Issue #42, January 2003





as told to P. S. Ehrlich

Hi.  I’m not going to ask you “How are you?” tonight.  Every one of the however many muscles that are supposed to be in my body are aching right now.  Okay then, “is” aching right now.  Yes, even my tongue-muscle—you want me to hang up this phone, Mr. Smartyass?—Be nice; I’m in pain here.


And I thought I was already so in shape...  Well that’s a very sweet and complimentary thing to say, so I’ll forgive your smartyassness just now.  But no:  The shape I’m in is not IN shape.  And hasn’t been since I started staying home nights, not going out barhopping and clubskipping and partyjumping and so forth.  Instead, I find myself on the snackpath a lot more than I used to be.  Or ought to be.  Chomping-through-an-entire-carton-of-animal-crackers-and-I-don’t-mean-one-of-those-little-boxes-on-a-shoelace-but-a-great-big-honking-CRATE-full.


And this after I worked my buns literally off last spring—scrabbling around for old files at “The Pit,” then slaving away across the ocean on the “Belgian Bulge,” and then all that hardcore Richard Simmonsizing!  But oh it felt so gooood to have a taut tummy again.  And thighs that didn’t wobble, and a rump you could bounce a silver dollar off of.  So I hate to backslide, especially on my backside...  Well thank you again, I’m glad you admire it—but even we truly scrumptious can get too the hell rumptious—and that’ll put a girl spang on the fast track to Cellulite City.  No thank you.  Not again.  Not ME, who’s designed to be compact and petite!  So that means stomping on the self-control, the self-restraint—the self-bondage-and-discipline, in fact.

(Flick; drag.)

Yes, that was my lighter.  Now lookit!  The very first day we met, I told you I only smoke for recreational purposes—purely entertainment.  And anyway I’m not drinking anything stronger than powdered chocolate milk, nowadays.  Well, and Sprite.  And the occasional bottle of beer—lite beer, which rhymes with Sprite.  Making me practically teetotal; so there nyaah.


(Ahhhh—that’s entertainment!)

I told you, didn’t I, that they closed our hospital smoking lounge?  Small wonder we call the place “SMECK.”  That lounge wasn’t just down in the basement either, but around the corner from the morgue.  SUB-TLE, hunh?  Educational too, sometimes:  A couple weeks ago, we got to watch a bunch of guys in burnooses raise a holy ruckus ‘cause their DOA brother hadn’t been shrouded just-so.

Anyway, they’ve turned the smoking lounge into a staff exercise room.  We couldn’t believe how big it was after they took out all the chairs and tables and ashtrays and vending machines.  Plenty of space to do aerobics in, and we can use the lady doctors’ showers afterward (so long as we refrain from wet-towelsnapping).

Well, I’d been eating badly at work too—not that I’m unique there—not at good old SMECK.  One day I was in the cafeteria line behind Dr. Truelove the obstetrician, so I took a peek to see what ultranutritious stuff OBs lunch on.  And get this:  He was buying a chilidog and grapefruit juice.  I mean, oog!!  Dealing with pregnant women all day must rub off on your appetite, or something.

Preggers at least have a good reason for feeling bovine.  I’m only eating for one (you’ll be relieved to hear), so I’ve got no excuse.  Need to get back in fighting trim, recompactify myself.  So when they announced an afterwork exercise class, I headed straight for the sign-up sheet.

And made RoBynne O’Ring sign up with me, despite her saying she didn’t need it—was already “mondo bitchen” from delivering X-rays around the hospital all day, then out dancin’ every night—but she admitted to feeling lonesome lately, what with my retirement from barhopping and clubskipping and partyjumping—so she signed up too.  (Lonesome RoBynne!  Give that chick a cowgirl sombrero!)

So tonight was the first class.  Pretty good turnout, considering we’d all put in a full day’s work and how early it’s getting dark outside and how crammed Widdershins Hill is with crazy-vagrants after dark.  (Another good reason to have RoBynne O’Ring along.)

We changed into our little workout outfits—I brought my hot pink ONLY VISITING THIS PLANET T-shirt (I’d’ve worn that silk SORRY, I’M TAKEN top if you hadn’t gone on and on about how “expensive” it was) and my spandex hotpants even though they didn’t quite match, being more of a bubblegummy shade...  What?  Hey!  It matters a lot whether they match.  Oh shut up—you just don’t know what the word “ensemble” means.  (Or “expensive” either, but we’ll go into that another time.)

RoBynne showed up in an actual leotard—purple, of course—and knowing RoBynne, I bet it was edible too.  I almost expected her to wear that leopardskin thong with rhinestone suspenders she claims is a swimsuit.  I know for a fact she always keeps it handy in her purse.

As for the rest of the class—well, let’s just say that none of the co‑workers you wouldn’t mind seeing half-naked ever take part in anything like group aerobics.  Hardly any men there at all, straight ones anyway, except one or two I’d just as soon would’ve stayed fully dressed and far away from me.

