Spin Class

Today, we have a special guest post from the lovely Mrs. Thompson, our official wife here at APoC . . .

I am so excited; I get to the Gym early. Dork early. 4:45pm, for the 5:30 class.

The locker room is weird and intimidating. They have a scale like my vet’s office… I don’t want to leave my bag in there because I don’t have a lock for the locker. Who has a lock for their locker?! I throw my hair in a ponytail, put on some chap stick, and head out.

I walk upstairs and think I will check out the spin room and become one with my nervousness, but there is a class going on. It is so loud. I decide to find a corner and sit down. My phone battery is at 10%. I have no charger, so I don’t surf social media. I actually sit and look around at things. It feels…exposed.

A gaggle of women seem to be forming around me. A hot, buff dude walks in and says they are doing a boot camp class and do I want to join them? No, no I don’t. I am here to spin. I am woman. Hear me roar!

I watch boot camp for a while. It looks easy.

Finally, other people start lining up for the 5:30 class. I worry I might not get a bike. I go stand by the door, next to the girl with the shaved head, the old man with skinny legs, and the hot blonde. We don’t speak.

The door opens and lots of sweaty people come out.

I get a bike in the very back corner, then see a girl who looks nice. I walk up to her and say, “Hi, I’m sorry to be this person, but I have never done spin, could you help me out?”

She sighs at me. Actually sighs at me. Then proceeds to give me the low down, bike seat adjustment, handlebars, etc. But I can’t have the bike next to her, because her friend is coming, so could I just scoot down one?

Sure I can.

I am amused.

Finally, the instructor comes in. She is nice, Jody. She walks around and I say, “Hey, I’m new.” She says “Oh, we got us a spin virgin.” I am already uncomfortable on the bike seat, and I say, “it feels like that’s all about to change in a very real way.”

Class starts, and the girl’s friend still hasn’t shown up. She assures me her friend is just running very late…I eye the empty bike between us. A cycle of suspicion.

We start to spin. The music sucks. It’s techno club music and I was looking forward to something I know…like you know, ‘Lil Wayne or Taylor Swift. Raffi. Whatever they have lying around.

The instructor is a yeller. She watches me specifically and I know her eyes are burning into my soul. I think I will impress her, as the quickest learning spin virgin she’s ever known.

She yells “WOODY. PUT YOUR HANDS AT 2!” I look up and she’s yelling at me. She laughs and says, “We call new spinners Woody.”

I smile and move my hands.

2 minutes in, we have turned our knob 10 times. I am keeping up.

3 minutes in, I realize I can’t do this anymore, so I sit and turn my knob all the way back down to nothing. Jody yells GET UP.

I get up.

I warm up, and get a groove. We keep tightening the knob. I finally figure out if I do half of what she says, I can sort of keep my legs moving. Sometimes when she tells us to tighten the knob, I loosen mine. I’m not proud.

Half way through the class, the girl’s friend shows up. I feel better that maybe it wasn’t personal.

At some point, we are sitting more than we are standing. I start to feel…things. I value my lady bits and I become concerned for my own welfare. What if things stop working? What if I have a permanent bike seat disfigurement? Will Travis still love me?

I decide he will, and I peddle on.

15 minutes later, we are back to standing, and I have never been so happy in my life to be standing and peddling a bike. I consider wrapping my towel around my seat before we sit down again, just for a little something.

I wonder what time it is.

This goes on and on. I look around for the clock, hoping that we are close to done, but I can’t find it. My arms are hurting from spin class, and I marvel at how out of shape I must be.

I finally find the clock. We have 4 minutes left. I feel a burst of energy. I can do anything for 4 minutes!

4 minutes later we are still going. I realize the class started 5 minutes late, and Jody is going to give us every bit of time she can.

Turn your knob 3 times to the right!, she says.

#@%& you! I actually say out loud.

I turn my knob once to the left, an act of rebellion that gives me the strength to go on.

Finally, we are done. The girl who sighs and her late friend tell me I should try a different class because they have better music. I walk to my car, feeling good. I feel great actually.

I think…I think I liked it.

 

You think this is fun?

