There's a pattern here, of course: I'm reading books in order to avoid writing, just as Danny Kaye in The Inspector General dances in order to avoid talking. But I've managed, with blood beading my forehead, to squeeze out a few lines of poetry along the way, & I keep telling myself that nothing one reads is ever really wasted. (Except of course Philip Roth's The Breast: I want that hour of my life back, Roth!)
So I went & bought a bicycle. Somewhere in the carport is a Motobecane racing bike I bought used maybe a decade ago. It got some use – but only some, since I realized after not too long that my back wouldn't stand for long periods of being hunched over the handlebars. So early this week I invested (not much) in what they call a "hybrid" bike: lots of different speeds, but upright handlebars. And it's a nice silvery-grey. Not that one uses gears too often down here; one of the few pluses for Florida bike riders is the fact that we don't really have hills. (The nearest thing to a real mountain here is the landfill down in Ft. Lauderdale, which I don't think one is allowed to bike on.)
I guess one starts thinking about safety at a certain age: every time I climb on this thing I think of Bob Archambeau & his recent – well, not so recent anymore – crack-up; and I have a colleague who flew off his mountain bike at one of the local parks maybe 8 or 9 years ago, & still hasn't fully regained the use of one of his arms. If south Florida streets are beautifully flat, they're also overpopulated with frantically texting, phoning, makeup-applying, & otherwise distracted SUV drivers, for whom one lone chubby professor on a bicycle would prove little more annoying than a MacDonald's drive-thru speedbump. But I'm wearing a helmet (unlike most motorcylists in this proudly libertarian state*), & I'm ramping myself up to put in at least 8 or 10 miles a day.
It all comes back to that pesky mortality business, which has preyed on my mind ever since my tangle with that kidney stone just this time two years ago. Yes, it's high time I did something about getting myself into shape, or at least trying to approximate the shape I was poured into back in those salad days of long afternoon runs & hours on the racketball court back in Blacksburg. And after all, if I don't do something about my body's Reich-like demands for ever-increasing Lebensraum, how will I ever, ever achieve the coveted "chili pepper" on Rate My Professors.com? To hell with this "brilliant," "learned," "demanding" stuff – I want the "HOT."
Or if not the "hot," at least I think I'd like to live long enough to see the girls thru college.
*I rather approve, on Darwinian grounds, of Florida's lack of helmet laws – self-purifying gene pools & all that.