Thank you for joining me for the summer redux series. I will be re-posting stories you may not have read, in the fashion of a summer re-run. We’ll get back to our regular posting schedule in a few weeks. The original “Yoga is not for Sissies” story posted back in July 2011. It’s been embellished a little since then.
* * *
Rain mixed with snow fell from the night sky over Gig Harbor, Washington.
Crack. The Yule log split sending sparks up the chimney. Two orange cats formed a fur knot in the far corner of the living room sofa.
Flames reflected from the red, silver, gold and green foil wrapped boxes under the Christmas tree. The smell of hot apple pie battled with the fruit, brandy and spices of the mince meat pie, the undercurrents of roast turkey faded to the background.
My family filed into the living room after dessert.
Lenora Jane, the oldest—a towering five-feet tall in heels—with an attitude to match the altitude, tucked her shoulder-length brown hair-model locks behind one ear. She handed me a long, slender box wrapped in silver foil dotted in small, white snow flakes. A two-inch-wide white-lace ribbon held a small cedar bough, miniature cones, and dried red berries in place of a bow.
“Fannie, I want you to open my gift first,” Lenora Jane said, smiling. She rocked back and forth on her heels. Straightening her blouse, she asked, “Well?”
I slid the ribbon from the package. It slipped from my fingers. Eleanor, my younger and tallest sister by one-quarter of an inch, dove for the ribbon like bridesmaids in The Hamptons dive for a coveted bouquet. “Whatever you do, don’t rip the paper, I can re-use it,” she said, holding out her hand.
I rolled my eyes. I slid my finger under the two, slender strips of tape. Pop. Pop. The paper fell free. Eleanor caught it. Gary Bromley’s Yoga Class in a box. Contains instructional book, DVD and Yoga mat.
“I know you’ll love it,” Lenora Jane said, beaming. “I saw it written on your bucket list at Thanksgiving.”
My bucket list resides in an envelope taped to the back of a rolling, two-drawer file cabinet tucked underneath Richard’s desk. Dust bunnies keep twenty-four hour surveillance. The dust bunnies told no tales of tampering. Professor Moriarty wouldn’t have lasted one round with Lenora Jane.
I gave her a big hug. Check another item off the bucket list.
Two months later during my annual physical, my doctor said, “You shrank one-half inch. You might try Yoga.”
Coming from a vertically challenged family, I watched the video. Yoga is not for sissies.
I rolled out the aquamarine Yoga mat that matched the box, DVD and companion book.
“Relax back into Peaceful pose extending out one leg at a time.”
Richard sat in the swivel rocker and watched me work through the video. Ten minutes in he joined me.
“Now let’s do Eagle folding its wings.”
Pop, pop, pop.
With each new pose, Richard’s hip moved closer to the anatomically correct position.
“From Downward Dog, move your right leg forward between your arms.”
When we finished, Richard walked out of the room. No limp. I ordered a Yoga mat and two carrying cases.
* * *
Yoga, week three. Towering over me, Richard recovered more than an inch of height. I yearned for a Yoga-induced yoctometer.
“…taking the counter posture, holding Palm Tree.”
For the first time ever, Richard’s knuckles grazed the ceiling. I touched my toes.
“Relax back into Child pose.”
Richard’s yoga mat arrived along with our carrying cases. Have Yoga mats, will travel.
The next day we visited an orthopedic surgeon.
“Richard, there is a half-inch difference between the two hips joints. We’re going to take you off the arthritis medications and schedule you for hip replacement surgery,” the doctor said. “I can get you onto the books in late May.”
“Fannie, why don’t we go on a road trip before the surgery?” Richard asked, rubbing the back of his neck. “You know, just in case. . .”
Searching his eyes, I said, “You’re on.”
Two weeks before our trip, Richard brought in the suit cases. “It never hurts to be prepared,” he said.
The next morning, while I held monkey pose—snap, snap, snap, snap—like Robert Wallace yelling freedom with his last breath. Richard grabbed the chair next to him, his eyes bulged—my bra committed suicide.
A devilish grin spread across his face. “Now that’s what I call a wardrobe malfunction.”
Grasping my chest with both arms, I said, “Well I guess I know what I’ll be doing later.”
* * *
As I listened to the phone ring, the memory of sun-warmed lavender tickled my nose.
“Hi, it’s Fannie. I need some bras.”
“Fannie, I am out of your size right now, let me order them and I‘ll call you when they come in,” she said. “What colors do you want?”
“Colors?” I asked. The pitch of my voice climbed the stairs in the Statue of Liberty “Just beige.”
“What? You need to live a little. They also come in cocoa latte, purple, black—and red.”
“I’m not sure I’m ready for color,” I said, my legs bouncing on the bar stool rest.
“Yes, you are. Every woman, no matter who they are, needs a little excitement in their lingerie. You’ll just feel better. Now what colors do you want?”
“I’m leaving on a trip in two weeks,” I said, squeezing my eyes shut, “how about black?”
“Come on,” she said, infusing the force of a lead weight dropping from the Tower of Pisa into her voice.
“All right,” I said, shaking my head, “one of each color.”
* * *
The day before we left, Richard placed the giant, analog sports timer on the wall of the family room and set it to count down the next twenty-four hours before we left.
Richard answered the phone. “Fannie, it’s the Bra Lady.”
She said, “Fannie, your new bras arrived and you can’t leave town without them. Where can I meet you? I’m not at my shop.”
“Where are you?”
“I’m driving back from an errand,” she said. “I’ll be cutting down Peacock Hill on the way back into town.”
“That’s perfect. I have to drop my cats off at the kennel, Where do you want to meet?”
“How about the parking lot of Merle Norman. Say, in ten minutes?” she asked.
“I’m on my way,” I said, ushering the two cats out to the Love Wagon. A red Ford F150 with a queen futon and disco ball.
A late model white sedan waited in the parking lot. I drove up next to her and rolled down my window.
“This is so clandestine,” she said, winking. “I even put them in an unmarked brown paper bag. Where else are you going to get service like this?” she asked, handing me the bag through the window.
If the police saw our little transaction, imagine the fun of showing them bras.
* * *
3 a.m., the alarm clock crowed like a rooster avoiding castration.
“Mom, I just want five more minutes. I promise I’ll get right up . . . zzzzzz.”
3:10 a.m. the second alarm heralded the second coming.
“All right already, we’re getting up,” I said, waving my hand in the general direction of the alarm clock and catching nothing but air.
Richard leaped out of bed with the enthusiasm of a morning person. He turned the clock off. My zombie avatar clanked as the motors revved my body upright. Wool socks muffling my feet thumping while moving around the house pretending humanity.
4:30 a.m.. The sun still asleep in bed. We burned pavement. The longest vacation of our marriage. Two days later we arrived in Sturgis, South Dakota, with the rising moon.
Richard pulled into the parking lot of the Super 8. The clerk handed us a key for a room on the first floor. Richard and I fist bumped when we reached our room at the end of the corridor.
“Feel like a little Yoga to work out the drive?” I asked, winking.
Richard and I rolled out our mats.
“Well at least we won’t wake the neighbors,” he said, grinning.
When we checked out the next morning the young man behind the counter stared at Richard and his towering frame.
“You can do Yoga?” he asked, scratching his chin. “I tried Yoga once. It nearly killed me.”
Richard said, “You’re doing it all wrong. Do you have a girlfriend?”
“Yes,” he said, blinking his eyes.
“Here’s what you do,” Richard said, leaning his arm on the counter, “dress your girlfriend up in spandex. Get out the Yoga DVD. Put her mat in front of yours. Better yet, have her invite some of her girlfriends over. Its important they wear spandex as well. Stand in back. Ten minutes in, you won’t feel a thing. Trust me.”
He whispered into my ear, “Or you can wear really great underwear. That did it for me.”
Three days before Richard’s hip surgery, my doctor measured me again. We found the missing half inch.
* * *
If the male population in Sturgis dies from Yoga, we didn’t do it. If the population surges outside of Rally week, they’re on their own.