If my kids were writing this blog, it would probably go something like this:

Dad is so nuts.  Every Saturday, I’m talking about every one, he’s all like “we’ve got to get up
at the butt crack of dawn and go do something.  It’s like he’s got this crazy lens for looking at “fun” and it’s all about hunting and fishing and Bass Pro shops and taking boat rides.  He’s out of his mind.

Yeah.  I mean, he’s always pointing things out to us, like the whistle that a wood duck makes, or how to tell when a snook strikes, that distinct “pop” sound . . .

How to tell which way a gobbler is going, and whether he’s already on hens.  The right time to take the ducks as they’re dropping into the decoys.  How to set the decoys out so that the ducks will want to land inside them, not outside.  How to let a shrimp drift just right, so it doesn’t appear to be hooked at all, but still be able to detect the bite . . .

I’m saying, he’s so bananas that he holds classes on the boat to teach us how to tie a knot, or bait a hook, or how to get more distance out of a cast.  I mean, who does that?

What high school freshman girl needs to know the difference between a full choke and improved cylinder?  What 8 year old boy needs to be able to identify every shark indigenous to Florida?

He’s even gotten us hooked on bird dogs!  Do you know how awful a wet Brittany Spaniel smells?  Like soured fertilizer baked on oysters . . . but my room doesn’t feel the same without that faint odor . . .

His latest thing is the smell of rubber boots – like some tire factory has captured their essence into a perfume . . . we get to the snipe field and he’s like “smell that – the dew? And the grass? The dogs and those boots?  Doesn’t it smell magical?”

He thinks this is fun?!?!?!?

We’re seriously thinking about having him committed . . . we just can’t find the time to do it . . . maybe after turkey season . . . no, then it’s tarpon time . . . then redfish . . . then dove . . . then ducks . . . deer . . . small game . . . oh well, maybe it is kinda fun . . .

At least, I hope that’s what they’re thinking . . .

 

on bird dogs . . .

I’m not exactly sure how or when my infatuation with bird dogs began.

I came by this naturally, by the way.  My maternal grandfather was a quail hunting tour-de-force, almost always with a pointer or 3 leading the way.

My dad raised beagles when we were very young, so gun dogs were abundant.  There were always 2 or 3 in the kennels, until a litter came along.  Toby and Max and Dutchess and Bear wandered through my adolescence with their tri-colored saddles and soulful howls.

But somewhere, and I don’t remember the switch exactly, we ended up with a Brittany.  Abracadabra was her name, which we shortened to Magic.

Magic was an appropriate name for her, as she promptly disappeared anytime there was gunfire.  She had those piercing green eyes that come standard issue on Brits, and I was determined to cure her of gunshyness.  My plan was two fold – I took my portable electronic drum sticks, complete with belt attached speaker; I would crank the lawnmower up, and have it idle in the background so my parents would think I was mowing, plus it added to the noise.  Then I’d stand over poor Magic, that speaker precariously close to her ears, and bang on those imaginary drums.

It didn’t work.

Copper was a natural, another Brittany who pointed a covey of quail his first time out.  He was dad’s dog, really, orange dappled with style on his points.  A freak kidney stone accident took him from us before his time . . .

Daisy was an English setter – a Llewellyn, to be exact, with blonde feathering beneath the silky white.  Daisy was another born natural, minus a couple of quirks . . . She covered so much ground that she’d be on point in the next county before you’d get near her; also, she hated me.  This one is still baffling, as when she was small she slept in my room, my hand in her crate all night.  But, for some weird reason, she would not come near me.  My sister, who never spent any time with the dogs, Daisy would lick her in the face; me, begging to show her affection, nada.  She would run in circles, just outside of arms reach the whole time I was in the yard.  In hindsight, Daisy was like a prep course for my first marriage.

Ozzie, the gigantic liver and white Brittany who towered over my mother but had no interest in hunting.  Swish, the ill named and incestuously bred Brit that yelped every 4 seconds for 7 straight days.

Even today, my house is alive with the clatter of nails on hardwood as two French Brittanys clown their way through life.

