Meet my new fitness instructor. To stay fit, I’ve also been running pass routes while jogging: button hooks, skinny posts.
Last holiday story, promise: My buddy Exner tells how his mother went into labor while decorating the Christmas tree and refused to go to the hospital till it was done.
Another friend (Lascelles, the one who kisses cops) tells how her mother-in-law went into labor during a blizzard, discovering the car was snowed in, and having to hold off giving birth till a neighbor could drive them to the hospital.
Speaking of tough mothers, there was a period of time when my wife gave birth almost hourly. Babies, babies and more babies. We had no idea what was causing it. Full life though. Poverty. Triumph. Sorrow. Joy. All those things children bring to the party. Wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Parenthood went on so long, Posh and I should’ve gotten residuals.
Another story: The other morning, Dogpark Gary was telling me about the German Shepherd he found abandoned in a shopping cart years ago. He brought her home, and she soon rewarded him with 10 pups, 9 males and a female.
“What the hell am I gonna do with 10 dogs?” he asked a friend.
One by one, his friend brought over the lonely widowers who hung out all day at the VFW bar she ran. The widowers each took a pup, a solution that helped both Dogpark Gary and 10 gruff war vets in need of companionship.
Final holiday story (promise): Another pal, Johnny S., told me he turns the trunks of his discarded Christmas trees into soup spoons and other kitchen tools that he gives as gifts the following year.
“Got the idea from a video of a guy making Danish butter knives,” my friend says (directions below).
Those are my feel-good stories for today. Of birth and re-birth. And re-re-birth.
“A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on,” said Carl Sandberg.
My daughter’s pregnancy has me thinking a lot about babies and re-birth. I think how a new baby takes all these genes, the parents’ personal histories, the family torch, and turns them into a full life, before passing it all on to his or her kids. It’s a lovely burden, really.
New babies also give pregnant grandpas like me a reason to get up in the morning.
To stay fit, I’ve been running pass routes on my morning jog: button hooks, skinny posts. Heck, my town already knows I’m nuts. What do I have to hide?
If you see a guy running a pass pattern on your street, please throw him something. A bagel or jelly donut will do.
I was also doing sit-ups the other day – it’s amazing how quickly a supple young body like mine responds to a little core exercise.
Our wolf/dog White Fang was helping me with the sit-ups, clunking me on the forehead with her rope toy, till I playfully pulled the toy and she tap-danced on my forehead. Fun!
Suddenly, I was multi-tasking, up and down with the sit-ups, while yanking White Fang’s rope toy. Kinda what I always imagined a ménage à trois would be like, except that I never thought there would be a wolf involved, or a rope toy. Just sit-ups of some sort. Maybe some rug burns.
By the way, we discovered the other day that White Fang has a police record. Details are murky, but we think she might’ve eaten her first owner while he was doing sit-ups in the bedroom.
I wouldn’t be concerned, except that I have so much to live for now: There’s this new baby on the way, and seeing my son Smartacus blossom into a productive member of society is rewarding in ways I could never imagine.
I mean, you should see him build a nacho plate.
Look, I’m a Deist and a Federalist and a Scorpio. Put those three traits together and you have a barely functional human being.
I surprise myself with my own resilience, though. And these pass patterns and situps – one a day, every day. Let me ask: Is the sound of tearing flesh significant? What about swelling?
Pain is everywhere these days, though as my buddy Fox says, “If something doesn’t hurt when I wake up in the morning, I’ll know I’m dead.
I live on the fringes of society, in the moon shadows between prosperity and complete financial ruin. I warn Smartacus that we’re day to day, and he shrugs: “So? Haven’t we always been?”
But when I tell him I might not be able to write him a check for the $300,000 it now takes to go to college. He blanches, which is difficult for a white kid to do. Still, he blanches, drops to the ground and begins to convulse.
He’ll do very well in college.
Anyway, much to live for. I pound him daily with the self-improvement tips I’ve picked up from a lifetime of being a Deist, a Federalist and a Scorpio.
The importance of exercise, for one.
I begin each day by felling a tree, then I pound down 14 cups of coffee, and jog a little, running my pass routes…a stutter step, the dip of a shoulder, then explode into open space.
From the holidays, I still have stretch marks on my belly. For a while, I embraced the bloat, then I decided I was in denial.
Truthfully, I hate that bloated feeling. So I quit drinking beer with breakfast, even weekends. And I gave up almost entirely on bread.
I remind Smartacus that bread is our family curse – more than red wine, race horses or green-eyed women with freckles.
My dad held a dinner roll so tight you could see the blood vanish from his knuckles.
Meanwhile, he’d use his free thumb to nudge food onto his fork. Once a meal, he’d sneeze or belch and it came out with a half-hiccup, as my mom scolded him for his table manners. (she eventually left him over his snoring, but only to the bedroom down the hall).
Obviously, I wanted to be like Dad — the bad blood flow…the half-hiccups…the passion.
To this day, I hold a good sandwich like it owes me money.
Point is, being an Irish son is a lovely burden. I remind Smartacus of this rich family history. I tell him I want him to be happy, productive and content.
I want him to be respected yet playful, to have plenty of friends, and eventually a family that humbles him, as he has me.
In the meantime, I’ll remind you that my fitness instructor is a blue-eyed wolf with a police record. She has openings on Tuesdays and Fridays, if you’re at all interested in self-improvement and re-re-birth.
I mean, she’s running from the cops so it won’t really be a long-term thing.
For 50 bucks, she’ll flog you with her rope toy — her signature move – then take you to the park to chase squirrels. She’ll also cheer you with drink when you’re sad, but only domestic beers.
White Fang shuns those pretentious craft brews favored by TV producers and debutantes, served in little lace cups with slivers of mango.
This is America, after all. It still stands for something.
Here are the steps for recycling a Christmas tree into next year’s gifts (courtesy of John Serdar): “Bottom 20% of truck is most usable. A circular saw or chainsaw trims them down to usable pieces. Then a bandsaw to slice and rough out the shapes. Then a grinder and sander to finish the surfaces. Let them dry 6-10 months. Walnut, sesame seed or other food grade oils rubbed on for a wooden spoon finish. Can do cross cut “cookie” ornaments with wood burned x-mas designs/dates/etc.”