Tag Archives: fitness

Lame Adventure 419: The B Word

The b word I have in mind is birthday. Mine occurred on Sunday. This is the first birthday in forever that I am physically fit. On December 30th, I stopped eating like a starving hog and started riding a spin bike for 40 minutes four days a week. I’ve been a barnacle to my diet and exercise routine. As a result, I’ve shed a dozen pounds, went down a pant size and rediscovered my waistline. When I glimpse myself naked in the mirror my immediate thought is no longer:

Me: Ugh, I’ve gotta do something about that.

Now that I’ve returned to being lean, I wonder:

Me: Why are you still single?

Another dividend of de-flabbing is that I have much more energy and I feel much less cranky. On Saturday, I was walking down my block when I encountered a squirrel. We made meaningful eye contact. I dug my hand into my pocket. The squirrel looked hopeful. I took out my iPhone. The squirrel realized that I was a useless source for treats, scampered under a shrub and dug out a snack from its stash. The critter then hopped onto a ledge and struck a pose.

Last critter photographed at 54.

Last cute critter photograph at 54.

I snapped a shot. A woman approached:

Woman: What’s he eating?

The Old Me: How the hell do I know? Do I look like a squirrel-ologist?

Now that I’m mellow I’ve muted my snark. If she was lesbian and we had chemistry, this could have been a brilliant way to meet: bonding over a charming rodent nibbling God-knows-what.

As for my birthday, I’m not big on celebrating, but I appreciate low-key acknowledgment. My friends and family know that I’m not into gifts. My bud, Coco, once remarked in sheer exasperation:

Coco: You’re the hardest person in the world to get a black tee shirt for.

I welcome cards and my annual birthday cake at The Grind. This year, I wanted a pie, specifically an apple pie. My boss, Elspeth, opened her wallet, and my colleague, Godsend, ordered the exact pie I craved: crumb topped from Billy’s Bakery. Billy’s is known for their cakes, but note this fellow pie enthusiasts: Billy’s crumb topped apple pie is superb.

Birthday pie.

Birthday pie.

My birthday wouldn’t be complete without attending the theater with Milton. This weekend, we saw two plays on Broadway. As I power slept on Saturday he rose at daybreak to wait in line for $29 rush seat tickets to The Velocity of Autumn, a one act play starring Estelle Parsons and Stephen Spinella.

Pre-theater crowd waiting to enter.

Pre-theater crowd waiting to enter.

It’s a very moving, unsentimental story about a middle age son trying to talk his elderly mother out of blowing up her Brooklyn brownstone with one hundred Molotov cocktails she has scattered throughout her home in defiance of his siblings demand that she enter assisted living. It is not a comedy, but it is packed with hilarious jokes. It strikes many chords about aging whether you’re 85 or 55.

86-year-old Estelle Parsons delivered a knockout performance as the mother. She was nominated for the Best Actress Tony award last week. Ticket sales were slow so the producers closed the show on Sunday. Because time was running out to see it, Milton hightailed to the Booth Theatre’s box office in pursuit of the cheap seats. He scored third row orchestra, but was warned that they were partial view, proving the new adage that skinflints can’t be choosers. When we got to our row C seats that hugged the theater’s wall, Milton gasped in terror:

Milton: What an angle!



Fortunately, when the curtain lifted, the view was good. Milton declared:

Milton: I would gladly pay $29 to see every show on Broadway from this seat.

Stephen Spinella and Estelle Parson at curtain call.

Stephen Spinella and Estelle Parsons at curtain call.

On Sunday, my birthday proper, we saw Of Mice and Men starring James Franco and Chris O’Dowd. We bought those tickets in January. The theater was packed with young women, many probably attending a Broadway play for the first time. But they behaved. No one screamed or threw her underwear at the leading men.

Pre-theater crowd entering the Longacre Theater.

Pre-theater crowd outside the Longacre Theater.

Ben Brantley of the New York Times gave this inspired revival a bitchy review. He ridiculously compared James Franco to Yosemite Sam. Milton said that for film stars that had never performed on Broadway, both gave very solid performances. We thought it was entertaining. Furthermore, Milton never once complained about having to climb 51 stairs up to the balcony.

First pigeon photograph at 55.

First crummy pigeon photograph at 55.

This year is off to a great start.

