The other day, Aisling asked me how to do jumping-jacks.
I had to explain it to her because I myself can't do jumping-jacks. I ruined my left knee in a car accident when I was 21 and my life has been blessedly free from calisthenics ever since.
"First, you stand up straight with your arms at your sides," I instructed from my seat on the couch, wishing I had a whistle around my neck. Meelyn, who knows how to do jumping-jacks, was sitting beside me with her chin on my shoulder, but had declared herself to weary to teach.
"Okay," said Aisling, standing at attention like a Marine. "What next?"
"Next, you bring your arms up above your head and clap your hands together while jumping out sideways with both legs."
"Okaaaay...." Aisling said, concentrating on this complicated maneuver. She did what I'd told her, only it didn't look the way it was supposed to. Instead, it looked as if Aisling was being simultaneously electrocuted and buffeted by a gale-force wind.
"I don't think that's quite it," I said, hiding my face behind my book to obscure the wide smile I was wearing. Meelyn suddenly developed a coughing fit.
"What's not quite it? And what's all that banging around?" asked my husband, coming into the living room. He had just come out of the shower (he won't use the upstairs bathroom because he says there's too much "girl stuff" in it) and was wearing his typical evening uniform of gym shorts and a Notre Dame t-shirt. Under the gym shorts, he wears boxers, which had never struck me before as being an unappealing type of undergarment, but that was back in the days of my innocence.
"I want to learn how to do jumping-jacks," Aisling explained. "Volleyball camp is coming up next month and I don't want to look like an idiot."
My husband is very athletic, one of the few people in the universe who has a gym membership and actually uses it four times a week; the type of person who goes for a five-mile run or a ten-mile bike ride to "relax." How we ever ended up together, I can't fathom.
"Oh, jumping-jacks are easy," he said, kind enough not to say "And if you want to know how to do them, why are you asking your mother?"
He proceeded to do about twenty jumping-jacks, showing really good form in the coordination of arms and legs, also very speedy. The problem was the boxer shorts, which were not contributing to the effect of musculo-skeletal precision. To put it delicately, my husband's nether regions looked as if two puppies had started a sudden quarrel in a gunny sack.
"Dad!" said Meelyn, scarlet, covering her eyes with her hands. "DAD!"
"HONEY!!" I said insistently, "Honey, please stop, please stop, please, okay, well, thanks, just...STOP!"
"What's wrong?" asked Aisling, who was standing beside him instead of in front of him, thank goodness.
"Stop?" asked my husband, stopping. "Why stop?"
"You, ummm...need to reign in the business before you do any more demonstrations," I said, delicately.
My husband cast one mortified look downwards and grimaced, his eye on Meelyn, who was lying with her face buried in the sofa cushions, screaming with embarrassed laughter.
"Should I contribute a few dollars to our Future Therapy for Emotionally Scarred Offspring Fund?" he asked, and then fled for the stairs. When he came back down, he was wearing four pairs of jeans, the lower half of a suit of armor and some ski pants.
"I still don't know how to do jumping-jacks," Aisling complained.
"Your mother will teach you," my husband muttered.
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