Thursday, July 7, 2011


The New Oxford American dictionary on my iBook defines gravity as “the force that attracts a body toward the center of the earth, or toward any other physical body having mass,” or maybe just parts of a body. I’m still trying to figure out how gravity found my negative-AAA breasts, which by now could be called belly nipples.

I recently turned 52—yes, finally playing with a full deck—and discovered that, though somewhat slender, I’ve not been able to hide from gravity. For my birthday, I drove to Breckenridge, Colorado, in an attempt to defy gravity by ascending one mile in elevation, but climbing those peaks every morning still made me feel gravity’s embrace, particularly when I collapsed under the ski lift. My friend helped me up and remarked how I resembled a smashed bug on a windshield.
“You can’t escape me,” I heard Father Gravity murmur after John brushed the dirt from my negative-AAAs.

“Well, try this on, you ol’ FG,” I shook my fist at the ground. “I might be old, but I can reverse your bulge-inducing effects by standing on my hands.”

Standing on my hands. It all began during my grade-school years in a Montevideo, Minnesota, summertime. While my parents were at work, I watched Lunch with Casey, a kid’s variety program on WTCN-TV based in the Twin Cities. Casey Jones was a railroad engineer and Roundhouse Rodney acted as his sidekick.

A former Ice Capades skater, Roundhouse would occasionally walk around the set on his hands. I was impressed with his balance and decided to give it a go. I was hooked. From that time on, I could rarely just watch TV. I stood on my hands, did the splits, reverse-curved my spine to make a bridge, did front and back walkovers, and exercised whenever the tube was making noise. If I were to watch TV today, I would probably fall back into the same habit.

Fly forward 10 years and two cities later. I was living in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and still going to university. Rich, a college friend from Chicago, had graduated and moved to a Minneapolis suburb. He frequently invited me to visit on weekends, so in sunny or snowy weather, I’d tootle in my yellow-orange geometric form (Opel station wagon) two hours west.

One day while Rich was in the bathroom, I found a wide, open space in his apartment to secretly drop my hands onto the floor and sling my fuzzy-black-socked feet up to rest against the wall. A while later after he emerged from the loo, Rich glanced up at his wall and said, “What is that?!”

“What?” I asked.

“Look at these black marks on my clean, white wall!” Voiced raised, he appeared to be turning red.

Being insecure, and at this point, scared, I sheepishly looked up into his eyes and said, “I was standing on my hands,” and when he couldn’t calculate the connection, I hesitantly demonstrated.

Rich exhaled an exasperated sigh and handed me a lint remover, so I could pull sock fragments from the popcorn-finished wall.

These days I’m more conscientious about where I place my feet, but ol’ Father Gravity is going to have a tough time keeping them down.

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