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My Uvula Has a Beer Belly

22 May

by Roger White

 

I understand about growing old, and I don’t mind it, really. No, really, there are a few perks that tag along with decrepitude. Like being able to take a nap any time of the day without having to explain yourself. Or the well-practiced art of feigning random episodes of deafness when the wife has her chore list out. Oh, another biggie is the ability to dodge zzzzzhelping the neighbors with any heavy lifting. That’s a personal favorite.

 

“Oh, look, hon,” says the wife one glorious Saturday afternoon. “That new couple across the street bought a new hutch. Go over and see what you can do. They need help getting that big ol’ thing out of their truck.”

 

The glorious day turns dark. “Yes, dear.”

 

I toddle over.

 

“Hey, there, young fellah,” I rasp, sounding in the terminal throes of emphysema. “Need a hand?”

 

“Well. If you think you can, sure!”

 

“Okay, now,” I wheeze. “I’ll hop up in the truck bed and push her your way.” I go to climb up in the truck and freeze, back bent double. “Uh, oh.”

 

“You all right?” the wary young couple inquires simultaneously.

 

“Darn it. Ol’ war wound.”

 

“War wound? Vietnam?”

 

“Yep. Battle of Inchon.”

 

“That was Korea.”

 

“Oh, yeah. Korea.”

 

“Well, look, mister. You go on home and rest your back. We can get this. But thank you, anyway!”

 

I toddle away as the gloriousness of Saturday brightly returns.

 

Alas, some very real maladies have visited themselves upon me with the piling up of the years, and these are the things that make me ponder my mortality. My weekly stab at playing tennis, for example, has been indefinitely curtailed because of some vague pain in my lower neck that feels like I have an angry lobster attached to my spine. I went to the doc about it; he felt around for a while, wrote me a scrip for steroids, and sent me on my way. Well, I have a big mat of chest hair now and I’m prone to wild fits of road rage, but roidsI’ve yet to feel any relief from the spine lobster. Doc thinks I’ve torn my trapezoid or something. Sounds like a circus injury, I know.

 

Another aging ailment (AA for short) that has come to squat upon my person is flab. Funny word, isn’t it? Flab. Flab is something I never suffered from as a kid, as a teen, or as a young man. If anything, I could have used a little extra body acreage. I was always skinny as a pipe cleaner—and about as shy. Yes, that is correct. Pipe cleaners are notoriously shy. Anyway, as the seasons have passed and I’m now in the autumn of my years, I’ve noticed my leaves turning brown and…wait, wrong metaphor. I’ve noticed a bit of girth round my midships. The wife insists my beer intake and stubborn sedentarianism are the culprit, but I cling to advancing age as the true cause. By the way, that’s a new religion I’m starting—Sedentarianism—but that’s for another column.

 

The upshot of this is: I’ve a bit of a muffin top, you see. Well don’t stare.

 

The thing of it is, it’s not just our outer bods that fall victim to flab. Noticing that I’ve been yukhaving trouble staying asleep for any considerable stretch lately, I’ve set myself up for one of those sleep studies. Wifey seems to think I have a flabby uvula. Sounds naughty, I know, but no, we all have uvulas, fellahs. It’s that dangly thing in the back of your throat. Mine is apparently sagging into my breathing passage and clogging me up at night. Yes, even my innards have grown old and tired. My uvula has a beer belly.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

I’m Just Rollin’ Along, Like My Dog

26 Mar

by Roger White

Ralph Cooper White is our family dog, and he is all there, let me tell ya. What I mean when I say he’s all there is that what we have is one royally rotund, prolifically plump Fat Ralphpooch. Now, dachshunds are called weenie dogs because of their unique resemblance to foot-long frankfurters, but as weenie dogs go, Ralph is more of a cheese danish. A round, brown, long-haired morning pastry of a hound. Actually, he’s more like a hairy little UFO. But we’ve been trying.

