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The challenge that Old Man Withers gave our town, not only woke people up from their comfort zones, but also fired up the gossip chain. Which really didn’t need any help, but now, had become something of an Olympic sport. That’s why I had to start this series! You haven’t even heard HALF of the stories yet.  

At any given time in places like the post office, auto shop, or grocery store – it would be only minutes before you undoubtedly stepped into another Did you hear   or a  oh no he didn’t. It was taking people twice as long to do anything when you were always right around the corner from a you have GOT to hear what just happened

And for a good week at least, all anybody could talk about was Bitsy and her Zumba class. I can’t even pass Wanda’s Workout Palace without laughing out loud all over again. 

There are people to this day, that would have paid good money to have been in the back of that room.

Wanda’s Workout Palace was across the street from Clucky’s Chicken, which was just awful because you’d walk out and smell fried chicken and who could resist a two piece combo with coleslaw, mac and cheese, and a honey biscuit? And diet coke of course. For those watching their weight. Just makes my mouth water even thinking about it.

Bitsy, for the record, was watching her weight. Which was quite the full time job. And she employed a lot of people in the process to be her emotional support. Every time she came into Myrlene, Vyrlene, and Shyrlene’s House of Beauty she would be armed with a plastic baggie of her latest diet go-tos. 

There was the day she came in with one quarter of a sandwich, a half a cracker, and four pieces of the Russell Stovers she got for her birthday. She was doing the Weight Watchers diet.  You know, where you count out your points. We asked her how the Russell Stovers fit into the plan, and she said she could have as much as she wanted as long as she counted the points, and last week she didn’t eat for two days so she could have that box of girl scout cookies. 

There was the kale and lettuce leaves when she was on the plant based diet, which just wasn’t worth it she said – like eating grass all the time – and if meat was so bad, why was everybody eating meat in the Bible.

And then there was the week she walked around with pork ribs and cheese in her purse for the low carb diet. Until she found out she coudn’t have bread. I mean what was she supposed to do with the crackers at communion? 

And then there was the Subway diet like Jared did. But that was too far to drive.

The grazing diet where she only ate a handful at a time all throughout the day. And somebody should discuss with Bitsy what a handful is.

And then there was the cabbage diet, which we just won’t talk about.

Oh and what about the week she did that intermittent fasting which is how she fainted in the ice cream section of the Piggly Wiggly and we got to see some places on Bitsy that are better left unseen. I’m just saying. It’s obvious that nobody works harder on this planet than that woman’s girdle. 

When it came down to it, Bitsy decided on a hybrid diet she invented herself. Where you take the parts you like from each one – to the point where just about anything was okay because it was allowed on the other diet. She assured us that moderation was really the most important part of any wellness program. That, and exercise.

Up to this point, Bitsy’s idea of exercise involved shopping bags and parking lots. But her new life coach (she fired the last one for implying that Bitsy had no willpower) said that Bitsy should try that exercise class they called Zumba.  Normally that wouldn’t be enough to convince Bitsy, but her life coach said it was the perfect place for Bitsy to showcase her dancing talent. And I use the word talent loosely. I’ve seen her dance. Trust me. 

So Bitsy signed herself up for a Zumba class at Wanda’s Workout Palace, and bought herself a whole new set of active wear in a buttercup yellow color. They didn’t technically have it in her size, but she figured a size smaller would be fine, what with all the weight she was about to lose. That poor active wear never even saw it coming. 

If you’ve ever belonged to a gym, you’ve seen the type like Bitsy. The one who spends more time talking and asking everybody else how to work the machines –  and does anybody know what channel Maury Povich is on? She’s the one who spends two hours getting her hair and makeup ready to look natural for a fifteen minute workout. The one who’s not afraid to drop and do those lunges, but didn’t think about how she was gonna get back up. Thank heavens for those muscular trainers who came to her rescue.

Bitsy was signed up to take the afternoon Pumped Up On Zumba class with Wanda. Yes, THE Wanda of Wanda’s Workout Palace.  

So one minute she’s laughing and flirting with the guy at the front desk, who can’t seem to take his eyes off of Bitsy’s ginormous cleavage which was holding her hand painted daisy water bottle. And the next minute, she’s sliding into the back row of the class. She was disappointed that she couldn’t get closer to the front, as surely she would be an inspiration to the others, what with all those years of tap. But luckily the room was surrounded by mirrors, so Bitsy could be seen from every angle.

