Bend And Stretch

The Next Family

By: Ann Brown

Ann Brown

I may have mentioned I have this little, er, quirk wherein I imagine kicking the butt of a man near me. As I said before, I believe this is solely a function of wondering about my own strength and not a sign of any latent violent tendencies within me. Still, I am not unaware of the reaction my confession evokes. I see you scooting your chairs away from me as you read this.

And I feel a need to explain myself.

I read somewhere that the most important thing women over fifty can do to keep themselves healthy is stretch every day. As a woman over fifty, I generally discard the advice I read because so much of it  centers around changing my negative attitude about aging and, frankly, my negative attitude about aging is all I have left of my youth so I want to hold on to it.

But this stretching thing got me to thinking. They’re right. We rarely stretch ourselves. We don’t use all we’ve got.

After The Revolution, when we all live on my commune in side-by-side yurts and grow hemp, stretching ourselves to our limits will be a regular part of daily life. I mean, just chopping wood and folk dancing to the water hole will fulfill the 10,000 steps a day quota that the makers of New Lifestyles pedometers warn we all need to stave off premature death. And I bet our children would be perfectly well- behaved because after a day of using up all they’ve got, they’d be tired. In fact, we’d all be tired. The good tired. Not the tired I usually am, bitchy and distracted by afternoon, licking the morning coffee grounds from the compost pail for a buzz, and updating my list of transgressions the world has committed against me (most recent: water in my ear that is making me dizzy when I look down to type. Ow.)

I took a lot of dance classes in college. Mexican couples dances, Indonesian Gamelan dancing, Greek dancing, every day was filled with dance classes. (Note to the college bound: be an Ethnology of Non-Western Music and Dance major. Totally rocks. And when you graduate, the world will offer you a smorgasbord of jobs. Bitchin jobs. Like, once I sang Jewish folk songs in a maximum security prison in Tracy, California. Try to land that gig with a degree in, say, medicine.)

What was my point?

Oh, right. Dance classes. At the end of a day, I was wonderfully, satisfyingly, deliciously spent. I slept like a log (as opposed to these days when I sleep like a baby: wake up every two hours and cry until I eat). I believe that when we move to the commune, there will be no fighting, no bitchiness, no whining, no interrupted sleep because we will all – children, adults, parents – be well used up. Also, because we can smoke our hemp tunics when life gets stressful.

But in modern life, here in suburbia, we live such contained lives. We have to share armrests in movie theaters. We have to refrain from jumping onto the moving clothes rack at the dry cleaners and taking a ride. We are not even allowed to finger wrestle prospective employers when they shake our hands. And we are left with a bunch of leftover energy that has nowhere to go. We are left wondering just how strong, fast, loud, obnoxious, fearless and mighty we can be.

So I check out the men in my classes. I take in their upper body strength, the contour of their forearms, their overall look and I fantasize bopping them on the nose, kneeing their groins and, occasionally, swinging them over my head and twirling them round and round like Brutus used to do to Popeye before the can of spinach magically appeared.  I have no reason to feel threatened by men. I’ve never been in a situation that would warrant a need to hurt them or get away fast. Well, once a guy forgot to pay me for a parenting consult but he remembered as soon as he got home and he came back. With a ten dollar tip, as apology. No need to break his kneecaps.

My point being, there is no rational reason to fantasize about this. And, let’s be honest, unless a man was in the middle of a serious heart attack, I’d probably not be the victor. I mean, I am no weakling but my 45 minute daily stroll in the park with my dog and the occasional foray into Curves isn’t gonna get the job done against a forty-something dad. I suppose I could just sit on him and that would be that, but I am too vain to use my weight as a weapon because what if he lived, and told everyone, “she fucking sat on me and she weighs a ton. I thought I was dead” and then the papers would sleuth out my actual weight and report it and, yikes. Yikes.

Still, I crave real-life experience. Tae-Bo with TV Billy Blanks in my bedroom is like practice- kissing your pillow, you know? So with my late-fifties around the corner, I am going to do a little more stretching in my life.

I believe I will begin by reaching over my computer to that glass of wine.

Ow, my ear. Damn it.

.

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Ann Brown

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