Thursday, November 21, 2013

Slow Yoga with Denene


I don't have a cell phone, but it's not like....


It's more like....




I have also heard that when men carry cellphones in their pockets, their private bodies fill with tumors.

However, as a non-cellphone user, I have found myself quite intrigued by the phenomenon of texting.

It seems to be very popular! And not just among the young people. In fact, the Director of Special Education in our county (estimated salary $155,000) texts the whole time you talk to her. I sometimes feel like I could tell her anything, and she would not judge me, or be resentful. She would accept me, warts and all, because she is not really listening. 

I've watched young men texting in the bathrooms here at the college as well. They push the automatic door opener for handicapped people with their feet so that their hands do not have to stop tapping tiny buttons. 

I am not sure if they text while in the individual stalls, but I have noticed that many of them are timid defecaters. 

It can be so quiet that, if not for the tellatale shoes under every door, you would swear the bathroom was empty. But if someone flushes, activates the sink, or especially, if someone turns on the hot air hand dryer, everybody seizes the moment to let out gas and high volume excrement. 

They each hope, individually, that the background noise will disguise their output, not realizing that, collectively, it comes out like a giant chorus of buttholes. 

When the sink shuts off or the hand dryer winds down, everyone tenses back up.

Now here I will help myself to a big plate of ignorance: what is it that everybody is texting to each other??

My impression of it has been primarily formed by three experiences:

One time, my wife showed me how to text something to Taco Bell.






My second experience of texting came when Ms.Pam handed me the classroom cellphone.

After reviewing the user's manual, I powered the phone to 'on'.





The third text was labelled a "media message":

After Ms.Pam calmed me down, she pointed out that the texts were several weeks old, and that whatever emergency had unfolded that day it was no longer within my power to effect. 

She told me I had to carry the class cell phone at all times. I secretly put it in a drawer of my desk. It randomly plays Who Let the Dogs Out from time to time, but I slam the drawer shut repeatedly until it goes away.

My third knowledge of texting comes from observing Amir and his friend, Boxhilda, send messages to each other.

They sit with their knees almost touching and poke away at the buttons.

"Did you get it?" Amir asks her.

Boxhilda slowly looks down at her phone.

"Yep." A smile spreads across her face. Then she types something back. "You get it?"

Amir holds up a finger. A buzzing sound comes from his phone and he reads the screen, snickers, and writes something back.

"You get it yet?" he asks.

This goes on for awhile, and I am curious to see what all the fuss is about.

"Give me your phone, Amir." He hands over his sleek purple Iphone 5. I read the screen:


"Dere go my brother's work," Boxhilda says.

I look up, and she is pointing at the strip club directly across from our bus stop.

"Really? Your brother works there? What does he do?"

"He the DJ."

"What does his wife think about that?"

"She work dere too. She sell underwear."

I mull this over for awhile.

"Have you ever been there, Boxhilda?" I ask.

"No way," she says with a violent shake of her perm. "Dem places is nasty."

It is not an area I have much expertise in, but she says it with such authority that I am inclined to agree with her.

I have been to a strip club only once, back in college. 

The place was a square building rimmed in pink neon, sticking out from the middle of lightless West Virginia hills; a lonely, desolate spot to go for nudity.

The experience is fragmented in my memory: I recall walking in, heading straight to the bar, and deliberately sitting with my back to the stage. I was already drunk and fixing to get a lot drunker, but they kept serving me Gennesse Cream Ale, which is a beer that is less about getting you wasted and more about helping you out if you have not been farting enough lately.

I guess I was embarrassed to be there. I'm the exact type of guy you don't want with you at a strip club; I'm too introspective.

Maybe that is the core difference between introverts and extroverts.

An extrovert sees a stripper and says, "Oh, hey! Boobies!". Then he bucks out his teeth and does an awkward rowing kind of dance.

An introvert looks for a second, turns away, and thinks: Really? This is who I am now? A strip club kind of guy?

Eventually, one of my friends called me over to a seat right by the stage.

This is the only clear part of the night: the dancer, a very short girl, was dressed like Jim Carrey's character in The Mask. Zoot suit, fedora, even a green rubber mask with a grotesquely distended smile. I think she did her routine to Glen Miller's Chattanooga Choo Choo. 

I didn't watch, however. The whole time she danced, I looked straight at my friend beside me and spilled my guts out to him about what was really bothering me. 

I was currently in love with two very different girls: one was into Nintendo and The Simpsons; the other liked Italian Renaissance poetry and smelling wine before drinking it. Kind of your classic Madonna/Whore predicament. 

It really tortured me, this fork in my heart. 

I went on and on. At one point, I think a fedora flew past our heads like a flying saucer. 

My friend was not even looking at me; I felt like he wasn't listening and I told him so.

He turned to me then, and his face looked like the face of someone witnessing something incredible in the sky, like a hot air balloon or a cloud shaped like a kitten. 

"Dude," he said, "I'm trying to look at some titties."

Later, we had to pull over on the dark highway so I could throw up.

I spent the night in the back seat of my car, one shoeless foot dangling out the window.

Amir and I are taking a break from walking laps at the track.

He's bummed because Boxhilda did not come to school, so I tell him he should text her. 

"Oooh!" he says, clapping his hands. He flips out his phone and his thumbs go to work.

We wait.

I absently read the schedule for exercise classes. Step with Traci, Spin with Caroline, Slow Yoga with Denene.

Amir's phone buzzes. 

"What did she write?"

