Five days a week I climb artificial stairs and row an artificial boat
in the garage for about a half hour. I don't generate any electricity
with this energy, or grind wheat or do anything else constructive,
but if I don't do it I become Det. Sipowicz.
I don't exercise enough to love it. There are joggers, I'm told,
who reach a kind of ecstasy by running through the pain. But the flip
side of ecstasy is the coronary, and the men in my family tend to
keel over about my age, so I don't go for the burn; I just sweat a
bit and then stop.
Indoor workouts allow you to watch TV, but you have to choose your
programming carefully; it takes a strong show to make exercise
palatable. Running up imaginary stairs while watching mediocre
sitcoms is probably what they make you do in hell.
I started doing this for my health, and I suppose it helps,
although it doesn't make me any younger, or taller, or even thinner.
The reason I keep exercising, and fighting my appetite, is other
people. It's so they won't say, "What happened to you?"
I particularly don't want Patti Jo to say that, of course. She was
flexible on the personal appearance issue when we got married, but
you can't expect her to tolerate too steep a decline from an iffy
level. Besides, she runs. I can't give up if she won't.
We talk about giving up together, sometimes. We once heard an
attractive 40-ish woman, a film costume designer, ask plaintively,
"Is it all right for me to let myself go yet?" A poignant question,
once you reach a certain age.
Life gets much of its appeal from food, and food gets most of its
appeal from fat. I know what I'm missing when I miss it; I wasn't
born every minute. I don't think light mayonnaise tastes as good as
real mayonnaise, and I Can Believe It's Not Butter.
It's time for me to get heavier. When I was young, I was thin --
in fact I was pitiful. But it's natural to put on a little weight as
you age ... at least, it's natural outside California. Here we punish
ourselves like actors in order to look acceptable by local standards.
A person who would look normal out of state is an eyesore here. I got
chubby a few years ago and I was asked to leave town -- well, not
verbally, but I could see the request in people's eyes. Fortunately I
got a stressful job, lost my appetite and dropped a few pounds.
But someday Patti Jo and I are going to stop running, and climbing
and rowing. We'll go east and live with the normies. Or maybe we'll
stay in Laguna and defy the local look. Yeah. And we'll have some
butter, and some sauce, and some butter sauce, and dare to be round.