I’d love to romanticize the idea – a cold, rainy, winter’s night; the hunter sits in his chair, in front of the fire, reading a Ruark novel, the Brittany asleep at his feet, worn out from the morning’s hunt.  In reality, though, I’m probably watching a rerun of the Office, one dog chewing on my shoes while the other does lay in front of the fire, but not too close in case he farts and ignites the entire scene.  Having just taken them out to pee in the rain, the smell of wet gun dog mingles with the smell of the fire, some mystical humidifier from hell permeating the room.  My wife, like a million wives before, will come in to chastise the pups for some trash can they’ve overturned, or bed they’ve unmade, or chew toy they’ve created, and I’ll watch as they cock their head and look at her, trying to understand, and I’ll smile, and I’ll think . . . there’s just something about bird dogs . . .

Mailboxes and catalogs . . .

When I was little, getting the mail was a big deal.  And I’m a little sad that that’s coming to an end.

This is probably a foreign concept to my kids, but, back in those days, you rushed to the mailbox.  The mailbox was a Pandora’s box of dreams come true.  You never knew when you’d receive a letter, or a postcard from a more adventurous relative.  Maybe birthday money.  Or the hopes that were contained inside the Publisher’s Clearinghouse envelope, the one promising you 6 million dollars.

Magazines were big for me, too.  Field and Stream and Florida Wildlife and Sports Illustrated* and Florida Sportsman all showed up on some sort of interval, bringing a sort of mini-Christmas with them.

*It was very important, come February, to beat your Southern Baptist mother to the mailbox for your date with Kathy Ireland, otherwise the swimsuit issue would land in the garbage.

But, for me, the highlight of the mail run was the catalogs.  Remember, this is 10 plus years before Amazon would become a mainstream word.  There was just something so thrilling about opening the mailbox and seeing the latest from JC Penney, or Sears.  Or, the greatest of all, the outdoor companies . . .

Cabela’s and Gander Mountain were standard affairs . . . I’d circle and fold all of the things I knew a 13 year old Florida boy needed – an 8 person tent, a sleeping bag that would warm to -60 below, knee high snake boots.  Canada goose decoys and pronghorn antelope calls and snow colored camo and bear repellant.  Dog training aids and lamps with bobwhites mounted under glass and pheasant pelts were must haves.

Clicking it into a higher gear were Orvis, and LL Bean, and Dunn’s.  Only a true gentleman would hunt woodcock with a side by side Greener, while wearing a wool vest over a houndstooth shirt.  Sure, that Browning Citori would cost more than my college degree, but the knowing looks from the gentlemen I hunted with would surely be worth more in social currency.  A Billy Pate fly reel would surely catch handsomer fish . . .

I’d sing from the heaven’s, if, come Christmas morning I unwrapped a watch with a greenhead on it, or a vintage ammo sign, or a plaid shirt color matched to a grouse . . . anything that came from those tattered pages . . .

I only think about this now, in this age of 24/7 online availability.  In fact, I can buy 3 or 4 Greener’s right now on Gunbroker, and have them before the end of quail season.  I debate about whether I need a different shade of camoflauge on my jacket, or whether or not the 7 1/2’s pattern better in one of my guns than the 8’s do . . . about which hats to wear duck hunting vs dove hunting vs turkey hunting . . . about sealed bearing drags vs traditional drag systems . . . lures that walk in circles vs hooks sharpened by moon rocks and lasers . . . I can guarantee, that at this very moment, I have carts with items waiting to be bought at Bass Pro, and Cabelas, and Mack’s Prairie Wings, just begging for the “checkout” button to be clicked.

And it makes me think about the simplicity of a boy that just wanted to be outside, circling dreams in a catalog as place holders for ducks he’d one day shoot, and fish he’d one day chase . . .

Kenchan

I don’t even know if that’s how it’s spelled.

I once alluded to the fact that I had the worst lawn mowing job in the history of the world.  A little backstory.

If you live in Florida, chances are, at some point in your career development, you work as a lawn guy (or girl).  As an adult, my yard gets mowed from early March until late November, with an occasional touch up before Christmas and again in February.

During the rainy season it’s way worse.  I could mow my yard on Sunday, and, by Thursday, you could lose a 3 year old out there.

So I’m working at the Christian bookstore 4 days a week, and my dad is like “hey, you should put in an application over at Coscia & Sons mowing for the other days”

Being a good son, I did exactly what my dad suggested.  Much to my chagrin, I was hired. And I was immediately placed on a team with Kenchan.

