25 July 2013

So Far Outside My Comfort Zone, I Needed a Map and a Flare

Last year, a friend asked me to go to a self-defense class with her. All I could picture was the episode of Designing Women where they go to a self-defense class, and Suzanne pulls a gun out of her purse on the mat, only to discover a Lifesaver stuck in the barrel. And then Charlene says that the “bad guy’s” mask is like a panty girdle.

I’ve tried to find the exact quote online, but no luck. A loose translation:

Instructor: “With the mask on, he’s the bad guy. With the mask off, he’s our friend.”

Charlene: “Kinda like a panty girdle.”

Anyway…before we get lost in my free association of every Designing Women episode made with the original cast and how it’s the funniest thing on the planet and how I have all the words memorized….

I can only assume this is the reason I told her yes. Because I thought I would see something funny and just stand around with my hands up yelling, “911!”

News flash: I was wrong.

There was all this sitting in chairs and listening to true-life stories that remind a person why self-defense classes exist in the first place. Then, you decide you’re not having anymore children, because they might be girls, and are you kidding? I’m gonna just spare us all the chance that self-defense might be needed. Finally, my mind starts to wander back to when Husband said we needed to get in some sort of gun-shooting classes and find me a small weapon that’ll scare us both when I have it.

So maybe those are my words, but his idea was basically the same. We’ve got – and I’ve shot – all his hunting guns and rifles and .22s and such, but I don’t think I have permission to cart those things around.

And that’s where my reverie was broken, because people were moving chairs out of the room in preparation for ACTUAL PHYSICAL PRACTICE.

I don’t guess I have to run down the myriad of ways I’m NOT athletic. The most athletic thing I do these days is tote Katie on one hip while leaning down and picking things off the floor. Or sweeping chicken poop off the porches with a fiery vengeance.

I do occasionally “ride” the exercise bike or the elliptical, but let’s get serious. I’m watching Netflix or singing during these bouts of physical improvement, and as long as I keep my feet on the machines where they’re meant to go, I’m safe.

So I stood there and participated best my body would allow, making jokes at myself and laughing, because that’s what I do. When they got to the final part where you had to actually step into a circle of women and free yourself from the “attacker,” I decided somewhere inside my gut that yes, I could probably make my way through this. I started reminding myself of every time I’d done something hard and made it through. I thought about the time I almost got bucked off a horse, Hi-Ho Silver-style, and held my own. I thought about the time I DID get bucked off a horse and received a concussion and lived, hoof-printed thighs and all. I thought about all the times I built fence with Husband and drove trucks and tractors and pulled trailers and caught horses and cows and held pipe while he welded. I thought about the times I went hog hunting and towed the bull dog. I thought about the time I was a girl Power Ranger. I even thought about the time I took bowling at A&M and had to bowl poorly in front of strangers.

Somewhere in the middle of this self-inflicted pep talk, some girl was pointing to me from across the circle. It was my turn. I was second. SECOND IN LINE. Of course.

Cue wild heart-beating and fight or flight responses here…and lots of heated, nervous sweating.

I obviously know now that this was a gift from God. Had I had anymore time to think about this, I might not have done it. I hope I would have, but the chances aren’t nearly as high.

So I just jumped in and did it.

And, as evidenced by this picture, I think I enjoyed it.

I don’t remember enjoying it enough to smile while it was happening. I remember he was really hurting my arm; like a whole lot. After all, my arm is made of nothing more than pipe cleaners, freckly skin, and Little Debbies.

I just wanted away from him, and I couldn’t believe it wasn’t happening faster. It was way harder than I thought it would be. Maybe he was still “fresh” and holding on extra tight. Maybe I’m weaker than I ever thought. Maybe I knew it wasn’t real, so I didn’t put everything I had in it.

I don’t know.

But it was hard.

And I’m so glad I did it.

When the instructor told us at the beginning of the class that it would be a good idea to re-take the class every year or two, I thought she was nuts. Who has time for that?

But here’s the thing. Even though you walk out of there feeling like Uma Thurman from “Kill Bill,” (Listen to me talking about it like I saw it.) you’re gonna forget. I spent about a week showing off to Husband and Sister, and now, 10 months later? I’d have to spend way too much time trying to remember the moves. Too much time.

Even by the time that picture up there – along with a small, embarrassing video – aired on the local news station KBTX a few days later, I’d already forgotten too much. I spent the next month walking around and just looking for someone asking for me to self-defend myself, rehearsing techniques in my head, hoping I’d remember enough to use them.

Actually, I’m hoping I never have to use them. I’m hoping I remember them just enough to teach my Katie-girl. And then I hope she only has to remember enough to teach her kid or kids. But we gotta be smart about this; practice is good. The more you practice, the more ingrained it becomes. Kinda like automatically washing your hands before you cook or knowing exactly where the Oreo’s are hidden in the pantry, without even looking. It has to become so natural, no thought’s involved.

And the only way I can think to accomplish this is to get Husband a big ol’ panty girdle mask and get busy….


  1. Anonymous7/28/2013

    She also had a can of hair spray... :)

  2. "Julia, come at me with a knife...."

  3. "Julia, come at me with a knife...."