Tag Archives: trainer

Last Chance?

Sometimes a thing catches your eye and fills you with such a sense of absurdity that you laugh out loud.  Then your wife, sitting next to you on the couch, looks at you and seems about to ask what you’re cackling over but then lets out of muffled sigh instead as if to say “You know what?  Nah…”

But my wife would never do that to me.

IMG_8947

Nestled safely between box sets of Unsolved Mysteries and Lost is your LAST CHANCE!

As we sit next to each other on the couch in our family room I just noticed a DVD case on its side under the TV with about 50 other DVD cases.  Remember them?  There was a world before streaming.  This DVD says (in blazing, italicized letters no less) LAST CHANCE WORKOUT.

I’ve been doing so well with my fitness plan these past few months.  First I did Insanity Max:30 where I stripped a whole lotta’ fat off my frame and found out I have no muscle.  Now I’m doing BodyBeast where my aim is to bulk up and make some serious gains in mass.  Yes, I know I did it backwards.  I did it that way as a joke on my trainer.  Duh.  No, if I had been thinking clearly I would have done it the other way around.  Apparently you bulk first and then shred.  My trainer does both at the same time and he has telekenesis.  Guy’s amazing.  Sometimes he bulks in the morning and then shreds after lunch.
Just. Because. He. Can.
I got a lot out of the shredding part.  I got pretty lean – down to a set of abs that were almost perceptible to the naked eye.  In fact, it’s only because I know Im capable of doing that again pretty quickly that I don’t mind having almost completely lost them due to this bulk.  This is the part where anyone who’s actually seen me in the past month says “No way, man, you’re looking amazing!  Are you shred-bulking or bulk-shredding?  Whatever it is, sign me up!”  I’m eating a LOT of food these days.  I’m also lifting heavier and heavier weights.  My trainer ties  70 lb. dumbbells to his ankles when he does his 12 mi. run.  That reminds me that I’ve been meaning to ask him if I should do a little running while I’m trying to bulk.  He’d probably advise against it at least until I’ve been doing this long enough to know what’s what like, say, 18 years.

sagi

This is the guy from BodyBeast.  He’s an Israeli named Sagi (pronounced Sah-GEE).  And that quote tells you he’s peddling some hard core bullshit even if he is unbelievably ripped.  My trainer friend looks kinda’ like him but not as douchey.

My point is that I’ve become very comfortable at this routine.  That’s comfortable, not complacent.  I enjoy what I’m doing and I enjoy seeing the results (not as quickly as I’d like but I’m the guy who stands in front of a microwave and yells HURRY UP!”).  And I’ll also admit that over the years I’ve been frustrated with fitness.  There have been times when I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing and would never figure it out.  Not all of us were blessed to have gym access growing up on the streets of Compton.  I don’t know who I’m talking about since I’m from Newark but you get the picture.  Would I rather have figured this all out 20 years ago and been a stud with a full head of hair?  Would I rather have had girls beating down my door?  Would I rather have had a shot at achieving this goal earlier and getting it out of my way so I could legitimately cash in on my success and become a whale in my 30’s knowing I had already been jacked?  What was my alternative?  Oh yes, being me.  OK, so it’s not that bad.  But I’m comfortable with where I am with my fitness goals and progress here and now.  The downer in me says I’ll probably never reach my true goals but I need to murder him.  Bad downer.  Bad.

So why write all this?

How much do you have to hate yourself to do a workout called Last Chance?  I’m trying to picture anyone looking for a program.  “Let’s see… There’s Insanity.  Nah, too much cardio.  There’s P90X.  Nope, too many jumps.  There’s Tae-Bo. Too urban.  I guess I have no other options.  Oh look!  There’s a crazed woman on this box and she says it’s my last chance!  I don’t know what it is but something in her eyes is forcing my to believe it.  I’ll buy this DVD now because, having exhausted no other options, I realize I have no options left.  Thank God I found this DVD before it was too late!  What would have become of me?”

Yeah, that just happened.

My wife and I also watched a movie last night about aliens.  It stars Amy Adams.  I think it’s called Arrival.  Not bad.  The two aliens were called Abbot and Costello, no joke.  Unfortunately they weren’t remotely funny.