I have no idea whatsoever how Kenchan spelled his name.  I do know that I’ve got it nailed phonetically.

Kenchan was a little Vietnamese man.  Based solely on my memory, he was about 4′ 11″ and he spoke 2-3 languages, none of them well and none of them English.

He called me “Trason” which, looking back, may have been the coolest nickname I’ve ever had* – only it was less “treySON” a la the Karate Kid type nickname, and more “TRAHson” like he was mis-pronouncing “trash”

*There was a period of time, in the 10th grade, where I tried to get people to start calling me “Silk” as a nickname, because I was so smooth.  It didn’t stick, mostly because I was a 6’3″ bundle of disjointed elbows and knees who always looked like he was in a bull fight with gravity.  But it didn’t stop me from trying.

Kenchan had the strongest work ethic I’ve ever encountered in an individual.  Dude literally never stopped.  He would be in the shop by 6 in the morning, have all the mower blades sharpened, the weedeaters loaded with string, gas tanks full, all while I was still trying to get the sleep out of my eyes.

Coscia and Sons mowing seemed to have “teams” that mowed, and they descended in an order based on a number of criteria, skill, professionalism, quality of work, and proximity to the owner’s sons being chief among them.  Kenchan being from Ho Chi Minh and his lack of a native tongue placed us as roughly the 8th team out of 6 spots.  Meanwhile, my best friend Tony is on crew number 2, with son number 2.  They frequently would drive by a job site, say something like “looks good to me” and proceed to the movies.  Or they’d park in the shade on a 50 acre lot and take naps.  They were hard to pin down.

One of the things about working with Kenchan was that we only took lunch breaks, or any breaks, at one particular client, on one particular day.  It was an industrial park in Avon Park.  Normally, I learned, if you didn’t have your lunch with you on the mower, Kenchan wouldn’t stop.  All day.  From daylight until dark, 12+ hours in the July Florida heat, we would be mowing or pushing or whacking.  After my first day, I was certain I was being hazed.

So we’re in Avon Park, and, much to my joy, Kenchan waves me down and through a series of signs and signals and noises, indicates he wants to stop and eat lunch.  I almost mowed over his foot in shock.

So I get out my ice chest and sandwiches and Mountain Dew, and we sit down next to this retention pond looking thing.  And I notice Kenchan sits on his water cooler, but doesn’t seem to have any food.  And he’s wrapping what looks like fishing line around his hand.

So help me, this crazy little guy catches a pleco, one of those sucker fish from an aquarium, right out of that pond in Avon Park on a line wrapped around his hand.  And, I can see this as plain as if it were this morning, he pulls out his knife, cuts on that sucker for a minute, and EATS IT!?!?!?!?!?

Ya’ll, I have seen some things in my life.  Crazy things.  But that little Vietnamese dude eating plecos out of a retention pond, RAW, in the 104 degree Florida heat may always hold the top spot.

He repeated the process 6-8 times, got up, fired up his mower, and went back to cutting grass.

I was dumbfounded.  I mean – I mowed the rest of the afternoon in a kind of daze.  What had just happened?  Had that really just happened?  Is Kenchan going to die of food poisoning out here riding his Toro around Avon Park?

It was dusky when we loaded up the van to head home that evening.  Mowers secured on the trailer, tired and covered in dirt and dust and grass.

“Trason – you . . . (he makes a motion like steering a car)”

“Sure Kenchan, I’ll drive”

It was an hour back to the shop.  I talked to Kenchan like I would anyone else.  I had no clue if he understood me or not.

“Kenchan . . . man, I just can not believe you ate those fish for lunch.  Like, I’ve never seen anything like that in my life.  I mean, they were still wriggling when you swallowed them, and you ate a bunch of them, and you went right back to work . . . how is that even possible?”

A couple of moments of silence went by.  He looked at me, grinned his snaggle toothed smile from ear to ear . . . and in perfect English, he said:

“Taste like chicken, that how!”

38 lessons for 38 years . . .

