What the . . . Richard Simmons?
*What the…Friday? is a weekly Friday feature in which I resuscitate a video relic from the swampy pits of Pop Culture Wasteland.*
Today: What the Richard Simmons?
Back in junior high, I stayed up incredibly late watching TV on the weekends — that way the next day I could sleep until noon and feel completely useless while simultaneously feeling a sense of ownership over my life.
Only 35 television stations at two in the morning only left me with snow or M.A.S.H. reruns or 30-minute infomercials disguised as late night talk shows.
Which left me with Richard Simmons.
When he wasn’t selling Deal-A-Meal, he was selling workout tapes.
When he wasn’t selling something, he was serving up love and acceptance.
I sat through many a sob story about Candi from Independence, Missouri who couldn’t get the weight off after the twins were born. And then she just didn’t feel confident anymore. And then her husband no longer cared for making love to her. And then I went to my happy place where making love was never uttered out loud, much less in front of Richard Simmons.
And then I pretty much wanted to jump off a building out of spite for chocolate bonbons.
And that’s exactly when Richard Simmons would lean over and grab Candi’s hand, and she’d cry. And I’d cry too. And then Richard Simmons cried so hard that I’m certain he wet his pants — except he was fortunately wearing shorts made of a special polyester dry weave that actually wicks moisture away from the body. Amazing.
I’ll admit it was mesmerizing. Real people. Real emotions. Before Reality TV!
The Sweatin’ to the Oldies show was among my favorites. Here Richard Simmons made exercise look just like a party!
A party that included musicians popping in to perform cover songs like they were your best friends. (Don’t kid yourself. They’re laughing behind your back.)
A party in a high school gymnasium. (Don’t forget what Stacy called you at the 10th grade dance. Don’t forget your high school reunion is next month.)
A party where people lose weight. (I hardly noticed you were exercising at all. Oh, except you’re dripping wet and heaving and I can’t bear standing next to you. Does your chiropractor approve of you doing the Twist?)
Real people. Real emotions. Real clothes that should never be worn in public.