Then the trainer arrives.  OH my God was he big:  This Hawaiian-looking guy like a blown-up photo of Don Ho’s grandson pasted on the front of a school bus and brought to life.  RoBynne O’Ring took one look at him and flipped—I thought she was going to wet her tights.  (Oh, you think that’s “inelegant” language?  Well hoopity hoopa!  Okay then:  RoBynne threatened to become hormonally incontinent.)

(So there nyaah.)

This trainer-dude announces his name is Tony.  Whoever heard of a Hawaiian called Tony?  Unless that’s short for TonightIwannalayyou.  My personal guess is that he’s a reincarnated button man from New Jersey—he had a kind of apprentice mobster’s attitude.  Which made RoBynne’s eyes and tongue and neverminds bug out all the more.

Did I say apprentice mobster?  Make that aggressive redneck:  He had a boombox playing steel guitar music, which I took to be a hula-type tune.  Aw-reet I said, break out the grass skirts and coconut halters—but no!—it was country-western.  And you know the only country songs I could ever stomach were Tanya Tucker’s, ‘cause she was such a cutie at 14 but already sounded like a raddled old honkytonkette.  I wanted to sing just like her:  Would yew luh-hay with muh-hee in a fuh-hield of stuh-hone?  I even got a tush-accentuating red jumpsuit like the one she wore on her TNT album cover.  (No, I don’t still have that jumpsuit.  Jeez!)

Big Tony sure wasn’t playing Tanya Tucker, or Tina Turner either.  Whatever it was, it sure made me grit my teeth.  But I reminded myself about bondage-and-discipline and fighting trim, so—que sera et cetera—I stuck around to exercise.

Did I say aggressive redneck?  Make that vociferous jarhead.  (Yes, I said “vociferous!”  You want me to say it VOCIFEROUSLY?...  Well, don’t hold the phone so close to your ear.)  I mean Tony’s barking out orders like this colonel I remember when I was a little Marine brat at Santa Ana, who’d pat me on the head and say “HOW ARE YOU TODAY, YOUNG LADY?” like I was at the far end of a parade ground.

So here’s Tony the Tiger roaring “UP!  DOWN!  TWIST!  PUMP!  LIFT THOSE KNEES!  STRETCH THOSE QUADS!  TONE THOSE TRICEPS!  FEET SHOULDER WIDTH APART!  NO MORE FLABBY UNDERARMS!”  Man did he put us through the paces.  Didn’t sound at all like Richard Simmons, either—not a giggle in the room.  We were too preoccupied with gasps and groans.

Meanwhile RoBynne O’Ring’s into her own brand of heavy breathing.  She’s got this dance floor routine where she convinces a guy he’s hypnotized her into being his love-slave, when of course he’s the one being entranced under her lustspell, ready to obey her every lustwhim.  Works every time, and she does it all with body language—RoBynne really should’ve been born back in silent movie days.  I can just see her hobnobbing with Clara Bow and Theda Bara and what’s her name, Hollywood Lulu—all that lipsync crowd.

So there’s Lonesome RoBynne the Hypnotized Vixen, vamping away right up front.  Tony barks “NOW SQUEEZE THE BUTTOCKS,” and she does it with the seat of her edible purple leotard practically in his face—this while still facing forward, mind you.  Limber ain’t the word for it.  And forget that country-western music; RoBynne’s playing her own mental tape of the Stones’s Tattoo You—“Got to shock him! show him/she’s his little rock ‘n’ ro-hull, ya ha ha!”

Finally it’s over.  We’ve done our so-called cool down.  The place doesn’t smell at all like a smoking lounge anymore.  Me, I’m barely able to stand up, dripping from every pore; my bubblegum hotpants and hot pink shirt have both turned a soggy tepid flush-color.  Not RoBynne O’Ring, though:  She and her neverminds are still front and center, spang in Tony’s face.  Sergeant Surfboard and Olivaceous Oyl, feelin’ great and lookin’ terrific!  “I put a spell on you” and vice versa!

Then RoBynne damn near slaps him upside his redneck mobster’s jarhead and stalks away.  I’ve never seen her look so disgusted or insulted.  Turns out that Tony doesn’t drink or smoke or go clubbing, but asked her out to a bingo tournament at the Antioch Baptist church.  Teetotal Tony!

 “Like who’s he fogging looking for, Joan of Noah’s Arc?!” says RoBynne.  “All that flirtywork for nothing!”  Steamed?  It was practically pouring out of her ears.

Well that was it for us.  We’ll find a nice Jazzercise class somewhere.  From the lady doctors’ showers we headed straight to Sumi’s Sushi for a slew of sakis and sufferin’ succotash, to drown our aches and dull our pains.  Lesson learned, all right:  Temperance is the sort of thing you should only take in moderation...


P. S. Ehrlich 2003-2010


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[Sadly, Ten Thousand Monkeys is now gone from the Web.  Above is a replica of their January 2003 publication.]