Thursday, June 23, 2016

Blogiversary Excerpt and Giveaway: Summer Flings and Dancing Dreams by Sue Watson

Chapter Four
Slut Droping Zumba Queens and Someone Else’s Leggings
As excited as I was about doing something new, arriving at the Dance Centre in a pair of Carole’s leggings was probably one of the low points in my life. Because I’d been late cashing up my till I hadn’t had chance to go home and change, but Carole had thought of everything and had brought a spare pair of leggings, a T shirt and a headband with her to work. We’d changed at work and the crotch on the leggings was round my knees (to Carole’s surprise they’d shrunk in the wash). The T-shirt was fluorescent orange and tight, and along with the bloody headbands she insisted we wore, we looked like Edina and Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous.
‘Please Carole,’ I tried, standing outside the big wooden doors. ‘Let’s come back next week.’
‘I’m sorry, hon, but you can’t stand there in that too tight T-shirt telling me you’re coming back next week. Your body is in the same state of emergency mine is – and we can’t waste another day.’
She was right.
‘Bitch,’ I muttered as her bum went in front of me through the door, and I could see in tight leggings it had a life of its own. Walking into The Dance Centre, I realised I hadn’t walked into a new place where there might be people I didn’t know for years. And I was scared. I thought calming thoughts of the cream sponge in the boot of my car waiting just for me and followed Carole across the room. I didn’t think I could feel any worse in Carole’s version of the zumba outfit than I already did – but looking round I could see we were the only ones in headbands. I never was one for being different – I always followed the flock – and ripped my fluorescent pink towelling headband off.
‘You’ll regret that, when the sweat’s pouring off your forehead,’ Carole sniffed.
All around me women were arriving, huge and padded in their October layers, giving me false hope that I wasn’t the fattest there, only to cast them off – from caterpillars to butterflies within seconds. Sadly my layers weren’t detachable... well, not without surgical intervention and believe me – I’d considered it. The only layer I took off were my glasses, which made everything slightly blurry and didn’t make me feel like a butterfly at all. I felt like a big caterpillar and wondering if I really should have said a big fat ‘yes’ to this – I moved with everyone else to the middle of the floor.
‘Laydeez, laydeez,’ came a loud and rather aggressive voice from the corner, as a warrior-like woman emerged, clapping loudly with a very serious look on her face. It was the teacher, who introduced herself as Martha, and after announcing that our vaginas were the home to ‘deep shaman magic,’ she asked us all to ‘roar from our core.’  I don’t know what shocked me most, that my vagina was magic or I was expected to roar (I doubted I even had a core).  My prevailing thought was that I couldn’t possibly roar without laughing, so while everyone made like lions I pretended to tie my trainers. Once the roaring stopped, Martha went off on one about  ‘goddesses’ and ‘she-wolves’. She lifted her arms up and urged everyone to ‘feel your femaleness’, which I initially refused to do, shaking my head vigorously, until I realised it wasn’t literal, just another way of saying ‘be aware of your body.’ I was only too aware of my body so didn’t want to dwell too long on that one.  So after she’d stopped roaring and bestowing super hero status on our vaginas, she went on to declare war on fat and pelvic floors throughout the region. This woman meant business, and this class wasn’t the light-hearted Olivia Newton-John in spandex style leg-kicking low-impact jiggle I’d imagined it was. And we hadn’t even begun yet. She told us to brace ourselves and be ready to Zumba in five... or else? It felt like a threat.
‘Christ she will kill me,’ I hissed to Carole who was waving to a couple of younger girls who had wandered over with Natalie from ‘World Cuisines’. They were all in very tight spandex shorts and tops with leg warmers, their pelvic floors were probably perky and I doubt they’d ever even seen fat. They looked like something from the 70s, but they hadn’t even been born then, I smiled at them while contemplating my escape from the zumba hell-hole. This wasn’t for me – I wanted to be home on the sofa with my lovely cream sponge.  
‘This is Mandy and Toyah,’ Natalie said, introducing me to them. ‘You know Mandy don’t you – she’s the beauty therapist at Curl Up and Dye.’
I recalled a brutal waxing incident and smiled nervously. Sophie had insisted I have my legs waxed for the wedding, and what was optimistically labelled a ‘pampering session for the mother of the bride’, turned into something tortuous as Mandy ripped the wax strips from my flesh while giving a detailed rundown of her last holiday (drinking, sex, followed by more drinking... then more sex). I’d never been to a beauty salon in my life until then – and probably wouldn’t again.
‘Is this your first time at one of Martha’s Zumbas?’ Mandy asked, one of her perfectly-arched, but heavy eyebrows raised.
‘Yes, I don’t know what to expect really...but I’m worried it’s going to be agony,’ a bit like one of your treatments, I thought.
Her face opened up in delight and she leaned towards me to impart some pearls of Zumba wisdom.
