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MIT student blogger Anna H. '14

A Series of Embarrassing Events, Part 1 by Anna H. '14

Zumba and putting pants on in lecture

I wrote the post below on Tuesday. Because of weird formatting issues (ExpressionEngine hates me) I decided to hold off on publishing until Wednesday. On Wednesday, something mortifying happened that totally eclipsed my original story, so I decided to write a post with both stories and hold off on publishing until Thursday. On Thursday, something mortifying happened that eclipsed both stories. At this point, a post with all three wouldn’t do justice to any of them, so I’m going to write three posts. Here’s Part 1, unmodified. The last sentence is particularly cute and naive, since it ended up being completely false – but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Tuesday, February 11

Yesterday, I woke up at 8, poured myself a bowl of Raisin Bran, read the syllabus for “Zumba” (my new PE class) and choked on a bran flake when I saw that the first sentence of the description was “Ditch the workout, Join the Party” (with that capitalization). “A one of a kind experience,” it continued. “Dynamic, exhilarating, calorie-burning.” A little alarmed (the Party?) I changed into shorts and a t-shirt, and pulled on a pair of sweatpants (to protect my legs against the sub-zero temperatures). I stuffed a few more calories down my throat, packed my bag for class, and walked to the DuPont T-Club Lounge.

The T-Club Lounge has a pale wooden floor, one wall made of windows, and one wall made of mirrors. When I walked in, there were 20 +/- 2 girls sitting on the floor, wearing leggings and t-shirts and facing the mirror wall. The instructor, Ashley, looked like someone out of a workout video; she was short, composed of 99% muscle, and wore a white hat with a brown braid sticking a couple of feet down her back. Beaming, she asked me to sit on the far side of the room, which meant that I couldn’t see myself in the mirror – a blessing, as I would later discover. As the clock ticked towards 9:10, a few other girls trickled in, and sat down.

Ashley welcomed us to the course, and explained the format. She would dance; we would follow. She would try to yell over the music, but would have to do a lot of gesticulating. We would probably get confused, and confuse gesticulation with dance moves, but would get used to it after a couple of sessions. She asked whether anyone had dance experience. Two other girls and I raised our hands; one girl had Latin dance experience, I think the other said salsa, and I took ballroom last spring.

Not that it mattered. Introduction over, the warm-up music began, and we stood up. Ashley immediately demonstrated astonishing coordination: she screeched instructions to us, while dancing, and her smile never wavered.

Warm-up over. The song switched, Ashley screamed SALSAAAA! and began doing things with her hips involving muscle groups that most human begins do not actually have. She pointed right, and, while continuing to move her hips, began tapping her feet in a rhythm that magically transported her a few meters to the right. As I stumbled right, frantically swinging my hips around, Ashley pointed left, then did the same thing in that direction. I stumbled left. Ashley stopped, and tapped her feet in front of her, reverted to the hip movements, stopped, jerked her arms in front of her, jerked them up, jerked them out, as the rest of the class whipped our limbs in a variety of directions. I thought of my first swim lesson; when I was three, my parents took me to the pool, and the instructor put a hand on top of my head and pushed me underwater, to teach me to blow bubbles. My parents didn’t take me back for another year.

Just as my brain began to catch up with my body, the music switched, Ashley yelled MERENGUE! and off we went again into uncharted body movement territory. At this point, I made the mistake of looking behind me to see whether the rest of the class was as flustered as I was, and was shocked (and impressed) to see that it looked like a class full of girls dancing merengue. I considered the possibility that everyone had lied about their lack of dance experience, that “ten years of Latin dance” was secretly a pre-requisite for this class, and that there was a camera filming me with the goal of entertaining Youtube viewers. It then occurred to me that everyone might feel just as awkward as I did, and that I actually looked more coordinated and confident than I felt. Or maybe Latin music just makes everyone look awesome.

At 9:50, class was over, and my overflowing-with-adrenaline, fuzzy brain was left with two conclusions:

1) In no way was this “ditching a workout”, and
2) If I can get the hang of this, I will look AWESOME at parties
I swung my backpack over my shoulder, wincing, and scurried down the stairs and across campus to Astrophysics lecture. I drew some weird looks; it was freezing outside, I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and was speedwalking along with a pair of pants and a gigantic marshmallow coat flailing behind me. Astrophysics was far along the infinite and up two flights of stairs. I sat down, babbling to my friend Eric about the zumba experience, and started to freeze about fifteen minutes after the professor began talking. I passed Eric a note asking whether it would be inappropriate for me to try and put my sweatpants back on. He wrote back that he didn’t think so. So, I un-laced my sneakers, stuck my feet through the sweatpants holes, and tried to surreptitiously pull them up – and realized that I hadn’t considered how to get them over my butt.

Awkward. I sat there for a few more minutes, trying to take notes, with my pants bunched up on my thighs. Finally, I got over my shame, and stood up for a few seconds to tug them the rest of the way up, before sitting back down, cheeks redder than they were in zumba.

Tomorrow morning, I’ll be back in the T-Club Lounge, trying very hard not to care about whether I humiliate myself. And I admit: I’m kind of excited, although next time I will put on my pants before going to Astrophysics.