Never Too Old to Climb the Stripper Pole

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I’ve been pole-ing (yes, that pole) since January. I took to it like a duck takes to water. Apparently straddling a 45 mm in diameter, chrome pole agrees with me. For an hour and a half, two to three times a week, the world outside, with all of its stresses and drama, disappears and my sole focus is on squeezing the bejesus out of a pole without falling on my head.


My inner thighs are black and blue, my knees look like I’ve been repeatedly whacked by the mob, and the tops of my feet are scratched and bruised. I’m in love.


It was only a matter of time before I found the pole. I was always climbing on furniture as a kid, hanging from chairs, and crawling under tables. And I always fancied myself a dancer.


In hindsight, I should’ve run away to the circus when I had the chance, instead of running down the street to my friend Muffy’s house. What did Muffy’s den ever give me, other than an endless supply of sour cream and onion potato chips, Fresca and Marlborough reds. The circus would’ve been a lot healthier.


Truth be told (and why start lying now) I feel like a bit of a cliche. My romantic relationship ends so I trot out my “to do” list, which includes activities that I’d been meaning to do, but hadn’t yet found the time. I became a Pilates Instructor after my last major breakup. Who knows, I may be teaching the Fireman Spin and Double Stag before too long.


Why do we forget about our “to do” list? Why do we, as women, sometimes take a backseat to our lovers or children? This is precisely why flight attendants tell us to put our oxygen masks on first. You know they’re not speaking to the men in the cabin because the flight attendants know that they’d grab that yellow cup without hesitation and start sucking air quick.


Why do we let ourselves set aside those activities that bring us joy? It’s not intentional. I never saw it coming, until I woke up and asked myself why the music had stopped. Literally.


I always listened to music; while I worked, while I walked around the city. I don’t know why it stopped and it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I bought headphones the other day and I turned up the music.


Not too loud. Not like the Jay-Z wannabee on the E train, who thought that I wanted to hear, “Many chicks wanna put Jigga fist in cuffs, divorce him and split his bucks. Just because you got good head, I’m a break bread,” at a volume that would wake Tupac. I didn’t to hear any of that.


Little does Jay-Z Jr. know, that in 10-15 years there’s a good chance that he’ll lose part of his hearing, despite the fact that he’s wearing his badass Beats. But I digress.


My only responsibility now is to please myself, and learning how to pole is one way to do it. Was that a double entendre? It’s a balancing act, as Deepak and Anne B. Davis (may she rest in peace) have preached to us ad nauseam. I don’t know if Anne B. ever spoke about balance with the Brady kids on the air, but she seemed like the kind of broad that would have done so off camera.


We have to remind ourselves who we are and what makes us tick. I’m envious of a lot of men and their ability to set boundaries, stay their course and do what they enjoy doing, without feeling guilty or acting neurotic. I need to steal a page from their playbook.


When I first started “dancing,” and was learning how to climb the pole, it was impossible. I was frustrated and I couldn’t wait for class to end. I shrugged it off, murmuring to myself, “I don’t need this.” It was an all too familiar feeling.


I don’t understand something; a dance move, a literary concept, a math problem, and I want to quit. Why don’t I get it right out of the gate? Why isn’t the first draft the final draft? Why can’t I get to the top of the pole?


I’m a Pilates instructor. What do I tell my clients when they struggle with Teaser? “You suck. You should quit and go back to Yoga?” No. No, I do not. Then why expect that from myself?


The following week I attempted to climb once again. My pole partner saw me struggling and she gently pressed the outside of my bony knees together; which hurts tremendously but is essential for the ascent. Before I could think about what was happening, I had gotten to the top of the chrome monster.


That climb was for every karate class, piano lesson, gymnastic team, tennis club, and acting workshop that I had quit.


So what did I do to celebrate? I entered myself in a competition. (you heard me) If I was going to beat myself up, getting owies where the sun don’t shine, then I might as well make it interesting.


I casually remarked to one of my instructor’s that I was surprised to see that there was an over 40 category. She looked at me and with a straight face said, “Yeah, there’s usually three or four women in the Master’s group.” It was hard not to laugh. “Well, then my chances of placing are pretty good.”


Master? Isn’t that misleading? Pilates Masters are considered those who’ve been teaching, or practicing, for 20 years or longer, not a 47-year old former gymnast, dancer and athlete, with bad knees and a bunion. That’s right, nothing says old Jew like a bunion.


The only limitations are those we put on ourselves. I read that somewhere. I’m about to find out what, if any, mine are. I’m going to open my heart, my mind, and my legs, and see where the pole takes me.


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