Fit for Life by Stephen Halpert
I was playing shortstop for the Red Sox. The rookie from the Yankees hit a hard ground ball toward second. I leapt to my left, did a double side step, gloved the ball and threw the runner at first out by a step. Then I whapped my left ankle against the coffee table and hopped up and down wincing.
“Are you ok?” Tasha asked from the other side of the room. She was doing knee lifts to the exercise video, which fortunately was nearing completion. Moments later we finished the half mile of the intense aerobic walking we do most mornings.
“I’m fine,” I said, my imagination still at Fenway Park, the rest of my mind at home struggling through our morning ritual trying to remain fit for life and if possible add longevity to the equation. “I’m just starved and when I’m this hungry my mind wanders.”
“This exercise is so good for us, especially before breakfast.” She put the DVD into its case.
“Sure,” I said noncommittally. “I do this for you. Otherwise, you’d be more and more insistent and it’s just easier this way.”
“I want you to last,” she smiled. “I want us both to be fit for life.”
“Oh, I will be,” I assured her. I staggered into the kitchen. Our morning exercise and what only could be called a sensible healthy diet seemed more discipline than I especially wanted just then.
To stay fit some men go to health clubs, work out on monstrous equipment, eat tasteless protein bars and drink chalky, foamy concoctions that look like grout. I’m not one of them. I prefer to stay home, read, and watch foreign films. I accept that I could easily be called sedentary, or worse a couch potato. I’ve also noticed that once they hit advanced years those types don’t seem to last all that long.
“Thank you for doing the walking with me,” she said as we sipped our breakfast tea. “Did you drink your two glasses of water?” She was eating cereal that resembled barnyard gruel.
I was enjoying my gluten free burrito smothered in garlic, soy cheese and hot peppers on a bed of salad greens. There is a method to this madness. The peppers created an instant need for water. Soy cheese is healthier and less fatty than dairy. Garlic is delicious raw or cooked and works to lower blood pressure. The burrito is my one distant indulgence to my boyhood memory of the world of fast food.
I sighed. “There’s a part of me I have to be constantly aware of that wants to bag our morning exercises and go drown myself in a gooey three cheese pizza.”
She looked at me, spoon raised on its way to her lips. “But why?” she asked. “The exercise is so good for us, especially early in the day.”
“Because it’s tedious and boring.” I replied. “Anytime I do the same thing over and over again it gets boring. I’m constantly at war against boredom. Besides anything that can be done at eight in the morning can be done at three in the afternoon. I’m sure the Great God Fitness could care less.”
“Would you rather we joined a health club?”
You know the answer to that without my having to say anything.” I looked at the sports page and wondered if now that they had some decent starters in their starting rotation, the Red Sox would catch fire and make it out of last place all the way into the playoffs.
“There’s always hiring a personal trainer.” She got up from the table and took her gluten free toast from the toaster. “Want some?”
“No thanks!” I said, mentally struggling with my deep inner craving for pizza.
“Is there anything I could do to help make our morning exercise more interesting for you,” she asked pleasantly.
“Sure,” I smiled. “Wear a string bikini.”
“It’s not yet even spring. Mornings are far too chilly.”
“You asked. Besides it shouldn’t matter. The heat generated from the intensity of exercise would keep you warm whatever the time of year, and then I’d get an eyeful.”
“Thanks,” she smiled. “I’m sure most husbands would appreciate seeing their wives wearing less.”
“I’m sure,” I agreed. “There is another solution to overcoming the sedentary dilemma. But it’s terribly radical and more expensive than we might even want to consider these days.”
That caught her attention. “What’s that? One of those new exercise machines that moves in many different ways at once?”
“Perish the thought. What I had in mind was a clothing optional cruise. Ten days on the high seas: Yoga, swimming in a heated pool, exercising, enjoying the pure solemnity of nature.”
“You’d do that? Work out, swim, practice Yoga?”
“No but you would and I’d enjoy watching. Besides if we signed up for one in the future, our human nature would guide us to get our bodies back in shape so we’d fit in with passengers that were more the age of our grandkids than ours.”
“That sounds a bit extreme,” she smiled. “Beside knowing you, you’d spend the cruise in a deck chair, lost in a book.”
“I tried.” I smiled, stood up and kissed her. “I guess the next big question is something else to seriously consider.”
“What’s that,” she asked.
“What’s for lunch.”
A graduate of Emerson College, Stephen Halpert has been a published author since the 1970s. Most recently, his weekly column “American Scene,” which ran in The Grafton News from 1989 to 2022, featured humorous vignettes of his life with his wife, Tasha, and serial fiction. Since 2020, Halpert has authored a trilogy, The Loves of Gilberto, which he describes as, “a love story with a hint of murder.” In 2018, Halpert published his first collection of fictional tales, Abracadabra Moonshine and Other Stories, available on Amazon. His next writing venture is titled “Mona Lisa’s Eyebrows and other stories.” Contact Stephen to learn more.