Lame Adventure 409: Unloading the Kangaroo

Last November, I revealed that my gastroenterologist urged me to shed a bowling ball and seven bananas in weight that I gained over the course of the previous four years. One or two of you may have wondered:

One or Two Lame Adventurers: How’s that going?

I was motivated to purchase a spin bike and a package of chocolate sea salt cookies. The cookies I inhaled quickly. A few weeks after the bike arrived, I got around to assembling it. As a reward for this accomplishment, I treated myself to a box of Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Stars cookies. It was the holiday season, that six-week period when I am eating and drinking myself into oblivion.

Assembled conversation piece.

Assembled conversation piece.

When I returned to New York from a West Coast getaway on December 28th, I did a Fairway run for foodstuffs, and purchased a new slice and bake cookie they make called the Kitchen Sink. This cookie is high octane. It has everything in it — chocolate, nuts, oats, raisins and maybe even a drain.

Yee ha!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My kind of cookie!

That evening, I dined with my buds, Milton and Coco. I mainlined a burger, fries and four pints of beer. The next day, Sunday, December 29th, I had a brunch date with my friend, Lola. I continued stuffing myself with gusto.

On Monday, December 30th, I glimpsed myself sideways naked. I looked like I had a baby kangaroo stuffed in my mid-section. Whatever was going on in there was nearing the point that no amount of black clothing could conceal. When I stepped on the scale the number was so sky high it was as if I was carrying the mothership kangaroo. There was no denying it: six-weeks of holiday season indulging resulted in my now having to lose an adult marsupial in weight. The time had come for me to ride that spin bike. I could no longer avoid it.

I popped in a DVD that came with the bike called Ultimate Energy. It’s described as “a fun and challenging ride while exploring the potential of your own power with smooth hills and seamless straight-aways”. It stars a Son of Stepford, an international fitness educator who never stops smiling or breaks a sweat. He doesn’t mention that if you’re middle aged and suffering late stage Fat Ass-itis, you will feel no fun — just a humiliating degree of challenge with a heaping help of suffering. When he declared in a perky tone “it’s okay to smile” as I was crying blood, I renamed this DVD Ultimate Cruelty.

When it was over, I was drenched in sweat and certain that I could never do this again for forty minutes. This bike was destined to be only a $449 clothes rack.

Multi-tasking spin bike.

Multi-tasking spin bike.

But, shortly afterward, the endorphins released and I felt that high I feel on those rare occasions when I have great sex i.e., coupling with someone who does not require begging from me. I thoroughly read the manual that came with the bike about dietary habits. Cookies, burgers and beer were omitted. The emphasis was on whole grains, fruit and vegetables and something that had completely escaped my mind over the course of the last four years: portion control.

I decided that it would behoove me to re-think my diet. I baked the Kitchen Sink cookies — but gave them to a guy at The Grind without eating one myself.

Christmas in January came to a guy who works on the floor above me.

Kitchen Sink Cookies: banished!

I am now eating primarily organic. It doesn’t cost much more because I’ve eliminated bagels, beer, and cookies from my shopping list. I have quit watching that Son of Stepford DVD. Apple’s iTunes Radio has a station called Rev Up that introduced me to heart rate soaring dance music rife with synthesizers and drum machines, exactly what I would have dismissed as aural pollution BS (Before Spinning). My favorite song to ride to is Maximal Crazy.

A song that makes shock therapy seem mellow.

A melody as mellow as shock treatment.

Even though I no longer pound four beers in a sitting, I have not become a healthy lifestyle fanatic. When I’m dining out with friends, I don’t announce:

Me: Just water and a plate of steamed leaves for me.

When I started spinning a month and a half ago, I did it three days a week. Two weeks in, Milton encouraged me to ride every other day. Now that I feel it is less likely that I will drop dead doing this, I am going to try riding it five days a week. Even though Coco, who is a buff gym rat, wishes I’d ditch the scale; she’s an advocate of how you feel over a number, thus far, I’ve shed seven pounds. I feel much less spongy and much more solid. Best of all, I no longer look like I’m carrying a large footed beast in my guts.

Lame Adventure 397: Pass on the Appetizers

When I stepped out to run an errand, much to my surprise what did I see lying on the sidewalk but a nose. Upon closer inspection I realized my eyes were playing tricks on me because I had actually mistaken three carrots angled funny in a sandwich bag for a proboscis.

