by Donnell Ann Bell

I developed plantar fasciitis a while back and the inflammation has been cramping my walking program. I enjoy that exercise more than any other, but since that routine has reduced me to limping, I’ve decided to take my friend Kathy’s advice.  Kathy suggests I join her in water aerobics until I recoup.  Water aerobics, she assures me will take the pressure off my joints, and according to Kathy, “anyone” can do it.

I’m writing today to explain why Kathy is now my ex-friend.  What she failed to tell me is that water aerobics requires coordination.

The first thing I have to do when taking up water aerobics is to wade through my chest of drawers, locate a bathing suit, then type up the confidentiality agreement for anyone who might see me in it.  With that feat accomplished, I’m feeling a tad superior as I drive up to our local high school because Kathy says I will easily be the youngest in the program.

There’s about twenty bobbing heads in the pool upon my arrival.  I meet these smiling, white-haired ladies and patronize my way in to the freezing water, then wait for my teeth to stop chattering so I can see what the instructor has in store.

One of the ladies introduces her four-year-old granddaughter to me.  She’s the class mascot and a little fish if you ask me. This little charmer can’t pronounce her l’s and one woman’s name is Lois.  And it’s just too cute when the four year old says “Ois, when we get out of the pool, will you put some otion on my eggs?

That priceless moment is almost worth getting into the frigid depths. But I digress.

We start the class with a warm up.  I do my best to follow along, which is pretty hard because our instructor’s under water, and I’m not exactly clear what she’s doing.  I finally adjust to the temperature, think I’m catching on when all of a sudden the women around me transform into amazing, graceful Ester Williams’ clones, while I do a brilliant impersonation of Lucille Ball.

I lift my leg to imitate our instructor’s movements and promptly bump into the woman behind me.  I mumble I’m sorry, then lift my right leg and hit the woman in front of me in the head.

By now I’m wondering if my umbrella policy is in force because if I don’t learn how to do this, I might get sued!

At my obvious discomfort, my ex-friend smiles knowingly.  “You’ll get it,” she says.  “Here, try these gloves on.  They’ll help you with the resistance.”

I slip on gloves that look like webbed fingers. They do indeed help glide me through the water and my superiority returns.  That is, until our instructor says, “Ladies, grab your noodles.”

Now…it’s been many years since I’ve grabbed my…noodle.  To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure what one is.  But I’ll be darned if I’ll tell any of them that.

We jog toward these long Styrofoam tubes, and I soon learn that a noodle is used to help you float.  They inform me we’re going into the deep end of the pool.  The ladies stick the noodles between their legs–as if that’s the most natural thing in the world, and then these little gray-haired U’s traverse the Olympic-size pool.  Me… I look like a fifty-year old N because my noodle has turned upside down.  It’s now floating away from me, and by this time I’m seriously trying not to drown.

I go under a couple of times, my life passes before me and I think it’s been a good life.  I’ll miss my husband, my kids.  I hope the top of my refrigerator’s not too dirty.  But then the instructor sidles up next to me and promptly adjusts my noodle – much to my mortification – I’ve never had anyone adjust my noodle before.  Hence I go farther into the pool and end up in 12 feet of water.

While I try to keep my head up, these ladies chat about their grandchildren, politics and life, all while smiling and watching my every move.

I find I’m getting the hang of the noodle, and, in truth, I’m happy to oblige them their morning’s entertainment.  I’ve discovered they are a delight and I love seeing the camaraderie that is keeping them young.

I might keep up with water aerobics when the plantar fasciitis is under control. I could use a little coordination development and I’m no longer quite so superior.  Plus, I can always use material for my writing and these ladies are a wealth of experience.

As for my ex-friend, Kathy, I’ll forgive her this time. After all, you can never have too many friends.  But the moment she suggests tofu cooking lessons or blindfolded kickboxing, she’s history.