Everyone was looking at me as I reached for the nappies. What on earth was I doing here, now? I skulked around the baby wipes, trying to ignore the frowns. Would I need a bottle steriliser? The NCT lady said no, but my cousin, Young Bessie, had said yes and she is a woman of infinite resource and sagacity. I tried to ignore them all tutting as I picked up the Milton, but I could smell the disapproval.
I was pretty certain that my list was all right. I’d read the proper books – Penelope Leach, Miriam Stoppard – and knew that in the first week of my Maternity leave, four weeks to go, I should start getting in the basics.
But they knew I didn’t belong; those midweek, daytime shoppers. The mums with young children. The elderly. The housewives – were there housewives in 1985? Students, then. They were all looking at me, wondering what I was doing there. Why wasn’t I at work; I belonged at work.
I managed to fill half a trolley before total panic set in. I abandoned my shopping by the baby baths and ran – well, waddled – for home. I’d have to shop at the weekend. It was OK to shop at the weekend. I expect the trolley’s still there. They’re not overly staffed in our Boots. The gripe water might have gone off, though.
I did another runner yesterday.
As a testament to the power of Hope over Experience, we have rejoined the local gym. Again. Every now and then, I read an article about the effectiveness of exercise in keeping the Nonsense at bay. Aquarius331 wrote a great blog about this recently, in respect of her auntie; I’ll put a link at the bottom. Joining the gym feels like a sacrifice to the Goddess Dopamine: I really am still stuck in the bartering phase of this condition. Anyway, I digress. The point is, I can now use off-peak membership, so there’s a chance that as well as paying the fees, I might actually go.
So yesterday, I gave the Zumba class a try. Well, half a try.
I have Zumba-ed before, while visiting DearHeart in Bridlington. That was a large class in a large hall with an enthusiastic instructor who spoke broad Yorkshire. Luckily, DearHeart is now bi-lingual and was able to explain that what I thought was “everything should now be marmalade” was actually “everything should now be moving.” I jiggled about at the back for a while and the music was quite jolly.
Trudi, at my gym, was also enthusiastic. Very. The important thing, she told me, was to Have Fun and to try and copy her.
It’s a pretty tall order, copying Trudi. She has the look of a street-dance: all spiky hair and tattoos, make-up and muscles. She’d just ran a class in Body Something-or-another (Body Wipeout? Body Bruising?) and was effusing energy.
The studio at the gym is classroom size and fully mirrored, so there’s no hiding place. Trudi launched into her routine which involved a great deal of crotch grabbing, gyrating and twerking, like a mixture of Miley Cyrus and Michael Jackson before his nose fell off. “Come on, girls,” laughed Trudi. “Have Fun.”
Auntie Bess, if Young Bessie is reading this to you, I’ll pause now, so she can give a demonstration.
It wasn’t that I was noticeably less fit than those around me. To be honest, most of the ‘girls’ in the class were either older than me or stouter than me. But the girliness of it, and the fact that it was in work-time- even though I’ve now retired, and so this is no longer work-time – made me increasingly uncomfortable. I was in the wrong place and doing the wrong thing at the wrong time and definitely not Having Fun. When Trudi went over to change the music, I ran away.
I’m happy to take a whole-school assembly or give a talk to a hall full of parents. But off-peak Zumba scares me silly. It definitely does not speak to my condition, as the Quakers say. Actually, I’m not sure what would speak to my condition at the moment. Chocolate perhaps.
We’re off on holiday Saturday. A week walking on the Amalfi coast in September, which genuinely should be Fun. Then I’m going to have to carve a Jellywoman sized hole somewhere and work out a new Normal. Your thoughts and advice would be very welcome.
Read about Aquarius’s auntie here.