In our efforts to slim Ralph’s frame down to a reasonable facsimile of a normal dog’s, wifey and I take him on nightly walks in the neighborhood. Ralph takes his own sweet time during these forays, so much so that we practically drag him down the street. My dog read dogwife told me, however, that we shouldn’t rush him; she read somewhere that to a dog a daily walk is somewhat akin to reading the newspaper. It’s the dog’s time to relax, his opportunity to unwind. If that’s the case, then Ralph nightly reads the entire Sunday double edition of The Wall Street Journal, cover to cover.

Ralph does just about anything to stall the walking process. Sniff this, pee on that, observe the trees, bark at the squirrels, look in neighbors’ windows (wait, that’s me), etc., etc. But the one delaying tactic he uses that drives me nuts is his stubborn habit of rolling in junk. Not just any ordinary junk, mind you. Ralph loves to execute full body rolls in nasty, smelly dead, decaying things—mainly worms.

It makes you think twice about letting your pooch sleep in your bed when he carries the lingering odor of rotten death with him. Many times my wife will wake up in the middle of the night and smack me in the head. “Honey, honestly!” she’ll scold.

“It wasn’t me! Ralph just moved up next to your head!”

Wondering if perhaps Ralph possessed some oddball fascination with either mutant stink or death and putrefaction, I got online and found that this is actually quite a normal behavior. I shall quote from the ASPCA for Kids Site: “Rolling around in stuff that makes people want to barf—be it dead squirrels, poop or rotting garbage—is an instinct that comes from dogs’ wolf ancestors. Scientists don’t know for sure why dogs have that instinct, but they have a few ideas. The most popular theory is that dogs roll yuuuuckaround in the yucky stuff to cover up their natural smell, giving them camouflage and helping them be sneakier hunters. Another idea is that dogs are putting the funky smell on their bodies so they can alert other dogs to what they found. (When other dogs sniff your dog, they’ll get the exciting news that there’s a dead animal nearby.) Still a third idea is that dogs love to shimmy on gross things to claim them as their own—they don’t want any other dogs getting in on that prime piece of grossness.”

Hmm, interesting. So somewhere down the line, a fat cheese danish of a wild wolf rolled in dead stuff, too. One theory holds that Ralph slathers his body in an odor to throw others off the track, eh? I could use that myself. Say, if there was a scent I could ensconce my body in to avoid weekend chores. Men would pay good money for such an aroma, believe me. I imagine it might smell like sweat and wood shavings or something chore-related—maybe grass clippings and grease. I could see it in use:

“Honey, would you fix the . . .” Sniff, sniff. “Oh, never mind, you must be busy.”

Hot dog! Of course, another theory is that dogs roll in dead stuff to stake a claim. If a scent like this worked at the office, this might also be a money-maker. At my workplace in particular, any time someone makes fresh coffee, there’s a land rush on the coffee pot. It’s every man for himself. But—what if they made a scent so powerful, so reminiscent of it's juanJuan Valdez and mountain-grown Columbian beans that every worker big and small would step aside, knowing instinctively that you were the rightful heir to that first aromatic cup of joe? For that privilege, I would roll myself in any old nasty smell. 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

I’ve Seen the Future, and It’s Full of Zebra/Ostriches and Couchmallows

5 Oct

by Roger White 

If you’re like me, you have these nebulous questions in your head about what you might call life’s little givens. And, if you’re even more like me, you ponder on whether these questions are substantial enough to bring up in public or simply leave unanswered for fear that said public will back away slowly from you and call for psychiatric assistance on your behalf.

Here’s an example of one of life’s little givens that I’ve been contemplating for many years—well, mainly since I was a little kid and personally watched Bobby Hayes run down a football field faster than anything I’d ever seen before. Is it a given that humans will continue to become faster, stronger, and more athletically refined indefinitely on into the endless future, or at least until our sun goes supernova and we all die a horrible, fiery death and cockroaches rule the planet? And even then, will cockroaches evolve into ever swifter, hairier, and more repugnant strains of roaches than their forefathers?