These carrots looked a lot less orange without the flash.

These carrots looked a lot less orange without the flash.

An obvious mistake anyone not anticipating an encounter with stray carrots would have made.

On the topic of food, eating season starts this Thursday,  that time of year between Thanksgiving, or for readers who prefer, Thanksgivakkah (since this holiday coincides with the first day of Hanukkah), and New Years. Due to my gastroenterologist’s recommendation, I’m assigned to start losing the equivalent of a bowling ball and seven bananas in flab. The timing of this advised weight loss goal during the most food-filled weeks of the year creates a conflict for me. But, this Turkey Day, I am determined to practice self-control. I will consciously refrain from duplicating the year when I was a barnacle to the appetizer table where I inhaled a dozen deviled eggs and a glut of prawns washed down with a liter of martinis, prior to entering a coma during the main course, but reviving in time for pie. Forgive me for waxing sentimental.

This is also the season when one has to start thinking about gift giving. I am of modest means so I can afford more thinking than giving, but I have ticked one important Christmas gift off my list for a very dear relation. While shopping in my local Duane Reade for twine I could not locate, possibly because I was wandering aimfully in the pet toy section, I saw a talking Mr. Magoo — the perfect present for my sister’s pooch, Thurber.

"Hello Thurber!"

“Hello Thurber!”

As for everyone else in my family, if I cannot get whatever I’m giving them via the Internet, they’re not getting it from me. This is the time of year when my shopping standards kick in ferociously and I am solidly adhered. You could sooner move the George Washington Bridge with a feather than could you sooner dislodge me from my spending season policy. I only enter brick and mortar stores for the basic tools of survival: food, alcohol and flavored lubricant.

Back to this pressure to de-flab myself sooner than later, it is something I am taking extremely seriously. So seriously that I was compelled to finally remove my spin bike from the shipping box I received it in four weeks ago Tuesday. It was such a surgical procedure; it took one sixth of a day to complete.

Tightly packed.

Tightly packed.

Muscling out heavy duty staplers. Hit self in head twice, but only suffered a single concussion.

Muscling out heavy duty staples. Hit self in head twice, but only suffered a loss of consciousness once.

Sliced open box.

Sliced open box.

Supplied wrench that temporarily went AWOL.

Supplied wrench that temporarily went AWOL.

Three hours later, finally getting somewhere.

An eight of a day later, finally getting somewhere.

End result.

End result.

With my newfound experience extricating such a cumbersome and heavy object, I have likely attained the prowess to dissect an elephant with an X-Acto knife. If that pays better than what I’m currently making labeling tile, sign me up.

Putting my spin bike together took about a quarter hour including the five minutes I spent looking for and cursing at the wrench that went missing when it slipped under my bed.  Later that evening I met Milton.

Milton: You’ve started spinning?

Me: No. But I finally took my bike out of that box the size of Texas and I assembled it. That was a workout and a half.

Milton: It shows.

That compliment bolstered my confidence. In fact it got me through the next three days when every muscle in my body ached horrifically. The pain during my recovery from removing my spin bike from its box also caused a seismic shift in my fantasizing. Gone were the Technicolor dreams of intimacy with blind-folded vixens willing to pick up the tab. My thoughts went completely decadent and I dreamed of being chauffeured to and from The Grind in an ambulance, an expense that was fully covered by my crummy health insurance.

Soon, the spin shoes and cleats I recently ordered from Zappos should arrive. Then I will no longer have any excuses left to delay jump starting my sole New Years’ resolution in December. In preparation, I have read all of my spin bike’s how-to manuals cover to cover. They’re multi-purpose; they also put me to sleep. I suppose there’s no way to get around actually riding the spin bike to achieve the dual goals of weight loss and “ultimate energy”. Cutting back on ultimate eating this holiday season is probably a good starting point.

Spin bike manuals and DVDs. Cookies sold separately.

Spin bike manuals and DVDs. Dark Chocolate star cookies sold separately.

Lame Adventure 395: Impulse Shopping

Last month, my gastroenterologist ordered me to lose the equivalent of a bowling ball and seven bananas in weight.  I am paraphrasing his exact wording, but he insists that I must slam the brakes on my widening middle age spread and focus on getting back into shape. My knee-jerk response was spastic discombobulating followed with denial that devolved into defensive arguing. Then, I coughed up a copper penny I swallowed when I was five and purchased a spin bike that set me back another 44,899 copper pennies including shipping. It arrived two weeks ago tomorrow. Here it is.