A (Long) Short Story for the Trainer

If you’ve read even a tenth of the thousands of posts I’ve made over the past few years then you know of my obsession with getting swole as the kids say.  Tonight I’d like to write a short piece in tribute to a friend who usually reads this blog (though he never comments).  I’ve mentioned him before, needled him with my words, had fun at his expense.  Most of the time I think he’s gotten a kick out of it.  Sometimes I think I pissed him off.  Always, though, I’ve been grateful for his help.

My friend’s name is Joseph.  We work together, teaching different levels of the same subject to high school students.  When I first met him almost four years ago the thing I noticed was that the guy is pretty much in shape – the kind of shape all men want to be in.  Many achieve that shape in their teens and lose it.  Some gain that shape later in life as a result of a mid-life crisis.  I always wondered about how to get that shape but never seemed to have the right tools, knowledge, or plan.  Stifling my raging jealousy I asked if he would train me (having found out he actually had done that sort of thing).

And then I spent two and a half years not taking his advice all the while wondering why I still looked like a creature from a 1950’s horror movie and he, well, he looked great.

Ultimately I discovered a program called Insanity.  I mentioned to him that I wanted to give it a shot.  To my surprise he praised the program highly and said to go for it.  He did warn me that it would be one of the hardest things I’d ever done.

I shrank back a bit nervous but undeterred.  I tried to keep all of his maxims in mind.  The biggest phrase he repeats again and again is that it takes time.  You know what I did?  I adopted the attitude that I would probably finish the 60 day program and still look like shit but that I would promise myself to be satisfied just for finishing something that hard.

What’s funny is that this guy actually offered unsolicited compliments along the way, commenting on how noticeable the change in my appearance was.  This was funny to me as I couldn’t really see it.  Oh, I convinced myself I could see dream results but I wanted to believe that this was in my mind lest I find myself getting let down again.  I also knew not to ever compare myself to him.  He’s worked out a long time and it shows.  To mirror his results I’d have to do this until I’m 60.

mustang parc gym

I ran out of media room on WordPress so I’m using whatever files I have.  It’s a gym.

Anyway, I finished Insanity, took a tiny break of about two weeks for my dad’s funeral, and started my current program – BodyBeast.  This one is designed to bulk me up.  I still have mixed feelings about my progress.  And I have mixed feelings, too, about whether I will ever achieve the look I’m after.  What’s interesting though is that the trainer enthusiastically invited me to work out with him this week.  He wants to see the workouts, offer his advice, and, I suppose, his encouragement.  I’ll admit I’m a little nervous.  It must be kind of cool for him getting to watch someone who is where he was 20 years ago.  It’s not so hot for me knowing I’ve got 20 years to go but from him I’ve learned not to focus on that.  My true fear is that my performance – either the ultimate results or just in the gym here and now – will be disappointing to him.  I did a back and biceps workout tonight, lifting weights for about an hour, following the program.  I feel pretty good.  I don’t know how I’ll feel in a few days standing in this guy’s house watching him run circles around me with heavier weights, more reps, and a blood-thirsty look in his eyes.  Have I mentioned that he turns psychotic when he works out?  But if I keep his own words in mind I should be fine.  It’s all about fixing my form, doing what I can, doing something at all, and waiting 20 years.  He said to me once: “Don’t look at a scale, don’t take measurements…  Do your pants fit better than they did a month ago?  Then you’re doing fine.”  Well, my pants certainly do fit better these days.  And for that, I am grateful.  And I offer my thanks for the help and a prayer that he doesn’t demolish what’s left of my morale.

I’m going to be the badass-est 60 year-old on the beach.

Incredible

I was just thinking about some diet and exercise related things this evening…

I mowed my lawn tonight.  So it turns out “trainer” is a pretty decent guy.  I think we already knew that. but tonight he confirmed it for me.  I am about to embark on a major business trip and needed to get the lawn mowed before I leave.  Unfortunately my mower decided this was the perfect time to quit on me.  I texted “trainer” and asked if I could borrow his.

My mom, in particular, used to say to me “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.”  She was good with pithy maxims like that.  She also used to call me by my dead brother’s name but who’s counting.  She did, however, reverse half of that statement when she also taught that we should always give of ourselves.  So I guess she didn’t really go back on her words so much considering that giving of ourselves is not lending if we don’t expect a return.  Now I’m confused.

