I have never been a fan of what the layperson calls “exercise.” We educated ivory tower folks, well, we tend to call it “exercise.” It’s too early in the morning to really do semantics. So sue me. The point is, I’ve never liked it.
I’m an uncoordinated slob. I would like to point out that, like all you other uncoordinated slobs out there, things tend to jump into my path and lie down, with the proven intent of making me trip and fall. Shadows do this. So do cracks in the sidewalk; chewing gum wrappers; leaves, twigs and sawdust; and, of course microbes. Stuff just seems to clumsify me. And I don’t like tripping. It embarrasses me. It doesn’t help that when I got to seventh grade, I was already five feet fifteen inches tall, and weighed only slightly more than 2 bags of Purina Dog Chow. Of course, I wanted to learn to wrestle. That’s not precisely true. I wanted to learn judo, but there was no martial arts class in the area so I settled on wrestling, where, effectively, I got my ass kicked until I separated my collar bone in my sophomore year and gave up that little endeavor. I was called–and this was meant quite affectionately, I’m sure–a fish. I think it had to do with the way I gasped and flopped around on the mat, and was kind of clammy to the touch.
Truth is, I never much liked being uncomfortable: I despised having a window rolled down while we were driving. The wind on my face (and splashback from when my dad spit out the window) were never something I could tolerate for long. I tried out for PeeWee baseball when I was young. I hated standing way out in the outfield, freezing my tail off, watching softballs never come anywhere near me. Even today, I look for ways stay comfortable, usually by participating in activities that make me not sweat. As a result, I’m in great shape. Round is a shape.
Some of you folks may remember back in the glory days, when teachers could dole out corporal punishment to students. My elementary school teacher had a paddle he affectionately called “Sting”, after the famous elf-dagger in The Hobbit. He never used it on me, but the paddle hung on the blackboard (a blackboard that was actually green – I never understood that one) in a place of prominence, right by the bathroom hall pass, where everyone who dare try goofy shenanigans might remember their fate. Even in 8th grade, Mr. Pomme, our math teacher, had a paddle, which I only saw him use once, on Brian Davis. I don’t think you’re allowed to smack kids around anymore. Instead they make kids have time-outs to think about what they’ve done. Here’s a hint: they think they got away with it. Ahhh but I’m joking of course, I wouldn’t presume in this day and age that whacking kids with a paddle is a solution to their educational misdemeanors.
I’m going off track again. This post was about my hate-hate relationship with exercise. I suppose it’s partially because of elementary and junior high school that I despise it: I’m sure to this day that when you dole out something as punishment, a kid will grow to despise it, and ultimately to avoid it. When we weren’t having “Sting” applied to our bottoms, we were given Herculean feats of exercise. Late math paper? 50 push-ups. Smear clay on the kid next to you? A hundred burpees (if you were really bad, you got six count burpees, the one with the push-up in the middle). Exercise was never treated like a good or healthy thing. It was the abomination that happened to you when you misbehaved. My very last day of sixth grade, I don’t even remember what I did, but I managed to annoy a teacher enough to get twenty laps around the soccer field. So I ran. But with each time I passed the backstop of the baseball diamond, I grew to despise exercise just a tiny bit more.
These days, as a certified Hippopotamic Landmass (I watched The Princess Bride last night), you can safely assume I don’t do much exercising. A friend has been encouraging me to start running again: I did a bit of running after high school, and again in the late 1990s. Is it too late for me? I like being comfortable, and I don’t care much about my largesse. I am slowly turning into one of those old guys who toodles around his lawn, wearing khaki shorts, black knee socks and orthopedic sneakers. I regret not being able to fit in to pants with a 34″ waist anymore, but those days are long over. So I move onward. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s very important that I hold a sofa onto the floor for several hours.