Dear Snarky – A Family Member Is Killing Our TV Buzz

Dear Snarky,

 My cousin is driving my entire family crazy. Her new thing is to tell everyone about how bad TV is and to constantly point out that her family doesn’t even own a TV because she’s raising “better citizens of the world.” 

It wouldn’t be so bad if she didn’t come to family get togethers when we’re watching awards shows or  football and  constantly bitch about TV. She even posts on social media about the evils of owning a television.

b0f941a510839a9aff7c97e959e8cf14 I need something that will make her stop so she doesn’t ruin the Superbowl and the Oscars. Can you help?

 Signed, I Love TV

Dear Love TV,

 The easiest thing to do would be to simply not invite her. Why haven’t you thought of that? Don’t be afraid to say, “We didn’t think you would be interested because there would be a TV on and we know how that’s a trigger for your non medicated issues.” (Okay, that maybe a little mean so feel free to sweeten that sentence up.)

 My guess though is that you cousin is a fraud. If she’s posting on social media with her smart phone than she’s probably also watching an assortment of yummy television shows on her phone, on her tablet, on her laptop, desktop or all of the above.

 So, the next time your cousin gets on her high horse inform her that a screen is screen. It doesn’t matter if its 52 inches or 5. The American Academy of Pediatrics says in terms of viewing time it all counts the same. This means unless your cousin is ready to go completely screen free she needs to change the channel to shut up.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky “21st Century Advice With An Attitude” email at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or private message me on my Snarky Facebook page.

A Whale of a Tale

Who goes miles out into the Pacific Ocean in a raft, gets a beat down by the waves and weather, has a celestial vision of some sort because death is just one whale tale sashay away and pays a mighty fee for the privilege?91f4d20b14b5a0adcbb47765c5db07f1

Short answer — me.

I’d like to start out my tale of woe by saying screw you bucket list because you almost wiped out my entire family. And I think karma was in play because I kind of lied that seeing migrating whales was even on my bucket list.

Here’s the deal: We were in Southern California over the holidays and I wanted to experience some whales up close and personal in their natural habitat. The problem was the price for “extreme whale watching” was mighty hefty so I told my husband we had to drop that much cash because it was “on my bucket list.”

I’ve got to give my husband credit because he looked extremely skeptical that I even had a bucket list beyond stocking a deep freeze with 500 cases of Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies. But because, he’s a really good guy, he agreed that the monetary expenditure was worth it for a “once in a lifetime family experience.”

I had done my research and selected the “aquatic adventure” that got you the nearest to the migration “without disturbing the whales.” This meant that my family of four would be cruising the open seas in what the website described as an “authentic Navy Seal zodiac.”

Are you kidding me? How cool is that?

True confession time here. I’ve always wanted to be a Navy Seal and I could have been, you know, except for the whole physical and mental endurance part. I was totally psyched for my whale watching/Navy Seal wannabe excursion right up to the point until we saw the “boat” because it wasn’t a boat, it was a rubber raft.

I’m dead serious when I tell you it was one step above a pool float. Basically it was a pool float with an engine and a guy who called himself a “captain.” It made the SS Minnow look like a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.

Of course, because apparently we’re a family of idiots, we all got on the raft and motored off into the deep waters of the Pacific to where the gray whales would be migrating. It was all good, a bit of a bladder buster as the raft was pummeled by the waves, but spirits were still high. Then the weather dramatically changed from mild to mental. A rainstorm of biblical proportions hammered us and churned up the ocean right as we spotted our first whale.

The whale was spectacular, but one thing they don’t tell you about the “up close” viewing of a 35 ton mammal is that it could sink your raft in a blink of an eye especially when it’s raining so hard the captain shares that he “can’t see to steer away from the whales.”

We were doomed.

As I looked around to tell my family I loved them and suggest we do a group hug so as we sank the bottom of the Pacific to become shark chum we would be together forever, I noticed my daughter was too busy recording our death for her “Snapchat story” to even blow me a kiss.