Anyway, my friend the “trainer” texted back in the affirmative.  Now I am always mindful of a friend’s kindness.  If I ever need to catch a ride with someone even if he’s going to the same place already I fill up his car.  If I drop by for a visit I bring a bottle of wine.  I never want my mom to think she didn’t raise me right.  More to the point, it’s just the right thing to do since nothing is owed to me.  It’s my way of saying “Hey, you were incredibly kind and generous with your things.  It made my day easier.  I treated your mower better than my own.  Here’s a little something for your trouble.”

So I was thinking about the word incredible for some reason.  I think that’s because it’s how I would describe this 21 Day Fix program I’m on.  By the way, I’m closing in on 21 days and it’s going well, I think.  The incredible thing about the diet portion is that I finished this day with three proteins left!  That means that I, who ate well and was not hungry all day, should have eaten even more.  Incredible!

Then I was thinking about the exercise portion.  In 30 minutes each night for just shy of three weeks I’ve been able to dramatically reshape my appearance.  I’m not talking about massive gains in size or a total beach body just yet.  In fact I’m still leery of taking my shirt off at the beach this summer.  That could be because I have a perception of myself that might not match reality.  That’s another story.  But my waist has gotten smaller.  That’s a start.  Incredible, right?

Then there’s the “trainer” himself.  I thought this was kind of funny.  On Sunday I had a chance to meet two of his brothers.  The three of them along with Mrs. “trainer” and two of their kids had just completed one of those obstacle-laden mud races the day before.  Wouldn’t you know that, standing in their presence, I realized that I was in the kitchen of the “Incredibles”.  Seriously it’s like a family who live to one-up each other in the “I’m more shredded than you” game.  And I think that’s, honestly, incredible.  Truly.  I kind of wish I’d had brothers growing up who would have engaged in a little friendly competition and camaraderie to help each other reach our goals.  So I actually have seven brothers but none of them would have engaged in that kind of camaraderie with me.  Incredible, I know.

So thank you, “trainer”.  Thanks for the mower and allowing me to invite myself in for a glass of wine.  You know you were hoping I would anyway.  And thanks for the inspiration.  I’ve got a summer of travel ahead of me and I hope I won’t fall too far off the wagon.  If I do, maybe you guys could adopt me.

The Fix Is In

Today I embarked on a new chapter in my fitness quest.

Today I began a program called 21 Day Fix.  Actually the one I began is called 21 Day Fix EXTREME!  Ooh.

Let me tell you about it.

There are two parts to this baby.  The first is the diet.  I’ve dabbled with changing my diet before.  I’ve done Atkins and such in the past.  In fact I have heard it said that fixing your diet – that is, sticking to a healthy diet – is 80% of getting jacked.  I heard that from my “trainer” who’s name now appears in quotes as he insists he’s not actually a trainer and may in fact be lying to me in an effort to keep me from making progress and thus seeing results to rival his.  All of that is a lie, of course.  I said it to get a rise out of him, you know, for laughs.

mustang parc gym

Yep, it’s another “fitness” blog.

I’ve heard the old “eat smaller meals more frequently” maxim.  What I ate today, though, totally takes the cake for eating like a king.  At the end of the day I had yet to consume a large amount of my daily intake and was already full.  This is all based on one’s height, weight, activity level, goals, etc.  At one point I had to take a bunch of body measurements for the tracking app I’m using.  I had a bit of fun discovering that my calves are two inches bigger than my arms.  My wife’s response to that was “Well, you’ve got big calves,” not “Don’t worry, your arms are big enough for me and that’s all that counts and I love you more than any man who’s ever lived and take me now.”

Now for the exercise part of the equation…

A curious note in the app said simply “Plyo-max Extreme”.  This appears to be a reference to plyometrics, a pseudoscience, the premise of which is that if you jump around a lot you’ll be “fit”.  “Can’t be too hard,” I thought.  I’ve been running up to five miles a days, doing crazy tabata workouts.  I’ll probably not even break a sweat.”

The woman came on the screen.  Her name is Autumn.  I feel it’s important you know that.  I think when parents give their kids out-there names it messes with their psyche and turns them crazy.  Autumn lived up to my expectations.  The thing is she didn’t hit me full-on crazy like I was expecting.  She eased into it.