I cannot show anymore of it because I have yet to open the box. Allegedly, inside is one Spinner brand FIT bike, 4 DVDs (but it is not specified if any are from the Criterion Collection or my second choice, documentaries about historical people of accomplishment or my third preference, celebrity sex tapes). In addition, there’s an 8-Week Weight Loss Program (on week 9 do I revert back to my 5-Year Weight Gain Program?) and something called Guide to Ride. The last could be an advisory sentence: “Climb on and cycle your guts out lard ass.” Until I open this box, for all I know what’s inside is a hundred lead-filled sock monkeys. How would I feel about that? After I finish brooding it would solve what everyone is getting from me for Christmas this year and 15 years hence.

Everyone (in unison): Lead-filled sock monkeys again! You suck!

If this had been a delivery of tile samples to my place of employ, The Grind, I would have opened and inventoried the contents of this box at warp speed to ensure that we received exactly what we ordered, everything was intact nor were any lead-filled sock monkeys included. I did shift into overdrive playing intermediary between the delivery service, FedEx, and my apartment building’s manager who graciously arranged to have this hippopotamus-sized hunk of steel carried up to and placed inside my third floor hovel. She knows that I have reached the age when my carrying anything less portable than a bottle of Windex and eleven craisins will elicit huffing and puffing worthy of a 19th century steam engine, coincidentally exactly what I feel like most mornings when I wake. Huh, maybe I should do something specific about getting back into shape?

One of the advantages of living in New York City is that I do not need to own a car. My main sources of getting around are public transit and walking. Over the weekend, I needed to go to my market, Fairway, to do some foodstuff shopping. I walked to the store. It was very crowded, but at least the homicidal maniac-types were sleeping in and everyone that showed up was civil. I was determined to grab what I needed and go as quickly as possible. Returning home I encountered a loose Brussels Sprout on the sidewalk near my sanctum sanctorum.

Image magnified to enhance detail of semi-squashed sprout.

Image magnified to enhance detail of semi-squashed Brussels Sprout.

As I was photographing this rare sight, I remembered that in my haste I had forgotten to pick up pita bread. I went home, dropped off my sack of groceries and then embraced 21st century technology and texted my friend, Coco. Why suffer in dignified silence when one can grouse in whiny text? It’s vital to have a buddy to share one’s suffering with and for me, that buddy is Coco.

Coco (via text): I hate when I forget something at the store. I feel your pain.

I returned to my market, where I again wended my way through the masses and picked up pita bread and on impulse, a package of chocolate sea salt cookies — in defiance of why I have gained a bowling ball and seven bananas in weight.

Pita and cookies in the before state; before being plastered onto human hips.

Pita and cookies in the before state; before being plastered onto human hips.

When I returned home, Coco texted me.

Coco: Glad you accomplished mission pita.

What she does not know is that Project Lazy Lard Ass is continuing with gusto. When I get around to opening that spin bike box, preferably before I polish off every chocolate sea salt cookie, I hope that I am not greeted with a hundred lead-filled sock monkeys, or equally irritating, a spin bike missing a fly wheel.

We're all in this together.

We’re all in this together.

Now for some shilling in this quid pro quo world we live in. My worst seller, Lame Adventures: Unglamorous Tales from Manhattan, is being featured tomorrow at The Fussy Librarian, a new website that offers personalized e-book recommendations. You choose from 32 genres, indicate your preferences about content and then their computers, or maybe it’s a gray-haired lady in orthopedic shoes named Agnes, do the rest. Check out their site:


Lame Adventure 388: Thought is Cheap

Recently I thought:

Me (thinking): I’d like to get back in shape.

Currently, I am situated in between two poles. On the one side there’s the pole that is fantastically fit and I’m moving with the grace of a gazelle, prompting this type of flattery:

Flatterer: You look great! Have you been quaffing from the fountain of youth?

The opposite pole is dire. I have turned into a huffing, puffing flab factory on feet prompting the screaming silence of disapproval and behind-the-back commentary:

Behind-the-Back Commentary: Has she gone downhill! Obviously, she’s guzzling from the sewer of age.

