Isn’t exercise wonderful? Isn’t it a splendid way to enjoy the great outdoors? Isn’t it grand to inhale a large lungful of fresh air and then realize the hog farm located conveniently upwind is having another emergency of the way-over-loaded variety? Also, isn’t it a great way to kill yourself?
Oh I’m not talking about me. When biking, I always wear a helmet and carry pepper spray. When walking, I stride along facing the traffic so I can see just how engrossed oncoming drivers are in their current text message.
No, I refer here to a recently spotted individual who was roller blading along a country road. A very narrow country road. With no berm. The lack of berm was more than made up for by the fact there were plenty of automobiles. Do you remember the cartoon Tasmanian Devil who would whirl around like a tornado? I expected the buffeting wind from each passing car to start this guy spinning just like that. It would not have ended well. This was not a young man. This was not a middle-aged man. This was a man in the prime brittle-bone stage of his life. He had no safety equipment at all. His only accompaniment was his obvious death wish.
My first impulse was stop to see if he had abruptly stopped his medication. This guy needed to be roller blading on a road with cars like Pompeii needed a load of ashes hauled in. Pompeii’s disaster was on a somewhat larger scale but no less inevitable than Mr. No-Knee-Pads.’ Mr. Also-No-Wrist-Supports was doing the stumbling and arm windmilling gyrations we all associate with an impending ker-plop. When I saw him, he was in a little dip in the road between two hills. I had missed the spectacle of his journey down the first hill, small mercies. But his current location meant he had nowhere to go but uphill and frankly, as noted, he was struggling to stay upright on a level stretch of asphalt. He didn’t look as though he had the energy, the athletic ability, or the nerve to climb either hill even with crampons on. The chances he could make it while balanced (sort of) on roller blades which must, you understand, obey the immutable laws of gravity and friction coefficients, were about zero.
My second impulse was to call every orthopedic surgeon in the Yellow Pages to see who was willing to pay a finder’s fee. The idea was to get a bidding war going because I was witnessing a potential for multiple and lengthy surgical interventions. Then my better nature kicked in under the guise of Steve’s refusing to let me use his cell phone.
I spent the next week poring over the newspaper to see if there were any reports of an accident involving an unprotected roller blader and a vehicle. Or an unprotected roller blader and the tiniest bump in the road. I was also alert for any word of a roller blader marooned in a little dip in the road who had starved to death.
Although this particular man appears to have escaped death or permanent debilitating injury, now seems like a good time to review the normal precautions a person should take before setting out on an exercise program. First, as every jump rope, ping pong ball, and yoga mat label suggests, consult a physician to see if you are healthy enough for exercise. One way to improve one’s health is to get some exercise so this seems like a vicious circle to me. It also seems as though the labels for jump ropes, ping pong balls, and yoga mats might have been written by lawyers, not exercise gurus. Secondly, most experts say to wear comfortable, loose clothing. In contrast, I say if I had any loose clothing I would not need to exercise. Thirdly, do not become discouraged if you do not see immediate results. Due to a major design flaw in the human body, a sacrifice of 3,500 calories is necessary to lose one pound. Unfortunately, all it takes is one hot fudge sundae to gain back that pound and four of its buddies. Also, and I cannot stress this strongly enough, cellulite is more tenacious than telemarketers. Fourthly, no matter what else you attempt, do not step outside and take a big lungful of fresh air until you see if you are downwind from the hog farm.