The setting was a large gym with a stairwell on the side presumably leading nowhere.  That’s not a metaphor at all.  In the background were prominently displayed packages of “Shakeology”, the powdered supplement that is the core of the whole program.  That’s not a pyramid scheme at all.  Speaking of pyramids, immediately behind Autumn were nine people.  Looking at their physiques, lithe movement patterns, and attire I surmised that they were the children of Solid Gold dancers.  And then there was Cat.  Cat didn’t look like she belonged.  Cat looked as normal as you or I.  Cat appeared to be right as rain.  Cat didn’t seem to give a shit that she was there.  Why, Cat, why?  What is your deal?

I didn’t have time to ponder that.  Autumn and the Pod People all began “warming up” in sync with each other.  Not Cat.  She clapped her hands once, looked at the camera and mouthed “Bitches.  I piss on all of you.”  Autumn intoned her instructions like the pope leading the Salve Regina at the end of a Vatican mass.

“We’re Getting Pum-umped!”

On the wall behind her was a chalkboard that read “You can do anything!”  Lies.  Autumn, as if she was reading my mind cut in “You can do anything!  Now let’s do this!”  And we were off.  First up was something called plyo-jumps followed by something called plyo-sumo-jump lunges.  Moments later I was about to collapse.  But I could do it.  I think.  And then Autumn said something that made me feel both sad, and confused at the same time.  “Guys,” she barked at the people behind her, “if you don’t have the flexibility to do this right, just follow Cat’s lead.”

Ahhhh!  That’s what Cat’s there for.  And that explains why she doesn’t really seem to care what’s going on.  While everyone else was literally jumping into the air, both feet together, and slapping their knees, Miss Cat was simply raising her heels an inch or two off the ground, smiling, and returning to start.  She was the comic relief in Autumn’s mind, brought in to contrast fit from undesirable.  Basically, she’s the Quazimodo of this film.

Set by set, movement by movement, Autumn shamed me (and her minions on set) into greater fits of sweat and pain.  Not Cat.  We did reverse lunges.  Cat took a step and winked at the camera.  We did burpees with a push up.  Cat got on all fours, raised her right arm, and meowed.  Autumn would chime in with some ridiculousness toward one of the dancers “Tony! If you can’t do the movements right, just do what Cat’s doing,” or “Philippine! If you don’t have the balls to get those quads up in the air while engaging your core, just do what Cat’s doing.”  Meanwhile by the final set Cat was in a leather recliner eating Yodels and watching TV.  I think she was watching a Richard Simmons workout VHS.

Cat looked happy.  Cat is very smart.  If you want to be jacked do what Autumn tells you to do and like it.  If you want anything of value, just do what Cat’s doing.

More to come.

Getting Really Real

I noticed something after my 15 minutes of planking last night.

Planks suck.

But, I also learned something else.  A few something else’s, actually.

The first thing is that planks, though sucking the big one, must actually be really effective.  My core was on fire today.  It was a good kind of burn; not sore just really engaged.

Another thing I learned was that my trainer is not the cruel psychopath I had begun to think he was.  At work we discussed my plank.  And if you didn’t know I was writing about a workout plan that sentence would be positively dirty.  As I mentioned, I had been feeling quite confused about the training plan he set me on this time out.  It seemed like he was all over the map.  He had me do tabatas one day, a kettle bell workout the next, then run, then more tabatas, then that plank thing.

This all seemed very different than the workout routine from last summer where he stressed short workouts and consistency — like six weeks of the same thing — before switching it up.

Then he dropped that automated trainer on me and I seriously thought he was saying “I’m done with you.”  It felt for a minute like he was telling me that he didn’t trust my level of commitment enough to continue training me personally, like it wasn’t worth his effort anymore.

So I moved past that assumption pretty fast and realized he was just adding something into the mix with the pre-planned workouts from Spartan.

Today at work he showed me another workout.  “This one’s crazy,” he said.  That sounded encouraging.  He opened up his inbox to reveal somewhere around 1400 emails from Spartan and searched for one in particular.  “It’s one I did that time that I told you about.”  He had, in fact, told me a few months ago about a particularly grueling workout.  Funny thing is I didn’t know he had been using these workouts himself for a long while.

“Try to do five sets,” he said.  Then he let out a maniacal laugh before restating that it was all about consistency and having the desire to just do it.

