Thursday, October 28, 2010
Triple the Cripple
Last night the 11 year old scouts began documenting their ability to keep fit; sit-ups, push-up and a roughly measured ¼ mile course hastily put together behind the church. A month from now we’ll do these same exercises, document their improvements and mark this all down in their advancement books as they strive to achieve the rank of 1st Class.
To get things started the other assistant scout master and I decided we’d set the example and run with the boys. “Are you sure this is a good idea with your knee being messed up?” I figured I could do more walking than running; but it turned out I still have a competitive nature which even arthritis can’t diminish.
It started out with excruciating pain; each stride landing on my bad knee sent shock waves of pain up and down my leg. Instead of running it was more akin to hobbling at a faster pace; laugh if you will but I was making progress and the boys were so far ahead they hardly noticed how silly it looked as my walking cane bounced out of rhythm with each successive stride. Eventually I simply held the cane horizontal with the ground as it was only getting in the way.
“Are you sure you want to continue?” I was already laughing at myself about a hundred yards down field when I felt it; the pain disappeared. What ever the source of major discomfort, it had mysteriously been put aside and there was immediate relief from pain. This isn’t to say my lungs and sides weren’t begging me to stop; I’m still out of shape and need to get off the couch.
We gathered at the finish line and acknowledged the fact that we would all do much better a month from now when temperatures would be more favorable. We’d set a record for this date in October which went back a hundred years or more, 94 degrees; that along with high humidity explained steady beads of sweat which ran down our faces.
Next the boys were to do as many sit-ups as they could; again, I thought it would be best if I started it off. I haven’t done sit-ups in years; something to do with my back grinding on the hard floor is a natural turn off; that and turning into a lazy couch potato gave the boys something to laugh at. I managed to grunt out 10 sit-ups and tried to look pleased; a sorry excuse for something which years ago I could have done without a care.
The next boy easily passed my 10; but started to show wear as he hit his 28th sit-up. From off to the side all the boys were encouraging him to continue. Andrew, a feisty and overly energetic boy yelled out, “Triple the cripple! Come on, just two more and you triple the cripple!”
Some folks might have gotten their feelings hurt at such a bold and insensitive ribbing; but I saw it as a chance to have fun, these were after all 11 year old boys. None of them noticed I’d put the walking cane against the wall and wasn’t using it for support at the moment; that’s right, I was sitting. Before you could say “Obamacare” the rest of the boys were all chanting, “Triple the cripple!”
We did push-ups and managed to have a good time pointing out “variations in form” as these young couch potatoes each proved how badly an exercise program was needed. It should be interesting next month when we compare these numbers with what hopefully will be major improvements.
One item remained on the list, at least for last night, the standing broad jump. I should point out that when I was young and flexible the standing broad jump was as natural as a bull frog jumping off a lily pad. My “springs” were well suited, that and being several pounds lighter might have had something to do with my agility.
“Is this a good idea?” What would I do without my assistant scout leader reminding me I’m 60 years old, walk with a cane and grimace each time my leg bends? Ignoring these minor issues I approached the starting line; working mostly from memories of how to fluidly launch a stationary but highly tuned body from point A to point B.
Remarkably it still felt pretty good and, with the pain in my knee momentarily abated, a feeling of confidence overtook good sense. Lift off was marginally good; but oh, that landing. There was a brilliant flash of light as soon as my right leg landed hard on the floor. The pain level was such that holding the landing spot no longer was important as I let gravity take hold.
I rolled backwards, my head resting close to the point I’d started; so much for setting a new record in the standing broad jump. The boys enjoyed the show and as each new contestant stepped up to the line, “Triple the cripple” echoed off the walls. It should be noted, my assistant scout master proved to be excellent in nearly every event, the standing broad jump was as smooth as they get.
I wonder if these young boys know how much competitive spirit is contained in these old bones, the young athlete held hostage inside this tattered frame. It was forty years ago when I was involved in gymnastics at Sam Houston State University. I wasn’t all that good at it; but I only admit that in hindsight, all the same I was in excellent physical condition. Next month should be illuminating as this old guy works a little harder each day to, “Triple the cripple”.
Posted by T. F. Stern at 12:28 PM