“Gray Hair, Black Belt”

By Carl “Cal” Tuohey



Chapter 12  - Getting to Know Everyone


It is very important to get to know your fellow classmates.  They are the ones who will be your buddies 2-3 hours each week, your new friends on the online social media, and the ones who you hope will revive you and call 911 when you pass out in class.  Don’t worry, your non-friends will call, too, but they will finish their patterns first.

Since you will probably be the elder statesman your fellow students will be watching and listening to everything you do and say.  Mainly, how to “work smarter, not harder.”  From you they will learn to convert toe-touches to knee-touches, that stretching your legs as far apart as possible means ‘shoulder width’, and that your boss is an idiot.  It is never too late to teach them real-world stuff.

You will discover that the other students are great people.  Especially the kids.  They are adorable and always seem to be in a good mood.  Don’t be afraid to slap them with a dose of reality every so often.  I love to remind them that my generation is loading them down with a debt they will never be able to pay off.  The looks on their faces are priceless!

In a well-run class even the teenagers will behave.  Their ‘tudes (that’s ‘attitudes’ to us old geezers) will be checked at the door.  Their tattoos and most of their piercings still make it into class, though.

Ninety-nine percent of the people in the classes will be some of the best and nicest people you will ever meet.  The other 1% are the instructors, and who likes anyone who makes you sweat?  Excluding, of course, the pretty girl that asked to go with you to the high school dance.

Everyone has an interesting story, too.  Some kids are just beginning school and like gym.  Other kids take sports - some do well, some sit the bench.  Others are very shy - THESE ARE THE BEST!  One of my goals was to get them to come out of their shells.  Start slowly and say ‘hi’ to them.  Don’t let it bother you when they give you the finger in return.  I’m sure they had a tough day in Kindergarten.  Perhaps they couldn’t find a blue crayon, or one of the pages of their favorite storybook was ripped.  Walk a mile in their shoes first.

The other adults will become your friends.  Of course, your kids played with them growing up.  And their kids now play with your grandkids.  The Circle of Life, and we know our circle is almost complete.

Hanging around the younger people will keep you informed as to current trends and stars.  Just as they will not know who Captain Kangaroo was, you will not be able to name two of Adam Sandler’s movies (hopefully).  There is an exchange of cultures going on.  Bone up on the ‘hip’ topics of the day (and don’t use the word ‘hip’ in class except to explain why you can’t run).  The latest video games, the top singers (they don’t know who Devo is) and cool smartphones.  Do your best.  Staying on top of the coolest smartphones is nearly impossible.  They are all different but they all do the same thing.  And don’t ask the kids to explain the difference unless you want the conversation to end with an eye roll after another of your “stupid” questions.

The downside to hanging with the younger people is that you will sometimes forget your age.  You cannot jump as high, or kick as quickly.  You will forget this.  You will be in pain for a week after attempting to jump or kick as high as they do.  Keep bags of ice handy at home.

And stay away from vegans.  They are already way ahead of you regarding taking care of your body.

Regarding the Black Belts: remember, they run the class and they know what they are doing.  They can make your class easy or tough (‘tough’ is good for you, in theory).  Get to know them.  It’s the same reason why an inmate tries to make friends with his prison guard.