‘You don’t know what to expect? Well...’ she grabbed my left buttock, which surprised me. A lot.  ‘Expect your arse to feel like it’s exploded!’ she announced. ‘Your legs will feel like you left ’em in a car park somewhere after a hard night dogging,’ she added, nodding in all seriousness. I found it hard to imagine that particular scene – but she’d now left me in no doubt as to how I would feel in the morning. I really should have gone home with my sponge cake, because it didn’t matter how much I ate it never made me feel like I’d been through ‘a hard night dogging’.
Carole saw my face and looked worried.
‘I might make a run for it. Well, a waddle for it at least,’ I hissed.
‘Ha ha, you should,’ Mandy said. ‘If you stay, I’m telling you, all that slut dropping will make you feel like crap tomorrow.’ And she set off again. ‘I drank a bottle of vodka and three Porn Star Martinis after an all-nighter with Kyle Thomas last Friday and next day I still felt better than I do the day after Zumba,’ she roared laughing. Now I was really scared and just looking at Martha’s abs in her midriff-baring outfit was making me feel tired and sore in the way a bag of chips and Silent Witness never had. And what the hell was ‘slut dropping’?
Before I had a chance to escape, Martha was yelling something guttural about ‘the power of the vagina’ and the music started up. It was one of Rihanna’s slower songs which was promising and hopefully meant the moves wouldn’t be quite so aerobic. I’d insisted we stay at the back which meant I could hide and I didn’t have to look at Martha with her flexible limbs. But being behind a blur of fluorescent tops and pert bums wasn’t much better – everyone seemed to be moving like they’d been Zumbaing since birth and I was worried I may get left behind. I was able to rationalise my feelings with Rihanna gently singing in the background and reminded myself I was a woman of forty four and not a bloody teenager. I told myself not to be so stupid and self-conscious. So I might not know all the moves – no one did the first time. I straightened up and began copying what the woman in front of me was doing. You could tell she knew her stuff because she had a tiny bum and a swinging pony tail, which in my book said Zumba Queen. Everyone was slowly wiggling their hips, it was just like belly dancing, nice undulating movements that wouldn’t put anyone’s back out. I took it slow, as my belly often danced without any help from me and if I gave it too much wiggle it could gather speed and behave like a large pink blancmange. I glanced at Carole who gave me a reassuring wink and through the still slightly blurry rainbow of fluorescence I caught Mandy’s eye. Perhaps it was my eyesight, but I’m sure she made an obscene (but friendly) gesture.
‘Yeah,’ I thought, moving my body with everyone else, ‘this is going to be okay.’ I was almost (and I stress ‘almost’) beginning to enjoy myself when suddenly a high-pitched wail emanated from the front. This was quickly followed by a heavy bass beat that filled the hall and my head (probably filled the town it was so bloody loud). Without warning, everyone put their arms in the air and started whooping – I felt like I was on a rollercoaster – going down, fast!
I clenched my buttocks in fear as everyone else began leaping to the music. They were all in unison, all seemed to know exactly what to do like they were tuned in to radio waves I wasn’t privy to, even Carole was holding her own despite a difficult pelvic floor. There was much yelling coming from Martha’s side of the room – what I could only presume were instructions but meant nothing to me. Then I heard, ‘Drop it low,’ over the music and everyone dipped. ‘Way down low,’ the words boomed out as bottoms almost touched the floor. This must be the slut dropping Mandy scared me with, and I panicked – since hitting 40 I’d found it hard to pick something up of the floor and get back up without calling for an ambulance. There was no way I was ‘dipping’ anything that low without medical assistance – my bum just wouldn’t go all the way down there. I made a fist at it but opening my legs wasn’t easy in tight leggings and a crotch somewhere around my knees. I tried hard, but no, the ‘dipping low’ just wasn’t happening. Carole’s tight leggings were acting like a lower body hammock and I just hung there mid ‘drop’ completely trussed up and unable to move. It was less ‘slut’ drop, and more ‘OAP’ collapse - just not pretty. I looked around from my prone position to see all the others back up, raising their arms and swaying their hips and pert breasts while I remained suspended mid-descent. Why did I ever think I could do this?

Sue Watson was a TV Producer with the BBC who combined motherhood and family life with a busy career. However, one day it dawned on Sue that Cosmo magazine may have been telling porkies about 'having it all,' and her life had become a slightly crazed juggling act. 

So after much soul searching (and comfort eating) Sue abandoned her TV career, bought a pink laptop and wrote a novel. 'Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes,' tells the story of Stella Weston, whose life is a constant struggle with a nasty boss at work, the weighing scales and being a mum, wife and daughter. 

Originally from Manchester, Sue now lives with her husband and teenage daughter in Worcestershire. When she's not toiling over her latest novel, Sue bakes (and eats) cake and enjoys very large tubs of Caramel Chew Chew ice cream all to herself while watching 'The Biggest Loser USA.' 




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