I came home and took care of a few things like dinner and getting the kids to bed.  And then I got changed for this “crazy” workout.

Looking over the plan in my email I started with the warm-up.

75 jumping jacks and a 5 minute run.  What was cool was that I had discovered that I still had some fight in me.  After my 5 minute run I wasn’t in the least winded.  Just a few months ago I couldn’t go more than a minute without breaking down.  Now it seemed I could do this with ease.

The workout proper was every bit as crazy as he had suggested.

But I did it.  OK, I only did three sets but I did them with good form and to exhaustion.

The truth is that this was the best workout I’ve ever had.

I finished up and grabbed some water before heading to the shower.

As I did I was overcome with the need to say a prayer thanking God for my trainer.  He seemed to know this time exactly what I needed to do.  I have never felt this good after working out.  More importantly, he’s given me the right routine at this time to quickly boost my ego.  After this workout, in fact after this week of workouts, I’ve noticed quite a few changes.  I’ve actually put on 3-5 lbs. of muscle and my clothes are fitting better.  Maybe he’s been reading my blog and realizing I’m desperate to reach my goal and that my goal is to look like him.  At least I’m grateful that he’s taking me seriously (not that he hasn’t before) but there’s something different this time.

I think it’s getting really real now.

I still need help with a few things.  OK, I need lots of help.  When he reads this maybe he’ll take pity on me.  I mentioned form.  I’m big on using and keeping proper form.  I’m of a mindset that 1 burpee with the proper form is better than 100 crappy burpees.  So I’m focusing on little things like that.  My burpee itself could still use improvement.  But where I really need help is with my pull ups.  I need to find a way to rig up a decent pull up station at home so I can just do them.  It may take a long time but if I commit to doing at least 3 a day than I know Ill get better at them.  He bangs out ten at a time and that inspires me.  So if he reads this or if anyone reads this, say a prayer I get better at this one.

On that note, I think I’ve earned a little rest.

Now He’s Just Messing With Me

One of the reasons I right a blog is to communicate with my trainer.  You see, he reads the posts so I always know I can drop some things in that he will eventually address when I see him at work.  I also write for my kids.

I’m all caught up with blogging!  Cheers!

This morning, after having read my recent posts about how excited I was for him to continue training me (and indeed to push with me beyond my weak limitations and transform me into something resembling him) he approached me in the halls.

Man, that was a long sentence, yet not a run-on kids.

“I signed you up for something,” he said.

I wondered inside if it was the gin of the month club.

“It’s a series of workouts that will just come to your inbox every day!” he said, his smile beaming brightly.  This I found odd since he never smiles at work.  He took the old teachers’ adage “Don’t let the kids see you smile until Christmas” and replaced Christmas with second coming of Christ.

My smile, however, slowly started to fade.  I see what he was doing and it makes sense; but for a moment I felt as though he was saying “Hey, buddy… You are beyond hope.  Clearly you’re not hitting my heights so here’s another plan that doesn’t involve my involvement.”

It didn’t feel much better when he added something about how these workouts are designed to get you off the couch and able to run a 5K.  Thought I already did that.  I’m confused.

Then he explained that the “5K” in question is a Spartan race.  Apparently there are a group of people around the world who enjoy torturing themselves.  The “baby” Spartan involves running 3-5 miles and leaping over fire.  Actual fire.  No shit.

OK, I guess he’s thinking higher of me and my ability than I realized.

He’s going to run a Spartan and he wants me to run it with him.  As a team even!

“Dude, this sounds pretty decent,” I said.

Then he broke it to me that he has no intention of running a Spartan.

“Those nuts are cut throat,” he said.  And he paused between “cut” and “throat” for emphasis.

Now I’m really confused.

“I just like their training ritual.”

Still unsure of whether he actually meant that or was just trying to pass me off to an automated trainer I asked a few more questions.  Topping them was the natural follow-up:

“So, if I’m not running a Spartan, what am I doing?”

“Easy,” he said, “You’re running a Tough Mudder with me in the fall.”

Holy hell.  A tough mudder is like a Spartan on crack.  He’s run three of them.  They actually electrocute you in these races.  I’m literally not even joking.  They wait until you’re within striking distance of the finish line and tie you down so they can strap a live wire with 220 volts of juice right to your scrotum which, covered in mud, acts as the perfect conduit for tears falling straight into the pit of hell.  After a moment, they pick up your lifeless, infertile body and toss it over the finish line.  But you get a shirt.

