THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.
In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.
Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.
by Larry Brody
No sooner had word gotten out that part of Gwen the Beautiful’s regimen for regaining her health was exercise than we got a call from Wanda, the Angel of Arkansas.
“I’ve got just what you need,” she said. “A professional multi-gym. C’mon down here and get it.”
“What’re you doing with a professional home gym?” I said.
Wanda sighed. “Know how I work with parolees? Well, there was this boy who needed a job before they’d let him out of prison. He’d been a prize fighter before, so I helped him set up a boxing camp here at my place, for kids.”
“You’re amazing,” I said. “What happened?”
“How about we just say the gym set’s in my garage and the prize fighter’s on the lam and let it go? I plain don’t want to see the thing anymore.”
Wanda measured the gym. I measured the bed of my truck. Almost a perfect fit. I hunted around for some help and, finally, Brannigan the Contractor and Doug the Dog Breeder “volunteered.”
We three Good Ole Boys highwayed it to Wanda’s last week, and after three hours of lifting and cussing and sweating and cussing and trading tales about what mighty muscleheads we used to be and cussing the gym was on the truck and we were back on the road.
“Now that’s what I call a fine day’s work,” Doug the Dog Breeder said.
“Got my blood pumping!” roared Brannigan. “I’m ready for anything!”
“Good,” I said. “Because we’ve still got to wrestle this thing into the storage shed and set it up.”
“And I’d love to help you!” Brannigan said. “But I think I hear Sweet Jane’s siren call.”
Doug turned to him. “Well then, we’ll see you at Larry B’s first thing tomorrow morning, right?”
Brannigan hesitated. Doug’s eyes drilled into him.
“Right,” said Brannigan. “First thing.”
“First thing” turned out to be about noon. I woke up with both shoulders aching and could hardly lift my arms. Doug reported that, “My back’s so frozen up I’m using my hair to sweep the floor.”
As for Brannigan:
“Knee replacement surgery! That’s my future!” he announced as he eased himself out of his pickup and limped to the shed.
It took until sundown to set up the gym.
The first casualty of the day was my tailgate, which went flying off when a strut got lodged in just the wrong place.
The second casualty was one of the crossbars supporting the shed’s roof, which went flying when another strut bashed it in a wronger place.
The third casualty was the gym itself. Only one of its weight stations worked the way it should.
Three Not Quite As Good As We Used To Be Ole Boys stood in the doorway, shaking our heads.
“You hear what I hear?” said Brannigan. “I believe it’s time for dinner, and Sweet Jane.”
“Isn’t that my name she’s calling too?” Doug said. “Call us if you need us, LB.”
“Some time in April’d be good,” Brannigan added. “I should be almost recovered by then.”
So there I was, alone and left to do what I do worst. Take machinery apart to try and make it work, and then put it together again.
Sometimes, though, you get lucky. By four the next morning everything was functioning the way it was supposed to—except the pull-down bar, which plain refused to budge.
Exhausted though I was, I made myself oil everything up. Gazed at the gleaming metal maze. “It’s all right,” I said. “I love you anyway.”
The multi-gym seemed to awaken from a long sleep. “That prize fighter put me together wrong,” it said. “He mixed up a couple of pulleys. If you switch them around I’ll work. I promise I will.”
As it spoke, I knew exactly which pulleys it meant. I switched them, just like the gym said. Re-connected the bar.
And up the weight stack slid!
I thought Wanda was doing us a big favor by giving us the gym. She thought I was doing her one by removing it from her garage.
But the truth is it’s the “professional multi-gym” that scored. Together, everyone involved in this little project gave it back its purpose. Its life. And it knows it too.
After the first time Gwen worked out, she came back into the house and gave me a big kiss.
“The gym says to tell you, ‘I love you,’” she said. “And it also says, ‘Thanks.’”