For twenty-five years, to stay in shape I stationary cycled and lifted weights in the privacy of my sanctum sanctorum. The Tunturi exercise bike I bought in 1986 is now quite rusted. What is of even greater concern is that it has been steadily drizzling parts on my rug for most of the past two years. When I vacuum, I hear the disturbing sound of deeply inhaled chunks of metal rattling through my ancient upright Eureka’s intestines. What remains of my exercise bike is in such a state of dilapidation I am in a quandary. Should I attempt to ride it again or just put it out of its misery? Maybe place it on cinderblocks in my building’s front garden? If I do ride it again, what if a part that should move fluidly jerks violently, catapulting me through the window and I bounce off the concrete patio three stories below? What a way to introduce myself to the first floor tenants — surrounded by paramedics with mops.

The time has come to invest in a new exercise bike. In today’s world that is a spin bike. I could see myself perched atop one of these state of the art fitness machines complete with a narrow seat made from a composite material with slightly less give than granite, having the cardio workout of a lifetime provided a massive coronary or a blood clot erupting in what’s left of my brain does not mar the plethora of health benefits. I can envision myself cycling off excess flab on this, my personally watered down to an anemic drip Tour de France, or more accurately, Tour de Crappy Rent Stabilized Studio Apartment.

Recently, I saw a lovely sunny yellow spin bike on display on Amsterdam Avenue outside SoulCycle, the spin enthusiast’s temple of spinning. A single class there costs $34 while the VIP 50-class package tops $3,500. I don’t do classes, nor do I have a spare 3,500 clams to burn, but I would welcome having a shiny new sunny yellow spin bike in my humble abode.  I went online to price it and discovered it is $2,200. There’s no way I am going to spend those kinds of shekels on an exercise machine, but I was curious to see for myself what exactly makes this bike the Lamborghini of spin bikes. Does it come with an engine?

Sweet bike, sour price.

Sweet bike, sour price.

I set out to do some investigating. Just when I was about a storefront away from SoulCycle, a poster caught my eye in the doorway of a bakery called Crumbs announcing the arrival of the Crumbnut. I did a swish pan and was instantly inside Crumbs.

Welcome sucker!

Welcome sucker!

In May, Dominique Ansel, a French bakery in Soho introduced the original Cronut, the spawn of a croissant and a doughnut. People have lost their minds over this delicacy and start lining up outside this bakery on weekdays at 5:30 in the morning. Dominique opens at 8 and limits two Cronuts per customer at $5 each.  Right now, they’re baking about 300 a day. Some of my longtime readers might think that this is the exact type of lunacy that has “Lame Adventures” written all over it. I hate to disappoint but there is no way I am going to do this. Here at Lame Adventures, I have standards.

I saw that the Crumbnut costs $2.95. They were filling an entire tray. I could have easily bought two dozen. I bought one, hightailed home, took a bite and discovered that it has the consistency of a hockey puck, but with slightly less flavor. I also suspected that the vintage was easily half a day old.

What looks like powdered sugar might actually be dust.

What looks like powdered sugar might actually be dust.

Then, I remembered that I was so distracted by the advent of the Crumbnut, I completely blanked on checking out the SoulCycle bike. Thanks to a cheap knock-off Cronut, I have inched closer in the direction of atrophying into a huffing, puffing flab factory on feet. Pass the chocolate.

Note: my friend Jackie Cangro has written an excellent post about Faux-nuts and I urge you to check it out here.

Lame Adventure 368: Feel the Burn

Recently, I suffered the humiliation of looking at myself in a store’s dressing room mirror. I was even fully clad. This horrifying encounter brought to mind a tale I wrote a few years ago about defeating the battle of the bulge:

Feel the Burn


Lame Adventureswoman

The potency of interval training is nothing new. Many athletes have been straining through interval sessions once or twice a week along with their regular workout for years. But what researchers have been looking at recently is whether humans can increase endurance with only a few minutes of strenuous exercise, instead of hours? Could it be that most of us are spending more time than we need to trying to get fit? … There’s a catch, though. Those six minutes, if they’re to be effective, must hurt.

Can You Get Fit in Six Minutes a Week? The New York Times

While at work, boxing 18,000 blue plastic cats, my mind drifted. Fitness is very important to me. It’s such a challenge balancing career and home life with a daily exercise routine. In recent years I’ve fallen behind on exercise, as I’ve doubled my love for Pub Mix.

