The human medicine ball
| I spent the better part of last night trying to channel Sonny Liston. From somewhere in memory came this black and white image of Sonny training for his shot at the title. I must have seen the film, a Fox-Pathe News clip that was shown before the feature, at a one screen cineplex of that time. That was before Fox was bought out by White House Industries. I knew this because there was some objectivity to the short.
The narrator, doing his best Lowell Thomas imitation, exclaimed, “Watch as Sonny’s trainer pounds his mid-section with a twenty-pound medicine ball.” Do they still make medicine balls? This is the query I wanted to pose to Sonny. It came to me as the weather heated up yesterday. In mid-afternoon I went upstairs to change into cooler clothes. As I began to slip on a lighter tee shirt, I turned my head to the right and saw this person who resembled that medicine ball in the mirror. “Is that really me?” I asked.
I should have known. Earlier I’d expended much energy toting an old printer and CPU to our storage locker. With them out of the way, I could now slide the cobweb-covered Ab-lounge against the wall, so that I could fit between it and some device that purports to be a Nordic Trak, but which creaks with disuse any time an arm of it is moved. As I gazed into the looking glass, I was amazed that the printer and I could squeeze between the wall and the water cooler at the foot of the steps.
Staggering back from the mirror, I fell into bed and began to think. I grabbed the phone and called Pam at work. “Remember that refrigerator we were looking at last time at Lowe’s? Well, we’d better hurry and buy it.” To say the least, she was thrilled. In her mind, that stainless steel beauty would round out our kitchen. I was more interested in the box. I was sure that morticians have learned from the pricing policies of Walmart, and when time comes to order my coffin, Pam will be charged two hundred dollars more for the Extra Large, or Extra-Extra Large, size. The carton will serve as a cheap replacement, especially since I plan on cremation.
What is the life expectancy of a perfectly round sixty-two year old male? I have no idea and couldn't find any actuarial tables on the Internet to tell me. Like everything that happens in my life, I would be the last to know, but the clues were there all along. Two weeks ago my future son-in-law Philip visited to put up our gazebo. The weather was hot. On the first day, he broke off work after lunch. He cooled off by taking our little motorboat for a spin. The second morning he needed my help to finish the job, and by the time we were done, we were both sweating. Time for another pleasure ride, with me joining him.
As we drove to the marina, Phil painted a picture of air cooling our faces while we buzzed about Barnegat Bay. He was in seventh heaven. “We can stop at the Tiki Bar and get a drink.” That watering hole has spots for boats to dock. I was excited. I shouldn’t have been; I should have remembered Archimedes’ laws of hydraulics.
While Phil took the cover off the craft and started the engine, I busied myself on the dock undoing the lines that held us in place. With the last line free, Phil began to back slowly, beckoning me to jump aboard. I did, stepping on a seat and into the center of the hull. I almost fell as the little ship jolted to a stop. It had run aground in the mud. A light bulb went on in my brain. “I think I better get off, Phil.” He argued but the proof was in the pudding. As I stepped back on the dock, the boat resumed its proper course. I shouted “I’ll meet you at the Tiki Bar.”
Thinking back on that day, I realized that I did not need to polish off two crab cake sandwiches and three lemonades while I waited for Phil to finish his joy-ride, though I should have taken heart by the fact that I did not order again while he inhaled two orders of steamed clams and a mixed seafood grill. Phil is what Italians call a ‘gavone;’ his appetite is prodigious. In his company I look small and round. He resembles nothing so much as that stainless steel refrigerator Pam and I want to buy. I look more like the kettle grill that adorns many back yards in my neighborhood. I am not a gavone, but a gourmand, but no one uses that term since speaking the French language was declared illegal by the Patriot Act.
As I lay on our white quilt reminiscing, the taste of the remoulade that topped the crab cakes returned, and I found myself licking my lips. My mind began to drift away; Phil faded into the wall and the air became hot and sticky. I slept on. There in my dream was Sonny Liston, his baleful stare looking through me. He was throwing a medicine ball into my gut.
I woke to Pam’s smiling face.
“I’m home early; remember, I went to a seminar. What’s for dinner? I saw nothing cooking. Want me to make something?”
“Nah, I can make a quick Pasta Alfredo; I got some cream and Locatelli Romano at Shoprite.” The thought made both of us salivate. I put on the tee shirt, stood up and headed for the steps and the kitchen. “I want to do some research about heavyweight champions tonight.”
From behind me came her reply, “Oh, I thought you wanted to go to Lowe’s. Weren’t you serious about that refrigerator?”
Ocean Gate NJ
June 22, 2005