Sunday, February 28, 2010

Marian the librarian

I went to Portland this weekend, and before the baby shower I attended Saturday afternoon (it was, perhaps, the girliest weekend ever: baby shower, wedding planning, and ice skating), I decided to take a yoga class to kill some time. I poked around on line until I found a class at the time I was looking for.

When I unrolled my mat, I had no idea I'd just stepped into the worst yoga class ever. No, really. The worst. I'm not exaggerating even a little tiny wee bit. No hyperbole here. It was the worst. You know how I know it was the worst yoga class ever? We spent about 10 minutes on mountain pose.

Let me repeat. We spent about 10 minutes talking about and practicing for mountain pose. If you've never done yoga, let me explain what mountain pose is: You stand there. Both feet on the ground. Both arms at your sides. That's it. It looks like this:

(I made that drawing myself, in Word. Because apparently my macbook pro didn't come with a drawing program. What up with dat, Apple?)

See, I've taken beginner yoga classes before. At the Bikram studio (which I do not recommend, though that's a separate rant) and at the local park and rec yoga studio. You tell them you're new, and they tell you to watch what everyone else is doing, then they get going. But this? This was a real beginner's class.

But it wasn't just the slow pace (I counted 6 poses in 90 minutes) that made the class so maddening. It was the instructor. Marian. "Marian the librarian," as I heard her say to two of the people in class.

"Oh, are you a librarian?" One woman asked.

"No," Marian answered, giving her throaty, Erkelish "he he" laugh, "No, I'm a fiction writer."

I think it's appropriate that Marian writes fiction, actually, because I swear the woman stepped out of a Woody Allen movie. She had thick black glasses, shoulder-length, wiry hair, and she pulled her red workout tights up nearly to her bra strap. The tights gave us all a good view of the outlines of her, um, support garments. Not that Marian had a belly, she was fit, but it was kind of hard to tell with her T-shirt was stuffed into the top of the tights.

In the first five minutes of class, while Marian was explaining the intricacies of toe-heel placement, a woman squatted down.

"Are you OK? He he. Does your back hurt?" Marian asked.

"Oh, no, it's just, menstrual cramps," the woman said in a stage whisper.

After that, every five minutes, Marian would leave us all standing around waiting while she demonstrated a new menstrual-positive pose for the woman in the corner.

But the laugh. The laugh will haunt my dreams. Every "he" sounded like she was about to choke, and her shoulders would hitch up as she bared her tiny teeth.

"Okay, so, take a strap, and pull it like this. He he. And, oh, oh my. That's not long enough. I guess, he he, I guess, yeah, maybe get an extra strap, he he. And, yeah, connect the two straps, he he."

Because I was a drop-in, I paid $16 for the class. $16! Do you know what I could buy for $16? Five bottles of Three Buck Chuck. Five! That's a lot of bottom-shelf red wine. Plus I'd have a dollar left over to give to the homeless lady down the street.

I'm sure there's a lesson in this experience somewhere.

Then this occurred to me: What if I discover a short story some day written by Marian, in which she criticizes my mountain pose?


  1. I think you ought to turn the tables and write a short story about Marian. But it wouldn't be fiction.

  2. Interesting idea, Brian. Where would Marian go after leaving yoga class? To a sci-fi convention? To the optometrist? To see her gastroenterologist?

  3. She would go to the weekly "Cat Fancy" club meeting at the Powell's Books, in what used to be the Beaverton Mall. There's a guy there that she likes (he's actually gay, and secretly hates cats) and she really wants to push the new short story she's working on. She just came up with a really snappy title...

  4. BARE feet to push down your shoulders?? That is SO many levels of UNACCEPTABLE. Gag me with a spoon! WHO the hell does that kind of thing, besides like a monkey or something?

  5. I think of Marian as a hoarder - maybe she goes home to piles and piles of old yoga mats and red leotards cluttered around her tiny apartment to the point that she can barely walk through, and her 12 cats make dens in the old magazines.

  6. There's at least one thing we can all agree on: Marian is definitely a cat person.


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