“Bella!” I screamed over the killer waves, “Put down your phone for a final hug!”

My son yelled back, “Let her die as she lived always looking at her phone.”

Even in my final moments of life I had to give it up to my son for such a profound and accurate statement.

My husband hollered, “Way to go on the whale watching Sherry!”

Really, we’re taking our final breaths of sweet, sweet, life and he’s sarcastic? Unbelievable.

Then just as I thought I saw Jesus (or maybe it was mist) surfing on the back of a gray whale the skies cleared and the ocean calmed. We were going to live, but I fear I’ll never live down my “bucket list” adventure.

Dear Snarky – What Can I Do About the Slackers At the Gym?

dear_snarky_logo-1Dear Snarky,

 I’m a gym rat and I hate January because all the slackers come out of the woodwork and pretty much ruin the gym. Hello, how hard is it to wipe down the equipment and not expel gas in public? Do you have any helpful hints for how I can  handle these situations for the next month until the gym newbies give up and go off and eat their Valentine’s Day candy?

 Signed, Serious About My Workout

Dear Serious,

 Is it wrong that I want you to fall off a treadmill and get a 10 pound kettle bell to the face? You, “gym rat” are what makes a lot of fitness centers suck. Instead of being a gigantic, judgmental ass why don’t you use your “rat” talents and help newcomers to the gym learn the rules such as wiping down equipment and wear to find the supplies to do the job.

 Because here’s what happens when you think you’re the only one good enough to be at the gym – it closes. Fitness centers have some of the highest business failure rates in the country. If you want to keep on being at your gym then it’s going to need new members to survive.

Your crappy attitude towards so-called “newbies” is going to make them go somewhere more welcoming and before you know it your gym is going to be out of business and you’ll be stuck with a 12 month membership that is worthless.

So, my suggestion, jerk face, is that you change your gym game and attempt to make every new member feel welcome.

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky “21st Century Advice With An Attitude” please send me a private message on my Snarky Facebook page or email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com.

 

 

I Spent My Christmas Morning With The TSA

I spent my holiday brescreen-shot-2017-01-06-at-8-24-16-amak traveling and as always it was an education. First, who knew that the airport would be packed on Christmas morning, like the hordes hauling ass from a zombie apocalypse packed. I  mistakenly assumed that December 25 would find most families at homes with their loved ones not exchanging tidings of comfort and joy with the TSA.

The vast number of people traveling at 10 a.m. so flummoxed me that I began doing a little Q and A. I thought, perhaps, the majority of travelers were doing a last-minute rush to grandma’s house, but no, based on my research it seemed that most people were at the airport to flee their family, not reconnect.

When I shared my research with my son he nodded his head and remarked, “Yeah, it’s the perfect family dodge. Oops sorry can’t do the whole Christmas day thing. I’ve got a plane to catch.”

His quickness in embracing the “family dodge” gave me a momentary feeling of panic as in I think I’m going to be seeing a “family dodge” from him in my future. So, I did what any mother would do a preemptive strike.

“I’m just going to let you know right now that if you ever schedule a flight on Christmas morning in an effort to avoid me I’ll just find another way to seek out the pleasure of your company like say staying with you for a couple of delightful weeks in the new year”

My college aged son got pale. Yep, he got the message.

As I sat in the Southwest terminal I began to get overly nosey of what my fellow passengers back stories were. I knew why I was here on Christmas. Two words – cheap fares. Were all of us mulling around gate 40 guilty of sacrificing the sanctity of a Christmas morn to save a couple of bucks? If so did that make us thrifty or holiday spirit hum bugs?

I’m totally going with thrifty with maybe a side of “I’m so over the holidays.”  I could tell a lot of the passengers had reached their limit on the ho, ho, ho of it all simply by their seat selections on the plane.

