Monday, October 4, 2010

Even if you shave your eyebrows, you still have to go to church.

Question: Amy, I just joined a blahblahblah sports club/group/gym and I think I should get those new Reeboks that tighten up your tush whenever you wear them. And I just placed an order for new shorts, tights, and tanks from UnderArmor. So now I'll be fast and sweat free. Do you think I should buy those Lance Armstrong vitamins?

Throw on some red hair and this is my mom from 1977- 1986. I couldn't do this pose now if you fed me margaritas all night. Just trying to put my leg straight in the air would most likely strain something and I'd be walking like a cowgirl for a week. 

Just because my mom taught aerobics using wood poles back in the 80s doesn't give me any credibility to give you sound advice (sound advice is a little overrated anyway). But let me think as I pour vodka into my gatorade bottle....

I've been tempted to buy the crazy Sketchers that look like space man boots (temptation faded when I saw the ridiculous $80 price tag), the latest Reebok technology -- because doesn't everyone want to work on their tush, and yes, even my dad tried the Lance Armstrong vitamin chewables. Thank god he only tried the chewables and didn't buy himself a pair of bike shorts.

I would suggest you buy yourself a pair of good kicks, hit up Old Navy and Target for sports gear because all you really need to cross that finish line is YOU. And whatever you do, put the razor down if you're a competitor. No matter what you shave off won't really affect the finish line.....

You thought I was going to throw a picture of my dad in his shorts. It's tempting, but I don't want to distract you from all the training advice you'll want below. FOR FREE. 

I'm a casual runner these days, but before I accepted wearing shorts with built in underpants (seriously, it will always be disturbing to me) I used to be a swimmer. I grew up across the street from the town Y.M.C.A. so my mother made sure to sign my sister and I up for every activity to keep us busy and exhausted.

I took to swimming, mostly because I had no coordination for gymnastics. And by no coordination, my attempt at a summersault looked like I broke my neck and I'd end up laying on my side flailing like a fish.

I tried ballet. I really did. In my head I wanted to be this amazing ballerina with pink slippers, my hair in a perfect bun and long lean legs that I could kick higher than my afro.

Picture this athletic (and by athletic I mean butterball) body doing anything in a leotard. Not pretty, just pretty embarrassing. P.S. that's just a coat, there isn't any intense clothes layering going on under there.
Unfortunately, my friend Becky, advanced to toe (the fancier ballet shoes) and I was 'forced' graduated mostly because I think my teacher knew my ballet career wouldn't go any further if I couldn't keep my underpants from hanging out of my leotard. I had sausage legs, not dancer legs.

Swimming didn't require the dancing coordination, and I could splash all I wanted as long as I got from point A to point B. It was also somewhat cheap for my parents. A bathing suit, a towel from the bathroom, a plastic bathing cap, goggles and I was good for the season.

I was pretty self conscious about my sausage ballet legs, but in swimming, where would I hide? Behind a kick-board? Yes, I tried. Under my towel? I pretty much mastered the towel around my body to hitting the pool without anyone seeing skin almost effortlessly. After awhile, I stopped caring and just focused on not drowning.

My swim team photo. I'm top row standing, 2nd from the right. And yes, you'll never be able to guess how much gel I used to get my hair perfect for the picture. Luckily, being an older swimmer, I could also hide behind 2 rows of teammates. 

Fast forward a few years and more ridiculous stories you'll hear at another point. I'm in 6th grade and we've been training all winter for our last meet of the season. Championships.

Championships were a HUGE deal. We didn't just have normal practices - our team went all out with training. To prevent your eyes from bleeding, our season went something like this:

1. Swim practice every day for 2 hours. Since I lived 10 steps from the YMCA I could never miss a practice or ditch because I was always at arm's length from my mother's stern face and my swim coach's clipboard. Once I DID ditch, but I ended up hiding in a bathroom stall for an hour and a half. NOT FUN.

2. Layer up wearing old bathing suits and stealing my mom's pantyhose for practice. This probably does not make sense to you and now you're starting to think that not only does my dad dress in drag, but I wear my mom's pantyhose. YES, I did and I didn't shave my legs. (I'm Italian, you shouldn't need a visual for that). The more I wear, the more 'drag'- which makes me swim harder. You would think I'd do that now to shed the last 5 lbs, but seriously, c'mon.

This is pretty much what I looked like on the swim team. Throw on 4 or 5 bathing suits and my mom's pantyhose.  Mom and dad would let me parade around in my swim team gear, because seriously, who is going to ask out a girl that looks like this?

3. The day of championships I pack my favorite towel, goggles, swim cap, and then argue with my mom to buy me a 'paper' suit that costs $50. It's the thinnest, newest, fastest suit and everyone has one on race day. I can't wear it more than a handful of times because it literally falls apart. Mom says no, because it shows my nipples and bellybutton. (Ok she didn't say, "nipples" instead she pointed at my chest and said,"Ummm no Amy, THOSE will be exposed.")

No, not my bellybutton.  Duh, but mom made it sound like I would look like this if anyone saw my bellybutton. Hell, I'd like to look like this now. (SANS the crazy breakdown).

4. I spend race day sitting on my wet towel hanging out with teammates eating fun dip and wishing I could flirt with the guy from the other team. Oh wait, is he looking over here? Yes, that's because I have a booger on my cheek. Awesome. Secretly, my parents know guys won't approach me for one reason or another so they don't ever worry about me. I also didn't blossom (bosom wise) until college, I bet they somehow planned that too.

5. Enter the razor. The day of the race I ditch the pantyhose, and the 4 bathing suits I've been wearing all season.  Right before I get ready for my race, I make sure there's nothing on me that could possibly slow me down. Baby oil? Check. Shaved legs? Check. New bathing suit? NO- THANKS MOM. Anything else to shave?


If my mom didn't pray 100 novenas for my eyebrows to grow back, I could be walking around like this. My friends know I can barely walk in heels, so there's no chance I'd be able to draw clown lines on my face every day.
I shaved my eyebrows. Right there in the hallway, minutes before my race. 100 freestyle (4 laps), I somehow convinced myself in that crazy moment that the tiny hairs over my eyes could possibly slow me down in the biggest (cough) race (cough) of my life (triple cough). Was I destined to be Michael Phelps? Clearly not otherwise I'd be eating subway sandwiches, partying it up in Vegas with my 8 medals and not here writing about my eyebrows.

My mom was in the stands, and I swam my race. In fact, I came in first place in my heat and had my best finishing time of the season. Although the look on my mother's face when I took off my goggles gave me that pit feeling in my stomach.

"I do not care if you shaved your eyebrows young lady. You are 

I don't think I was trying to get out of going to church. To be honest, I used to check out the altar boys and pray they'd one day ask me out. But now that amazing winning moment was over-- I slowly came to my senses that I actually had shaved off my eyebrows.

And it didn't stop with that race, for the next few years, instead of my mother instructing me how to groom my unibrow, I used a bic razor to even out my eyebrows. It's not a pretty sight looking back on those photos. I look part alien.

My point is...if you sign up for a 5K, or join a new sports team-- ditch the new gear. Forget the fancy gadgets and gimmicks that will leave you less money for cheeseburgers and beers with your new sports buds. You can shave your eyebrows (no, really don't do it), or buy that paper swim team suit...but honestly it's all the hard work and effort that will get you through the workout or across the finish line. Unless you take steroids. Then you are clearly delusional to be reading this.

Oh, and if you do anything crazy, like tattoo your jersey number on your face or dye your hair your team still have to go to Church.