“You think I can run one of those?” I asked.

I’m touched.  He believes in me.

Or he’s just messing with me.

I thought about this more and more all day.

After dinner I texted him.  “Can’t figure out what plan to do from this Spartan thing…”  He responded that I should do something a little different tonight.

“Do a 15 minute plank.”  He told me it was OK to stop the timer but that I had to get a solid 15 minutes of plank time.

30 minutes later as I lay lifeless on my kitchen floor, my core long since combusted, my dreams of attaining the ideal male form crushed by a beast of a trainer, I wondered if he was sitting at home laughing at me.

Actually, he was at home doing an insane workout (and probably laughing at me).

After I showered and got ready for bed, I texted him to tell him I had finished.

“Good job, man,” he said.  “Should’ve started you at 8 minutes.  15 is badass.  It’s what I did last time I tried that one.”

I am so very, very confused.

Couldn’t he have just shared some of his HGH and called it a day?  I’m totally kidding as he’s a bona fide naturalist.

I suppose tomorrow we’ll discover what bizarre movements he “believes in me” that I can do.  If I ever actually run a tough mudder I just hope I don’t bring down his team.

She’s A Star!

Tonight, my little girl danced in her very first ballet recital!  I could not have been a prouder Daddy if I wanted to be.  She was so adorable!

Her  dance instructor (I will not use her real name, but simply call her “Baby Doll”) was not quite so adorable.

Star getting ready to shine!

Star getting ready to shine!

The recital took place at the local senior citizens’ center.  We arrived early enough to bring our little girl through a maze of hallways to a room in the back being used as a staging area for the dancers.  After wishing her luck, my wife and I (along with her mom, her brother and his wife, our friend, and the other kids) entered the giant ballroom to wait.  The room was filled with chairs filled with people.  Remember it’s a seniors’ center.  The occupants of those chairs were mostly decrepit mature.  There were, of course, also quite a few younger folks like us who were there to see their kids dance.  This place was a palace.  I turned to my wife and mentioned how I can’t wait to get old so I can enjoy all this fun stuff.  There were flyers everywhere advertising classes in every manner of hobby.  There was a full service restaurant with table service.  There was even a pool.  On that last note, I looked through a large plate glass wall to see an Olympic sized lap pool.  Glancing a bit further I saw a series of tubular slides, the kind you’d see at a water park.  I scratched my head.  An old woman wearing a sequined Christmas themed vest that looked like an elf had puked on her stood beside me.  She must have known what I was thinking.  “Don’t worry,” she said, “we share the pool with the city’s rec centers.  When they were building this thing I said to myself ‘Now how are they gonna’ get us old folks into those tubes?'”  Glad I’m not the only sane one here.

One of last year's runners-up still burning bright.

One of last year’s Miss Senior Irving runners-up still burning bright.

As we waited around in the back of the room there was a program on the stage.  A group of the ancient singers were up front singing carols.  There was really a lot going on.  Baby Doll and the girls had not yet made their entrance.  On the walls were framed photographs.  I decided to go and examine them.  My wife called across to me inquiring of the subjects.  “Hmm…  Looks like these ladies are all the…”  I had to adjust my glasses, “the winners of the Miss Senior Irving pageant.”  Well then, this changes everything.  The fact that there even was a Miss Senior Irving pageant certainly helped explained the presence of an elderly black woman sitting three rows up from us wearing an evening gown, silver sparkly high heels, a tiara, and a sash.  Now, before you get all “how did you not recognize this woman as a beauty queen?” on me; stop and consider that I was focused on two things.  1) I wanted to be ready for when my daughter took the stage so I could get video of her.  They were already almost twenty minutes late.  2) I am sometimes oblivious to the very bizarre.  At this point it just seems to be a part of my daily life.  Plus, how was I to know she wasn’t simply dressed up for the show or possibly deranged?  It could happen, especially in a retirement community?

