Chapter Fifty-Six: “I’d let you stand on my arthritic grandmother and she has osteoporosis”

Priscilla couldn’t even begin to describe the series of events that had lead to her taking couples’ yoga with Joey Succi. She knew how it started. It started with Melly as most horrible and scarring gym experiences tended to for the Cherry sisters. Since Melly had roped Tallulah into attending several traumatizing fitness classes with her, Melly had been unsurprisingly unsuccessful at convincing Tallulah to sign up for another yoga class with her as well. As Tallulah said, she had already taken a yoga class with Melly once and that had been one time too many. Her exact words were “I’m never letting another stranger sweat on me in the name of fitness again”. All things considered, it was fair. That didn’t mean that Priscilla appreciated the fact that she now had to go to yoga with Melly.

She agreed for two reasons. Firstly, Melly wouldn’t stop harassing her about it. As it turned out, relentless pestering was a very effective tactic. She supposed that was why Melly continually managed to convince Jacklyn to speak to Iggy about her perpetual lateness on Melly’s behalf. Secondly, Priscilla was relatively interested in yoga. She’d always wanted to try a class and this seemed like as good as opportunity as any, especially since it wasn’t hot yoga. She’d specifically checked because Tallulah’s experience had been so horrific. Unfortunately, what Priscilla failed to notice when she checked the studio’s website was that it was in fact couples’ yoga. And Priscilla was not a couple.

Had she simply shown up in her yoga tights with Melly, it would’ve been fine. They could’ve been a couple. Would there have been some unfortunate, but unavoidable groping incidents? Sure. Would their friendship ultimately survive it because they had a lot of experience with uncomfortable situations? Definitely, especially because the summer Melly discovered she was lactose intolerant occurred when they were both working as counsellors at sleep away camp. What was going to strain their friendship, however, was the fact that Melly had been aware that it was couples’ yoga and showed up with her husband, leaving Priscilla to either literally fend for herself or be placed with the only other non-couple in the class, Joey. The instructor gave them both such judgemental looks, probably because she thought they were stupid for not realizing it was a couples’ class or weird for coming to a couples’ yoga class alone. Frankly, it made Priscilla look desperate and Joey sketchy as hell. Though, to be fair, he was sketchy as hell.

“Why have you done this to me?” Priscilla hissed to Melly before the class officially began. Joey had set up a matt for them and was standing next to it waiting for her. He kept periodically looking over and grinning at her. He had shown up to the class in tear-away sweatpants that he very well may have owned since the late 1990s. He was a very thin man; it seemed unlikely that he’d filled out much since grade school.

“Didn’t you read the information I sent you?” Melly asked in return, unbothered by Priscilla’s predicament.

“Obviously not,” Priscilla huffed. “Why would you ask me to do this anyway? You know I’m not a couple. Why would I come to couples’ yoga if I’m not a couple? You know what kind of people do that? The sketchy as fuck dude I’m going to have to spend the next hour stretching with!”

“I know that guy,” David cut in conversationally. Priscilla turned to him in abject shock.

“How in God’s name is that even remotely possible?” She asked.

“You know Miles’ friend Robin?” David replied. She did know Miles’ roommate Robin. He worked with her sister. “That’s his roommate.”

“Oh, does Robin live in a crack den?” Priscilla returned sarcastically. 

“I’m not sure,” David answered thoughtfully, looking for all intents and purposes like he was honestly trying to remember if he’d ever been told whether or not Robin lived in a crack den.

“For fuck’s sake,” Priscilla muttered as the instructor called for the class to begin. She glared once more at Melly for good measure and then walked over to the matt Joey had put out for them. He’d taken off his tear-aways, leaving him in a pair of gym shorts made of track pant material and a white tank top. He was wearing a gold chain around his neck and he had a slight black eye. Now that she could see his black eye, he did begin to look familiar. She could recall Tallulah talking to Robin about how often his roommate got punched in the face. It seemed to be fairly often. Priscilla was kind of curious to know why that was, but at the same time, she thought it might actually be better if she didn’t know. It didn’t seem like it would be information that would make their imminent yoga class any better.

“I’ve never taken yoga before,” Joey informed her as the class began. Priscilla also had never taken yoga before, but she got the impression that his lack of yoga experience would end up being much worse for the both of them. She had overheard one of the other couples excitedly discussing lifts earlier. She had the distinct feeling that she was about to be dropped on her head repeatedly for an hour. On the plus side, if she got a head injury serious enough, she would probably be able to leave.

Priscilla learned a lot of things about Joey in very quick succession. Firstly, he was incredibly profane. Yoga had always seemed like it would be far more serene and calming. With Joey, it was like stretching with someone very angry who was being repeatedly hit over the head. Secondly, she learned that he wasn’t very flexible, which pretty much went hand-in-hand with the profanity.

“How the fuck does she want us to do that?” He demanded as the instructor demonstrated their next pose with the aid of her silent, very muscular assistant. “I’m not fucking Gumby. I have shitting bones. For fuck’s sake.”

