Monthly Archives: March 2015

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 . . .