I walked back across the room.  The carolers were belting out something about Christmas.  I take that back.  They were singing “Happy Holiday”, the Andy Williams number.  At that exact moment I got a notification on my phone.  It was the AP.  They were reporting Mr. William’s death all over again.  Sad.  Mercifully, they finished their “singing”.  A tiny woman (truly, it’s the kindest description I could think of) approached the stage.  For several reasons, the gears were already spinning in my mind.  She introduced the dancers of my daughter’s troupe.  They entered the room together with Baby Doll.  It took a few minutes for the program to begin what with technical glitches in the sound system.  For instance, the tune Ding Dong! Merrily on High began about five time before my daughter and her group of little friends actually started prancing about the stage.  Oh, they were adorable.  It’s hard to imagine them not being perfect, even though they seemed to freeze up and not really remember their steps.  Never worry, though, as Baby Doll was off on the side dressed, as a friend of mine described her, like “an elf on the shelf in human scale”.  She stood about six feet tall in her sequined Santa hat.  From her elfin slippers to the tights enwrapping her ultra-thin legs, she was a vision.  I wish to also point out that the word vision has been used to reference what the children of Fatima saw when the Virgin Mary showed them hell.  I started recording my baby with my phone and my eye was instantly drawn off-stage to Baby Doll twirling and gesticulating wildly.  I almost completely missed my daughter’s dance!  This lady was like the Bobby Knight of ballet.  After seeing that one of the four year-old girls had turned left when the others had turned right I could see Baby Doll’s face turn as red as her hat.  I fully expected to see a chair fly across the room.  But they finished, bowed graciously, and sat down.  Baby Doll took her own pulse, sipped some water, then begin silently barking toward the next group of dancers.

Statue of Baby Doll when she was a young, lithe dancer (and apparently a dude).  From the Metropolitan's Greek Kouri Collection.Courtesy: Wikimedia

Statue of Baby Doll when she was a young, lithe dancer (and apparently a dude). From the Metropolitan’s Greek Kouri Collection.
Courtesy: Wikimedia

Meanwhile, MIss Senior Irving was waving at her admirers across the aisle.  Remember those wheels that were spinning in my mind?  Yeah…  I looked at my mother-in-law, Wilma.  Then I looked back at MSI.  “Why not?” I wondered aloud.  “Wilma?” I said, “You are going to live my dream.”  She looked back, somewhat puzzled.  “Um, what?” she asked.  No time to go over details, I simply motioned to her and then pointed to MSI.  “You?  Her?”  I was totally feeling this.  At that moment one of the elderly volunteers walked around the room.  He was wearing a bright red shirt (old people must like red) and holding flyers in his hand.  He started speaking with my wife and me, asking us to consider signing up for square dance lessons.  We tried to explain that we had both taken square dancing.  I know, you’re shocked.  We were lying, sort of.  It seems that in the 1980’s every school phys ed program in the country taught basic square dancing as part of the curriculum.  While my wife was trying to convince him that she was a pro I was going over steps in my mind to see if I could legitimately fake it should he ask us to prove ourselves.  We were completely screwed if he had asked.  Over his shoulder I could see Wilma.  She was mouthing to me “NO, NO, NO!”  “What?” I mouthed back with a “I can’t hear you…” gesture.  She mouthed back “I am NOT taking square dancing!”  I mouthed back “Yes you are!  It could be your talent!”  She mouthed back something that looked like “Up yours, white man,” but I know that couldn’t be since it completely does not fit her persona.  After the red-shirt man walked away, having convinced my wife to take a flyer, I walked over to Wilma.  “Listen lady, think of it…  The fame, the glory, the sequins!”  She thought about it then replied “But I don’t know that I want all that.”  I paused for a moment and looked her square in the eye, almost a little hurt that she had misunderstood me.  “I’m not talking about you.  I’m going to be your trainer!”  I explained to her about the hours of hard work and dedication that would be involved.  The pageant is next October and we’ve got a lot of work to do.  Boy was this going to be fun!  She keeps claiming she’s not sure if she’s interested.  Her exact words “Stay away from me, crazy man” belie a true sense of curiosity.  I know deep down she can taste the crown.  But I also know that it’s a tough crowd.  In fact, I understand that competition to be runner-up is more fierce than the big-win.  Statistically the runners-up stand a 75% chance of taking over the title at some point in the year.

We left it at this.  I would train her and she would not compete.  She will be a star.  My baby girl, having taken that stage at the tender age of three years and one week, is already my little star.  And Baby Doll…  Well, she’s a supernova on the verge of collapse into a black hole, her dark matter already seeping through…