He said all of this while trying to accomplish what the instructor and assistant had already managed. He was on his back, attempting to put his feet down behind his head. Priscilla was supposed to lay on her back on top him. Well, on his ass.

“I’m curious,” she said, watching him helplessly. “Why exactly did you sign up for yoga?”

He didn’t seem to be having a great time.

“I had to take my nona to aqua-fit and had an hour to kill,” he explained, finally managing to get his feet to the floor. “I thought this would be relaxing. I didn’t realize it was for people who don’t have fully formed kneecaps. Jesus fucking Christ, this can’t be right. My goddamn spine feels like it’s on fire. You could torture people with this. I think, actually, that this is basically what drawing and quartering someone is.”

Priscilla didn’t imagine it would get any better when she laid down on top of him, but she did it anyway.

They got into a fairly good rhythm. It took them twice as long as everybody else to do anything, even Melly and David. That surprised Priscilla because David hadn’t struck her as a very flexible man, but apparently that was not the case. He grinned the entire time, but that part wasn’t surprising. He never stopped grinning. Not for the first time, Priscilla wondered how Melly put up with that. She would’ve smacked David years ago. The instructor kept shaking her head at them, but Priscilla mostly ignored it. She was just amazed that they were managing to do anything at all. Joey still swore approximately eighty per cent of the time, but Priscilla was still counting it as a win.

And then they got to the actual lift portion of the class. Prior to that point, it had mostly just been a lot of tandem stretching. But now they were meant to stretch and lift at the same time. Joey had to provide a lot of base support, which was relatively fine for the pose where she balanced with her hands on his knees and her knees in his hands to touch her feet to her head. Admittedly, her feet made it nowhere near her head, but Joey didn’t drop her on her face, or more accurately, didn’t drop her face onto his face. Priscilla was almost proud of them. That is, she was proud of them until the instructor showed them what they were to do next. Joey had to stand in a deep lunge, Priscilla had to stand on his bent thigh on one foot with the other extended behind her. And they were supposed to do all of this without the aid of their arms. Priscilla looked pointedly at Joey’s thigh. Again, he was a very slight man.

“This is not going to work,” she announced to Joey before they even tried.

“No, I think we got this,” he countered, getting down into his lunge.

“I’m going to crush you,” she protested.

“I’m a fucking tank, don’t even worry about it,” he said dismissively. “I used to run track in high school.”

Priscilla wasn’t sure how that was supposed to reassure her. It didn’t.

“No offense, but you have the leg mass of a fourth grader,” she pointed out bluntly.

“Some offense,” Joey returned. “Let’s just fucking go for it. I bet we can do it and, if we can’t, what’s the worst that’s really going to happen? So you crush me a little bit. I’m very resilient. Some eight hundred pound motherfucker stood on my neck once and I was fine. I mean, I passed out immediately, but then I wailed him in the gut with a frozen leg of lamb and ran away when I regained consciousness in his industrial meat locker.”

Yet again, Priscilla was unsure about what part of his story had been meant to make her feel better about standing on his miniature thigh on one foot. No one she knew had a thigh gap, but Joey probably did. And beyond that, finding out that her yoga partner had once been locked in someone else’s industrial meat locker on purpose was a little worrying for other reasons entirely.

“Fuck it, whatever,” she acquiesced after a long moment. “But if I break your femur, you have no one to blame but yourself.”

“How do you think you’re going to break my femur?” Joey asked as he deepened his lunge and she got ready to step up onto his thigh. “How big do you think you are? Jesus, you’re not a sea lion. You’re, like, a little bit bigger than an Olsen twin. I’d let you stand on my arthritic grandmother and she has osteoporosis.”

Priscilla glared at him, unimpressed.

“You know, in this exact moment, out of myself and both of the Olsen twins, I think Ashley Olsen is doing the best and she has Lyme disease,” she said darkly.

“Will you just stand on me, for Christ’s sake?” Joey demanded, waving her forward. “I’m going to be arthritic by the time you actually do this. I have to get my nona eventually or she’ll fucking drown. If I have to drag my nona’s wrinkly corpse from a public pool, my ma’ll disown me.”

Priscilla glared at him again for good measure, but stepped onto his thigh all the same. They both wobbled throughout the entire duration, but they managed to hold it for at least a minute. Of course, everybody else had already been holding it for much longer. David was grinning, perfectly at ease. Priscilla could see sweat beading on Joey’s upper lip. On the other hand, she didn’t think David had any right to be so smug because Melly really was the size of an Olsen twin and David was a mammoth human being. Iggy had once accused him of being too tall.

At the end of the class, Priscilla shook Joey’s hand, which seemed laughing inadequate after she’d laid across his ass, and let him go gather his nona from the pool. As he said, she’d just be one giant wrinkle if he left her there to wallow for much longer.

“Wasn’t that fun?” Melly asked as she, Priscilla, and David left the class together.

“Alright, let’s not get carried away,” Priscilla returned, snorting. “I didn’t die. Let’s just say it wasn’t a complete disaster.”

“I think we should come back next week!” David interjected, grinning.

“Absolutely not,” Priscilla shot down immediately.

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