A fat-full foodstuff.

A fat-full foodstuff.

If I could master interval training sessions six minutes a week — a mere seventy-two seconds a day — and the end result is a body comparable to a swimsuit model’s rather than it’s current compliment, the Liberty Bell, this could surely renew interest in the intimacy department with Tulip, my inamorata of four sizzling months and 6 ¾ tepid years. Last night while spooning, I delicately removed her earplug and cooed, “Are we ever going to do it again or what?” Her response to this love call: a deep groan reminiscent of a dying antelope. Once again I failed to reignite her ardor. There’s no question about it, I am a woman who must get fit in six minutes a week!

Once I achieve a maximum level of physical perfection in six minutes a week, could the principle of interval training apply to other avenues of my life? At this moment, I am specifically thinking about how it could pertain to boxing 17,983 blue plastic cats. Might there be a high-octane approach to fulfilling one’s employment obligations? If my forty-hour workweek were reduced to six minutes a week, I would have so much more time to pursue my life’s goals. I would even have time to recall what my life’s goals once were.

With my life’s goals re-established, I could next focus on travel. Every year Tulip and I visit the same places — her sister, Iris, in spring; brother, Thorn, in summer; my Uncle Cuthbert for Thanksgiving; and our sole brush with celebrity, the prairie dog-whisperer, Agnes Dunk, over the holidays. The monotony of this routine is stifling.  We owe it to our faltering union to see more of the world.  Tulip is averse to any travel above 96th Street or below 14th, but if it were possible to cross the pond and absorb the cultural magnificence of the great cities of Europe in ten hours or less, I’m certain she would be on board to do so in a heartbeat.  A warp-speed tour of the western world would pave the way for a journey east.  Who could possibly resist absorbing the glory of the Great Wall of China in nineteen minutes (or less)?

Then, there is the matter of nourishment and this patriotic habit I’ve acquired of consuming more calories than I expend. If I could both reduce and satisfy all of my food-related urges in fifty-one seconds a day, that would gift me with an additional eighteen hours a week, seventy-eight hours a month, or 936 hours per annum. That’s the equivalent of thirty-nine days in a calendar year. With so much extra time, I could achieve so much more. I could locate lost socks, read the classics, or develop a reality TV series about … time saving! It could strike such a chord with the viewing masses; there could be spin-offs of this series worldwide. As the mastermind, my name would join the pantheon of other legendary female media pioneers – Diane Sawyer, Rachel Maddow, Snooki.

Foolish me, I’m getting so ahead of myself! Now that I’ve completed boxing 129 blue plastic cats, and my work day has drawn to a close, I’m blithely heading to the fitness center for my first seventy-two second interval training session with Adolf, my trainer.  He is a buff young man with a shaved head reminiscent of a potato. It would be so nice to indulge in a piping hot plate of French fries right now. Before I can say, “Pass the ketchup,” he straps me into an exercise cycle, and is maniacally cracking a whip as I pump the pedals with the ferocity of a world-class competitor on performance enhancing drugs.  Within seconds, I am a cycling dynamo. Within seconds after that, I’m crying blood and screaming in agony for my mother. In fact, I’m certain that this pounding-pulsating sensation raging throughout my entire being must be comparable to suffering a massive stroke, a severe heart attack, and stage four cancer simultaneously.

Even though I am exerting myself as if possessed, the seventy-two seconds begin moving in slow motion. Reality reconfigures. I am no longer in the fitness center. I am standing in a shadowy tunnel where a light is shining in the distance and I am hearing voices from my past. I hear my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Glank, calling out to me, “Come here right now, you ornery brat!” She was run over by a bus in 2007 at age 93, confirming the old maxim that the good die young.

I hear our downstairs neighbor, Ira, crooning The Way You Look Tonight. He is still off-key and as three sheets to the wind as on that night his liver imploded. I conclude that alcohol is served in the afterlife. Comforting.

Who’s this shadowy figure? My nana! She’s wearing her orthopedic shoes and that dress in the print that reminds me of lentils. With her hands on her rotund hips, she bellows, “You eat too much crap and you watch way too much TV!  No fella will ever marry you!”

