Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Nose That Stings

Bless me, Father, I've been too ambitious again. Not intentionally, so keep it down to three Hail Marys, and God has already been pounding the living daylights out of me anyway, so I don't want much of a lecture either. But I have learned something about old man's fitness programmes: even when you're in pretty good shape for 74 you're still 74, which means it takes longer to recover. Yep, Gordie Howe was playing professional hockey in his 60s, but he knew he couldn't survive on the same full schedule the young guys played.
(Obviously, we're putting off the heavy stuff I was promising. Three different Popes and the abuse scandal not only need a little more recollection, but is also waiting on the official news of a very major appointment in Rome, which I suspect will augment the clarity the Holy Spirit seems determined to provide, if only to underscore the credit of Benedict.)
On the weekend I set off on a much increased rowing schedule, aiming for five or six hundred calories a day, in two sessions, morning and late afternoon. This was after several weeks of a mere 200 calories, occasionally a bit more. And for three-and-half glorious days I got it, too. As I said a few months ago when I had an opportunity to promote rowing in the Valley Voice, just watch that fat melt. At such a rate, I could be down to fighting weight by the end of the summer! (I think I've mentioned my boyhood admiration for Marcel Cerdan and Sugar Ray Robinson and my conviction that I should be a middle-weight, which I did become once I spent a summer swinging a surveyor's axe in the wilderness, but of course lost again without a regular discipline in weight bearing exercise.) But by Tuesday afternoon, out walking, I found myself mentally practicing the following dialogue.
"No, no, Officer. I assure you I'm not drunk, I just seem a bit off balance because I've been rowing so much that my legs are a touch rubbery, and my equilibrium is having to work overtime to catch up. Check me out in  a day or two and I'll show you why my wife still thinks I move like a dancer."
And, to a degree, I was right. next morning - yesterday - I was skipping about as usual making the coffee and attending to the cat. And at six, I climbed the ladder to once more set off with Tennyson and mostly the memories of my blessed and coastal youth. Oh, and Bonaventure's Little Psalter. Such a great companion on a boat trip.
But as quickly as Calorie 30, as I was being dutifully Ayurvedic, taking a leisurely warm-up and breathing religiously through my nose with my four count, my reliable old right nostril began to sting. On the one hand I was annoyed that my vaunted schedule had clearly hit a reef, but on the other I was happily grateful for the genius of John Douillard and just clear scientific proof that my numbers would have to be scaled back. Obviously, for one thing, my lungs had much improved from my beginning weeks on the erg, when the nose was constantly humiliating me. Oxygen shortage, you see, because my suddenly assaulted system was still repairing the destruction of all those cells - in the name of new ones, of course - and the lungs demanded priority, as they were originally programmed to do. So, at a mere 100 calories - and continuing proof that more warm-up was not going to take the sting out of my nose - I cut my losses and climbed back down the ladder, and took the rest of the day off. Walking later, I could stop thinking about chats with the constabulary.
That is, fictional chats. Once upon a time that will feature in this space in the future, I had a conversation with a policeman which had to do with the very visible, public, ligature of the faculties, back in the bad old days when the kids didn't have a chance, thanks to Church, government, press, police all having taken vows to wear bags on their heads.
And then, just a few months later, I started writing to Joseph Ratzinger. Before and after I wrote to an awful lot of other people, too, but he's about the only one who really listened.

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