I'd written 'Start a Pilates class' on my new year resolution list back in January, but I'd put it off and put it off because I've been a bit pre-occupied with fighting street crime. And finding a cure for narcissism. And solving the glitch in the String Theory of Physics. Urm. Also? I am a big fat scardy-cat.
I've never been a super-Pilates head, but I am absolutely convinced of its body-altering properties. A few years ago Olivia and I did Pilates every Monday night after work, and every Tuesday was known as Thin Tuesday because For Serious. Something about that class made us look 7 pounds lighter right after. This surprised us both, because in the main we just did a bit of stretching on the mats and tried to avoid fanny-farting. It wasn't difficult. Thin Tuesdays were the bestest invention.
Back-To-Normal-Wednesdays were a bitch.
But that class was done in English- in as much as you can refer to the North Yorkshire dialect as English. Here in Rome, those Pilates classes are quite obviously in Italian. Italian being, of course, a language I don't speak particularly well. Adding vowels does not a Roman make.
AND LOOK. FINE. Be a judgmental little slut towards me about that. You can't be any meaner to me about having been here nearly a year with a progress count of approximately zero per cent than I can be to myself. Because I am. I am embarrassed and humiliated that I don't go to Italian class every day, and have Italian friends, and essentially just make sex with Italy and have little Italian babies who can mock me in two languages that I am just not good enough and so how dare I even leave the house every morning?
Long story short: I came here to write a book, not to learn how to say hunchback or double-decker bus in another language. So excuuuuuuuuuse me if I can't conjugate verbs properly.
Unrelated: your fried artichokes are delicious, Rome.
When I realised there was a Pilates studio thirty steps from my house, it took me three weeks to pluck up the courage to tap on the door and make an enquiry because I didn't know what to say. I had to rehearse a little monologue in my head, and I was shaking a bit when I entered the building. Il mio Italiano e' bruttissimo, lo so I said. My Italian is ugly as hell, I know...
I signed up, because I was too embarrassed not to once I was in there, and started Tuesday morning. In Italian. And I rolled on foam cylinders, which I didn't know the word for, and used my thighs to push rubber rings, which I didn't know the word for, and I exhaled for the exertion and inhaled to recover, and I didn't know the words for that either.
Do you know what is worse than being incompetent with speaking? Being incompetent with those FUCKING FOAM CYLINDERS and rubber rings, and huffing and puffing as lithe forty-something Italian women don't even break a sweat, holding those sister-effing positions for the whole time they were told to. Cut to me, at the back of the class, falling over and breathing too heavily and being PURPLE, all in the wrong language.
And the guy kept telling me off because I kept giggling, and I'm quite sure he was saying something along the lines of ENOUGH, STUPID ENGLISH-SPEAKING FAT GIRL! THIS IS A PLACE OF PILATES EXCELLENCY, OF WHICH YOU ARE MOCKING WITH YOUR FLIGHTLY ATTITUDE.
Oh, COME ON! I wanted to yell back. You are supporting your body weight with your thumb and forefinger! You didn't even break wind when you did the knees-to-the-chest thing! You aren't normal! It isn't me ruining your life, it is you and your unnatural flexibility ruining mine!
And then he grabbed my leg and moved my hips to sit flush on the mat, and stretched me out until it hurt and I let out a little yell which meant that he won at life.
'Ci vediamo la prossima volta?' he said me, without looking up, as I hobbled to get my hoodie and water bottle at the end of the class. See you next time?
'Si, certissimo,' I replied weakly, thinking to myself, AS LONG AS YOU FUCK OFF AND DIE FIRST YOU SADISTIC ENGLISH-HATER.
But then, I woke up Wednesday, sore as hell and unable to use my own stomach muscles to get out of bed unaided, and buggar me if I didn't discover my new favourite day: Thin Wednesday.
My pride must've weighed more than I thought.