Saturday, March 27, 2010

This is Dedicated ...

"O Oysters," said the Carpenter,
"You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?'
But answer came there none ---
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one.
from Lewis Carroll "The Walrus and The Carpenter"

Outside my Gym in New York
I was never into sports. I didn't see the need. And something about the Australian culture's love of sport used to annoy the hell out of me.

It's here too, in America. But I'm pretty sure that it was worse in Australia - at least the Australia that I grew up in.

When I was growing up in OZ (and perhaps still) it was de rigeur to be sporty. Sport was good. Academic was bad. Artistic was bad. I remember the slang.

"She's a conche". As in "conscientious".

Or she's a "brain".

So NOT in. So NOT done.

We used to hide our Petrarchs, our translations of the Latin greats, our thoughts on Brancusi. Shove them behind our desks in utter shame.

I kid you not.

The thing was to excel ... in sport. The body physical.

And so we inched our way to adulthood - those of us who could not compete on the playing fields of Melbourne. We'd watch our brothers and sisters who failed mathematics, English lit, the fine arts and history, blaze their way in the glory of the high jumps, the footy goals and the 300 metre sprints.

Ours not to reason why.

But we did OK. Eventually.

Gym Ad on 90th, Manhattan
I remember around the age of 21, in a country far away from Australia, meeting other people, people like me. In London. In Europe. Anywhere not OZ.

Suddenly it was OK to NOT be sporty. High jump? Not me. "I failed Sport 101." Three cheers. All was not in vain. Or so we thought.

Years passed. Many many years.

Countless years.

Years beyond imagination.

And look at what has happened. Are our old school pals taking up reading the classics? Deconstructing whatever one deconstructs? Solving simultaneous equations? Visiting the Guggenheim?

Nope. But those sporty people are looking good.

I HATE them.

Trim, taut, terrific.

The chooks have come home to roost.

Our brothers and sisters are healthy. Happy, hedonistic. But us conches? The brains trusts?

We? Well after a hundred years of sitting around, drinking shiraz and scoffing at our sporty brothers and sisters ...

We are all too late ... going to the gym.

Yep. We are FAT! We are back there in Form 3. But older. Less healthy. Hiding behind our books, desks, anything that can hide us. If anything can.

For a while there it looked like we'd have the last laugh. For a very short while.

And so this is dedicated ...

To those of us who were too vain, who thought we had it all, who thought life was about thinking, questioning, analyzing.

We now  know it is really about running,
and paying expensive gym fees.


Anonymous said...

How true.
Well, I did play sport because it was compulsory and I was definitely not a 'brain'. Just one of the blokes. But as I left school at 16, the only sports were social: tennis on a Wednesday night under the lights, swimming on a weekend and riding my bike. I rode because I couldn't afford a car, didn't play golf 'cause I had to borrow sticks from my sister who usually was far away, and most of all 'cause I was buggered from working and traveling to and from work.
And after I came to the U.S., I made time to gym and swim until raising a family took most of the time. Guess I was never really a sporty type and would rather work around the house.
But guess what? After I quit work and retired to a warm climate, I rediscovered swimming and now I enjoy swimming and gymming. And Kate, it's never too late. Just don't pork out on the three basic American food groups: salt, fat and sugar, that's what'll kill you or seriously shorten your life. And "Don't grow old where it gets cold!"
Yeah, Noo York is a cool place to hang, but think about your Sixties, and yes, they're coming. Right now, houses are very cheap in the Sun Belt even tho' work is very hard to find. But, telecommuting could be your salvation. Besides, they have great libraries and food for your Kindle and iPad.
If I was as smart as you, I'd really think about......the dreaded word.......Retirement. It has a way of sneaking up on you.
Hang in in there. The nerds can really win in the end.

Terry said...

Yeah, lets here it for the all the fat nerds!

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