During my most awkward period of budding, I was the female version of a 97-pound-weakling. I had sprouted rather earlier than my male counterparts and, measuring in then at the same height as I am currently (some twenty years later), was something of a sixth-grade Amazon sans any discernable fibers of muscle tissue. I managed regardless to convince everyone that I was hard-core by launching creative scenarios in which the illusion of my strength was preserved without actually doing anything. It was easily believable, what with my unfathomable height and all. Until the President’s Challenge.
Oh, the horrors of the President’s Challenge. In 1993, while then-new President Clinton was eating his Big Macs in his baggy gray sweats, I was being forced through the rigors of a prepubescent physical fitness challenge given by The Man himself. Or, at least, through his Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. Or, at leaster, that’s what my Physical Education instructor said was happening to me.
During this challenge I was humiliated in front of my whole class by my radical lack of any strength whatsoever coupled with the shivering vibrations of my scrawny forearms as they tried, without success, to haul my stringy form up to the level of a chin-up bar . . . even though my instructor was holding up my legs.
But those were the days of flexible adolescence, when bending myself into a circle in any direction was no great achievement. When I wake up in the current era, it takes me a good hour to limber up. Everything snaps and crunches, and bending at a degree tighter than 90 causes me to lose my breath and go crimson. My collops rise out of my waistband like the lid of a flesh colored mushroom, and my buttocks, once so rounded and pert, press together like oversized cookies too close on the baking sheet. Revulsion.
In order to combat the slow demise of my aging body, I decided to self-flagellate myself back to a youthful pinnacle of fitness via P90X and the rigors of Tony Horton. “C’mon boys and girls,” he calls to me from my Panasonic. “Make the last three reps hurt!” And I try, joints squeaking and grinding, a Tin Man calling for oil. Alas, instead of death by mortification, I now have a direct view of the stippling of my thighs while downward dogging. Inverted thus, I nearly asphyxiate under the unfortunate gravitational pull dragging my flubber gut into my esophagus. My “soft landings” from plyometric leaps are thunderous, elephantine clishmaclaverings that rattle the light fixtures and cause God-only-knows what complaints from the gentleman residing beneath.
Nevertheless, I persist. I can now wrap my fingers around the bottoms of my feet in a straight leg stretch, and can, with the aid of a chair, do pseudo pull-ups that would make my 6th grade companions less likely to verbally skewer me for my pathetic weakness. Thus far, the regimen has been recipe for a fine collop reduction, though I shan’t yet chance the Princess Leia metal bikini. Till then, I shall do as Tony Horton says, and “Bring It.”
|The Collop In Question|