I mean, when I was a tyke, Hayes was earth’s fastest human, and at the time I thought there was no way anyone anywhere, with the possible exception of the dolphin people of the Andromeda Galaxy, would ever cover 100 meters faster than Bullet Bob. His world-record time of 10.06 at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 was topped only by his come-from-behind anchor leg in the 4 x 100 relay in those games, during which he ran so fast that several timers’ watches liquefied and Hayes’ track shoes actually disintegrated into smoke and dust. Surely, I reasoned, Bob Hayes epitomized the zenith of man’s quest for footspeed. Of course, I was wrong. Not only has that record been lowered time and again over the years, today (at least as of this writing) Usain Bolt of Jamaica currently holds the world record in the 100 meters at a genuinely insane time of 9.58 seconds. A two-ton station wagon dropped from the Empire State Building can’t fall that fast.

I guess my burning question is when do we reach a point of critical mass, or do we ever reach such a point? Will there be a moment in history when scientist types say, “Okay, 5.3 seconds is the fastest any human will ever run the 100 meters, ever. So stop trying, people. It’s over.” Or—and this is the scary part—will we humanoids keep stubbornly developing until some mutant guy built like a two-legged zebra/ostrich runs the 100 meters in 0.25 seconds in the year 2107?

Same goes for other sports. Do you remember the classic old tennis matches from the days of yore? Say, for example, those terrific Borg versus McEnroe battles. I recall being glued to the set during those epic bouts: Borg the automatic baseliner against McEnroe the tempestuous serve-and-volley master. Such exquisite tennis. Such creative expletives. Such objectionable hair.

Have you tuned into those old matches lately? Yesterday’s heroes, the very best in the world for their time, now look like juniors playing on a court of molasses. The ball moves so s-s-l-o-o-o-w-w-w-l-l-y. After years of exposure to today’s ever-cyborg-like game of one-shot points and 150-miles-per-hour serves, it’s difficult to watch the tennis of even a decade or two ago and not think, heck, I could beat those guys. (Well, not me personally, but  . . . ) Today’s top players are fashioned like Kareem Abdul Jabbar with Schwarzenegger arms, and they play with rackets designed by Lockheed Martin. In a few years, we may not have to actually play any matches at all. Each player in a tournament will simply e-mail his or her top service speed into a central computer, and winners will be determined scientifically. Headlines will read something like “McEnborger to Win Wimbledon Next Week.”

Ditto for football. Dipping into my childhood personal reference bag once again, when I was 12 I met Dallas Cowboys legend Bob Lilly at a savings and loan grand opening in my tiny hometown. It was 1972; the Pokes had just won Super Bowl VI a few months earlier. Here was big Bob, the All-Pro defensive tackle, six foot five and 260 pounds of gridiron god. To me, he was a human mountain. Today, you have high school and even junior high players weighing in at more than 350 pounds. Some pro teams charter a team plane just for the linemen and another plane for everybody else. Lilly might qualify as a running back these days, or maybe even a trainer. No offense, Mr. Lilly, please don’t hurt me.

Same applies to basketball. The real reason the NBA went on strike this year was to give basketball arenas around the country time to refit the goals to 18 feet high. This just might make dunking a trifle harder, but they’re not sure. They are also contemplating redesigning the hoop to be one inch smaller than the physical dimensions of the ball, just for fun.

Now for you astute readers with long memories and grudge-type personalities, this column does not contradict what I opined some time back about us all morphing into atrophied mushbrains due to our chronic over-exposure to computers and acute lack of physical movement. This is a two-pronged evolution. Just as there will be no middle class by the year 2107, there will also be no “normal, average humans.” You will be either a mutantly gifted zebra/ostrich or a mushbrained couchmallow. There will be no middle ground. Kind of like today’s political scene.

Fortunately for me personally, my best predictions show me not quite making it to 2107, so I don’t have to choose. But you whippersnappers out there best be thinking: zebra/ostrich or couchmallow? Either way, you’re probably going to need a new wardrobe.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

Wake Up, People! We’re Not Full-Bodied. We Are FAT!

