Gravity is a Cruel, Cruel Mistress

As I was growing up, my mom, bless her soul, had some pretty strong aspirations for her daughters. Mainly, she wanted both my sister and me to be strong, healthy and graceful girls.

This is an admirable wish.

So to that end, both my sissy and I attended dance classes regularly, learning ballet, tap and jazz (yes, I learned how to make perfect jazz hands).

Blessed from an early age with sturdy thighs and broad German hips, I was what might be called “stocky.” This whole dancing thing was a bit tougher for me than it was for the lithe little girls who also attended the dance classes.

That said, I danced and it was not so bad. I was a damn fine tap dancer in my day, actually. I could shuffle-off-to-buffalo like nobody’s business! (Google it, that’s actually a tap dancing term)

At some point, I don’t know how it came about, but it was agreed that I would start taking gymnastics classes at the local YMCA.

Well, this was quite a step up in the game. Gymnastics! Whoa!

Ok, let’s go back to the sturdy thighs and broad German hips thing…my center of gravity is rather low. This is a good thing for lifting things and staying on the planet.

However, that “staying on the planet” aspect is quite the hindrance to the goal of gymnastics activities which often involve leaving the ground.

In hindsight, I did ok on balance beam. I was actually not that bad on the uneven bars.

But the floor routines were another story entirely.

Cartwheels? Yes!

Backbends. Sure. I’m all over them.

Flips? Er. Not so much.

I’d come thundering down the mat, do the hop, attempt to flip forward and wind up lying on the mat in a tangled mess of limbs and lycra spandex.

Next I’d try to do that big hop and tuck to make a back flip work, and would end up in a similar state.

A back flip on the balance beam? Oh please, I never even tried.

It was kind of hard on the ol’ self esteem back then that all these other girls could flip through the air with the greatest of ease while I stayed firmly grounded.

Over the years I’ve become a bit more circumspect. Gravity is one of those laws that, unless you are an astronaut, you just can’t break. These days I tend to allow all due deference to that bitchy Mistress Gravity. She’s always going to win.

Today’s theme for Theme Thursday is flip.

Photo by Charlie Balch and used royalty free from stock.xchng.

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  • Alan

    This bitchy gravity thing has been on my mind lately, too.

    I’ve been playing some basketball lately, and Father Time has rudely reminded me that I’m not in my mid-twenties anymore. Just last night, I was guarding this “kid” that just lit me up. Over, and over, and over. And, he wasn’t *that* good. (Okay, he was decent.)

    In my mind, I’d be gliding through the air like a gazelle, and in reality, you could probably barely cram a credit card between my shoe and the court floor as my layup would get swatted out of the gym. Boo.

  • budhaaah

    Oh what a fun take on ‘flip’. loved it.

  • Lucky

    I had a boyfriend when I was 14 or so who could do back or front flips down an entire driveway. He tried to teach me. . .not so much. I was an athletic kid, ran track, learned karate, got the Presidential Gym Award or something in MIddle School, but I simply could not leave the ground. I have great respect for gravity and the fact that I was designed to walk upright and keep my head from smashing violently into the ground.

  • Karen Fayeth

    Alan – You and me, on the same wavelength. Totally.

    And for the record, I’ll back you up. To anyone listening in, Alan TOTALLY got Jordan-esque air on that layup.

    (we old farts gotta stick together!)

  • Karen Fayeth

    budhaaah – Thanks for the comment!!

  • Karen Fayeth

    Lucky – Ok, that makes me feel better to know that you were super athletic and still couldn’t do flips.

    My other take on gravity is…why is it making everything on my face slide southward? Jowls are nothing to laugh about……

  • Elise

    You really shouldn’t feel bad at all. I don’t think it’s about skinny or not skinny. It’s a very specific body type that allows a human to do gymnastic floor routines. Look at those girls. They’re all exactly the same, and they’re not just skinny, they’re rigidly proportional. Long torsos, short legs.

    I was always a skinny girl. When I was young, I was a dancer, a cheerleader, a surfer, a water-skier, etc. I didn’t do well in gymnastics because I had long legs. The older I got, the taller I got, and the longer my legs got, and the less able I was to defy gravity the way the short, stubby girls did. Which meant ballet and gymnastics went down the pooper. (Not to mention always being a base in cheerleading even though I weighed the same as girls a full foot shorter.)

    I say we lucked out. In some things, sucking is a blessing. They starve gymnasts and ballerinas to the point they don’t even menstruate and most of those girls don’t EVER seem to shake the food issues caused by that kind of abuse. No one needs that shit. We can stick with cartwheels–and cupcakes.

  • Jeanne

    Funny… I did gymnastics at the local Y also when I was young too. I was pretty good at it back then. Not sure if I could/would try even a cart wheel at this age! lol Emma started a gymnastics/tumbling class for 3&4 yr olds at the local YMCA last weekend for 7 weeks. We will see what comes of this with her. She can’t do flips yet but has a mean summersault! lol Have a great weekend!

  • Karen Fayeth

    Elise – Cartwheels and cupcakes is my new life motto!!!!

  • Karen Fayeth

    Jeanne – Ok, an Emma summersault has to be the cutest thing ever!! Go Emma!

    Cartwheels and cupcakes for that lil’ punkin!!

  • Mike

    Very humorous Karen! Being a bit on the vertically challenged scale (in those days – short) I was seemingly made for gymnastics. I had visions of me hanging from the rings in the “iron cross” pose and certainly tried it. Of course when my shoulders about exploded into little pieces I came crashing to the mat. Ummmm……….gravity worked it’s magic.

    Gymnastics soon became tumbling. Running and diving head first over anything stacked high, tucking and rolling at just the right time; something akin to acrobatics I could roll (and fall), push off, push down, lift up and fling a buddy into the air with the best of them. I had found my niche: close to the ground, no flips and intentional falling. Thanks for taking me back to the mat Karen! A nice journey. From a man’s perspective – yayyyyy for women with hips!

  • Karen Fayeth

    Mike – Thanks for the comment! I’ll have to agree, I was really good at vaulting over the pommel horse. I could hit that little springy thing, push off with my arms and stick the landing. A low center of gravity was useful for that event.

  • Aunty Sunbeam

    Hey Karen, I feel your pain. I had a tiny little girlfriend in high school who was, of course, a very good gymnast. I was too clumsy to even try. All the boys wanted to date her. I felt like an ungainly lump next to her. She ended up as my sis-in-law so the tormented feeling continued for years.

  • Karen Fayeth

    Aunty Sunbeam! Ah yes, since we share similar genetics, I suppose you’d be in a good position to understand.

    And why is it that so many boys like the tiny girls? We tall ladies have a lot to offer (literally, I suppose).

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