Carolyn told you a bit about our foray into self-mutilation…whoops, I mean “defense.” She left out a few things.
Remember how in I Love Lucy, Lucy Ricardo would come up with some cockamamie plan and just assume Ethel Mertz would go along with her? Every couple of episodes, Ethel, bless her heart, would try to grow a backbone and stand her ground. But Lucy always won.
“Ohhh no, Lucy, count me out of this one.”
And the next thing you knew, Ethel was standing on the ledge of their apartment building, dressed like a martian. Well, that’s Carolyn and me.
“Hey,” I said one afternoon when I had obviously lost my mind, “have you heard of Krav Maga?” (Never, ever EVER ask Carolyn if she’s heard of something. EVER. Ever.)
“No. What is it?”
“Israeli street fighting. It’s supposed to be a near deadly form of self-defense— Whom are you calling?“
She had us registered for a trial class in under five minutes. I am not exaggerating.
“We should at least think about this, Carolyn. We don’t know these people. What if they’re not licensed or insured or sane? We should at least look at the studio first….”
The next day, our local Krav Maga studio –the one with the logo of the snarling bulldog—had three new students. (Carolyn brought her 14-year-old, star-athlete son.)
The workout/torture room was dreckorated in black and gray, not a whisper of cheerful color. The instructors and other students were dressed in black and gray, too, as the Krav Maga uniform is part of the registration fee. Coincidentally, Carolyn had worn black yoga pants and shirt for our trial class. I had dressed in jeans and a pink and yellow v-neck “Peace” tee (so cute, really) with hot-pink, lace cami underneath.
Guess who got the look of admiration from Krav Maga Man, the verrrry serious owner of our new home away from home? He spared me a glance. “Did you bring water?”
“I don’t want to get hurt!” shot from my lips before I could stop myself.
Krav Maga Man scowled. “Did you bring water?”
Looking disgusted, he walked away. “What is his problem?” I whispered to Carolyn. “They didn’t tell us to bring water. Did you bring water?” She raised a quart-sized sports bottle. It was black.
KMM returned with a tiny bottle of Kirkland H2O, which he handed to me. “Get going, you three. Class has started.”
I liked the warm up. My confidence soared, in fact, as I lunged, squatted, tossed in a yoga asana, rolled my shoulders and shadow-boxed. The nice teacher was smiling at me. He was smaller, younger, far friendlier than Krav Maga Man. Let’s call him Mini Krav.
Glancing at Carolyn, who looked sweaty and focused, I grinned. Self-defense wasn’t so bad.
After teaching us a few lethal punches and kicks, Mini Krav paired us up—men with men and women with women. Carolyn was partnered with a statuesque 20-something whose muscles appeared to be sculpted from Caesarstone. After some deliberation, I was matched with a very quiet, much older woman whose loose tee shirt hung past her knees and whose stooped shoulders gave the impression that a trip around the block with her walker might put her into traction.
I’m not going to lie to you people: My feelings were hurt. I mean, I work out. I own FOUR of The Firm DVD’s. Okay, I haven’t played them much lately, but c’mon. (That’s all I’ve got, just…c’mon.)
Looking on the bright side, at least I was unlikely to be injured and could help Carolyn get home after Ms. Olympia 2012 took out a kidney.
I smiled encouragingly at my frail partner and graciously held the provided padding, so she could hit me first. “Don’t be afraid, I’m tougher than I look,” I crooned. “You can—OWWWWW!”
The old broad didn’t even wait for me to stop speaking! Just punched me so hard I thought I lost a lung, even with the padding. Without waiting for me to catch my breath, she pivoted, letting me have it with the other fist while shouting, “MUH!”
“OW! Sonova– Hey, lady!”
“Historically, women have been afraid of their full power, so we don’t hold back in class. Do we?” Her eyes bore into mine and her lips barely moved when she spoke, making her look less Someone’s Grannie and more CIA Assassin.
“Fine, but from here on I’d like to invoke the Marquess of Queensberry rules, so– Owww-owwww.” She got me again. “I was still talking! What is wrong with you?”
“Attackers don’t play by rules, do we women don’t hold back. Do we?”
“Stop asking me that.”
“Practice your kicks!” Mini Krav called above the shouts and groans.
Instantly, I dropped the pads and used the same signal my daughter makes when she’s playing tag, hoping it would translate. “Time out. No puppy guarding.”
I looked around for Carolyn and saw her with the owner of the studio. He had his first-aid kit open as blood was streaming down her hand….
Part Two on Wednesday.