Prickett

About an hour ago the wife and I completed our first segment of the Insanity workout videos.

It will likely be my last.

At age 41, my body sucks. I’m actually in pretty good shape, courtesy of an improved diet, the elimination of soda and five days per week at the gym. But, thanks to a bad lower back, there are certain things I can no longer do—distance running and high-impact fitness routines at the top of the list. So, while I enjoyed doing Insanity, I now have a shooting pain down my left leg. Bummer.

Alas, while Insanity won’t add much to my life, it did offer up a wonderful flashback. As I huffed and puffed midway through the video, my mind drifted to the den in my boyhood home in Mahopac, N.Y. When I was a young teen, my mother used to regularly watch a fitness TV show, It Figures with Charlene Prickett.

This was in the mid-80s, a little before Jane Fonda’s heyday as a Spandex queen, and Prickett was sort of a huge presence in our house. She wasn’t an overwhelming dynamic or attractive woman, but she was always on, always positive and always willing to guide middle-aged women through 30 minutes of exercise. Mom became quite the regular.

So, for that matter, did I. I can’t recall how this started, but before long Mom and I would stand side by side in front of the TV and follow Charlene through jumping jacks and sprints and push-ups. I vividly (and joyfully) recall Mom and I running through the house when Charlene offered 60 seconds of “independent time.” Did I particularly care about Charlene, or getting in tip-top shape, or tightening my buns and perking up my breasts? Uh … no.

But, for me, it was golden solo time with the woman who raised me, and who I considered (perhaps oddly) a mom, a role model and a friend. My mother was always different than the other Mahopac moms. First, she was tough as nails, having been a longtime probation officer. Second, she was uniquely understanding. Third, she never had a daughter, and sort of had me fill that role in myriad ways (Prickett, going shopping, asking for my take on outfits she bought for herself). My mom rarely got mad at me, and—if the moment was appropriate—allowed me to curse and bitch at will. We used to take long walks around the neighborhood, and they were an education on life and, as I recall, how not to take shit. We had—and have—a true kinship.

Anyhow, the Prickett sessions lasted for two or three years, until her show was cancelled and more sophisticated exercise experts filled the landscape. Apparently she lives in Canada, still alive and kicking and peddling tapes.

Whatever the case, she’ll always have a warm spot in my heart, because she gave me time with my mother.

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