By Ed Staskus
Godzilla came to yoga late in life. He was 68 years old and getting long in the tooth. His rear end hurt. He thought it might be sciatica. He had trouble twisting to see who might be sneaking up on him. When he tried to touch his toes, it seemed like they were miles away, even though they were only a couple of hundred feet away.
He was losing his vim and vigor. He was on the edge of losing his edge. He knew it better than anybody. He had to do something about it.
The first thing he did after being born and getting up on his feet was stomp on Tokyo. When he was done, he lapped up all the spilled milk he could find. Then he took a long nap, sleeping all day and part of the next day.
No sooner did Tokyo rebuild itself than he destroyed it again and again and again. In the ensuing years he destroyed New York City three times. He destroyed Osaka and Paris twice. In between he traveled extensively and destroyed London, Moscow, Sydney, and Las Vegas, among others.
It seemed like his pulverizing days might be over. He tried supplements and devices. He tried long walks and strength training. He tried massage and acupuncture. He tried leafy vegetables, even though his favorite meal was eating cars.
When he went to a wellness clinic, they told him there wasn’t anything they could do for him. He didn’t have medical insurance. On top of that he had never worked a day in his life and didn’t have Medicare. No cash no wellness. Besides, there wasn’t anything fundamentally wrong with him, except for his advancing years.
He didn’t like their answers and stomped on the building, flattening it like a pancake. His best days might be behind him, but he still had his trademark stomp. However, he lumbered away with a slight limp.
“Man, oh man,” he muttered. “I think I hurt my back.”
He was ready to take advice from anybody, including his grandson Goo Goo Godzilla, who was an insufferable know-it-all. He thought he knew everything just because he could ask the Gods of Google anything. Whenever Godzilla saw a cell phone tablet laptop desktop he chewed it up and spit it out because it tasted so bad. That was what he thought about knowing everything all the time.
“You can’t turn back the hands of time, pops, but you can slow them down,” Goo Goo said. “Get with it and get on a yoga mat.”
Godzilla had never heard of yoga.
“It’s a mind spirit body discipline,” Goo Goo said. “It’s thousands of years old. It’s the real deal.”
“There’s nothing wrong with my mind or spirit,” Godzilla said. “It’s my body that needs a tune-up. I’m ready to try anything.”
“Now you’re talking old-timer. Yoga is the way to go. They will fix you up in no time.”
“If he calls me old-timer one more time, I am cutting him out of my will,” Godzilla grumbled to himself.
Although few were aware he could fly, Godzilla could fly. When he let loose an atomic fire breath he could blast off like a missile and rocket himself anywhere in the world. In the summer one of his favorite places for R & R was Middle Sister Island. It was one of the Lake Erie islands. It was small but big enough for him. It was uninhabited. It was quiet. Goo Goo didn’t know where it was, and Godzilla planned on keeping it that way.
One evening it rained hard. In the middle of the night fog rolled in. The next morning, he woke up stiff and achy. It had been happening lately, too often for comfort. He was determined to do something about it. He blasted off for Cleveland. When he landed, he looked for a phone book to locate a yoga studio. but there were none to be had. The Yellow Pages had disappeared.
He roared off again, circling the city, and with his still keen eyesight located one on the west side of town. So long as he could see and stomp, he was still the boss man. He just had to limber up his old bones, get lean and mean again.
He signed up for a complimentary first class at the front desk. He didn’t have a mat, so the yoga instructor unfurled a hundred studio mats for him. The first pose, mountain pose, was just the right one for him. He was, after all, as big as a mountain. After that it was all downhill. Midway through class, frustrated and peevish, he let loose a fire breath and accidentally burnt the studio down. All the men and women fled, and the fire department raced to the scene.
The same thing happened at the next yoga studio and the one after that. Cleveland’s yoga owners called a hasty business meeting and quickly resolved to ban the monster from all their studios. They were, however, undecided about how to keep him out. He was as big as a forty- story building. He weighed in at 90,000 tons. He wasn’t hiding in any corners.
