Zumba was on the menu. I arrived early to class, threw down a yoga mat, and started doing hip openers. It was then that a young, muscular, stocky woman wearing loose fitting iridescent green cotton teal cargo pants and a teal tank top bounced into the room and turned on her iPod. She was maybe 25 years old, maybe born in 1987, the year that I finished working on my MFA.
She turned on the radio and began showing another instructor some dance moves. I sat and watched. It was right then, for the first time in my life, that I felt like what I now am – an old woman. To the outsider, we undoubtedly looked like a study in contrasts – She was flexible, I was inflexible, she was limber, I was creaky, she was loose, and I was stiff.
It was 5:30 p.m., time for class. I put the mat and the strap away. She turned the music up, and if seeing me for the first time said hello, then bopped out of the room, returning with a gift bag. I smiled as she held his bag out to me and said “Presents for new students!” I peered over my glasses, into the bag, then selected two wrist bracelets. Both said Zumba on them.
Two students shimmied into the room –All were wearing what I deduced were Zumba shoes – brightly colored running shoes with additional support. I looked down at my feet. I was wearing very casual brown dress shoes. In addition, I was wearing wool long underwear, and a faded gray tee-shirt. On the front was a horse—a dog and obviously drunk cowboy were sitting on its back. The dog was in charge. The caption underneath read “Designated Driver.”
The dancing began in earnest. The next hour was perhaps one of the most humbling experiences in my life. All danced to music with Middle Eastern, Latin, and I think South African overtones. I repeatedly tried to coordinate my feet and hand moves, and failed miserably.
I most wanted to ask the instructor to turn the music off and have her show me a few things. For, if say, she did a simple review, I might get it and consequently get a good workout. This didn’t happen. Midway through, I figured out that I could do some semblance of Zumba if I focused on the music’s beat.
I bounced around in sync with the music for about thirty seconds. Then I retreated back into Alys Land. Oddly enough, I’ve always had an interest in dance – not performance, but rather, the process of learning how to do the moves. And so I’ve always entertained the thought of someday taking a ballet class. This, I then realized, won’t ever come to be, for I’m now past my prime. The best I could now ever do is be the drum in the Nutcracker.
After class (which ended promptly at 6:30 p.m., I hurried off because I didn’t want to see the younger’s pitying glances. Far better that they be given the space to talk about what they just witnessed – an old woman with a saggy butt and boobs attempting to do Zumba.
Next: 294. 09/30/12: Déjà vu All Over Again