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Friday, March 23, 2012

Banjo and Wife Take Tai Chi Lessons

What my wife looks like doing Tai Chi
My wife and I have recently started a Tai Chi class, attending once a week. She never looked better. She manages a grace that, so far, has eluded me.  I don't let that bother me.

Our instructor plays flute music. All Tai Chi instructors appear to do this. I think they do this to cover up the grunts. I played music all through high school and college, so I enjoy music. But this music doesn't appear to have a beginning or an end. It's always in the middle of whatever piece they are playing. It never goes anywhere. It starts in the middle, meanders around, and ends in the middle. Who thinks up music like this? I think they need some BBQ, then they can get somewhere, and have a start, middle, and end, instead of all this wandering around.

What I look like doing Tai Chi
We do things with our arms. And then we do things with our legs. The music facilitates this, as arms, legs and music are all wandering. Sometimes I just stand and stare at my arms – they are doing things I don't remember issuing commands to do. Sort of like autonomous arms, I guess. I don't know if this is good or bad, but I'm keeping an eye on them just in case they start to do something embarrassing or illegal. I don't think I'll be able to stop them, but I'm keeping an eye on them anyway.

I have to remember to keep my mouth closed. All this wandering about makes it want to gap open.

It's important to keep your toes pointed in the correct direction.  Mine want to wander.  Some people go barefoot, but I keep my shoes on so all my toes are forced to go in the same direction.  It's also important to use your head.  He hasn't said why yet, but I can tell by his looks at me that this is important.  Someday I'll figure this part out.  In the meantime, I'm busy keeping my toes pointed in the right direction, my head doing something as yet unknown, and my gaped-open mouth closed.  This all keeps me pretty busy.  My wife is not amused.  A husband can tell.

Sometimes we stand on one leg, and for some reason, yet unknown, we extend that leg. I'm glad nobody from my old hometown can see me like this. We don't go any where with it, just put it out there, then bring it back in and put it right back where it was before. We do it s-l-o-w. Then we do it again, except with the other leg. At least, I think we do.


Sometimes my arms do something like you might think a propeller would do, if a propeller had arms. It's been my experience, making buzzing sounds while doing this doesn't appear to be part of the approved plan. My instructor has a bald head; when he frowns, like when I'm making buzzing sounds, it goes up all the way from his eyebrows, up over the top of his head, and down his neck to his shoulders. You can see it. It's like one of those Chinese dogs – Sharpies, or something like that – the one with all the wrinkles - whatever. It's almost worth the price of admission to see that. But, seeing it once was enough – remember when they told you, as a kid, not to cross your eyes, or they might get stuck - so I don't do that any more – I don't want him stuck like that.  Did I say my wife was not amused? A husband can tell.

We do other things, all of which have names, but none of which appear to have anything to do with the names given them. We do brushing knees, first one, then the other. We brush them without touching them. It reminds me of how I cleaned my house when I was a bachelor.

We do parting horses manes, first the horse on one side, then the other horse. It's never the same horse, so I don't try to learn the horses names. It's probably better that way. It'd be my luck to get a frilly horse, one with ribbons that wants me to use a comb, when what I was really wanting was a Mustang, snorting and … oh, never mind.

We also push clouds around. Then we stand on one leg, push it out, then the other leg. But we don't go anywhere.  I can't tell if I'm pushing the clouds right or not; I can't see them.  I'm apparently the only one that can't see them, because everyone else is doing this with great enthusiasm.  I don't let that bother me either.

Sometimes, while doing things with our legs, we twirl our arms. At least, I twirl my arms; my wife appears to be doing some sort of smooth, silky ballet, performed with grace and elegance; what I do reminds me of hanging tobacco in barns to cure when I was a boy. No body accused me of dancing ballet then, nor are they likely to do so now.

Everything is done deliberately. There appears to be two speeds: slow, and real slow. I thought at first we were going slow so we could learn better, but I think the more we learn, the slower we are going. It might be the music.

I have to say I'm excelling at breathing. People are turning to stare, so I'm taking quite pride in that. It's apparent they think I know what I'm doing, and hope to learn from the master. I can also stand on one leg pretty good now, then the other. But I never seem to go anywhere.

I think things would work better if they got some new names for the different moves. I even wonder if they got them translated right. Wouldn't it be funny if, instead of parting horse's mane, it really meant baiting a hook?

Here are some names that I think would work better:

  • Pushing off a seat on MARTA. This would consist of lowering oneself onto one leg, while extending the other, to gently push off nappers so you can sit down.
  • One legged twirl. You extend one leg, holding it by the toe with one hand, while extending the other arm up in the air, all the while hopping on the other leg. I think the Russians have a dance similar to this, called the Putin Vodka Punch Roll.
  • Parting Lion's mane. This would consist of a quick forward thrust with one arm then the other arm, on a sleeping lion. This time, the legs are picking up and putting down as fast as they will go, and you are going somewhere, or else you're dinner.
  • Bowling clouds. Left arm comes up to your chin, where it grabs a cloud and moves it aside. Meanwhile, the other arm is coming up to do the same thing. Where these clouds are coming from, nobody has said, nor where they are going. However, with one leg in the air, turn, squat, and lay that sucker down the hall for a strike.
  • Old man grunt. This is where you extend one arm up high, do something with the palm, count your thumbs; turn real slow, sweep the floor with it, grunt, and repeat until you no longer grunt, or death, whichever comes first.
  • Saturday Night Fever. In this one, you try to look like John Travolta. Or in my case, you just try to stand with one arm up high, and the other is down low, with the finger pointed. Shake your hips some. It's hard to find a beat with that meditation music, but I never let not finding the beat get in my way before, so I'm not going to start worrying about that now.
  • One Quack Waddle. This is where you pick your leg up s-l-o-w-l-y, then semi-squat on the other. Then, with one hand in the air, and the other hand stretched out in front of you, with your palm up, wiggle your hips while scooting forwards. It works better on a wooden floor; unfortunately, our floor is carpeted, so I keep pitching forward, doing face-plants. That's OK, because everybody appears to enjoy pointing and laughing, and you get bonus points if you quack while falling forward s-l-o-w-l-y.

There appears to be a correct way to do everything. So far, it has eluded me.  I'm not holding out much hope for the future either.

I was told tonight to extend my left arm, to put my left palm facing me. I would know that I had done it right because the thumb on my left had would be pointing to my right. Meanwhile, stand on one leg.

Try as I might, I was unable to put my left palm facing me, and have the thumb on that hand be on my right. My dumb left hand's thumb just kept ending up on the left when I had my palm facing me. I must have the wrong thumb on the wrong hand, or the right thumb on the left hand. Or something like that. I'm not even sure what that means, I'm so confused.  My wife is concerned.  A husband can tell.

So far, I can say this with authority: my wife looks good doing this, and I can stand on one leg. I'm not sure why yet, but I'm doing it. Along with breathing and grunting.

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