Godzilla was determined to learn the moves and carry the lessons away with him. He had too many mean streets to cross to adopt yoga as a lifestyle, but he had too many enemies to not do yoga. He had to be able to do to his archenemies what they wanted to do to him.
“How about if we offer him free private lessons, somewhere outdoors, somewhere there is plenty of outdoors?” one teacher offered.
Everybody thought it was a good idea, but nobody wanted to be the teacher doing the teaching. One false move and they might get squashed. After much hemming and hawing all eyes turned to Barron Cannon. He was a single man, didn’t have a family who would have to mourn him, and was an anarchist to boot. Most of Cleveland’s yoga teachers avoided him, his social and political views making them fit to be tied, no matter how much they meditated and tried to think the better of their fellow man. It struck them he was the perfect candidate. He was self-centered and irascible and would give Godzilla as good as he got.
“How about it, Barron?” one of the teachers asked cautiously.
“Sure,” he said and left the meeting to find Godzilla.
Godzilla wasn’t hard to find. He wasn’t hard to convince, either. He thought one-on-one lessons were just the ticket. He motioned for Barron to hop on his back, and when he was hanging on tight, Godzilla rocketed back to Middle Sister Island. Before he did, he landed in the parking lot of a grocery store so Barron could stock up on hard tack, protein bars, and bottled water.
They were no sooner airborne again than they heard sirens and watched police cars and SWAT teams from Cleveland, Lakewood, Rocky River, and Fairview Park descend on the grocery store, where shoppers were scattering in every direction. It wasn’t often that the King of the Monsters visited and didn’t destroy your city. They should have counted their blessings, but they were all boomers and echo boomers and felt as blessed as they were ever going to feel.
On the island Barron got to work early the next day, even though Godzilla was cranky, wanting to sleep in. Hour after hour, day after day, he led Godzilla through endless sun salutations, until he could do them in his sleep. When he tried to beg off, Barron tongue lashed him.
“Do you think Ghidora is laying around gazing at his navel? Do you think Mothra is lounging around eating grapes? Do you think Destoroyah is gaping the gals at a dance hall?”
Godzilla had to admit none of them were doing any of that. They were all probably on the prowl. They were all like him. None of them had a friend in the world, only enemies. King Kong was the only creature Godzilla was remotely close to. They had fought to a draw several times and harbored a sullen respect for each other.
“I’m not going to bother you with the beliefs and principles of yoga,” Barron said. “It’s not because I don’t think they are vital to the practice, but because that’s the nature of the yoga beast these days. You’re only interested in what yoga can do for you right now. We’re going to move on to intermediate practice next, and after that to Ashtanga Yoga. You’re a quick study, big guy. Another week-or-so and I think you’ll be ready to make these exercises your own.”
Godzilla whooped his approval. Barron dodged the monster’s inadvertent fire breath. At the end of the day Godzilla curled up and Barron curled up inside Godzilla’s curl, staying warm. At the end of the week Barron pinned a blue ribbon on Godzilla’s chest and declared him ready to go. The monster touched his toes with ease and beamed his appreciation. He was loose as a goose.
His enemies were going to pay for all the slanderous things they had been saying about him, things like blobby slow and over the hill. With his newfound reptilian quickness, he was going to make mincemeat of them. He was as physically fast and aware as he had ever been, slimmed down to 80,000 tons.
After dropping Barron off at his apartment in Lakewood and promising to never destroy his hometown no matter what so long as Barron lived there, Godzilla blasted off back to Japan. He had some scores to settle. He had nothing to prove, but he thought he might destroy Tokyo again, just to point out he could still do it.
He couldn’t wait to put the moves on his glib grandson Goo Goo, either. He would show him the path to hell was paved with good intentions, even though he knew no monsters, not even his kith and kin, had anything but bad intentions. Barron Cannon had been right to not bring up the light of yoga. The light in Godzilla’s eyes had nothing to do with yoga.
Ed Staskus posts feature stories on Paperback Yoga http://www.paperbackyoga.com 147 Stanley Street http://www.147stanleystreet.com and Lithuanian Journal http://www.lithuanianjournal.com. To get the site’s monthly feature in your in-box click on “Follow.”