By Tom Cardella
I am not one of those people in their 70s who goes jogging or biking. In truth, I didn’t do that stuff when I was 50 or even 60 years younger. I find myself in agreement with President Donald Trump (I never thought I would write those words) when he says that rigorous physical activities are overrated. Like the president, I find most joggers I know suffer from bad knees or achy backs. They tend to be folks who buy those tiny lunch box meals at Snap Kitchen. These “meals” are full of quinoa and kale, two foods that give good health a bad name. Understand: I’m not advocating eating KFC or wearing large red ties to cover your belly.
I’ve always ridden tricycles rather than two-wheelers. Do they still rent tricycles in Wildwood? Back in the day, the bike rental shops called them “senior bikes.” Unashamedly, I rented a “senior” bike while I was still in my late 20s. Therefore, I contend that calling a tricycle a “senior” bike is a misnomer. Even my family laughed at me as I rode on the boardwalk with them, riding my three-wheeler with the big basket in the back. Bear with me here. You get just as much exercise riding a three-wheel bike as you do a two-wheeler. My opinion might be colored by the fact I have never been able to master the art of riding a regular bicycle. Can I help it if my body misses that third wheel? And lest we forget, that big basket in the back comes in handy for carrying a couple of pounds of Laura’s Fudge.
It’s the same with swimming. Everyone looks at you with a jaundiced eye when you tell them that you don’t swim (I don’t use the word “can’t,” but I won’t quibble with you if you prefer to come to that conclusion from the information that I relate to you, dear reader). I belong to a swim club where I find their open bar policy several nights of the week much more appealing than swimming laps. I use the pool to what I call “cool off.” I usually squat in water no more than four feet deep. I contend that squatting is roughly equivalent to swimming when it comes to burning calories (“roughly” being the key word here). The advantage squatting has over swimming laps is that you can hold a conversation while you’re squatting. Try chatting about the latest Trump debacle while you’re swimming.
I find that even though I am squatting in very shallow water, I still like the secure feeling of having a noodle wrapped around me. My swim club does not allow the use of a full-sized noodle in less than five feet of water, so I am forced to use a junior-sized noodle. This is just one of the many indignities heaped upon those of us who are not “outdoorsy.”
Another problem with squatting in water less than four feet deep is that this is the area of the pool heavily populated with small youngsters with their parents. Have you ever noticed that fathers like to work out their aggressions by tossing their kids up in the air in this area of the pool? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to leap out of the way of small children raining from the sky. Another frustration occurs when some 4-year-old swims past your squatting body. Why not, at the very least, move to a slightly deeper end of the pool, my wife asks me? I am about 5-foot-9. I have this standing, or should I say squatting, rule that I want my head to be at least a foot and a half above the water at all times. I don’t believe that water was ever meant to enter either your eyes or ear canal. And remember — I am swimming.
I refrain from all dangerous exercise. I ask you, have you ever known a skier who has never broken a leg? Until I fractured a small bone in my left hand about five weeks ago, I had never broken a bone in my life. Incidentally only you, dear reader, knows that I broke that bone tripping on the stairs in my house. I tell everyone else that I fractured my hand when I dunked over LeBron James.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. I have never donned a pair of roller skates. My policeman father discouraged any such pursuit when I was 10 years old. He told me that I couldn’t imagine how many roller skating kids he’d seen who had lost their limbs colliding with trolley cars in our neighborhood.
Don’t get the idea that as a kid, I was a “namby-pamby.” I was a decent schoolyard athlete. Stickball and shooting baskets were my games. Unfortunately, as adults, we are required to give up those sports. Most men my age take up golf. I tore a piece of skin off the inside of my thumb trying to hit a golf ball at a driving range.
That was when I realized that I wasn’t going to give Arnold Palmer a run for his money.