Column Classic: Twisted Sister

By Lisa Scottoline

So, it turns out I have an occupational hazard. 

I’m not complaining, because at least I have an occupation. 

The only problem with my occupation is that I spend a lot of time occupying a chair. 

And the first occupational hazard is that my butt is spreading. 

What, I can’t blame that on my job? 

Fair enough. 

Thanks a lot, carbohydrates. 

Actually, the best part of my job is that I get to sit around all day in a chair, and I have set up my office so that my desk is in the middle of the room, with the TV to the left. I keep the TV on while I’m working, just to have some background noise that isn’t dogs farting. 

But a year ago, my back started to hurt. I ignored it for a while, and then when my book deadline was finally finished, I got my big butt to the doctor, who said: 

“We x-rayed your back, and you have scoliosis.” 

I thought he was mispronouncing my last name, which everybody does, and I don’t blame them. I tell them Scottoline rhymes with fettuccine, but this word sounded different. Lisa Scoliosis isn’t a good name. I asked, “Scolli-what-is?” 

The doctor answered, “It means a rotation of the spinal column, but in your case it’s not congenital. So, you’re an author?” 

“Yes,” I told him. I always put that on my medical records, so that my doctors will buy my books. I would say it’s free advertising, but given the general cost of a doctor’s visit, they would have to buy 3,293,737 of my books for me to break even. 

The doctor continued, “So you probably spend a lot of time sitting and you must be turning to the left. Why are you turning to the left?” 

“Because that’s where the TV is?” 

“Hmmm,” he said, just like a doctor in the movies. 

Or on TV. 

I was getting the general drift, because I’m a mystery writer and I don’t need a lot of clues. “So, you mean to tell me that just because I sat on my butt and watched TV while I worked, for twenty-five years, I rotated my spine?” 


So, this was all TV’s fault. Thank God it wasn’t my fault. It can never be my fault. 

The doctor added, “And you’re probably crossing your legs, too.” 

I thought about it. “I probably am. How else can you keep a dog on your lap while you work?” 

The doctor laughed. He thought I was kidding. 

You and I know I wasn’t. 

Maybe he should start reading my books. Or this column. 

Anyway, I got serious. “Now what do we do?” 

“Work out.” 

I tried not to groan. 

Why is “working out” always the answer? 

Why is the answer never “chocolate cake?” 

Meanwhile, I tell the doctor that I walk the dogs, ride a bike, and even sit like a lump on the back of a pony, but he says none of this counts. He sends me to physical therapy, telling me to dress comfortably. 

I don’t need to be told to dress comfortably.  

I’m a middle-aged woman. 

We’re too smart to dress any other way. 

I’ve already gone to two sessions of physical therapy, which are held in a big open gym with a lot of other people who were sent there for respectable reasons that had nothing to do with watching too much television. 

There, I do twenty reps of the Backward Bend, the Press-Up, Bridging, and an array of other horrible exercises, all of which require a Neutral Spine. 

This doesn’t come easily to me. 

Not only because I hate working out, but because I’m not neutral about anything. 

I have opinions. 

My least favorite of the exercises is one called Isometric Stabilization, and the directions on the sheet say that I’m supposed to, “Tighten abdominal muscles as if tightening a belt.” 

In other words, suck it in. 

Oddly, I’ve been doing this exercise my entire life.  

In any photo of me, I’m engaging in Isometric Stabilization. 

Now I have a sheet of floor exercises to do three times a day at home, with pictures to show me the correct form. 

Oddly, none of the pictures show my dogs jumping on my head, licking my face, or walking across my chest while I do the exercises. 

Any pet owner who tries to work out at home knows how helpful dogs can be. 

If you have twenty reps to do, good luck getting through rep two. 

Or maybe they are helpful? 

Copyright © Lisa Scottoline