. They are all 9 feet tall and weigh 48 pounds. They look good in their spandex. I imagine that from behind, my from-behind looks like two angry bulldogs fighting to get out of an onion sack.
Class is 10 minutes in and I'm sweating from the ends of my hair. Soothing Enya music plays from the speakers. I think I hear her singing, "Yooorrrrr stooopeeed to try theeeees."
"Rock up and thtand!" says the teacher, a very bendy woman with a slight lisp.
I cannot rock up. I crawl onto my hands and knees and stand up slowly, like an old washerwoman after a long night scrubbing linoleum.
By the time I get on my feet, the teacher and the class of thin bendy-girls are back on their mats. They seem to be sitting on their tailbones with their torsos and legs in a "V" pointing toward the ceiling. They are breathing with sharp little "huh, huh" sounds. I marvel at their bendiness.
I lie flat on the mat like a pancake--and begin to think of pancakes dripping with butter and syrup. Maybe after class I'll go to IHOP.
Now everyone is on their sides, drawing huge circles with their top legs. My circle is more of a zig-zag. My leg is a leaden appendage. We turn over and do it on the other side. My other leg is encased in concrete.
"Thtand up, rolling one vertebra at a time!"
There was a time I could touch my toes. I know there was. It was when I was in 9th grade and Miss Costin, the gym teacher, made us do calisthenics every morning at 8 a.m. before drill team practice. Does a person really need to touch one's toes? Do we not have knees so that we may squat to retrieve things at toe level?
The girl in front of me is standing bent over with her hands flat on the floor and her forehead pressing on her knees. She's a human paper clip.
Bent over like this I can see my calves up close. Those three-blade razors aren't as great as advertised. Or is it bad to use one for more than six months? My toes are hairy. There is green paint on my ankle.
We finish and the bendies glide out the door. I can barely get my shoes on.
Blueberry pancakes. And a side of bacon, please.