Friday, April 20, 2007

I have always been a stiff.

I've never been comfortable in my own body. I am plagued with tight joints. I don't bend quite like most people. When I was a kid, sitting on the floor was a challenge. It still is, but now, thankfully, I rarely find the need to do so. What with my arthritic knees, if getting down there is difficult, getting back up is an utter bitch. Yoga practitioners sitting in full lotus is not something I can relate to.

A bit of personal history, if you please.

In grade school all of us little rug rats are occasionally summoned to the gym-slash-auditorium for one kind of program or other. We plop ourselves down on the hardwood gym floor in tight little rows. Most of the kids arrange themselves comfortably, usually with legs crossed, backs straight, knees touching or nearly touching the floor, often not significantly altering their position during the entire festivity.

Meanwhile, I'm sitting with my knees pointed in the air at about a forty-five degree angle, my hands splayed on the floor behind my butt, elbows locked to keep from rolling over backwards winding up with my head in some kid's lap, or alternately wrapping my arms around my knees, hands clenched together in an effort to forestall the same horrific result. I continually alter my position back and forth, then ultimately into the limited number of other configurations possible in my little space as my sitz bones painfully dig into the wood floor, my arms and hands aching or going to sleep. Occasionally my buns itch. How do I deal with that? There is no one position I can stay in for more than a few minutes. The longer the program drags on, the more pained and uncomfortable I get. The break in the day to day routine for these assemblies is always welcome, but the discomfort I almost invariably experience soon has me longing for the relative comfort of my desk and chair back in the classroom.

The vision of people bending their joints to ludricrous extremes in all directions makes me physically ill. I simply can't fathom how such contortions are even remotely possible. My condition is apparently hereditary. My older brother has never been able to bend over straight legged and touch his toes. Now, in his mid-sixties, just putting on his socks is a major struggle. A lady friend of his finds watching him in this effort hilariously entertaining. As for me, my left sock remains doable, but my right one is getting to be a bit of a chore.

Of course, my joint problem was perhaps the first and just one of many personal idiosyncracies which lent themselves to fostering my social nerddom. I've never been quite able to enter the sphere of "cool." I wasn't really fat as a kid, nor was I ever accused of being svelt. I was just kind of amorphous. I was always a little slow in phys ed. I liked playing sports, but was never adept at them. I wasn't awful, I just wasn't very good. I was usually one of the first 3 or 4 kids who got creamed in dodgeball. I couldn't hit a pitch or catch a fly as well as most. I couldn't dribble a basketball with any particular agility, nor shoot, nor pull down a rebound on par with the rest. And football? Forget it. Too small, too slow, too ham handed, too chicken.

I was, for the most part a sub-standard and unattentive student. I spent a great deal of class time staring out the window with little awareness of what was going on within. I wriggled in my seat a lot, again uncomfortable in my body. I don't think I was dyslexic or anything. I just didn't find the 3 Rs as interesting as, well, almost everything else.

I have, however developed into a pretty adept eater as my girth will attend. I would never respond like characters on the tube or in flicks who always refuse food and drink when offered:

"Come in officer. Would you like some Ovaltine, or perhaps a ham sandwich?"

"No, none for me, thanks. There's no time. We need to discuss that box of hand grenades you have there by the window, Mrs. Gribble. There have been complaints."

"Oh, well then, how about a nice cup of Jello instant pudding?"

I suppose I'd be nervous about the grenades, but it's rare that I'd turn down a good ham sandwich, on rye, with mustard and mayo. And I've always been a sucker for pudding, especially chocolate, and Ovaltine too. I can deal with those pesky grenades in good time.

But, of course, eating is out of vogue - especially the kinds of comfort food I grew up with. Gosh help me, I like fat. Fat is what gives food flavor. I used to eat whipped cream on white bread, for crap sakes. I love sugar. I hate diet soda. I am, as always, out of sync with the world.

Ah, me. "Say, would you mind passing the salt?"



Anonymous said...

Sea salt? :-)


Terry S said...

But of course.{;-#)>