I'm somewhat irritated at the way the members of my so-called family keep pestering me on the subject of my New Year's resolution. The clear implication is that I am so ridden with bad habits and faults that the only difficulty would be deciding which of my many vices I should jettison from my lifestyle.
This year they went so far as to take a vote, meeting secretly like a bunch of Nazi thugs and coming up with the offensive suggestion that I do something about the spreading, sagging girth around my middle. (These are not my words, I assure you.)
I confronted these scurrilous attacks by pointing out that in the Second World War, pilots who crashed into the North Sea had a far better chance of surviving the frigid ocean waters if they carried a high content of body fat. What my daughter sarcastically refers to as my "wondergut", then, is in fact nothing other than a hedge against a dip in the ocean! (Heck, I'm to the point now where I could do laps around the thing!)
The pack of jackals I call my family sarcastically asked if I'm planning to crash land in the North Sea any time soon. "Hey!" I responded logically, "do you think those pilots PLANNED to wind up going for a swim?"
Anyway, with a pitiless lack of subtlety they purchased me running shoes, running clothes, and a heart monitor which proves I don't need to exercise because just sitting in front of the TV I can hit 110 beats a minute. (For triathlon training I can turn the channel to Baywatch and push the old ticker up to 140!) They even went so far as to virtually shove me out the door, so that I wound up actually pressing my body into a run.
Now, I am descended from a long line of cowards, so running is not an entirely foreign activity for me. In this case, however, there was nothing from which to flee except the cruel taunts of my vampire family, and my body quickly began to repudiate my actions. The air developed sharp edges-it felt like I was inhaling barbed wire. A cramp like the bite of an alligator sank into my sides and wouldn't let go. I pounded on, ignoring the agony, for what seemed hours.
I never obtained the "runner's high" that I've heard so much about. In fact, it wasn't long before I was afflicted with a sort of "runner's bummer," a deep sense of foreboding and dread. Gasping, I made it to my friend Fred's house, pantomiming my acute distress to him until he comprehended situation and administered a can of beer. That, and ten minutes of panting, allowed me to recover to the point where I was able to call my wife.
"Okay, I'm done exercising. Come and pick me up," I gasped.
"What? You just left! Where are you?"
"FRED? He's our next door neighbor!"
"Yes but he has a long driveway," I shot back. I really shouldn't use my honed debating skills on an amateur like this but sometimes you can push me just so far.
Fred and I were sitting watching the ball game a couple of hours later when my wife stormed in. "You call this running?" she demanded.
"I never said I was going running, I said I was going jogging," I protested. Apparently embarrassed at her faux pas, she quickly left the room, scowling in displeasure over her rude behavior. I asked Fred if he wanted to continue jogging at my house but he said he couldn't because he was fixing the garbage disposal.
Actually, though, the heart monitor has turned out to be a blessing. I had no idea so many of what seem like normal activities place such a strain on one's heart. Clearing the table, as an example, adds 20 points. This is an unacceptable risk, in my opinion, and I've taken steps to eliminate it from my routine altogether. (Though to be frank I must have somehow sensed the danger associated with these and other "chores," because I've instinctively avoided them my whole life.) Indeed, it turns out that the lowest possible heart rate is obtained by assuming my favorite position on the couch, a bowl of pretzels and a can of beer nearby so that I don't have to get up to obtain life's necessities.
This may strike you as overkill, but remember: I have to conserve energy. You never know when you're going to wind up taking a dunk in the sea.
Copyright W. Bruce Cameron 1998
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