I thought I knew my friend Bridget pretty well.
We have children the same age. We have play dates and family dinners at each other’s houses. We visited each other in the hospital after the birth of our babies. Our husband’s get along smashingly. Our children balance out each other’s personalities. I can tell her anything.
We have met each other’s mothers...and they are similar.
I don’t mind that she is always perfectly coifed and she doesn’t mind that I curse a bit. She encourages me to shop, and I encourage her to eat baked goods.
It is a wonderful friendship.
Then, when you think you really know someone, they surprise you.
Since last summer Bridget has been inviting me to Zumba class. I am a little late to the party on this one, as Zumba has been quite the thing to do for the last couple years. I kept telling her that I would think about it, but I have never gone.
Truth be told, I am the solitary runner type. Tell me you’ve found a new course to run, I’m there. I will do a local 10K with you, no problem. I’ve run five half marathons, and one full marathon. I will run.
But Bridget is my friend, and she is so enthusiastic about her Zumba. The kids can play together in the recreation center childcare and I can burn a few extra calories. And it will make Bridget happy. She is so sweet and such a good friend.
How bad can it be?
So, I met Bridget at the rec center. I’m pretty sure she was shocked that I showed up. The orange, tasseled Zumba scarf she was wearing around her waist equally shocked me. The children pretended like they would miss us when we dropped them off at childcare.
I needed a number to ensure my admission to Zumba class. They only allow 49 participants; just enough to make me the laughing stalk of the city. Bridget told me I had to stand in the front so I could follow along. I took the second row. That’s close enough for me.
The instructor said we were warming up with belly dancing. The only belly dancing I am familiar with is the aftermath of jalapeno poppers with an ice-cold Corona. A fantastic lunch, in case you are wondering. “Warm-up” was a misnomer; because it was full throttle from the first Rumba to the last Salsa.
Sufficiently frightened, I looked over at my even-tempered friend who does the second reading at our parishes 10:30 Mass, and isn’t phased by my Franklin catapulting his body into her 21-month-old on the trampoline, and see a woman I have never met before.
Bridget has more energy than the instructor. She doesn’t miss a single step. She claps louder than all the other Zumbies. She is smiling in between songs. I’m a hot mess in my ponytail, meanwhile her hair is keeping a better beat than my whole body. While I get gulps of water between routines, she is bouncing in place. I’m pretty sure she yelled “Zumba” a few times. At one point she turns around and tells me we are about to do her favorite routine- it involved a lot of shaking. Who is this person?
I survived Zumba. It made me concentrate on what I was doing in the moment. This means I was not thinking about folding laundry, or the kids’ college funds, or devising a plan for world peace.
I burned a million and a half calories, and it was only 11:00. The music was so fantastic that I really wanted a margarita when we finished...but when do I not want a margarita? The kids had a blast in childcare.
I’m still not a group exercise person. I am a solitary runner. But I will meet Bridget again next week for Zumba.
I think I could be friends with this crazy woman in the bright orange scarf.