Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Today, I tried a new Yoga class, taught by a scarecrow of a guy who looked like Edvard Munch's screamer if he'd only stop screaming and realize he was one with the universe. The teacher's gaunt face was accented by bizarre, C-shaped sideburns so thin and precise, he probably needs a French curve to shave. A black, horn-shaped plug had distended one of his earlobes almost to his chin. He was just the type of guy that makes me nostalgic for the days when all a man had to do to look cool was let his hair and beard grow long like Jesus.

When our class entered the studio, the instructor had been practicing alone for over an hour and the room reeked of stale sweat. Stinky did, however, turn out to be quite good at his job, and as my nose got used to the funk, I started enjoying the workout. He paid me lots of special attention, coming by repeatedly to pull on my arms, push on my thighs, adjust the position of my feet.

I began to wonder why I was getting twice as much hands-on correcting as everybody else. It wasn't that I lack skill - I was actually more advanced than a lot of the people in the room. It could've been my newbie status, but yoga instructors usually leave you alone once they determine you know what you are doing. Nor do I harbor any illusions that he found me attractive. Although I've lost ten pounds and am quite taken with myself at the moment, I'm still an old broad. Maybe ten or twelve years older, alas, than anyone else in the class.

After fifteen minutes or so of sun salutations, I started to smell grilled meat. I looked around in puzzlement. No nearby restaurants as far as I knew. I refocused and got in the next pose as the instructor came around to adjust me yet again. Then, it was time to hit the ground and do some supine poses, which is when I got a whiff of my mat. Having spent the previous night in the kitchen, it had absorbed the smoky, appetizing smell of yesterday's flank steak.

Now I understood all the special attention: Like all yoga instructors, our teacher was undoubtedly a vegan. But once upon a time, before seitan and Himalayan goji berries, dinner was mom's pot roast or dad's cheeseburgers, and my meat-mat must have triggered some kind of Proustian sense memory. No wonder he kept coming back around to adjust the lady whose mat smelled like dinner, long ago.

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