Just as I’m about to engage in defensive discourse with my ancestor, the training session is over. I fall off the bike, but before smacking into the floor, Adolf catches me. He declares proudly, “You did great! Look, no vomit for me to clean anywhere. Tomorrow, we do swimming, yah?” My exact response to his suggestion eludes me, but I recall the word Nazi figuring prominently.

I return home thoroughly discombobulated. I am unsure if I reached my sanctum sanctorum via taxi, the number two train, or ambulance, but I do know I am standing in my living room, albeit on my hands and knees.

Tulip is reclining on the couch in either a seductive pose or she’s hooked up to an IV. My vision is askew and I cannot tell if she is clad in a mint green body suit and our couch is flesh colored, or she is naked and the couch remains mint green. This is just too much information for me to process in my state of distress.

I crawl into our bedroom. She follows me. While lying on the floor, I pull off my clothes as best as I can. My Quisp cereal tee shirt is bundled atop my head keffiyeh-style.

Tulip is towering over me. I now have a lucid read on her state of attire. She is not wearing a single stitch, nary a throw pillow. She looks at me in a come-hither way I have not seen in eons. I mutter, “Don’t even think it,” and anemically tug the comforter off the bed. Before it puddles onto me, she draws closer and asks, “Wow, are those abs?” As I fade into a coma, I make a mental note to pack my swimsuit for tomorrow’s session — and a few Red Bulls for afterward.

Lame Adventure 327: Going for the Gold in Inactivity

Now that the Thirtieth Olympiad is underway, I blew most of my weekend watching the games in a hypnotic state and doing little else.  I had planned to see my buddy, Coco, on Saturday.  That visit surely would have entailed copious glass lifting and draining while shifting my game-watching venue to her TV.  When I ventured outside for bottled water I got caught in a downpour. My Jack Purcell badminton shoes got wet.  I did not want to venture out into the elements again so I canceled. I returned my attention to my TV where I watched scantily clad women play beach volleyball and embrace each other following every kill. This is an event I find exciting on many levels.

When I was younger and possibly more demented than I am now, thanks to a habit of inhaling, I used to fantasize about competing in the Olympics myself.  This fantasy was misguided since I cannot swim, I’ve never taken gymnastics, I’m allergic to horses, I’m not a fast runner, I take after my mother in archery i.e., I could shoot an arrow into the sky and miss, I’m too scrawny to lift weights, I have an aversion to sharp objects ruling out fencing, I lack the gun-shooting gene, judo has no appeal, so what’s left — competitive whining about the absence of an event to suit Olympic misfit me?

Actually there is one athletic activity I loved back in the day and that was cycling.  I discovered my affinity for bike riding when I attended an eight-week film program at Stanford in summer 1979.  I realize now that pumping the pedals hard to avoid being late for class is not the same as cycling the Tour de France, much less competing for Olympic gold.  At this stage in life I no longer harbor any personal Olympic fantasies.  After watching the endurance test that was Friday’s opening ceremonies I needed ten hours sleep and had to pop two Aleve upon waking I felt so stiff.

Earlier this month I read an article in The New York Times written by Gretchen Reynolds called “The Couch Potato Goes Global”.  Coincidentally I was sitting and eating ginger snap cookies while reading:

“… [T]he total combined weight of human beings on Earth now exceed[s] 287 million tons. About 3.5 million tons of that global human biomass is due to obesity, a third of which exists in North America, although we account for only 6 percent of the world’s population.”

I stopped eating cookies shortly after reading that, but resisted sticking my fingers down my throat.  Hey, they were good cookies. The article went on to discuss research conducted by the World Health Organization about global activity.  They discovered:

“The latest figures suggest that the world’s population has become disturbingly inactive. According to the researchers’ calculations, 31.1 percent of the world’s adults, or about 1.5 billion people, are almost completely sedentary, meaning that they do not meet the minimum recommendation of 150 minutes of walking or other moderate activity per week, or about 20 minutes a day.”

This made me feel a tad guilty about being an armchair athlete all weekend so I worked up a sweat doing masochistic house cleaning.  I scrubbed my bathroom floor with a toothbrush.  Afterward, I resumed watching the Olympics.  During a commercial break I checked out a tool that the BBC posted online that lets users compare their biomass with people in their age groups from other nations.  Much to my relief I discovered that mine is equal to women my age that reside in Vietnam.  This factoid could be convenient if I ever need to pursue a new romantic partner.  I’m confident that I can reel her in by revealing that my Body Mass Index is the same as a grandmother in Southeast Asia.

