Okay, it was the best I could do. Sue me.
I’ve been reading The Circus Fire, by Stewart O’Nan, which is perhaps most remarkable in its complete dispassion and objectivity in the face of complete awfulness — awfulness magnified by the reader’s complete inability to change events or shout out helpful tidbits of advice to 1944 circus patrons. One of the many horrible things in the book is the long, lingering chapter spent detailing the medical treatment provided to the severely-burned children. Once a week, a burn specialist would come down from Boston and — well, let’s not go into the gory details, but merely say that the children dreaded the visits considerably.
And, no, I am not in a hospital with fourth-degree burns, treated by medical professionals whose standard operating procedure would be considered rank malpractice here in the XXIth Century. No, I am just an ordinary fat guy descending into middle age, complaining all the way. But like those children, I dread my fate (walking a mile or two on the treadmill on weekend evenings). And like them, once the initial shock, horror and pain wears off, I am bored. O’Nan talks about this in his book, how the most-badly burned kids were in hospital for months, bored off their ears — bored with milkshakes, bored with presents, bored with parental visits, bored with each other. And I am bored as well, even with the iPod (see, I remembered it) and magazines (Sports Illustrated’s NFL preview, where Peter King wastes everyone’s time by ranking the top 500 NFL players). Bored bored bored. It’s so repetitive, so painful, so useless, and yet I continue to do it.
Yeah, yeah, I know. Do something different. Exercise in some fun way. That’s not an option. This is about — to the extent it’s about anything other than whingeing — building character and self-esteem and a regular exercise routine, even if I die of boredom along the way. Going out and playing Frisbee for an hour is not the same as walking a mile, and I know it. (Although check this space week-after-next.)
Sixteen miles down, eighty-four to go.