Les Mills is the biggest gym franchise in New Zealand. It’s even global.
They presently have a free three-week trial period, which explains why I am typing this with my eyebrows.
They are the only parts of my body that are not cramping.
Junior has accompanied me a couple of times lately, and of course we’ve talked about the Himbos, Bimbos and Gym Bunnies who stand transfixed in front of the mirrored walls admiring themselves. Can you say, Narcissus.
Which brings us to Junior’s complaints about his body. And my desire to slap him repeatedly with a wet squid.
Junior’s perfect body: 5’7″ (the tallest in my family, shut up), muscular/thin frame, Eurasian good looks (thanks to his Mom), good head hair, gorilla leg hair (from my Dad), and his only minor injury is in his right wrist/hand due to recent pickup basketball games. (I might have mentioned to him that basketball is a really stupid sport for a pianist, but…)
Dad’s so-not-perfect body: 5’4″ on a good day, round and squishy, almost no head hair, left arm ends below elbow (stupid factory option), plus 10 bazillion bad parts, thanks to 4-A Oklahoma football and crap genes. (I have still not forgiven my late mother for not marrying actor James Garner and passing his killer genes to me.)
When my son complains about his body, we have a conversation like this:
Junior: “I have no upper body development. None. I cannot get rid of my gut. I am the shortest of all my friends. Boo hoo.”
Me: “Hand me that wet squid. SLAP. I will trade you my old decrepit body for your young buck body any day of the week. And I will throw in a million dollars. Deal?”
Stupid action-figure-obsessed man cub.
Body Road Map
As Bill Cosby says, “I told you that to tell you this…”
Either because of a recent “body image” conversation with Junior, who is now 23, or because I blew out a hamstring at Les Mills a few days ago — stupid crap genes — I started thinking about how your body is sort of a road map of your life.
Or a train wreck, as the case may be. Sigh.
So I took a short refresher trip around my body. It’s amazing that I am still ambulatory and breathing.
Left ankle: Chronically sprained during high school football. Spent months and months on crutches over the years. Despite rehab, it still looks swollen and busted and wobbles when I walk.
Left shin. Long vertical scar from the time when I was 9 years old and playing at Andrews’ Park, leaping from one concrete barbecue table to another, until I came up short. My full leaping-forward energy raked my shinbone against the concrete step’s sharp edge, leaving a gash to the bone that ran for about eight inches. I had the most awesome scab in the history of Cleveland Elementary School.
Left knee: Lovely range of kneebone scars from brilliant grade school-era bicycle and skateboard crashes. Although this is the good knee, I discovered it was actually a bad knee when trying to ski at age 40. It was so weak I could not control the ski tip at all. Another scar on the outside of the knee from who knows what?
Total left leg: hideously ugly, though finally fading, red welts from a pre-Christmas poison ivy attack. Stupid New Zealand jungle-like yard.
Left hamstring: Twang. Oh mama.
Right foot: Long scar on in-step from when I was barefoot and climbing up a street sign, as you do when you are 10. I slid down the pole onto a broken Coke bottle that some slimeball had carefully hidden under the grass.
Right ankle: Only sprained a few dozen times. No wad of scar tissue yet somehow even less stable than the bad ankle.
Right knee: More awesome bicycle and skateboard crash scars. Cartilage damage from stupid helmet tackle sophomore year. Not bad enough for surgery, just bad enough to ‘catch’.
Groin: Unused. I am married. Shut up.
Stomach: The pregnancy is coming along just fine, thank you for asking.
Left Hand: No problems at all. Wait…
Left shoulder: Like new.
Bored yet? It Gets Worse
Right hand: All fingers jammed into sausages playing football and unlicensed street basketball (“no blood, no foul”). Scar on webbing between pinky and ring finger from when, at 18, I was cleaning the loose mirror at the Pizza Hut on Lindsey St and it came crashing down on me. Five stitches? Back of hand – many x-shaped scars from dog bite, see below, and a round scar on the back of my middle finger from where a monster wart was burned off.
