I found a picture the other day that brought me right back to high school. Many, many moons ago. It was a picture of a good friend of mine, Terri and me at my parents house on Governors Island, where our dads were both stationed in the early 80’s. (Terri is on the right).
If you look in the background you can see an antique. A rotary phone. Mounted on the wall. You know the one you tried to pull as far as you could to get some privacy and ended up with a practically straight 10 foot long phone cord that rewound itself in the oddest manner after your father yelled at you to “Get off the phone!”
That’s the one. The one kids would look at now and wonder how to dial. But one that your siblings could pick up the extension on and eavesdrop to get blackmail material.
That period of my life was my first real exposure to exercise. Aerobics specifically. VCR taped aerobics to be precise.
Terri and I used to go to the “Big Gym” on Governors Island to work out. There was a tape check-out area where you could pick a VCR tape of your choice and then use the “aerobics” room for an hour. I am pretty there was a cute guy in a Coast Guard uniform working at the desk. Not positive, but I am pretty sure there was some flirting involved.
We alternated between two favorites that I can recall. The first was Jane Fonda. All decked out in her big-80’s hair, surrounded by skinny women with bigger hair clad in Flashdance style leg warmers. She had a good thing going. Very encouraging, kind of mellow.
And then there was our other favorite. Jane Fonda’s polar opposite. Richard Simmons. Remember him? He had a very pleading, encouraging, moderately whiny manner with a very annoying voice. But he had boundless energy. And a fabulous story. Plus a big heart. And he was surrounded by real people. Big people, small people, men, women. And he had great music.
I think maybe his video was a tad shorter, too. Not that we were slackers, mind you.
But when you looked at the women surrounding Jane Fonda you thought “Maybe someday”. And when you looked at the people surrounding Richard Simmons you thought “Real people!”.
Very refreshing, even for a teen.