Here are my Global Fat Scale results.

I can finish eating my cookies!

There are nine nations with women my age with a lighter biomass than me.  They probably cycle and scrub their bathroom floors with toothbrushes.

If you dare, you can check out where your biomass fits in amongst 177 nations by clicking here.  Be forewarned American readers, the US ranks eleventh on the Global Fat Scale.  The mean BMI in the US is 30.46; not an Olympic-worthy feat especially when the medal that’s awarded to inactivity is early rainbow catching.

Lame Adventure 91: Pedal Pushing

I was walking down Hudson Street on a lovely summer day in the city, a phrase seldom said this steamy summer, when I noticed the carcass of the dead bike pictured below chained to a pole.


Every so often when I see the remains of bikes like this one I’ve wondered how this happens.  What was the owner thinking when he or she initially chained it to this pole?  “Goodbye bike.  Thanks for all the rides.  You’re on your own now”?  When this bike was originally locked to this pole, I imagine it was intact.  It probably once looked as appreciated as this one I saw later that day on the Upper West Side.

Someone's beloved Raleigh.

When the owner of the dead bike went to wherever he or she needed to go, did the bicycle vultures promptly descend and strip it bare?  Was this a bicycle hate crime, or a case of bicycle abuse?  Should there be organizations established called the ASPCB (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Bikes) or PETB (People for the Ethical Treatment of Bikes)?  Did the owner see the ruins of his or her bike and just walk away?

Milton surmised that the owner may have originally removed the front wheel, but for whatever reason, never returned for the bike.  He thinks that over time, hungry bike vultures picked it apart.  Albee offered a more succinct observation,  “Cyclicide.”

Since I was not inclined to get very CSI about what led to this particular bike’s demise, I continued my walk and strolled past my favorite bike boutique, Adeline Adeline, located on Reade Street.

In case you blank on the first name, try to recall the second.

I would not dare enter this store, but often I have gazed at the lovely bikes within from the outside. I drool inconspicuously and tastefully.  I hold a small plastic cup under my lower lip.

It just so happened that on this particular day, they had my all time favorite bike, a Dutch model called the Batavus Breukelen, which normally sells for about $1150, on sale for $1035, ten percent off.  As much as I love the Batavus’s design, it seems like the ideal city bike to me.  The frame is lightweight aluminum.  It’s weatherproof so it won’t rust when chained outside on rainy or icy days.  It’s a solidly built vehicle that can withstand the rigors of potholed Gotham City streets.  It’s in my favorite color.  Last but not least, if I rode this bike most of the time to and from work, instead of the crowded subway, I would be in much better shape physically and mentally.  There is also the added bonus of saving the $89 a month I spend on a Metrocard.  Within 11.62 months, I will have recouped my $1035 investment and find myself the fittest I’ve been in years!

Four Dutch beauties.

Nice price.

Even though this looks like such a sweet deal, if I only had an extra $1035 to throw around, but if I did, am I kidding myself?  I’m going to buy a Dutch bike? If I had an extra $1035, I’d probably get an iPhone, a burger at The Spotted Pig, and a mole removal instead.  Even more realistically, the second the first flake of snow falls, I am certain the last thing I’d want to do is ride a bike half-way though Manhattan to work, even one as cool as the Batavus Breukelen.  If I found myself riding a bike in a snowstorm or Nor’easter, I am certain that the mantra playing inside my head would go something like this:

Me:  I’m not Dutch, I’m miserable; this is insane. I’m not Dutch, I’m miserable; this is insane. I’m not Dutch, I’m miserable; this is insane.

By December, I would sheepishly return to paying $89 for Metrocards until April.  If anyone would dare ask me if I’m still riding my Batavus Breukelen or when do I plan to resume riding my Batavus Breukelen again, I’d probably be so irked I’d beat them with a wrench.  So much for my master plan where I foresee my sexy black bike paying itself off within a year.

Yet, I am certain even if I chose to quit riding this bike I covet forever, I would never leave it chained to a pole so it could suffer a humiliating and public death.   I would not want to flaunt that this idea that appears so brilliant in August, proves to be rather boneheaded by December.  Still, that’s a nice price for a lovely bike.