Spinal Rigor or Something Like It

PlankingThere are those times in everyone’s life where experience and knowledge force one to step back and re-evaluate. They are seminal moments, as it were, in which the whole universe seemingly hangs in the balance between maintaining your sanity and succumbing to the madness all around.

I am sorry for bumming you out, but I recently experienced one of these life-changing moments myself. It was the moment I realized, and I have to say I am ashamed to have to give this legitimacy, that ‘planking’ is a real, bona-fide activity that is just a few sponsors short of becoming an international sport possibly playable in Brazil this summer.

Do we need any more evidence that there is a certain segment of society for whom unregulated leisure time is a dangerous thing? I think not, dear people, I think not.

Planking is defined by Wikipedia – and I swear I am not making this up – as, “an activity consisting of lying face down—sometimes in an unusual or incongruous location. Both hands must touch the sides of the body.”

There are a couple of things we must address here. First is the act of lying face down with the hands touching the sides of the body. Folks, I may be 50 years old and a product of lovely Lockport, in beautiful upstate New York (city motto: “If it weren’t for us the Erie Canal would only run from Buffalo to whatever city we would have been named if there weren’t any locks here, bucko!”), but where I come from, this is called taking a nap.

Perhaps this all started out as just a nap with a different name. You know, we can’t bear the thought of using the old fashioned names for things anymore because they just aren’t hip enough for the kids these days, so leaving a message on somebody’s electronic message recording machine as become leaving a ‘voice text’. Seriously? Leaving a voice text? Please, Captain Dubious, leave me a voice text letting me know where you plan to plank next. I’ll brink a Snuggie and those fuzzy slippers you love so much.

The second thing we need to discuss is the idea of incongruity. I always thought the word ‘incongruous’ related strictly to geometric shapes and the fact that Hillary Clinton is STILL a viable presidential candidate competing against the barely lucid Bernie Sanders for the chance to represent the Donkey party this fall. But apparently, incongruity goes beyond mere politics and math class to also embrace nap taking.

How does this work? Well, it seems that the most enthusiastic of plankers, who we will refer to simply as ‘plankton’, look for the most incongruous place to practice their disc-blowing acts of spinal rigor which, by the way, would be a great name for a band. As would Enthusiastic Plankers and Barely Lucid Bernie. My only question is whether or not Spinal Rigor would be the warm-up act or the main event.

At any rate, I decided to enlighten my uninformed piece of gray matter regarding what, if any, locations might be incongruent enough for the best among the plankton crowd to attempt their finest impressions of a a piece of pressure treated pine from the local DIY Depot and chiropractic clinic.

I discovered pictures of plankton plying their trade in parks, across grave stones, and between pieces of innocent furniture that did not deserve such upholstery-stretching abuse. But the one episode of planking that disturbed me the most was that of a couple – whether or not they were romantically involved is not clear, not do I care at this point – who were photo texted planking between seats on a subway car. Why was it so disturbing? Because they were cheating!

These two plankton pretenders were not face down, with hands to their sides. Noooooo, they were face up. How dare they?! The whole idea of planking between two subway seats is to see if you can make it from 48th St. all the way to 51st without your spine snapping like Donald Trump’s sense of reality. Planking face-side up eliminates that possibility. Where’s the fun in that – especially for the spectators?

Oh well. I guess I just don’t get it. To me, planking seems to be a waste of a good nap. If I am going to lay face down with my hands at my sides, it’s going to be in a rather congruent bed fully capable of supporting my spine, along with every other part of my body. Should you wish to photo text me doing so, I would be fine with that. Just leave me a voice text and let me know you’re coming. I want to be properly dressed.

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