Right forearm: Many x-scars from stitches. I bent down to pet Rowdy, a neighbor’s dog. I didn’t realize he had a bone. Man, he chewed up and down my arm like it was corn on the cob. Inside forearm still has my boldest, oldest and biggest scar. I was about 4 years old and chasing my best buddy, Steve Madden, through our kitchen. He made it out the back storm door ahead of me. The latch clicked shut just before I stiff-armed the glass running at full speed. My arm went right through it. Blood was everywhere. Mom fainted on the way to the hospital E.R. (Note to potential mothers: boys are stupid and they do not grow out of it.)
Right elbow: As if weighing 128 pounds and fending off 240-pound pulling guards in high school was not hard enough on it… University-era kung-fu included many chin nah bone-locking techniques. Since my left arm was not especially lockable, my partner had to hyper-extend-and-lock my right elbow twice as often. I’m sure this has nothing to do with my elbow’s arthritis.
Right side ribcage: I do not recall ever having been stabbed but a scar belies my memory…
Shoulders: At the end of my junior year, I could not carry my helmet after practice with either arm. The weight of the helmet made it feel like my arms were being ripped out of their sockets. Must have been because of slight shoulder separations. Ah well, they got way better … after about 20 years .. before they got worse again.
Scar Tissue – Nature’s Duct Tape
Back: Or should we say b-ACK. Mid-right ribcage has globby scar tissue from when the stupid senior fullback who shall remain nameless, Raymond Harris, decided to ram his head into my ribs while tackling me from behind during the Junior-Senior egg fight at the sand pits. Before then, I had no idea that ribs were held together by cartilage or that it could be torn. And hurt like a mother. For decades.
Neck: I think I’d be four inches shorter without all the scar tissue. Scar tissue and nerve damage between several vertebra are either the legacy of football or from the time in junior high when we were high jumping in Mike Foster’s back yard. My style was to dive and land vertically into his huge bags of foam rubber. Beeg fun, that. Except for the time that I landed between the bags of foam rubber and drove my head straight into the hard ground. Plus also, somehow during the 52 years I have worn an artificial left arm, my right shoulder has dropped and repositioned itself too far forward. Ergonomically, this means that when I lift something heavy — like a bag of cement, or possibly an Oreo — the weight is not spread evenly across my upper body’s frame, as Mother Nature intended. Instead, the pain/strain goes right into my neck, like a rusty nail. This is the same spot in my neck that locks-up after umpteen hours spent in front of computer, or after a few hours of looking skyward to trim trees. In both cases, I become Quasimodo until the physiotherapist de-kinks my vertebra.
Head: Abnormally large. “Moore Head, Less Brains” was the childhood taunt. Stupid neighbor kids. This big head, which now features a burr haircut, ack, is decorated with a lovely 1/4 inch scar outside my left eye from a sensational fall down the hospital stairs when I was about 5. Note: there was not a single doctor in Norman Municipal Hospital to sew me up. Even better is the scar on the top of my head. I also got it when I was about 5 (WHAT IS IT WITH 5 YEAR OLDS?). I fell on my grandmother’s outdoor concrete steps and bled like a stuck toad. I remember gulping so much blood that I was afraid I would drown. And I can still remember the taste. Yuck.
We hope you enjoyed our tour. Thank you, come again.
Obviously, whichever medical school gets my body will have a splendid time taking it apart for a look-see. They should probably sell tickets.
Which reminds me of a famous quote by jazzman Eubie Blake when he was in his 90s: “If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.”
And that brings us full circle, back to working out at Les Mills. But that story is too painful to tell today.
Especially the bit where the spikey-blond-haired-man-woman-cenatar-creature leading the Exercise Class From Hell saw me crumpled in the corner and, with growing concern said, “How you doing there, young fella?”