Tuesday, June 17, 2014


“Well, I don’t know, Mother,” said Alfred looking down at his new Zoot Ultra Kalani 3.0 running shoes. “I know I need to exercise, but when I get right down to it, it’s very hard to start.”

“A man, must do, what a man must do,” said Mother unsympathetically. “I’m going to Gloria’s Golden Spa instead. You won’t catch me wobbling around the streets.”

“You know, Mother,” replied Alfred, “My Pater was never much for exercising; I always addressed him as Pater, which as you know is Latin for Father. He always said, “If God intended man to exercise He’s have given man better knees.”

“Excuse me for saying it, Alfred,” said Mother, “but your Father wasn’t exactly the paragon of physical perfection.”

“That is really unkind, Mother,” said Alfred huffily.

“Well, it’s the truth,” said Mother. “Any man who thought that a cigar and shot of John Jamison a day would keep the doctor away, isn’t destined to be a model of athleticism.”

“Too true, Mother, too true,” said Alfred. “But I do wish he had lived longer. I remember his one foray into physical conditioning.  General Mountebank at the Officers Club had recommended the Royal Air Force Dynamic Tension Exercise System to him, not that General Mountebank ever exercised himself.  Pater wrote off for the booklet and began a program of exercise. It lasted for about a month, and Pater lost interest in it and it went by the wayside.”

Alfred stood up, stretched, attempted to touch his toes, then headed for the door. Twenty minutes passed. Mother took another sip of Earl Grey tea, and turned to the International Section of the morning paper, and muttered, “You would think that nothing happened in the world that was more important than the World Cup.”

The front door slammed. Alfred came in and stood by the front table, puffing and blowing. “Mother,” he said, “Pater had a point. Man’s knees aren’t made for running; nor for that matter, man’s lungs. I might have to give up smoking.”

Mother raised her eyebrows, but said nothing, which for Mother was an accomplishment.

Alfred, picked up a Special Reserve Churchill Cigar and regarded it wistfully, then put it back down unlit. “You know Mother,” said he, “my health might be more important than small pleasures. But it’s very difficult to come to the point. This morning as I was reading the Psalms and I received a bit of a jolt. “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty” [Psalm 90:10]. That is not something I usually like to think about.

Mother put the morning paper down and regarded Alfred thoughtfully. Finally she said, “Alfred, sometimes one needs to walk before one starts to run. Perhaps what you should do is get a physical trainer?”

“Now that’s an idea, Mother,” said Alfred, “But what about you?”

Mother quickly picked up the paper, opened it, and hid behind it, muttering. It was her morning for muttering. “Alfred,” said she, “I’m younger than you.”

“Yes, I know Mother; you have reminded me of that more than once, but after all what’s good for the gander is good for the goose.”

“Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed” [Hebrews 12:12-13].

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