38 Things I’ve learned as I passed 38 late last year:

  1. Never make the first or third out at third base.
  2. Girls LOVE getting flowers.  No matter what they say.  “Don’t waste money on flowers” is the “do I look fat in this” of gifts . . .
  3. Dogs are important.  Pet them.  Spend time with them.  Their only true fault is they don’t live very long.
  4. No matter if it’s week 42, and she’s wearing an “it’s a girl” t-shirt, and an OB is following her around, do not, under any circumstances, ask if she’s pregnant . . .
  5. Make time to write.  Or run.  Or read.  Or whatever makes you tick.
  6. Sometime, within the next 18 years, your kids won’t be here every day.  So turn the TV off and spend time with them.  Read to them.  Build a fort or bake a cake or ride a bike.
  7. Intentionally add value to people.  Every day.  Got that from John Maxwell.  Should tattoo it to my forearm.
  8. Choose trust over suspicion.  It’ll get everyone further.
  9. Try to watch as many sunsets or sunrises as you can.
  10. Be nice.  It’s honestly easier.  Ask people, as often as you can, “Can I do anything for you?” . . . mean it . . .
  11. The person on the other end of the line is someone’s husband/mother/daughter/brother.  They got up this morning, just like you did.  It’s not their fault that Dell outsourced support to India.  Yelling at them won’t make Dell rethink it.  It won’t make you feel better.
  12. Listen to “All I Want for Christmas” in July.  Or September.  Bonus points if you crank it up with the kids and belt it at the top of your lungs.  Double bonus points if you roll the windows down and belt it out as your middle-schooler walks into the school.
  13. When you roll your eyes, and you’re on the phone, people can hear it in your voice.
  14. Catching the fish again is better than eating the fish.
  15. Never tap a white tiger on the nose with a microphone.
  16. Clarification on number 11.  It may actually feel better while you’re doing it, but you won’t after you hang up.
  17. Remember who you are.  Don’t try to be someone you’re not.
  18. “the Art of Possibility” is one of the best books of all time.  Pick it up again from time to time.
  19. ALWAYS thank veteran’s for their service.  And hold the door open for the person behind you.
  20. Don’t shoot the ducks after they’ve landed.  It’s not sporting.
  21. They will remember that you made time for them, took them hunting, took them fishing, rode bikes; the time you were PRESENT.  Yeah, that’s kinda the same as number 6, but it bears repeating, don’t you think?
  22. Take care of your back
  23. If you feel it in your gut, you should probably follow that feeling.
  24. Red Sox, Ohio St. and Gator fans are the WORST.  Try to avoid mixing with these fanbases, and, under all circumstances, don’t date them . . . .
  25. Dressing nice and dressing inexpensively are not mutually exclusive.
  26. The Cubs don’t win in the end.  Ever.
  27. Close doesn’t count.  Wait – that’s not entirely true – sometimes close does count.
  28. Black and white is a hard way to live; gray is way easier
  29. Do NOT judge others.  You cannot possibly know all of the factors surrounding their situation.
  30. At 30, your body stops being resilient to cheeseburgers for breakfast.
  31. It’s impossible to listen to the opening of “Sweet Home Alabama” and not feel happy or sing along with the chorus.
  32. Kiss your wife. Every.  Day.  It’s easy, and fun.  Make it required.
  33. Snook always bite better on an outgoing tide.
  34. Make time for grandparents.  They can be gone very quickly . . .
  35. Don’t be resistant to change.  Change is your opportunity to change, too
  36. Spend money on good shoes and a good coat
  37. Watch “White Christmas” with your family at least once a year.
  38. Say “I love you” – but think about the fact that you mean it, don’t just tag it onto the end of phone calls and visits.

on Yeti Coolers . . .

In the history of the world, only 3 things have been Roto-moulded. All 3 are insanely cool.

Apollo 11. You think Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin went to the moon in some sissy-ass metal contraption? Think again. Marked top-secret, NASA plans actually show that Apollo 11 was bear proof as well as awesome.

The Bat suit. Boom. Thought Apollo 11 was cool? Think again. Bruce Wayne was cruising around with a jet engine strapped to his car, a butler, and crushing chicks like Catwoman. Think that’s because of his schmuck sidekick, Robin? No. His secret? Roto-moulded pecs.

Yeti coolers. Hits just keep coming.  That’s why fisherman love Roto-moulded coolers.

Roto-moulding: conquering other planets, Michelle Pfeiffer, and keeping your beer cold.

Since 1963.