For example, If you’re a family that has a C boarding pass on Southwest than that means no way, no how, do you want to sit together or even be in the same general vicinity. A C boarding pass all but guarantees you’ll be shoved in a middle seat and you won’t see anyone you share DNA with until the flight lands.

An even bigger cry for alone time is when you get yourself a Southwest business select ticket thus allowing you to board first and the rest of your family is stuck with B 28, 29 and 30. Please don’t ask me how I know this and spoiler alert I was B 29.

And you know a mom has really hit the holiday wall when as the rest of her family is taking advantage of the early boarding she skips out for a “last minute bathroom run” while encouraging her family to get on the plane. When she finally boards there is no seat remotely by her family and she spends the entire flight blissfully reading a book in the back of the plane while her husband handles the kids in the bulkhead.

Not exactly warm and fuzzy Christmas morning moments. But, anyone who’s honest will tell you that there is a portion of the holidays that are more about surviving than enjoying. And a packed plane with “limited drink service due to turbulence” is definitely one of those moments.

 

Dear Snarky – I Don’t Want My Sister (The “One Upper”) To Be In My Wedding

429d4ed99491a83e17d815657b9caff3Dear Snarky,

 I don’t think I’ve ever been more disappointed in a human being. At Thanksgiving dinner, with my entire family, my boyfriend and I announced that we were engaged. Before the first person could even get out a congratulations my sister blurted out that she was pregnant with her first child. Of course it then became all about my sister.

 At Christmas I found out that my sister was never pregnant and that she mistakenly thought she was and wanted to share the “happy news.” When I asked her if she had even taken a pregnancy test she said no she just “felt pregnant.”  

 I think she “just felt” that she has to always be the center of attention. That’s her thing – one upping everyone.

 I’m so angry I told my mother there is no way my sister is going to be my maid of honor, let alone a bridesmaid, because she has a history of making every event all about her. My mom says my sister has to be my maid of honor because she’s family. My fiancé says we’re paying for our own wedding and I should do exactly what I want.

 Do you agree? I need a non-family opinion.

 Signed, The Bitter Bride

Dear Bitter,

 Girl, I’m on Team Bride! It’s your wedding, your day and your money. You have the right to select bridesmaids who are your best friends and don’t go out of their way to aggressively hurt your feelings. I’ve been to a couple of weddings where a sister wasn’t a bridesmaid. It happens.

 Although, I have to point out that since your sister suffers from some sort of narcissistic disorder she’s probably going to do something to make herself the center of attention regardless of whether or not she’s in the wedding party. So, brace yourself for that scenario.

 I suggest if you want to totally eliminate drama that you consider the option of a very romantic elopement. Bonus – you’ll save a ton of money!

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky, “21st Century Advice With An Attitude” email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or send me a PM on the Snarky FB page. 😉

School Holiday Parties – Yep, There’s A Pecking Order

Ahh, December 22 I’vscreen-shot-2016-12-14-at-9-09-48-ame been waiting for you to arrive. Today marks the official beginning of winter break. School is out and let the no homework or waking up early for 14 delicious days celebration begin.

Today is also what some parents call the recovery day as in recovering from yesterday’s school holiday party they had to either assist with, contribute to and/or eyewitness.

Now with children no longer in elementary school I’ve been out of the school party trenches for a couple of years, but I’ve still got the emotional scars. Yes you read that right – emotional scars – because there’s nothing like an elementary school party to alert you to how you fall in the parent pecking order.

For instance, if you’re asked to bring napkins to the second grade winter party then you know that’s code for the homeroom parent and the party subcommittee all think you’re a loser. Napkins signal that you’re third string and riding the bench in the over involved parent Olympics.

If you’re assigned napkins it’s like getting a note that says, “Don’t worry we know you’ll probably forget to buy them and if you do then you’ll probably forget to put them in your kid’s backpack which is why we’ve asked three other moms just like you to bring napkins in hopes that one of you actually do it. Oh and P.S. would it kill you to get ones with a holiday theme?”

Ouch.

