Friday, February 5, 2010


Writing my memoir made me so mental I actually forgot who I was for a while, and, having forgotten, went out and joined Curves. Dr. Mars thought Curves would benefit me, that physical exercise would help me to write by giving me a sense of wellbeing. Personally, I think that’s the job of life-affirming, glorious sex but, as I reminded both Dr. Mars and myself, a person can’t always just order that up.

The problem between me and exercise is that my favorite state of being is Perfectly Silent and Utterly Still. The problem with wishing to always be still is that after a while, your bones turn to dust and your doctor diagnoses you with the dreaded condition called osteopenia. Osteopenia, the secret name of King Lear’s fourth daughter, is the prelude to the even more dreaded state of osteoporosis, the disease that makes you fall down and break both your hips while strangers on cell phones sidestep around you. Curves, which is for women only, is designed to prevent that nightmare and more.

My friend Millie Moon, who adores exercise and never stops moving, recommended I try it. “The whole workout takes thirty minutes,” she said. “I go on my lunch hour five times a week!” I trust Millie Moon because, back in our twenties, we and a friend took tap dance lessons together. I’m not kidding. We wore leotards, tights, and tap dancing shoes. This was before my nervous system was thoroughly shot, when I could still bear the onslaughts of motion and noise.

It was the noise, not the movement, that killed me at Curves. That and the fact that no one else there, not even the frailest octogenarian, seemed to mind it one tiny whit. How, I marveled, could such a thing be? How is no one else made suicidal by the constant, anti-musical shrieks of “Won’t you take me to Funkytown?”

I jumped right off my bicep machine and went to speak to the girl at the desk.

“Do you hear this?” I asked. “Do you hear the words? Must we really go down? To old Funkytown?”

But it wasn’t just the ‘seventies hits that drove me directly into despair. Every thirty seconds (that makes sixty times per half hour workout) a woman on meth would interrupt “Funky Town” to remind everybody to “Change Stations Now!” Said stations, which are either machines or “recovery” sites where you keep up your heart rate by doing the Frug, are like lily pads in a big curvy pond.

I told Dr. Mars I’d turned into a frog, that I was leaping from one lily pad to another just to avoid falling down and being run over by convoys of skateboards. Which was probably going to happen regardless.

“Yes,” he said, “but is it helping you write?”

I tried to give him a withering look, the gaze of a disgusted amphibian, but honestly, I don’t think he noticed.


  1. *shudder*
    Been there, tried that. I can't take the regular gym anymore at all... but oh, the bliss of doing the backstroke alone in a lane... no music playing, your ears plugged by water... It's not quite as good as Perfectly Silent and Utterly Still, but it will save you from turning into Lear's other daughter.

  2. Bless you, Tanita. You get me completely, and say it so well!
    As ever,
    Lady Macbeth

  3. Never been there, but understand and empathize completely!

    There used to be an ad for Time-Life books, I believe, that talked about an old west killer who shot a man to death for snoring. This always seemed perfectly reasonable to me! And so you can well imagine my reaction to the thought of having my sensibilities assailed by a compulsory trip to Funkytown! ( makes my skin crawl to write it.)

    Keep up the good fight, Ms Gonick!

  4. Indeed, let us legalize Snoricide NOW. Thank you, Jim B!

  5. I don't like the frenetic Curves thing either, even though my late sister used to be an instructor. Have you tried walking (with ear muffs)? Much more gentle and just as good exercise. Love Gaylie

  6. I tried Curves too, Ms. G. As a Christian I was repelled by the Carmel Curves playing Christian music while people were exercising. I complained and we got a cover CD of Abba instead...oh, well you can move to Dancing Queen...Battle Hymn of the Republic, not so much (I'm joking). Overall though, I found the routine too routine...and boring. I'd like to find a good swimming pool but I'm not sure they'd let me in with my Esther Williams suit (aka not a bikini) even though it is quite classically fashionable. I have a male relative who works at the local Sports Center. Maybe I can get a deal if I promise not to swim in my EW when he's there.

  7. BTW, everyone I know has suddenly been diagnosed with Osteopenia (including me). You don't think this is a scheme to get us all to take Sally Fields' meds, do you? Does Sally get a kickback? Should we all be buying stock in Boniva? Something to think about while not watching football.

  8. I adore exercise but hated the incessant gossiping and cross-talk about politics (I had an election season membership) at Curves! However, I'm a walking junkie and recommend it (with earmuffs, for you ms. G).

  9. Dearest E. Pierce, Mme DeFarge, and Anon,
    Thanks for your encouraging feedback! I too used to walk (3 times around Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park was my preferred route) and I loved it but this was before my acoustic neuroma rudely ate up half my balance. Now, truly afraid I'll fall down--as I did in Mollie Stone's parking lot a few years ago for no reason except that now when I stumble, I must fall as well--I prefer to walk arm in arm with a tall, stable partner. Alas, I have no such partner unless you want to count Boo Radley who, being a cat, is too short and armless to be of much use. Might a lobotomy help me love Curves???
    All suggestions welcome!

  10. I KNEW there was some reason I did not want to go to Curves. Now you have affirmed it. Glad to have you back in the land of the balance-challenged. It gives me courage to keep trying.