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The Man with Thin Legs

Febuary 02, 2021

Secrets of a Shitty Suburb

For most of my life, I lived in a shitty suburb outside of Vancouver. Okay, it wasn’t shitty, but my opinions on suburbs are biased. To me, all suburbs are shitty. And it wasn’t until I moved to Israel that I realized all suburbs are built the shitty same, with the same shitty goals: to destroy the human soul.


The heart of any suburb is the shopping mall. Surrounding the mall are small shops suctioning to it as if it was a shark. These minuscule shops hope to catch desperate mall-goers who haven't yet drowned themselves with enough shopping bags to silence their thoughts.


And, let's not forget, if you’re lucky, nearby is possibly a shitty cafe. But not one of those cozy cafes where you can people-watch or avoid the sound of the traffic jam of mall-goers; I’m talking about your shitty Starbucks.


Now, I know what you’re thinking, Geez Natasha, you’re sounding like a snob. Am I? Am I really? Or is it you that sacrificed yourself for the sake of a pair of slacks from the GAP? 


Of course, I shouldn’t judge. My childhood was warm, adventurous, and free; some could argue that this only happened because I lived in the suburbs. As much as I've tried to escape suburban life in my twenties, I ended up back at square-fucking-one after moving to Israel to be with Nate. 


The only difference is that now, my suburban town is biblical - whatever that means. How I, the least holyiest of people ended up in the Holyland is still something I’m still trying to wrap my head around. Maybe there is hidden holiness in me...


While conforming to suburban ways in this biblical town, I needed to make some friends. But didn’t know how. I eat meat and dairy together, I don't pray, and I've never read the bible. And when you live in a biblical town, it's not a good look.


So, I decided to join the gym. I figured the gym was the best place to meet like-minded people. Wait, what am I saying? I hated the gym. But desperation makes you do funny things.


I walked through the gym's entrance with the goal of joining group fitness classes. The receptionist eyed me and then went back to her phone.  I grabbed the class schedule off the receptionist's desk, it was all in Hebrew. Fuck it, I'll just work my way down the list, I have time. 


I tried Spin class, too repetitive. Yoga, too slow. CardioFit!, too much cardio. Day after day, I made my way down the list until I finally landed on the class I was avoiding: Zumba. There's no Hebrew word for Zumba, thankfully.


I hated Zumba. I don’t like mediocre choreographed dance classes. I prefer solo-interpretive dance. But, I told myself I would give it a try. 


I arrived the next morning at 7:00 am for Zumba class. It was full of women. There were young women, Jewish women, old women, fat women, Muslim women—it was the female version of 'Village People'. We started the class with a casual two-step. 


“All right everyone!” our hyperactive Zumba instructor said as she stepped side-to-side. “You guys all know the moves, for those who are new, follow my lead! Let’s go!” Of course, this was said entirely in Hebrew, and though I didn’t know if she actually said that, the only way to survive in a place where you don’t speak the language is by assuming and smiling, preferably both at the same time. 


We strutted from one side of the room to another, did basic salsa footwork, and clapped our hands like eager seals. But then it switched into what I would call stripper music. Our teacher suddenly turned from a woman who took a wee bit too much coke this morning, into Beyonce's desperate aging backup dancer, competing with overly flexible nineteen-year-olds, hungry for 15-seconds of fame. It. Was. Wild.


While most of the women stayed stiff and smiled uncomfortably, one ultra-orthodox woman started to do moves that are legal in this region of the world. She started off subtle, slowly swaying her hips from side-to-side, but then dropped to the floor, opening and closing her them. Shocked, I reverted back to the two-step.

Though I tried to keep up with the dance moves, I couldn't stop watching her. Dropping onto all fours, she crawled seductively towards the studio mirror, and then lowered herself sensually onto her stomach, pulsating against the ground. Everyone else was doing a bad version of the cha-cha and seemed unfazed by her gyrating on the floor.  

When my eyes moved back to her, she had flipped on her back, grinding the air. Running her hands through her hair, she sensually slid them down her chest. I watched, shaking my hips from side-to-side while flicking my hands above my head. What the fuck is going on. 


My eyes were on her for the entire class, stunned by the contrast between her modest appearance and stripperesque moves. The class finally came to an end, she gracefully slipped on her ankle-length navy blue dress, covered her hair with a hat, and left the classroom. 



I went home and saw Nate on the couch scrolling through Facebook, “how was the gym?”

“It was amazing," as I slammed the front door behind me. "I did Zumba.”

“Zumba? I thought you hated Zumba,” he looked up from his phone. "Look at you coming around."

“No, I still hate it." I said, putting down my empty gym bag. "But there was this ultra-orthodox chick that was literally dancing like a stripper for the entire class.”

“Oh shit, really?" He smiled. "Good for her.”

“That’s it! That's all you're going to say! Aren’t you shocked?" I replied offended. "I was supposed to be the riskay one. I'm the one showing my shoulders in public, and there she is just humpin' the floor!”

“Well, they're allowed to be sexual, just not in public in front of other men. They're still like...women, you know? Just because someone's religious, doesn’t mean they're not sexual.”

I still didn't understand. When sexuality is paired with high heels and a push-up bra, seeing someone in a moo-moo usually places them in their own non-sexual category. 

"What class are you trying out next?"

"I think I'll stick with Zumba for awhile."  I couldn't let this go. This was my own little secret I needed to tap into. My own little suburban secret I needed to understand.

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