I’d hate to see what would happen if you bought a roll of Bounty paper towels and tried to pass them off as napkins. Okay, I might know exactly what would happen. In my “friend’s” defense the paper towels did have reindeer on them. And did I mention they were the super absorbent variety. Hello, seven-year-olds spill things. I call that multi tasking – napkins that are also the quicker picker-upper.

In the spirit of educational research I’ve created a handy guide of the seven types of party parents you might experience at a suburban elementary school. Consider it my holiday gift to you.

The Wagoneer – This mom can be seen parading down the school hallways with a Town and County red wagon crammed with party supplies all neatly packed in labeled bins from the Container Store. And because this mom takes her duties seriously she’ll have monogrammed her name on the wagon lest anyone dare to forget that she’s the one that contributed a majority of the party goodies.

The OCD – You can’t spell fun without OCD. Oh wait, you can because there’s nothing like a 40-year-old control freak to kill the fun buzz. Cookie platters have to be symmetrically placed on the table. The crayons for the art project all have to be organized according to the Pantone color wheel and God help you if you bring Bounty paper towels.

The Pinterest Passionista– If you want to see a crafty mom cry just watch as 26 kindergartens go rogue on a multi level mini marshmallow recreation of the North Pole and turn it into a snowman “poop” fight

The Look at Me – We all get it you’re the life of every party. But maybe just this once you could simmer down and let some third graders enjoy the spotlight.

The Educational Whiner– This parent is gripping about how the party should have some sort of “learning component” while not so casually mentioning their kid’s acceptance into the gifted and talented program and Duke TIP.

The Suck Up – A laser has nothing on this parent’s ability to zone in on the teacher and begin operation “How Can I Make You Like My Kid the Best.”

The Feeling Like I’m Back Getting Shade From the Cool Kids in Junior High Parent – Alright, this could just be me, but I doubt it. Please someone tell me I’m not the only one who has ever felt this way.

Dear Snarky – All Inclusive Fancy Family Vacation Gets Downgraded to a Courtyard Marriott

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-6-48-54-pmDear Snarky,

 My parents for their 30th wedding anniversary invited all of their 4 kids plus spouses, plus my two aunts, to celebrate with them by paying for us to go on a trip with them to an all-inclusive resort. 

 Now two weeks before the trip I found out that only my parents are staying at the resort and the rest of us are at a nearby Marriott Courtyard – four to a room!!!  I’m married and my husband and I will be sharing a room with my sister and her husband. WTH!!!! 

 When I asked my mom about this she said that the resort turned out to be more expensive than they thought so the Marriott was a cost cutting option and the “lot of us could just Uber back and forth to the resort.” 

 My husband who never wanted to go says this is a sign from God that we should bail out now. Do you think he’s right?   

Signed, Not a Brat

Dear Not a Brat,

 The way I see it you have bigger problems than bunking four to a room. Fancy resorts have safeguards in place to stop non paying guests from using their facilities. The fact that your parents are staying there doesn’t mean the rest of you will have free reign of all the resort has to offer. The only amenity you maybe enjoying is the complimentary Courtyard waffle bar.

 I would sit your parents down with a sibling or two in tow and have a discussion about the realities of this vacation. As in, “Hey mom I don’t think we can crash the resort everyday.” Next, work through a solution that may involve family members either resetting their “gifted” vacation exceptions, offering to contribute some financially or not going (and not going may offer mom and dad some financial relief).

Your parents may have gotten in way over their heads by offering to pay for a trip for so many people or your mom might be doing a bait and switch. But I think it’s more likely that it could be one of those instances where they were caught up in the excitement of  “Yay family vacay on us!” and then when they did the math panic set in.  The bottom line is you’re family, be honest with one another and work this out with love and brutal frankness.

 *If you have a question for Dear Snarky, “21st Century Advice With An Attitude” email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or send me a PM on the Snarky FB page. 😉

 

Death By Holiday Decor

sub-buzz-20356-1481152741-1Christmas is trying to kill me.

