My mother’s brother had a thick southern accent. In the early 1980s he had a major operation due to his World War 2 injury 40 years before. (He was run over by a cab while out celebrating the fact he was classified unfit for service due to bad kneecaps- true story.) Even though she hadn’t spoken to him in a while she called him as good Southerners do so they don’t have to say “I should have called him after that surgery” at the funeral.*
“How ya doin’ Carl?”
“So-so, huh? Well, it could be a lot worse.”
*I’m just so-so. Cain’t get comfortable. Pills don’t help. Cain’t sleep. Cain’t set up. Cain’t pee. Cain’t stay awake. *.
“Well if that’s what you call so-so I’d hate to hear what you call downright bad. it doesn’t sound like you’re so-so at all."
That’s what I said- I can’t do nothin’ cuz I’m so so… The operation left me so’ all over.
I’m so-so today. I returned to the wonderful world of workouts this weekend and today I am moving around like Joseph Merrick with a bad sunburn.
The “38 1/2 Year or Two Boyfriends- Whichever Comes First- Warranty” on my body just expired (coincidentally I’m 38 1/2) and my doctor, a beautiful she-Russian, basically told me “geet to the gym and geet in shape or you die… do not pass Go… jeest die”. I’m 50 pounds overweight, high cholesterol, high everythign that should be low and low everything that should be high and blood sugar that’s currently sorta kinda okay but obviously waiting for Order 66 and I’m the son of a man who died of a heart-attack at 54 who was the son of a man who died of a heart attack at 54 who was the son of a man who died of a heart attack at 54 who was the son of a man who was subdivided by a cannonball at 32. (Had the last one moved faster he’d have gone back to Alabama and 22 years later while telling for the 7 millionth time how “Yessir, that Yankee cannonball come so close I like to have shit in mah hat…” he’d have fallen dead into his fried-corn with squirrel gravy. (I also have the genes of numerous centenarians in there but I’m sure they’re being held hostage.)
So, I’ve been sentenced to the Student Recreational Gulag in an attempt to take off some weight, make some muscle happen, lower some things and raise some things. It’s a huge rec center that’s part of the university, numerous levels and graced by some primo 18-22 year old boy buttage but completely devoid of a smoking section. (The hostess or whatever you call her wasn’t even nice when I asked.) The first part of the obstacle course is getting naked and dressed surrounded by said 18-22 year olds doing the same while quoting Browning over and over in my mind and thinking of toothless hunchbacked nuns and dead puppies (you wouldn’t believe how easy it is for toothless hunchbacked puppy nuns to morph into beautiful 20 year old muscular booty- it’s really astounding and more lifelike than anything George Lucas ever thought of doing). Then I go upstairs and get on the treadmill for a few minutes-
First ten seconds: 1 mph incline of 1.5
Next thirty seconds: 3 mph incline of 2.0
Next minute: 3.5 mph incline back down to 1.5
Next minute 4.0 mph incline back down to 1
Next seven seconds 4.5 mph incline now heading down a slope
Next three seconds 0 mph- while untangling safety cord from headphones
Next two seconds back up to 4.5
Next twenty eight minutes back down to 3.0 mph while hoping that’s just sweat coming from my eyeballs and wondering how my third grade teacher and my long dead Daddy are dancing on the ceiling in front of me and thinking "goddamn but these defribillators hurt but the medic is cute in a Michael J. Fox sort of way
But I do manage to get in a half hour on the treadmill, erupting like Old Faithful but occasionally buttivated by a toned sophomore in front of me on the stairmaster.
But the weight machines, Holy Jesus on a Quidditch Stick but these things were last used to make Jews to say Ave Marias by their most Catholic majesties Ferdinand and Isabella. I’m trying to figure out exactly what activities in nature they’re supposed to simulate, and while reducing the weight on each one from 390 lbs. to 18 mg without being too obvious I plowed ahead, me sticking out like John Goodman in a Boy Band amidst 130 year old college boys. (Mustn’t look at the kiddos in speedos no matter how much Arsenio Hall’s “I know they’s a God!” plays on a loop in my brain and no matter how enticing the continual thrusting of the phallic poll between the hole weights is with every grunt of the Orlando Bloom clone whose butt is in the air five feet from me.
But I survived. I think technically my weightage is supposed to go up rather than down with each rep but I figure at this step better something than nothing, though I’m convinced that for every pound I lose the odds of my being run over by a suicide bomber on a unicycle triples.
But today… oy ve, I’m so so. Like swimming in Mercury. Evidently I need to go with the pharmaceutical weights next time. How the hell did I get this out of shape? I’ll wager the Vatican and the Freemasons are involved.
Oh well, thoroughly pointless and mundane. If there’s a question or thesis I suppose “Any advice for a recycled exercise virgin who’s missed his last 23,000 workouts?”
*Actually she didn’t attend his funeral, which came 20 years later, because by then she hated him with a passion (and with some reason, though she went a tad overboard.) When she won a bottle of expensive Scotch at an employee Christmas Party and announced she was going to save it for a special occasion. “Like the birth of your first grandbaby?” someone asked. “I already have grandchildren… I’m thinking for something really joyous. I know, I’ll open it when I learn that my sunuvabitch brother up in Birmin’ham is dead.” She did (how she learned is a story in and of itself, but unrelated to my working out.
We’re not talking regular sibling rivalry. At one work retreat everybody was asked to tell “What would you do if you found out you only had 24 hours to live- assume you have money and your health”. Most people were answering “I’d call up or go see all my loved ones, I’d let everybody know that I loved them, I’d watch the sunset on the beach while holding my wife, I’d write letters to everybody I know, etc.” My mother’s answer: “I’d drive up to Birmingham, find my brother’s house, shoot him about six or nine times depending on the caliber- don’t want to kill him all at once, but enough so he’d die from it but suffer a while first- then I’d go have some shrimp scampi and a frozen margarita and if I had time to make it down to the beach I’d watch the sunset or sunrise, whichever was appropriate. Oh, and I’d tell my kids know that I love them.”
Pretty much stopped the conversation for a while.