By Fran Signorino
The only reason I would take up jogging is so I could hear heavy breathing again.
When I tell people that I've been "doing Richard" for more than 10 years, they look at me funny. My affair with Richard started the way many relationships begin -- I was troubled and depressed. My parents had passed away within six months of each other. After that most stressful time, my blood pressure rose from normal to high. My doctor, believing that the condition was temporary, did not feel that I was a candidate for medication. He suggested instead that I exercise -- preferably an aerobic exercise -- of the low impact variety.
At that time, the last thing I felt like doing was jumping around. But because I am a lover of dance, I purchased a "swing along" with Richard Simmons tape and so began my daily encounters with him.
Richard's screaming and carrying-on irritated me somewhat on bad days, but his movements and "c'mon, get up -- you can do it -- I know you can" soon had me infatuated. Hey, you can't have everything in a relationship. On the plus side, I didn't have to travel back and forth to a gym; I didn't have to force myself to get up early to walk. I could meet him on both our terms. And in my own home. I quickly learned his routines as if I were appearing in a Broadway show. He was a steady and driving teacher.
I even got a perm during this period to save me time not fussing with my hair. Alas, it came out a little too curly, and lo and behold, now we looked alike. I had Richard Simmons' hair. Not by choice, but there he was looking back at me in the mirror.
The exercise outfits I bought brought me closer to his "look." My kids started calling me "Richard."
Within a month, my blood pressure stabilized, although my life did not. My daily workout with Richard helped me vent the stresses piling up each day. It was during one of these "workout" hours, intense on my part, that someone called me on the phone. I answered it, breathing heavily. "I can't talk now, I'm doing Richard."
"Scandalous," the caller replied.
Whenever I answered the phone totally out of breath, my callers would say, "I'll call you back — you're doing Richard." My son gave me a new workout tape for my birthday. He said, "New positions for you and Richard."
So now Richard and I could move while Sweatin' to the Oldies, and Dance Your Pants Off! while we were Groovin' in the House. And we got down with Tonin' Downtown. Richard and I went on company trips and vacations together. I brought Richard to the shore. He always wore the same clothes. We still had matching hairdos. Richard and I have been together longer than some of my past relationships.
I anticipate his every move and we mutually experience heavy breathing and sweating. This also beats some of my former relationships. Yes, I admit after all these years, I still "do Richard" and I'm now a grandmother. He's always there for me, he's always in a great mood, he always smiles and boy can he make the moves.
And judging from the assortment of tapes in the stores, it's been as good for him as it's been for me.