You know when you buy life insurance and you’re asked if you engage in high-risk behavior like skydiving or mountain climbing? Well, I think another question to determine your life expectancy should be do you have a fetish for outdoor Christmas decor?

If you reply with a “Oh my gosh yes, it wouldn’t be the holidays without the contents of at least four storage tubs the size of Mini Coopers being festooned across my yard” then you should be classified right up there with fools who voluntary swim with sharks while double fisting two large raw filet mignons.

It’s not like I’m pulling a Chevy Chase from Christmas Vacation and scaling my roofline like a blottoed billy-goat to string lights. Thanks to the laser illumination power of the Star Shower, the Star Splash and the Star Meteor my whole house is covered in swirling red and green dots and all I had to do was shove four separate itsy bitsy light stakes in the ground.

I do though love garland and other assorted greenery to grace the front of my home and that’s what almost killed me. Back in November I thought I hit the jackpot when a fabulous, posh friend of mine was moving and asked if I wanted her Frontgate Christmas garland.

I enthusiastically squealed, “Oh hell yeah!” and was most excited about experiencing the wonder of Frontgate up close and personal. Before that day I had to be content to peruse the mail order catalog, usually as light bathroom reading, and wonder what it would be like to actually buy something like a $750 Seville Towel Valet (translation: a towel holder that resembles a book-case). I was pretty sure it might be life changing.

When I got my hands on the garland I was in awe. It was like Santa himself harvested it from his secret stash of evergreens at the North Pole. It was lush and robust with berries, baby pinecones and a sprinkling of pristine snow.

The garland spoke to me and said, “Hey baby, why don’t you say we class up this joint?”

I was all in. I told my husband he could take his Walmart three-foot beagle with the belly that lights up and the reindeer that no longer had ears and put them back in the basement because we  were going to Fancy Town. I was excited to the point of tingling when I attempted to swathe the outside of my house with the garland.

Attempted is the key word here because the lushness of the garland presented a degree of difficulty in getting it to stay in place. It wasn’t the garland’s fault. It was mine. I was a novice in interacting with luxury. Heretofore my garland experience was of the craft store with coupon variety and that stuff is on the skimpy side.

The Frontgate garland due to its heft required more than Command Hooks. But I was not to be thwarted. I was going to use nails and heavy gauge floral wire to lasso it in place.

All was going splendidly with this plan. I was on a six-foot ladder banging in nails and wrapping the sumptuous faux evergreen when all of sudden the garland literally sprung off the nails and bitch slapped me right off the ladder. As I’m tumbling all I could think about was this was Frontgate’s way of telling me I’m not worthy.

Luckily the earless reindeer and beagle that I had dragged out of the yard and put on the porch to carry into the basement broke my fall. Yes, bad taste saved me which is why if you drive by my house you’ll see both reindeer and beagle in my yard. I figured it’s the least I could do.

 

 

The Cookie Caper

e8b5b3487508db5ae72fd7e2da37faa9Take a holiday journey with me back to the 1970’s (no need to grab your Saturday Night Fever 8 track) as I tell a tale of Christmas family drama centered around a cookie klepto.

There was a thief in my family, a low-down, sneaky thief. A bandit without morals with zero regard for loyalty. This family member had stolen something so precious, so irreplaceable, that things were about to get real – 1970’s style (which is kind of like Gangnam style, but in Earth Shoes).

The thief in question was Susan. She wasn’t even blood kin. The girl had married a second cousin, (maybe third) once removed, and this, sort of; family member had run off with my great-aunt Shirley’s recipe book.

Oh, don’t poo poo the recipe book. Shirley had no children of her own. She didn’t need them because her kids were her recipes. She could cook like no other and bake like an angel working a Viking range for Jesus. She was also very protective of her recipes. She shared with them no one – not a family member, not her bible study besties or even her preacher.