As each person walked in, they were told to reach into the box up front and grab a Zumba skirt, these cute little gauzy skirts lined with tiny little metal coins that jangled when they moved like a handful of change – which just confirmed to Bitsy that she had chosen the right class.  And could she have two? This one seems a little small. She might need to tie them together. 

After getting settled, and tying her skirt to where it sure did lay nicely on her rear end (her best feature if she had to admit) and finding a place for her water bottle, and daisy printed hand towel, Bitsy began copying Wanda’s moves – and had to admit that this wasn’t hard at all. Just do what she does – with a little extra flare of course – she couldn’t help it she was a dancer. You can take the girl out of the stage but you can’t take the stage out of the girl. She surprised herself at how good she was, and wondered if anybody had a cell phone close by to get a video of this. #Still Got It 

Just when Bitsy was getting the hang of this Zumba, and even adding some steps of her own, all of a sudden Wanda stops and starts clapping loudly and says Okay everybody let’s get started! Apparently Wanda had just been warming up. 

Wanda, like many aerobic instructors out there – is the type who absolutely LIVES for this stuff. You didn’t see Wanda around town wwithout her big gallon jug of water. She only ate protein with a side of protein. And you never wanted to sit by her at dinner because she was going to tell you exactly where that food came from and what it was going to do to your body. Wanda had biceps bigger than my husband. And once, when her next door neighbor Herman got stuck in his driveway under that old car he was working on, Wanda ran over and lifted it right off him without even so much as breathing hard. There are some people claim that they can hear Wanda late at night in her house yelling Move it! Move it! Move it! Though we’re not quite sure what that’s all about. 

Wanda looked all sweet and happy and excited stretching up there at the beginning of Zumba – waving at people like she was in Sunday school. And then when that drum beat started pounding and that crazy fast dance club – sounded like that Latina music – roared out of those big speakers like a caged up beast – well, in a split second sweet Wanda completely disappeared and the other one came out with this evil villain sounding laugh. It was like she was possessed or something. Seriously, Bitsy was half expecting her head to start spinning around like that girl on the Exorcist movie. Wanda had this look like she was climbing over a giant hill to face an army of brightly clad women in leggings, and they were pretty sure she was gonna win. Bitsy started to get a funny feeling in the pit of her stomach.

She was going to try and run but in an instant found herself blocked in by a wall of angry women stomping around and screaming with their Zumba skirts rattling around – thrusting their pelvises out to the beat, like some kind of tribal mating dance.  And let’s just say Bitsy did NOT feel like mating. 

Wanda their warrior princess kept screaming at them from up front and Bitsy tried to fake like she was having a heart attack, hoping they’d bring in a medic. But instead she just got a bunch of sympathetic looks. And one lady had the nerve to pull out her cell phone camera and aimed it at Bitsy. 

Bitsy tried thrusting her pelvis like the other women and the guy up front who looked like had invented the move.  But she wasn’t sure her pelvis was supposed to go that way. And she was too busy trying to reign in her bosom which apparently couldn’t even agree with itself, as each boob seemed to be headed into a different direction. She knew she should have bound them up first. Did the mechanical bull incident not teach her anything?

Bitsy tried not to make eye contact with Wanda – even though Wanda had been giving her the stink eye since they started. Apparently Wanda does not appreciate having someone bring down the class average. Wanda kept clapping like a tent revival preacher, and Bitsy thought surely her hands had to be getting chafed. Lord knows, Bitsy thighs were clapping enough for the rest of them. Zumba was NOT the class for chub rub. She never had this problem in tap class.  

Bitsy edged closer to the back to see if maybe that window could open up enough for her to jump through. The fall would surely hurt less than this class. But then she remembered what happened when she tried to climb out the window at that community college plumbing class her husband got her for their anniversary – saying wouldn’t it be good for her to have this skill if something ever happened to him? Bitsy decided in five minutes that it would not. And only a couple more minutes to realize just because it looks like you can fit through that window, doesn’t mean you can. And, for the record, last time their toilet backed up and her husband was gone, Googling it helped her out just fine. She called and the plumber was over within the hour. 

Anyway….back to Zumba.

