I, much like the next Joe, am curious what the next workout fad will be. If I were to summarize the “exercise fad industry,” I would describe it as the constant search for the next set of flashing lights and ringing bells that will entertain us long enough to “get into shape.” The definition of what it is to be in shape is as broad as the Mississippi River is wide, rife with rationalizations and bursting with excuses why we fail to attain it.
They come and go: Cross-fit, Pilates, Boxing Workout, Roller Blading, Buns of Steel, Thighs of Steel, Jane “the Gash” Fonda’s workout, Richard Simmons Sweating to the Oldies, O.J. Simpsons’s really (REALLY) stupid workout tape, Jazzercise, BodyBlade, BowFlex, NordicTrack, Tae Bo, Kettle Bells, Thug Workout, P90X, Wii Fit, Insanity, ShakeWeight, Spin Class, Zumba, Yoga, Hot Yoga, Cold Yoga, Tepid Yoga, and Room Temperature… Yoga.
Meanwhile, Patrick Arthur McNamara is passing cinderblocks between his legs, throwing tractor tires across his yard, doing one-legged squats while holding a blacksmith’s anvil… and is in better shape than anyone engaged in the latest whiz-bang workout. Why is that? What’s the secret? Where’s the secret? I have known Pat-Mac for over 35 years and that selfish jerk STILL hasn’t told even ME “the secret!”
Ah, but I have the foreign language learning secret that I won’t tell anyone because I too am a jerk. But you know… Rozetta Stone is the top-selling language learning program in the U.S. today, so there’s that. Why are they so successful in teaching foreign languages? Well, they aren’t — not really at all. They are successful in marketing and moving a bunch of their product, and in the end, when consumers still don’t really speak the language they want, they can’t blame Rosetta Stone when the language binder was nothing more than I really big coster in their homes.
Never in my entire life, the last ten minutes included, have I ever met a person who spoke to me in a language they learned from Rosetta Stone. I no longer have any of my language study books. People have “terminally borrowed” them over the years because they were special secret books that actually worked on a person: “That Geo… they worked on him, so they must be legit!” Rosetta Stone is a language learning faaaaaad!
The Delta Commander of the day was not immune to being sucked into fads any more than the rest of us. In his position of command, he kept his eyes and ears tuned to the trending methods of warrior improvement in the four pillar areas: strength, flexibility, speed, and endurance. And it so happened that one day a laminated card-carrying slip-knot of a person managed to worm himself all the way up to the commander’s desk, despite security, and sold him the most snake oiliest, tropical-Island-in-the-Sahara, smoke and mirrored, hair-brained scheme imaginable for strength gain.
A magic serum you might venture, an elixir of molecular structure not of the Solar System you might wonder… but none of these was the source. Instead, the source was a pair of flexible, light green bands approximately two inches wide designed to be worn on the wrists…
…on the wrists…
…on the WRISTS!
We called them the “Wonder Woman Bracelets,” and as near as I can still recollect of their function they performed as such: the body is of course largely composed of water. Ah, but the water molecules are oriented every which way pointing helter-skelter in the most unharmonious fashion. The word “harmonious” should have immediately been a red banner in this horse-$hittery.
The Wonder Woman bracelets, then, were of such nature as to compel water molecules to all line up in a congruous and harmonious (there’s that word again) united front of peace and inner harmony(!) bleah… bleah… bleah and — BADA-BING — thus promoting strength increase exponentially. There is a cavernous gap in that white paper function description, and yet that was all we got: “Yeah boys… ya just put ’em on and — BADA-BING — you’re Hulk Hogan… just wear ’em; the Boss sais so.”
I was directed as team leader to assign one man on my team to wear the bracelets for a test. I chose my good man Guido, who threw such a temper tantrum that I told him I would participate in the test with him every step of the way. It consisted of first climbing our ten-meter rope three times and recording our speed and recovery progress in the climb over a three-month span.
“How-ya feeling, Guido — strong?”
“Honestly, Geo… I think we would all sooner do better by buying a pair of actual Wonder Woman Bracelets from Walmart; at least those are supposed to thwart off bullets…”
What we were not told was that the bracelets also came with a headband that the Commander did not have the stomach to make us wear. The Wonder Woman bracelets came and went and nary a sinew did prosper. The Boss owed us one and he knew it:
“Nooowww… I’m not too proud to admit failure on that one, men…” the boss addressed us one day, “I made a foolish mistake and I’m admitting it upfront to all of you in official forum… but it is incumbent on me as your commander (here it comes) to look out for each and every one of you… I love you all like my own sons… you need to understand that!”
But we, the men, all stood silently blinking at the Commander with our folder arms and grim scowls; no man spake.
“I’ll make it up to you, boys — I swear I will… YOU’VE GOT TO BELIEVE MEEEeeeee…” but we had all walked away by now, all of us with our wimpy unimproved muscles. To me, it was all good… all good for I knew I would get a free pass one day in the Unit over this episode should I ever do something really above-board stupid.
Like, if I locked myself out of my car with the engine running and transmission in gear watching it crash through a chain-link fence and coming to rest in the woodline… I could look at those around me and say: “So did I ever tell yooz about the time the Boss made us wear the Wonder Woman bracelets — you talk about stupid!
The tension over the WW edict was broken quickly and in conventional fashion by way of the registration of the stupidity for all of eternity in the cartoon book. It was nothing personal, mind you. It was after all purely just a business decision, one totally devoid of all emotion and drama. I provided a service to the morale of the men in the Unit — nothing more, nothing less I assure you.
If you’re going to dance then eventually you’re going to have to pay the band, and since you have to pay you might as well make the band play your favorite tune.
I was the band, and the Delta Commander had to pay me!
By Almighty God and with honor,