Whenever you would ask her for a recipe she would smirk and croak out in a southern drawl that was made frog like from her couple of packs a day unfiltered Camel habit, “You can find out when I die.”

Now, as a kid in elementary school, hearing that was downright creepy. I was a little afraid of her. I think all the kids were and I’m certain that if it weren’t for her cooking we probably would have never wanted to see her. The holy grail of her recipe repertoire was a sugar cookie. Yep, a simple sugar cookie that was so sublime two of my cousins got in fight, that drew blood, over who would get the last one. (P.S. While they were fighting I ate it.)

The thing that made the sugar cookie worthy of a throw down was that it was an enigma. The sugar cookie can easily go south. It can be too sweet, too puffy, too plain, too flat, or too crisp. Most people see the sugar cookie as just a conduit for icing or sprinkles. But Shirley’s cookie was the rare breed. It was perfection. Putting icing on it would be like painting over the Mona Lisa. The crime of the century.

For years family members debated what the secret ingredient was in the recipe. Some thought it was lime juice, others cream of tartar and then there was the seriously misguided camp that thought Shirley mixed in some vegetable shortening to the butter component.

Whatever is was every single woman in the family wanted that recipe – badly. In 1977 they thought they would finally get it. Shirley died and the talk at the funeral wasn’t about how they’d miss their aunt. It was about when would the family get the recipe book. Shirley told everyone that her recipes were stored in a safe deposit box at the bank.

She lied.

After all the will rigmarole was sorted out no one could locate the recipe book. Until Christmas of 1978 when Susan, a woman my grandmother said didn’t know how to spell oven much less turn one on, showed up a family holiday function, with, you guessed it, the world’s best sugar cookie.

Hell hath no fury like a band of women, all tipsy on gin and tonics, dressed in un-ironic ugly Christmas sweaters, who have been recipe robbed. At first I didn’t know what was going on. I was too busy stuffing my face with cookies. It wasn’t until I went into the kitchen to get some milk that I discovered  some mighty harsh accusations were being whispered about Susan.

The kitchen clique were all 100% certain Susan was a recipe rustler. I remember my mother being the most irked. “How can a woman who pours Cheez Whiz over Fritos and calls it a King Ranch casserole suddenly make the exact duplicate of Aunt Shirley’s sugar cookie?”

Her sister joined in by proclaiming like an Evangelical preacher getting testy about a bible verse interpretation, “Does she or does she not bring store-bought to every family reunion?”

There was a rowdy round of agreement and then from the mouth of babes (which would be me in case you were confused) came the question, “So how do you think she got the recipe book and what are you going to do about it?

My mother shot me a look that said, “I hope you weren’t aiming for sassy because that’s what I’m hearing young lady” and I’m certain she would have scolded me, but my aunt piped in with a “Yeah how did she get it?”

After that it was an hour of conjecture and conspiracy theories, it took my mother who devoured mystery novels at such a rapid pace our local librarian called her “Evelyn Wood” (a teacher who coined the phrase speed reading and started a very successful reading ‘dynamic’ business) to come up with a plan. The best part was it involved me. I was thanking my lucky stars I had walked into the kitchen when I did.

My grandma and mom, the brains of the operation, had theorized that Susan, had never set out to steal the recipe book, but had stumbled upon it. Because Susan wasn’t “really family” the day of Shirley’s funeral she had been assigned the task of staying at the deceased’s home and standing guard over all the aluminum foil wrapped food offerings for the after funeral meet and greet. They both thought that as Susan was digging around in the kitchen for Saran Wrap or, more likely, booze she found the book and kept it for her own nefarious needs.

All of this made sense to my young mind because I never understood why you would keep a recipe book in a bank vault. Wouldn’t it be a huge hassle to go back and forth to the bank every time you wanted to cook something? Of course, Shirley would have kept the book in her kitchen. Duh.

