Monday, January 30, 2006

I did the yak

Ever wondered about the name of this blog? For those who don’t know the story, it all started right after college graduation, when my friend and I, who both had straight-as-a-ruler long brown hair, decided we had to look more professional as we ventured into the working world. What we should have done is get better clothes, but instead we were possessed by Satan and we decided it was crucial that we both get perms. When I went to the hair place, I told the person I wanted a soft wave. What I got was a malodorous football helmet -- a bunch of tight curls clinging for dear life to my smelly scalp. My friend fared a little better -- she wound up with a sort of Rosanne Rosannadanna / Annie Hall look where her hair got all wiggly and stuck out from the top of her head at a 45-degree angle. Well, we eventually came to our senses (although I’m ashamed to admit I refreshed the perm a couple pf times) and let our hair grow out again without interference. In my case, the hair grew straight out of a center part as it used to do, started down my head normally, and then the remaining permed hair suddenly swooped up. I looked at myself in the mirror one day and suddenly realized: “Good Lord, I look like a YAK!” As it turns out, the animal I was actually thinking of was a musk ox, but “yak” was much more inherently funny, kind of like penguins.

OK, we’re getting there... this incident earned me the permanent nickname in some social circles of Yak. Then one day we were dancing, and I spontaneously busted a move that ever after became known as “The Yak.” Whenever anyone did this move, it was referred to as “doing the yak.” To pull this off, you dance however you normally do, except you hold your hands straight out, fingers together like you’re doing paper in "Rock, Paper, Scissors." Then you move your hands in and out in time to the music, sort of like an Egyptian thing except both hands are in front of your body. Then, when the music hits any sort of climax, you do a full-body version, which means you throw your right arm forward with hand extended, lean over and extend your right leg out behind you. To build anticipation, you can wind up like a pitcher first.

Ah, the memories... and what exactly do they have to do with the price of onions in today’s complex world? Because in the gym the other day at my exercise class, I DID THE YAK! And I wasn’t even dancing! And I hadn’t had ANY beer at all! Among the moves designed to help you feel every muscle group screaming in agony was one where the teacher had us on hands and knees like a dog and then instructed us to extend one arm and the opposite leg straight out, front and back. So I was doing the yak in sort of a crawling position. But I kept wobbling and tipping over, so I was singled out for Extra Help After Class by the teacher, who gave me some tips in an attempt to make me look more like her smoothly coordinated self rather than the packing crate trying to balance on a tennis ball. As you can imagine, she and I had very different centers of gravity. During the workout, I wanted to glance at my friend for some sympathetic eye-rolling as we’d sort of planned, but I found that I didn’t have strength to operate eye-ball moving muscles, and also every time I looked away from Spandex Lady in the mirror for even a second, I lost all sense of what my body was supposed to be doing and wound up sort of randomly batting at flies. Stay tuned for Week 2, assuming I survive that long...

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