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
There’s sane news and insane news here on The Mountain this week.
The sane news is that I let the brown hair dye Gwen the Beautiful used on me several months ago
grow out and have no intention whatsoever of trying that trick again.
The insane news is that I’m still not fully reconciled to growing old gracefully and have started fighting it in another, probably even more ridiculous way.
Weight training, to be precise.
Although I can think of another term for it:
Yep, there’s nothing like taking that desperate desire to regain lost youth and putting it face to face with a multi-station professional gym set, a few dumbbells, and a leftover Inquisition device called a “neck strap” to bring out the inner masochist in a man.
Everyday, it’s Larry B’s fantasy perfect physical self versus Larry B’s all too real imperfect physical self in the storage shed we’ve renamed “The Gym.”
I train in the morning, before distractions (formerly known as “real life duties and recreation”) get in the way.
That means waking up, pulling on my official gym outfit of sweatpants, sweat socks, and the tattered blue-and-gold P.E. sweatshirt I’ve kept since high school, downing a cup of coffee, letting out the dogs, feeding the horses, and positioning myself at the various stations of the apparatus Wanda the Arkansas Angel supplied for the express purpose of Gwen’s rehab from her stroke.
It means grunting and groaning and pushing and pulling and sweating and shaking and watching my life pass before my eyes with each agonizing rep.
It means reminding myself to breathe and cursing myself for panting and remembering how much easier it was to recover from this kind of exertion back in the day.
Accompanied by the following refrain:
And on and on for what seems ad infinitum even though the number seldom gets past ten.
After which I make my wobbly-legged way back into the house, scarf down my breakfast of one slice of toast and more coffee, wait for various body parts to stop spasming, and get back into bed.
Know what happens then? Well, four mornings out of five Gwen turns toward me, opens her innocent hazel eyes, and says, in a voice still all whispery from sleep, “Did you take a shower?”
Which (and it took me way too long to figure this out) really means, “Take a shower before you get into this bed!”
In other words, no matter how early it is, or how much I’ve exhausted myself, there ain’t gonna be no goin’ back to sleep. Because who ever felt anything but revived after a good shower? It’s a temporary feeling to be sure, but for me it lasts just long enough to fool me into thinking I’m ready for the day.
Notice, by the way, what I said I’ve been having for breakfast. A single slice of toast. That’s because in order to encourage the hands of the Larry B body clock to spin backwards I’m also employing the dread “D” word.
As in “Diet.”
And not just any diet, no sir. I’ve put myself on the same diet that got me into shape back when Gerry Ford was President of these United States. It’s a diet I got from Lou (the Incredible Hulk) Ferrigno when he was a champion bodybuilder and a good friend.
I don’t remember what Lou called it, but in my mind it’s always been the “If You Like It You Can’t Eat It” diet. For reasons way too obvious to anyone who’s ever eaten anything they’ve liked.
Like the exercise, the diet worked pretty well once upon a time—except for that heart attack I had in the gym—which is why I’m punishing myself with it now.
So am I feeling younger? Stronger? More fit? Let me put it this way. I’ve lost a pound a week over the last three months, and I’m this close to wearing the same size I did twenty-five years ago. My heart rate is down. My blood pressure too.
But everywhere I go people say, “You okay? Your face is drawn. You look so tired.”
And every night I think, “Ah, blessed sleep…” followed by, “Oh no! When I wake up tomorrow I’ve got to hit the gym…!”
And I keep wondering how many people end up old before their time…because of the very means they’ve chosen to return to their youth.