The big issue was where was she hiding it now and how to get it back. Some of the women thought that the book was, for sure, in Susan’s double wide. (Yes, Susan and my cousin adjacent lived in a trailer, but it was on a bunch of acreage so according to my grandma they were a “little uppity” about being land rich.) But my mom had another thought. She was sure Susan had the recipe book on her.

“Think about it,” my mom said. “If she’s bold enough to bring those cookies to a family party and just rub our face in it that she knows the recipe then I would bet dollars to donuts that she’s got the book on her.”

This is where it gets fun, at least for me. I was assigned the very Nancy Drew-ish task of rummaging through Susan’s, very large, handbag. My aunt was going to spill a drink on Susan and haul her off to the bathroom to help in drying her clothes off while I got the purse and went through it. The thought was a kid getting caught being nosey is more acceptable than an adult being seen pawing through another woman’s personal belongings.

It took me approximately 10 seconds to find the recipe book, which was sharing space in the cavernous bag with, you guessed it, a bible. I grabbed it and ran like the wind to my mother who then team swaggered walked with my grandma into the bathroom brandishing the book. They both gave Susan an earful. It got so loud in there that the men were complaining they couldn’t hear the Cowboys game.

After buckets of tears from Susan and a prayer all was fake forgiven and by that I mean everyone pretended that it was “all good.” But, for years if anyone thought you were doing something sneaky they would say, “Don’t go pulling a Susan” or “This family doesn’t need another Susan.”

As for the recipe book everyone got to pick his or her favorite one and write it down. The sugar cookie recipe, as agreed upon via a unanimous vote, was shared with everyone.

I’d love to give you a holiday shout out and tell you the secret behind the world’s best cookie, but on that fateful day the family had to swear a solemn oath that we would all follow our Great Aunt Shirley’s lead and take the recipe with us to the grave. It’s not that I’m big on following pledges made when I was a mere child, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my multiple decades – I don’t ever want to take even the smallest of chances of ticking off the women in my family.

Merry Christmas 2016 from Snarky!

 

This Could Be the Sign of The Apocalypse – I’m Exercising In a Group Setting And By That I Mean With People Not My Dogs

549769_258733117552583_173070229452206_569785_706763654_nThere are only a few things that strike immediate, heart pounding, sweating through clinical strength deodorant, fear in me. Easily making the top five on that list is exercising in a group setting. I totally blame school P.E. classes in the 70’s & 80’s and that jacked up President’s Council on Physical Fitness. For those of you not tortured by having to take the “President’s” test let me be your tour guide on a journey of self-esteem plundering, fat shaming and projectile vomiting.

The test starts out with your height and weight being recorded and barked out to the general population of the P.E. class like roll call in the prison yard. The humiliation continues when numerous athletic skills are measured against a national average. Things like the mile run, timed rope climbing, the 1000 sit up challenge . . . Wait, wait I need a minute I just broke out in cold sweat typing that and need to do some cleansing breaths while I go to my safe space (which is Bravo TV) for some mood elevation.

Okay, I’m back and I hope I can get through this next part. (Lord give me strength.) The P.E. teachers, in their infinite wisdom, would make you do some of the “skills” over and over again until you could the hit the national average. It didn’t matter if you were almost certain death was imminent if you were forced to run another mile.

My moment of ultimate mortification came when I was trying to climb a rope for the fourth time and due to what I’m sure was brought on by the pain from extreme inner thigh chafing I hurled and it wasn’t an everyday, common variety hurl it was a hurl so robust and massive that it became airborne and rained down like debris in the path of a F 5 tornado on the entire gym. There wasn’t a kid, teacher or bleacher that wasn’t gifted with remnants from my stomach smoothie.

For many, many years that remained the single worst day of my life and it also made me never want to exercise in the company of other humans again.

Decades later, to be precise a month ago, I ventured to where I never thought I would go again – a group workout class. It wasn’t my aging vanity that had me seeking out a class it was a simple life goal. I desperately wanted to be able to touch my toes.

