Since COVID came along I’ve been about as active as a stump. I didn’t realize how bad things were until I sprained an index finger trying to open a can of Vienna sausages.
I only type with two fingers, so the injury was serious. Since I couldn’t file a disability claim for a damaged digit, I knew some lifestyle changes were in order. Starting with upgrading my exercise program.
Or to be honest, starting one.
I’m not an exerciser. Never have been. I blame my mother, who—when I was a child—did her best to keep me immobilized.
I realized the ugly truth years ago when I came across a childhood picture of me and my mom at the Audubon Park Zoo in New Orleans. I had outgrown the stroller but apparently not the urge to stroll because I was wearing a harness. Not a leash, an actual harness like the Budweiser Clydesdales wear to work.
The harness wrapped around my torso and had a handy leather strap that mother clutched like the musher on a dog sled team.
The picture was a reminder that I had always been a little “different.”
My sister didn't have those problems.
She’s five years older. She’s smarter and better looking and has a good disposition. While I was harnessed, Marilyn soared.
One Mardi Gras Mother dressed Marilyn as a Southern Belle. I got a clown suit. With a mask.
To make sure her cultural chops were in shape, Mother took Marilyn to dance lessons. I went along. Rather than chase me around the parking lot, Mother signed me up for music lessons in the same building.
The late, great Edward Van Halen started as a piano player and later became a rock guitar legend. My teacher sent me home with an accordion.
I was so bad the teacher told Mother my fingers were too short to play a squeezebox and kicked me out. It was a blessing for all of us.
Years later, I picked up a saxophone and did pretty well. But I never amounted to much on the athletic field or in the gym. That needs to change.
While I rehabbed my finger I pondered exercise possibilities. I walk every day, but my daily strolls weren’t doing much for my core—much less my index finger.
I considered a rowing machine. Then I flashed back to Charlton Heston pulling an oar on a Roman warship in the movie Ben Hur. No thanks.
Another idea popped up. Marilyn became a physician and a medical missionary. I doubt her dancing lessons had much to do with how she turned out, but I’ve never seen a fat ballerina and wondered if dancing might be just what I needed to get back in shape.
I knew I would never soar across the stage like the dudes in the Bolshoi Ballet, but figured if I could just get both feet off the ground at the same time I’d be fine.
Then a Magnum, PI rerun caught my eye. In the background of one scene, I saw some Hula dancers.
They were in good shape and didn't seem to be working too hard. Better yet, the Hula dancers didn’t leap in the air or make painful motions with their feet. I can move my hips and swing and sway and it looked like the perfect workout for me.
I don’t think I’ll have a problem finding a grass skirt in size XXL. I just hope it’s not against the rules to Hula to Hank Williams.
Alex McRae is a writer and ghostwriter and author of There Ain’t No Gentle Cycle on the Washing Machine of Love. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.