We started a new program at the cafe called Aerobics and Americano. The aerobics portion of the title is a bit of false advertizing since we aren’t anywhere near being able to do aerobics. We’re still working on the whole lifting the arms above the head thing and lifting the feet off the ground. Mostly, it’s just a whole lot of potty humour filling the hour and I’ve discovered a secret delight in making Cindy Currie laugh.

I call Cindy the neighbourhood Ombudsman cause she is always helping people out of a jam, advocating for them, counseling them. She has now launched a social enterprise to help people in the community with their financial issues, and a broad range of issues they are. (Ahem.)

6am aerobics is a special kind of torture for me because I am already at the cafe from 7am to 11pm. Of course, the last month or so I can’t get in at seven, but more like 8:30. 6am aerobics ensures that I am there by 7am, however, I guess I didn’t really think the others were serious about the 6am thing – I doubted the sincerity of my lady friends.

I grew up feeling that I had to apologize for being a girl. Boys were faster, stronger, better and for the first many years I struggled to be faster, stronger, better too. As a kid, though I was shunned by the Boy Scouts (and shunned the Girl Guides in my turn) I was generally friends with the boys, and the occasional tomboy. It wasn’t till I was seventeen that I discovered how cool girls could be, but being me, I guess I have to keep re-learning these lessons.

I spent the summer I was seventeen in Belleville, Ontario getting my Glider Pilot’s License. I’d been working towards it since joining Air Cadets at fourteen and a whole lot of work was finally paying off. There was only one room of girls but about seventy guys in a barracks across the park-like grounds. Horchemer and Freisner were my friends and we spent as much time playing frisbee as studying. My impression is that the powers-that-be were surprised that we passed. Somehow a circle of teaching and learning helped each of us to fill in gaps in our knowledge. I ate and slept with the girls but the guys were my buddies.

One day, we girls planned a night raid on the guys’ barracks. There was one fellow I really didn’t like and I had a sweet revenge planned for him. I forget what his crime was, but the lingering question is why eight smart girls training to fly gliders would gamble their scholarships on a lark? We believed that as long as we stuck together, they wouldn’t kick us all out. But would we all stick together? Do girls do that sort of thing?

We mapped out our route to the guys’ barracks along the tree-shadows cast by the spotlights installed to prevent exactly this kind of activity. We had an inside guy who left a window open and my guys had told me where my enemy slept. Our scout hoisted each of us into the window and then stayed watch while the rest of us set about our missions in the darkened barracks.

I crept to the very last room, third bed on the left, and positioned myself over the head of my tormentor. I had two tubes stuck in my track pants; water-resistant glue for his mustache and Neat for his eyebrows. I put a glob of each on a finger, capped the tubes, stuck them back into their “holsters” and as I leaned over to wipe it into place, someone I hadn’t seen, who’d been watching, suddenly yelled out “This is it guys!”

I wiped my hands on my pants and ran for the door as groggy boys woke up all over. I was in the farthest of about a dozen rooms, running down a darkened hall, knowing for certain that our plan would fail; the girls would be long-gone and I would be “Returned to Unit” without a license.

In my imagination, if not for real, I did a very fancy dive out the window, landed head first into a roll and then up into a sprint across the empty field. In fact, as soon as I made to sprint, I heard behind me, “Rebecca!” and turned to see all of the girls crouched in the shadow of the window. Waiting.

And as we retraced our steps along the shadows of the trees as fast as we could go in this non-linear fashion, my heart burst with success, not at having tormented someone who I imagined deserved it or pulling off a successful caper, but that we, the girls, had made a plan and stuck to it. That we had come together as a team, supported each other and returned to laugh about it.

So why was I surprised when the morning moms showed up, not at the cafe but at my house, at 5:45 that first morning? And every morning for a week they came at 6am to the cafe, creaking and groaning as we turn back our biological clocks and weed out all those aging cells. Why was I surprised? Why did I doubt them? Is it fear of failure? Fear of success?

Maybe it’s just part of being a girl, that we have to rediscover and reinvent ourselves.

Today americano; tomorrow aerobics.


4 thoughts on “Girls

  1. You were a tom boy on the outside but a caring woman was budding from within. In the end we grew a little and had a BLAST getting there. šŸ™‚

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