That’s right folks, I have never had the pleasure of bending over and having my hands greet my feet. I knew there was no way I going to get this down without professional help. So, I sought out something called Club Pilates which is the first club I have ever joined (if you don’t count my Southern Living Christmas book club membership).

Sure I could have gone yoga or maybe even one of those hard-core boot camp classes. But I had friends brag about how a good class was one where you “ threw up” (been there done that) and then there’s this gaggle of icky muscle confusion fusion PTA moms that wear T-shirts that say “my warm up is harder than your work out” and I really couldn’t see myself getting through an entire class without possibly going rogue and maiming the lot of them with a five-pound Kettle bell.

As for joining up with the ladies who drag truck tires up hills well let’s just say I’ve figuratively dragged my children, my husband, co-workers, assorted family, you name it up mountains, so I’m all good with that whole experience.

That’s not to say when I went into the class for a free demo that I wasn’t having some serious PTSD. I felt like I was 13 all over again except worse because now I’m old and have a vocal colon. So, I was very concerned that this could be humiliation 2.0. Spoiler alert – it wasn’t. I survived the demo and I was super excited. I might have found my thing. Yeah, this might be an advanced middle-aged epiphany.

My husband and daughter were beyond shock that I was going to a Pilates class. Truth be told they both thought I was fibbing and really hanging out at Target (seriously I would call them jerks, but I can totally see myself doing that). I tried to explain to them why it worked for me and I think they kind of got it, but they’re both super athletes and they can touch their toes so I don’t think they really understand. But, you will. So here goes.

Let’s label this confessions of a underachiever. First, in Club Pilates you are spending a good portion of your working out lying down on a most nifty thing called a reformer. This means no one, besides the instructor can see what you’re doing. Why is this great you ask? Because there is no front line of preening, show off fitness addicts in their fancy workout wear making you feel like you don’t belong (or worse like you’re back in junior high and the cool kids are giving you serious shade). It’s just you and the reformer teaming up to get awesome.

Second, it’s hard, but you don’t know it’s hard until you’re too far into it to stop. Pilates tricks you. It builds your confidence and then bam you’re dying, but you go full Little Engine that Could and “I think I can, I think I can” to the finish. I did something last week called Cardio Sculpt and when I stood up I felt like Tipsy McStagger. It was the hardest workout I have ever done and back in the day I did the L.A. Marathon. (Full disclosure: I jogged/walked the L.A. Marathon. Okay, I walked half of the L.A. marathon and maybe jogged five minutes of it. There, are you happy now?)

Third, it’s always different. There’s the barre where I can fulfill my latent wannabe ballerina fantasies and even better tell my daughter that does ballet that I was doing plies. (Cue the teenage eye roll and sigh.) There’s long boxes, mat work, resistance bands, balls, springboards, and something called the TRX. The beauty in this is that you can’t ever tell yourself you don’t want to go because you don’t feel like doing “it,” because you never know what “it” will be.

Four, there are some super old people there that look great. Seriously, everyday I’m getting bested by septuagenarian and one octogenarian (P.S. They can all touch their toes). Sure, the 80-year-old woman took pity on me and said she was only in her “70’s” but I’m sure I heard her tell someone else she was 82.

Lastly, the instructors are not like my P.E. teachers at Albert S. Woodward Middle School circa 1978. They’re nice, funny and don’t do the over instruct thing where all your flaws get pointed out to such an extent that you know you’re going to leave the class and go the Whole Foods next door and drown your feelings of inadequacy in organic chocolate chip cookies made with fair trade flour.

I knew this whole  Pilates thing was the real deal when to date I have not made an excuse to leave the class to use the bathroom. Yep, I have never wanted to use the old bathroom dodge to escape the agony of working out. That my friends is what I would call a Christmas miracle.

Can I touch my toes yet? Nope, but I’m getting close and that in itself could be classified as another miracle. I’m telling you 2017 will my year or at the very least the year of the toe touch, which to me is big deal, and after that who knows perhaps world domination or maybe I clean up my basement – both major.