My bank held a wellness fair last weekend. A rock station broadcast live from the parking lot. Employees milled around, pretending to direct traffic and generally appearing to be in a festive mood. There were balloons. There were a lot of plastic giveaways; the kind that break about five minutes after you get them home. There was a huge prize wheel, too, beside which an employee grinned broadly as some guy gave the wheel a mighty spin, probably hoping to win better rates on his CD. But I’m guessing he won the key ring with the bank’s name on it.
There was one booth demonstrating tai chi; another booth with yoga; a health food restaurant giving away invisible samples in little paper cups; and some workout company handing out plastic water bottles.
“Come with us, Mom.” Filibuster said, as she and V dug through their purses for their debit cards.
“No way. I’m not going out there.” I locked my door.
“Come on, Mom,” Squints said. “They’ve got food! And prizes!”
“We’re not going.” My husband frowned. “Yoga at a bank? That’s weird.”
* * *
Several years ago, my mother and I enrolled in a beginner’s yoga class. For the first session, we arrived in our baggy sweat pants and oversized tee shirts. We had old blankets rolled up like sleeping bags slung over our shoulders. Of course, we forgot water.
The other students had all the gear: neat yoga pants with matching shirts that showed off their abs; bare feet with pretty toes to stand upon thick yoga mats. We slunk away to the back of the room and unrolled our blankets, hoping no one would notice. I made a mental note to run to Target that week, to pick up a fancy mat, to get some yoga pants, to get a pretty tee shirt that showed off my…Oh. Never mind. I had no abs. But I could get a pedicure.
The instructor introduced herself. Had us lie back upon our mats. Close our eyes. Relax. Sink into the floor. Become the floor. Relax your ankles into the floor. Relax your toes into the floor. Be one with the…
My eyes flew open. What the hell was that?
A latecomer arrived, yanking a spare mat from its Velcro post on the wall. She dragged the mat across my mother’s head and over my shoulders before slapping it on the floor beside me, sending dust and tiny mat debris flying.
I scooted closer to my mother. Closed my eyes again. Again, I became the floor.
But, no. It was time to get up. It was time to go into the poses, a series of difficult contortions that I never quite seemed to perfect. My arms never aligned properly over my head; I could never hold my foot against my knee without teetering. And then, I figured it out! I got myself aligned! I stood tall and straight. I was the mountain. Now I was the tree. I was…
The mat lady farted.
I was no longer the tree. I was just me; I was just me standing on my beat-up blanket in bare feet; giggling like a fool.
My mother was still a tree, but she tottered and leaned and swayed with the effort of holding back her laughter.
The instructor ignored us. She lead us into a series of frantic arm movements in which we swooped our arms up and down and around like some crazy out-of-control conductor on Red Bull.
“This is really complicated,” my mother said from the side of her mouth as she waved her arms this way and that.
Again I laughed.
“Hush,” the mat lady hissed.
After we finished conducting, the instructor had us lie back down on our backs. We were tired, after all. She lit a candle and produced a little gong which she struck every so often before chanting something I couldn’t make out.
My mother snickered.
“Hush.” Mat lady again.
Finally, the instructor blew out the candle and dismissed us with a Namaste. We sat on our blankets and put on our shoes and shook with laughter.
The mat lady stepped upon my blanket and dragged her mat across my fingers as I tied my shoes. She pressed the mat back into place. It hung there, waiting for next week when she would arrive late once again and rip it from the wall.
* * *
“Did you get any giveaways?” My husband asked as the girls returned to the car. He doesn’t like crowds but he doesn’t mind freebies, as long as someone else deals with their attainment.
“Blew right past them,” Filibuster said.
“Didn’t even make eye contact,” V put in, shoving her money into her purse as my husband drove away.
I never figured out why the bank was holding that fair: Maybe it was banking on the thought that handing customers a shot of wheatgrass juice and teaching us the tree pose would put us all in such a state of bliss that we’ll just say a united Om and forget about debit card fees and financial woes.
Call me crazy, but I don’t trust my bank with my wellness any more than I trust my doctor with my money. Banks should just be banks and doctors should just be doctors and even when I’m in the tree pose, I should just be me.
Labels: Banking, Mothers, Yoga