When Olivia Newton-John reached #1 with “(Let’s Get) Physical” in 1981, we all knew she wasn’t urging us to become more active, even though the record’s video was set in a gym. We all understood the lyric’s real meaning, Olivia’s true message. She was telling an unspecified someone she had desires, was horny, and wanted to…to…to…well, it may have involved lying on her back, but probably had nothing to do with bench presses or ab crunches.
The record and video were perfectly timed, cashing in on the growing worldwide interest in physical fitness. People jogged. They joined gyms. They bought workout videos. They became obsessed. Even fashion mirrored the trend.
As they aged, however, the passion and commitment to stay in shape waned for many. But not me. To this day, I continue to be active, to get physical.
Prior to a workout or other physical activity, I stretch. Sometimes I stretch the truth, like when I write. Sometimes I stretch my budget by clipping coupons. Sometimes I stretch my workout wardrobe by simply adding a colorful scarf, antique brooch, or a stylish trucker hat.
A variety of exercises usually follow my stretching warm-up. They could include jumping, for example. I jump a lot. I jump to conclusions constantly. I also run. I run amok on a regular basis. I run into friends. I’ve also been known to throw things. I threw a party a while back. I threw a tantrum just yesterday. I pitch things, too. Just moments ago, when my stupid computer made some typing errors, I pitched a hissy fit.
In addition, I always remember to exercise my right to vote, my right to free speech, and my right to bare arms, which I do by wearing either a tank top or sleeveless muscle shirt, which may be accessorized with a tasteful scarf or gaudy brooch.
I have found playing catch is good exercise. I still catch things. Cold. Viruses. A bus. The drift. Occasionally, I can be seen tackling things, a new project or a tough subject. I still like to jog. Other people’s memories. My own memory…now, what the hell was I talking about?
Oh, yes. I’ve even been known to tax my muscles by pushing limits and pulling strings. Hopping is good exercise, too. I’ve hopped to it and on board. I’ve skipped meals and dental appointments. But I have never skipped to My Lou, whatever that means. On the other hand, I could imagine, on a trip to England, skipping to the loo.
I never surfed as a young man. But when I discovered how beneficial surfing the internet or channel surfing can be, I added surfing to my workout routine. I, however, don’t couch surf. I’m not a college student. Or unemployed. Or a shiftless, lazy bum. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But sleeping on other peoples’ couches doesn’t burn off many calories or build muscles. Unless you walk in your sleep. Briskly. And the entire Appalachian Trail.
To help keep in shape, I box and wrestle. I usually box all my Christmas ornaments on New Year’s Day. Then I wrestle with decisions. Is New Year’s Day too soon to put them away or should I leave them up until Passover so all the seder guests can enjoy them?
Other people focus on different physical activities. They walk, for example. I’ve known people who walk all over others. Radio disk jockeys think they can stay in shape if they “Walk the Line,” “Walk Like a Man,” or “Walk Like an Egyptian.” Many people, although neither former soccer nor football players, kick to keep in shape. They kick habits. They kick other people to the curb.
Politicians dance for exercise. I’ve seen them. At press conferences. Dancing around answers. Dodging questions. They also run. Constantly. They also raise things. Funds. Spending limits. Hell, when defeated by the opposition. But, somehow, with all that dancing, dodging, and raising, their spineless backs remain weak.
Even though I am a former gym-rat, I don’t do bench presses anymore. But I do press other things. My luck, for example. I also lift. Not weights. I’m too old for that. As a writer, I have been known to lift lines from other writers. Some call that plagiarism. I call it exercise.
In the end, although a septuagenarian, I remain proud of my physique. My waist measurement now matches my age. My muscles are as taut as cooked spaghetti. And I still can do the same number of one-armed push-ups I could do in my twenties. Zero.
But more important, I continue to spar with the best of them, fight old-age, pound the pavement daily, and beat unrealistic editor-set deadlines.
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