It is said that birth order can be compared to the process of cooking pancakes. The outcome of each individual pancake is completely dependent on the temperature of the pan, thickness of the batter and freshness of the eggs, milk, flour and baking powder. It seems like the first pancake is never quite done right, kind of half-cooked on one side and chargrilled on the other. Each subsequent pancake seems to get a little more golden than the first. The last pancake is always perfection and you wonder why it took the whole batch to get one perfect pancake. This philosophy holds true in my family.
There is a 14 year age difference between myself – the first pancake – and my youngest sister Paige, the last pancake. The first pancake is short and round, with each subsequent pancake being taller and skinner than the “short stack” as I like to refer to myself. We’re talking five inches and about 50 pounds of difference in batter here. My daughter once said to me, “If you exercise a lot like Aunt Paige does, you can be tall and skinny too.” We’ll refer to Aunt Paige the “tall stack.” I didn’t want to deliver the bad news to my daughter, but it would take a steamroller to make her loving 5′ 5″ squatty mother into a 5′ 10″ living Barbie like her aunt.
Come to think of it, the tall stack once made an attempt to actually stretch me by dragging me to a Pilates Reformer class. I had imagined Pilates to be one of those meditative yoga classes where participants sit cross-legged and think about life. Needless to say, I was wrong. The reformer machine resembled some type of stretch torture contraption only featured in medieval history books and gladiator movies. As I struggled my way through the stomach exercises, I spent most of the time trying to locate my bones and abdominal muscles among my sea of flab. The arm workout was relatively easy and went without incident. Perhaps my arms were actually starting to lengthen. Now, what I really needed were my legs to lengthen. To begin the leg workout, the instructor pulled the stir-ups over my head and I’m thinking, there is no way in hell my legs are going to follow. She then placed what resembled a steering wheel between my knees. We started working on the inner thigh and things are going fine until muscle atrophy set in and shooting pains shot through my inner thigh. The wheel suddenly flew across the room. I’m just glad I didn’t top it off with a machine gun fart. I swear I heard the springs on my machine sigh as I slid off. I actually shrank a few inches after I walked away from the class with my head down from sheer embarrassment.
The tall stack didn’t give up after my Pilates debacle. Next she lured the short stack to a spinning class. Maybe this indoor cycling workout would be the key to lengthening my stubby limbs. Well, I’m lucky to have lived through the 60 minute class to retell the story. The instructor must have had a bad day so she took it out on the group of 20 pooped peddlers with an hour-long marathon of sprints. I was worried about my heart exploding and tall stack was concerned about her bony ass getting a severe case of saddle seat. There are fewer things more depressing than looking in the mirror at a much younger version of yourself as I watched the reflection of my youngest sister and I struggling to keep up with the instructor. I thought, where did it all go so wrong? At least I’m older but wiser. That is, wise enough never to go back to a spinning class without a portable defibrillator and a pillow-top tractor seat for the bike. I think I lost another couple of inches in height as I ground away all the cartilage in my knees from the rapid peddling.
Through no lack of trying, the tall stack has still not turned the short stack into a lengthier “hot cake”. I did learn however, that it is not just the birth order of the pancakes, but how hard the pancake works at maintaining their genetic predisposition. And the tall stack works pretty darn hard. As W.C. Fields once said, “The laziest man I ever met put popcorn in his pancakes so they would turn over themselves.” I guess the short stack just needs to get rid of some of the popcorn in her pancake to keep up with the tall stack.