It was a good day. I’d slept more than 8 hours. I had eaten at least one serving of vegetables and only went for the office M&M jar twice that day. So to cap off the new health kick, and spawn increased amounts of bad choices, I read a magazine article.
Not just any article, but one that featured poses of lithe, nubile women achieving various unattainable yoga positions, which were falsely advertised as positions that “anyone could do”. In this same magazine, there was another bullshit article about adult ballet classes and gymnastics. That kind of journalistic false hope wasn’t bait and switch.
It was pure evil.
Then inspiration struck. I could still do some of the stuff in the article, right? I should try a cartwheel. Yeah.
Let’s get everyone up to speed on the background. Never was I ever a cheerleader. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a cheerleader, but I have no rhythm and if I’d ever tried a herkie jump, I’d be in traction for life.
Mom tried so hard to get a cute, delicate, coordinated child. God bless her, she tried. First it was tap dance, wherein I flunked out at the tender age of 5. Then we tried gymnastics. I’m certain that Mom had images of the next Nadia Comaneci dancing through her mind. Or at least something better than the rather…solid…child who ignored the evil balance beam and spent all of her time jumping like a crazy lunatic into the foam pit. By some miracle of God, I made it five years in gymnastics, but when it became obvious my “aerial” was more of a suicidal “belly flop”, we moved on to a new activity before I landed hard enough to rupture my own spleen.
Ah, soccer. Those stout ankles were good for something. And so it went, all the way through high school, college, and medical school. I was solid. Tough. Unable to be broken, regardless of how many shin hacks and slide tackles that were thrown at me. It was the perfect athletic activity for someone “strong like ox”.
But I never forgot the cartwheel. It was a source of pride that I had been proficient in it. And periodically, I’d take it out and try it, if for no other reason than to prove to myself that I still had “it”. (Where “it” indicated a functional spinal cord and marginal vestibular system.)
Date of last successful cartwheel? Two years ago. Geez, I thought. That’s not that long ago. I’ve only picked up a few pounds.
Delusional disorder? Check. Wishful thinking? Soon to follow.
The result? I got bit by the bad decision bug.
Hold my hand as we parse the travesty together. Here’s what happened.
I got home from work feeling less than weary. Win!
Over lunch, I had read that damned magazine article with the double-jointed size zeros in Fabeletics or Lululemon or something faux sporty and right then and there, I made a promise to become stronger (in an unattainably feminine manner like being able to wrap my foot around my neck and smile for the camera). So. Unrealistic expectations? Check.
In a burst of epic-proportioned stupidity, I eyed the limited open space in the living room, reckoned I had plenty of real estate for a straight shot, raised up arms, entered the cartwheel and…
Well. At least 911 was not required, but I spent a good five minutes flat on my spasming back, looking like a nearly-dead fish and doing a head-to-toe trauma assessment of my crumbled, doughy body. It didn’t look good.
That vestibular system? The same system that allowed me to ride the Puke-N-Whirl at the county fair years ago like it was NBD? Shot to hell. Useless. Could not detect x from y axis, and fuck me if the z axis never even showed up to participate. My inner ear’s semicircular canals could no longer keep up with normal activities. What would be next? Inability to stay upright while the Earth spins? It’s coming, I’m sure.
How about the spinal cord? Initial assessment judged it to be ‘nonattached’. Unable to lift my head up and look at my feet, I had to hope that I was indeed wiggling the piggies.
Upper arm strength? >snort< That’s a joke. These flabby guns shoot Nerf balls. They crumpled like a building made of cardboard at the apex of the death-wheel.
All right, then what about those solid, stumpy legs that have never ever failed me? Yeppers. That’s a big steaming cup of NOPE. My cankles were waving the proverbial white flag and shouting, “For the love of God, never try that again, you idiot.”
I’d love to conclude with something pithy and inspirational. It would be swell if I could describe how I got back up and tried again, but the Eric Cartman-like mumbles of “meh, meh, hep me, meh” pretty much told the tale.
Maybe there was a moment of “I’m Every Woman” girl power where I shook myself off, pulled out my Lululetics over my quivering thankles and told that magazine to go shred itself?
Uh, no. Because that would require the ability to walk. Something I am hoping to do again, just as soon as a couple hundred milligrams of ibuprofen kick in.
There’s no moral to the story. There’s no aging gracefully bull malarkey. I leave you with the only quote that suits, and it’s from the Hindenburg disaster: “Oh, the humanity.”
And finally, there’s a beautifully snarky poster out there from despair.com. Here’s what it says: