Every Tuesday at 9.15 I pop onto my bike and ride with delicious swag to Pilates.
By 9.30 I’m surrounded by Sue, Sue and Anne, my band of small talk professionals. They speak of how their hair is falling out and that their dental bills are racking up even though they have less teeth and of their grand kids breaking their arms. I smile a lot, and nod as if I can relate, but I don’t mind because we’re all connected by the fact that we’re wearing tights in a room smelling of foot.
On goes the music, and there’s a little bit of Bruce Springsteen in there because Anne doesn’t know how to change the song on her flashy iPod Shuffle, but who doesn’t like Dancing in the Dark, eh? And even though the tempo is totally out of sync with our breaths and our inner namaste is really flaunting itself because of it, I secretly love these befuddled classes. It’s a bunch of oldies, and me.
But then in swooped Brian. Brian ruined everything. I envisaged him as the boy version of that little tart in Taylor Swift’s The Story of Us (do listen, you’d really hate him too). However, his hair was white, several teeth were gold (or missing) and he was a man. With a beard!
He waltzed in with his wife like he hadn’t even been dragged there. What. In. Seven. Hells. (I thought to myself). Is. He. Doing?! Gosh, Brian, you ruined everything. Now my ladies and I can’t even talk about underarm hair anymore.I felt so…cheated.
The thing about Brian that most infuriated me, though, was that he was so polite. “Hullo” he greeted us all with a gentle tip of his hat (yes, he wore one of those old man berets!) and discreetly found his quiet space on the floor. Once he’d warmed up those skinny wrinkled limbs he peeled off his jumper and folded it on the floor. Yes he folded it! What a guy! What really got me was when we found ourselves facing each other, legs spread, arms reaching the sun (read: position of extreme vulnerability, especially if one’s sports bra is not doing its job very well). Brian offered me a smile and let his eyes wander every inch of the room that I did not take up. But he was that good at awkward eye contact that he was making it very hard for me to hate him.The nerve! My head wanted to scream GET OUT but my mouth did not obey (thank the Lord, that room really echoes).
Basically what I figured out though, was that I really didn’t hate Brian, even though by now you may see me as an ageist, a sexist and a beard hater. (Please do not, for I am not! Only old people who hark on about the good old days of compulsory heterosexuality!) What I hated was that things were changing and that they were out of my control. It was terrifying.
But basically I figured out that I was not Brian’s wife. I could not tell him to shave his beard, or get rid of his beret (don’t listen to her Brian, it’s real cute!) or to ditch the folding (he seemed very well-trained). All I could do was smile back to him in Downward Dog and hope that next week we can talk about how Aldi is having a camping sale soon and that yes, it is getting lighter in the mornings now (hooray!) and that uncontrollable change is inevitable and that is flipping scary but eventually alright.