Bitsy tried to focus and keep up with the other ladies, hoping that this wasn’t the beginnings of a stroke she was feeling. Was it normal to feel your blood pounding in your ears? And come to think of it, her left arm did feel a bit numb – but that might have been because her active wear was too small. She kept moving as she thought through what to do, and then, all of a sudden, she hit a zone, I guess you could call it. Where she got her feet going in the right direction, and she was finally getting that combination, and even started to get somewhat of a second wind. And she was feeling like Rocky must have felt running up those steps while that theme music played. “I can do this,” she squealed. And she was feeling right proud of herself, until she looked up at the clock and saw that it had only been six minutes. 

“Kill me now, God” she whispered. “Just kill me now.”

“This next one will get your butt moving,” yelled Wanda. “ I want you to feel this one into next week” and Bitsy wondered if she knew that her butt had not stopped moving since the first song and the way it was whipping around could probably be considered a lethal weapon. Wanda was cackling up there like the wicked witch in the wizard of oz, and Bitsy swore she had this look that said, “You’re gonna regret eating that donut. Don’t you lie to me. I can smell the sugar on your breath.” 

Bitsy told us that the rest of the class was a blur and that she was pretty sure she passed out standing up a couple of times, and how she was sure she was gonna die and saw her entire life flash before her eyes.  And she kept thinking about all the things she hadn’t done. Like bungee jumping. And seeing the African safari – and spending an evening alone with George Clooney – lights off, of course, even her fantasties had boundaries.

And all she could think about now was how she was gonna die, right there, and the cute paramedics would come in and see her without her good eyelashes in. And Lord help me, did I shave my legs today? And buttercup yellow was a perfectly nice color, but if she was gonna be buried in it, well she might have gone with a coral. And the legs of her leotard were cutting into her thighs something fierce, and she envisioned them having to cut her out of this body suit with the jaws of life. 

And then with one loud drum roll and a collective shriek, the music ended and class was over.  And Bitsy stood there clutching the wall like she’d just had some near death experience, which she did. The coins from her skirt had all fallen on the ground and were scattered around her ankles and the skirt was wedged in between her butt cheeks like a cow chewing its cud.  She tried to catch her breath as she collected her boobs from their various hiding places. The other women skipped out of there in their perky little buns and let’s go get a chai latte for a treat. 

Turns out Bitsy had worn her good eyelashes. She knows, because she found the right one dangling from her cheek. Now if that isn’t a fierce workout. She had Zumba’d her eyelashes off. 

“See you next week?” Wanda yelled out as Bitsy limped out the door and dropped the poor skirt her butt had chewed up and spit out into the bin where it would become the outcast of the other perky skirts. 

“Sure! See you next week!” Bitsy wheezed, and then said a silent prayer to God for telling a lie, cause no way in H E double hockeysticks was she gonna come NEAR Wanda’s Workout Pallace ever again. She didn’t care if it was on fire and she had the only bucket of water in town. Let it burn. And she started coming up with what kind of disease would keep her from being able to come to Zumba next week. 

While the other perky buns were treating themselves to a chai latte, Bitsy treated herself to a three-piece dark meat combo at Clucky’s Chicken. If anybody deserved some extra carbs it was her. Lord knows, she had already worked it off. 

She pulled out her daisy covered journal ‘cause her life coach said she needed to process her thoughts and whenever she goes through a painful event she needs to find the good in it. And while she munched on her extra crispy thigh, here’s what she wrote: 

Dear Diary,

Today I did Zumba. I’m glad I went. Will I ever go again? Not if George Clooney himself was teaching the class in his swimsuit.

I’m supposed to find three things I learned from the experience, so I don’t internalize it into a negative.  So here’s what I learned. 

1. Know your left from your right. Even if you think you do – do some drills beforehand. It’s hard enough when you’re going in the right direction.

2. Don’t wear your cute fake bun. It is not so cute when it flies through the air like a squirrel and hits that poor old lady in the cheek. And she probably DID have a stroke, which just goes to prove that working out isn’t always good for you. 

3. And last but not least – eating chili before you go – that’s a bad idea. I don’t care what anybody tells you.

Bitsy laid on her couch that night aching in places she didn’t know existed – covered head to toe in muscle cream. Her buttercup yellow active wear still smoldering in the wood stove.  But somewhere buried underneath all the grunts and groans, she still found a way to smile. Because even though she hated every moment. She did it. She didn’t run. And she didn’t quit. Her life coach would be proud. 

And when she relived the class over in her head, she realized that she actually didn’t do that bad. In fact, she was actually quite good if she thought about it. Turns out all those years of tap really did pay off. Hash tag “Still Got it”

But don’t ask anyone who was there. They will emphatically tell you otherwise.

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