Mom invited me to shimmy my guayabas with her at Golden Zumba, aka Zumba for the dying, but I told her, “My produce is still too fresh.” I grinned adiós at her and left her to her mirrored dance room at the Y, among ancients eager to jiggle figs.
Mom’s tennis shoes glittered as I padded down rubber-floored hallways modeling Cookie Monster sweats. Mom loaned me the Dorothyesque sneakers and muppet pants since I left my work out gear, and what would turn out to be about two hour’s worth of pride, in Long Beach.
Unlike Mom, I get physically fit lone wolf style, no dance partners necessary, and machines were singing to me from a window-lined room past squash courts. I wanted to sweat there, among other lone cardio wolves, and I strolled up to a honeycomb of blue cubbies and shoved my purse into a low mouth. I swiped reading material off a desk and turned to stare down exercycles.
I mounted a bacterial stallion but boycotted its reins. Gym handlebars have been known to give me exercyclically transmitted diseases. They’ve turned my fingertips into cauliflower ranches, my fingerprints into crudités.
I slid one of my reading materials, the magazine More, into a holder and peeled back its cover. I pedaled while reading an article that told me that as a woman, it’s going to be me hard for me to age. Wisdom will replace collagen as I come to resemble Yoda. I asked myself, Is this magazine insulting me? so I tossed it onto the rubber floor, opened Entertainment Weekly and sank into movie reviews.
I’d rather read plot spoilers than be told by a woman’s magazine what my plot is supposed to be.
I completed my stationary Tour de France and glittered to a treadmill. I hopped onto it, pressed start, and marched towards an unattainable Alp. I felt close to Sisyphus. The woman to my left dropped a white sweatshirt. The relentless black tongue beneath her licked and nibbled at it, its sleeves reached for her ankles, and I half-hoped/half-feared that a tangling would happen and I’d get to see my greatest aerobic fear in the sweaty flesh: a treadmill fatality. Unfortunately, my fellow walker snatched her sweatshirt off the tectonic plate before it could make slapstick.
A man who was probably wedded to one of the Golden Zumbers hopped onto the treadmill next to me. Orally, he let one rip.
My nose read that he’d recently sipped instant coffee, with creamer, and his impolite armpits further colonized my air. I was ready to give him a lecture about odor etiquette but decided that I didn’t have that much longer to walk nowhere and my mother would be done shimmying soon.
I fled the smedley (smell medley) and squatting in the hallway outside of Mom’s class, I saw this woman, who I hadn’t seen since she was a young woman, ENTRENCHED IN MIDDLESCENCE. I’d Billie Idolized her when I was fresh into having my period, and in the days I worshipped her, this muse had worn a precisely stenciled biker jacket, lace-trimmed leggings, boots with skull buckles, and what I guessed was a claw mark near her eye. She’d served as my model of female rebellion and here she was, panting out of a dance fitness class. From the way she was talking, recounting moves, Zumbers buzzing around her like she was guru, I could tell: SHE WAS THE ZUMBA TEACHER.
My heart frowned at her reverse metamorphosis. The butterfly had become a worm but I was the one in glitter sneakers.
Mom came shimmying around the corner, smiled, and in her guacamolic accent, said, “Les go!”
We goed to the car together, Mom looked ruddier and moister than when we’d arrived, and we drove through a car wash, enjoying its tunnel of motherly love.
I said, “I need to buy some wipes.”
Mom pulled the dewy Honda up to Rite Aid and like a Mexican towards cilantro, I sensed my way to the optical hygiene shelf. The remaining box of eyelid wipes gladdened me, but its price didn’t. I grabbed the box, dropped it, stepped on it, and picked it up. Carrying it through the pharmacy, I found Mom at the magazines, reading something that I suspected was an insult to her female intelligence. Together, we mother-daughtered our way to checkout.
To the broad ringing me up I said, “It looks like someone’s been chewing on this box. Can I get a discount?”
I hoped she wouldn’t notice the glitter.
“I don’t know,” she answered. “Hey!” she called at the manager. “This merchandise is ugly! She wants a discount!”
The manager walked over doing a shuffle I call the gentle Igor. His smirk mixed amusement with annoyance.
I said, “Look at that.” I pointed. “It looks like somebody’s been chewing on it.”
The manager looked at the cashier. “Yuki, were you chewing on it?”
Yuki giggled the way you’re supposed to when a man has crafted something especially funny for you. I enjoy not laughing at these moments. Men get an expression like they are sadly holding their penises for nobody. Not even the cat cares.
“25% off,” he said.
Yuki bagged my merchandise, I carried it outside, and in the parking lot, I explained to Mom, “I like deals. Sometimes, you have to do this to get one.” I took the box out of its bag, threw it on the ground, and stepped on it again.
Mom rewarded my thrift by pulling into the McDonald’s drive-thru and ordering me a coffee, which I clutched with my thighs on the way home. We didn’t run anyone over during our journey up the driveway. How different from the drive down.
I scrubbed up and changed into jeans and a mullet shirt (business in the front, Princess Diana’s wedding in the back), deep-throated a banana, and downed a glass of water.
For a late lunch, Dad drove us to the emerald of the central coast, Pea Soup Andersen’s. Yesterday, on my way to Santa Maria, I busted into Pea Soup for a shameless pit stop and stole their pen. I considered returning it but glanced at the registry perched by the restaurant’s front door. A new pen was resting in the book’s crack so I decided yesterday’s was fine warming my journal’s crevice.
Our hostess sat us beside some men whose lesskredgflug asdlkfjas vandegrodlfkjasdf intrigued me. I couldn’t figure out whether they were yämmering a highly regionalized surf patois or Dutch. Two leggy bitchy oozing an Old Worldiness that gave their camel toes elegance strutted past our booth. They joined the vandegrodlfkjasdf-ers.
Europeans, I decided.
American crotches don’t do simple elegance.
Because Pea Soup is famous for pea soup, Dad, Mom, and I ordered sandwiches. As I sipped my third cup of black Pea Soup coffee, my fifth cup of the day, Dad asked me, “Do you know how coffee was introduced into Central Europe?”
“Of course not,” I answered.
Dad took this as an invitation to tell me about caffeinated Ottomans fighting uncaffeinated Austrians and Polish cavalry coming to kick ass and bake some Turks and he went on about cannons and his mention of cannons blasting reminded me of watching Hunger Games on DVD with him and Mom.
“Qué es el boom?” Mom kept asking.
“It means someone died,” Dad would answer.
Dad was saying how Turkish coffee was a spoil of war and I said, “Viennese coffee is so good. Viennese chocolate is so good. The Vienesse take everybody’s shit and make it better. That should be Vienna’s motto: Vienna, taking your shit and making it better. I can’t wait to see what they do with Zumba.”