"Loser," he says. He makes an L-shape with his hand and holds it up to me.

His phone buzzes again.

"What you doing," he reads aloud.

"Tell her you're at Slow Yoga with Denene."

"Huh?"

I snatch the phone from him and hunt and peck my way through the sentence. 

Only after it sends do I notice that the phone changed "Denene" to "Dana".

"Wat?" Boxhilda writes back, as I am composing a text of my own.

"I mean Denene." I ram the name down the Iphone's throat.

"Wat?" she texts again, and then, I can't help myself. 

"You forgot the 'h' in 'what'," I write. It takes me five minutes to find the single quotes on that thing.

We start walking the track again, and soon Amir's phone "blows up".

"What does she say?" I ask, involved now in spite of myself. He holds it up for me to read.

"Ur loser."

"Put that away", I tell him.

We focus on our laps. Each quarter mile loop brings us past a tall, transparently pale blonde girl on an elliptical machine. She has the frugal movements and exact proportions of a praying mantis. It's unsettling, yet fascinating to watch. Her white tank top sports the words "Yoga Life" in bold, and I wonder if she might be Denene, here in the flesh.

23 comments:

  1. You should write a book. Or record some of these stories as podcasts. You truly have a gift - to the point where I never comment, because after reading your posts, I'm never quite sure what to say. But I'm here, reading every word.

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    1. Yes. This is what I want to say. Thanks for saying it first, Stephanie.

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    2. Thank you so much! I am really glad you like this silliness Stephanie

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  2. That bathroom scene happens in the women's room as well. I'm somewhat ashamed to say I'm a part of the butthole chorus...

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    1. Ha! No shame in that....I should probably do more to preserve my dignity too

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  3. That was so funny! I loved the drawing of your baby! You will eventually have to learn to text because that will soon be your offspring's primary mode of communication. Mine text me from the couch.

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  4. Seee! I'm not the only one who would read a book you wrote!

    Also, seriously, what's with the obsession with cell phones? People ask me for my number, I make an embarrassed face and suck in the air between my teeth - "No, I'm sorry, I don't actually have a cell phone..."

    They probably think I'm lying, but I'm not, although if I did, I might lie about it. I'm not good at people.

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    1. I know I would probably lie sometimes too if i had one, just because it's fun to lie

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  5. Dear Mr. Gweenbrick, I just wanted you to know that this is what I said about you on my blog today.

    "I have been waiting to tell you officially about Gweenbrick ever since I mentioned him. I wanted to make a whole post about him. But if I wait till I do that, I’ll wait a long time.

    "Anyway, I can’t decide which his posts are more: hilarious, symphonic, Zen, or Hambledonian. [There is a footnote about the word "Hambledonian" in the actual post.] I wish I could write like this man. and I am proud of knowing him before the whole entire internet descends on him with shouts of adulation. Get in on the ground floor of loving Gweenbrick. Today’s post is called Slow Yoga With Denene."

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    1. WHOAH! About me??? That is very very nice of you to say. I liked your footnote on Hambledonian too. I see we have some similar reading tastes: the Brothers Karamazov is my favorite book. Thanks for writing about me and I look forward to reading more of your posts!

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    2. I have not read Bro Kar yet, I should do that before I die.

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  6. What they said. Especially Stephanie. You have lovely followers for a reason..it's just a delight to spend time reading your work. I hope you always enjoy writing and continue to share it because you really are quite ridiculously and wonderfully good.

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    1. Thanks Esme! That means a ton to me-without nice comments like yours I would probably not even blog, thats how attention dependent I am

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  7. Was that the unveiling of the new baby? Is this like the People cover of the Gweenbrick baby?

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    1. hi mandy-that was an unrealistic representation of Oliver, who is actually one and a half or so and looks much more intelligent in real life

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  8. First, it is obvious you need a new job. But then we won't get to read your fodder. Did I say 'fodder'? Oops I meant brilliant writing. Thanks for the reference to single and double quotes. What a pretentious nerd comment that was. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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    1. Hi Rick! I'd say fodder is a good enough descriptor as any-thanks for reading and happy thanksgiving!

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  9. Hah - seeeeee, everyone wants a Gweenbook!
    My copy of the Hyperbole and a Half book arrived today! - and I've read more of your posts than I have H&AH, it's a hefty full colour book full of fun, some from the blog and mostly unseen.
    ...love your blog Gween and can easily imagine a book and a TV show.
    Oh well, can I have your autograph, even if it's not on the inside page of a hard copy - where it ought to be?

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    1. Hi Julie-thanks for a nice comment! What did you think of the Hyperbole book? I've heard mixed things....I will probably read it when the 250 holds on it at my library are through with it. I wish I could write a book that would be awesome.

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    2. I think you can...I think you can...I think you can...
      the Hyperbole book is is just what I thought it would be like. There are some new stories and some from her blog. It's heavy (weighs a lot) all colour, the whole page is glossy and it smells like a full colour book. I feel like there's something missing and would've liked more narrative, with just the pics in colour. My sons love it (24 and 17 yrs). But I think it's difficult for someone who has read a lot of her blog to make a biased judgement. I think she could've put something extra in there - like paper dolls...?

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  10. I know that feeling all too well in the bathroom. Waiting and waiting for a flush or a hand dryer to go off so that I can get things going.

    Great post.

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  11. There's something very poignant in you telling the dead whale that you don't have a cell phone. Mostly because I'd totally want a cell phone to take a picture of a dead whale. You've become a mirror into my own humanity.

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