31 Jul

by Roger White

As is the case with many things and ideas of late, inspiration for this installment came as I sat on my comfy couch, papas fritas (potato chips to you who haven’t read the bag lately) and a cold one at the ready, watching the tube.

One of those basement-produced As Seen on TV! ads came on—this one for the patented and groundbreaking Furniture Fix. Have you seen this? The product of higher minds than mine, Furniture Fix is a set of six interlocking plastic panels you place under your sofa cushion to prevent unsightly and uncomfortable sagging. (And if you order in the next 20 minutes, you get a second pair for only shipping and handling! Go, man, go!) In the television ad, two gargantuan “sumo wrestlers” are enlisted to sit on an unfortunate couch bolstered by the patented Furniture Fix supports. Guess what? No sagging! The thing is—and this is what got me thinking—these alleged sumo wrestlers didn’t actually appear much larger than a lot of folks you see on the street today.

Hmmm. Ya see, the crafty sales folks for Furniture Fix realized they needed to present these two sofa-sitting behemoths as “sumo wrestlers” so as not to offend the general public. Truth is, a great many people in the good ol’ U.S. of A. are . . . let’s call it oversized, these days. We used to term this condition “fat,” but this is the era of tender-stepping political correctness. Generously proportioned is what we say now. Full-figured. Adipose-enhanced.

I say damn the PC torpedoes; I’m calling a spade a spade. Wake up, people! We are FAT.

And you know why we’re fat? Simple, really. In the old days, when work meant work, folks on farms, in construction, heck, even in office settings did much more actual, physical labor. As in walking, lifting, moving about. Not so today. And the food we once consumed was mainly fresh, not prepackaged, flash-frozen, and deep-fried. Does anyone hear that song “In the Year 2525” by Zager and Evans wafting in the background?

“Your legs got nothin’ to do,

Some machine’s doin’ that for you…”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I recognize genetic predisposition; I understand about medical conditions; I’m taking into account infirmity and unavoidable circumstance. However, by and large (pun!), we have become a nation of lazy, lard-addled lumps of lifeless inertia.

Unfortunately, how we’ve come to terms with this development isn’t exercise. No, we embrace our girth with terms like body acceptance, plump pulchritude, and my favorite, “more lbs. to love.”

America, being the keen capitalist nation we are, of course, caters to our blubbery broadmindedness with all sorts of products and services aimed at making our expanded personal spaces easier to manage. If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed the shift from ads for personal fitness machines to “lifestyle augmentation devices.” In other words, corporate minds recognize that we’ve given up.

Companies such as Voluptuart, chunkEbusiness.com, Amplestuff, and many others provide a broad (pun!) range of items just for the, um, girth-gifted. There’s Mr. Big Chair, a portable seat capable of hefting 800 pounds. There are fanny packs with extenders designed to fit any waist size, up to and including Andre the Giant. They have hand-held shower sprays specifically for “big people” (which means they come with approximately 27 feet of extension hose). There are pistol-grip remote toenail clippers, long-handled remote shoehorns, even, uh, “wipe extensions” that hold toilet paper. ’Nuff said. One company makes airline seatbelt extenders and titanium hammocks capable of holding many African jungle animals.

Interestingly, our nation’s chunky challenge is apparently a byproduct of healthy economic development, a researcher told The Washington Post. “The obesity problem is really a side effect of things that are good for the economy,” said Tomas J. Philipson, an economics professor who studies obesity at the University of Chicago, a city recently named the fattest in America. “But we would rather take improvements in technology and agriculture than go back to the way we lived in the 1950s when everyone was thin. Nobody wants to sweat at work for 10 hours a day and be poor. Yes, you’re obese, but you have a life that is much more comfortable.”

To add to the mix, our calorie intake has skyrocketed, now at more than 2,000 calories a day compared with 1,800 in the 1970s, according to the Calorie Control Council. Childhood obesity affects almost 40 percent of children in many states. It’s estimated that one-third of children born in 2000 will develop obesity-related diabetes, said ObesityinAmerica.org. Obesity now impacts 17 percent of all children and adolescents in the United States—triple the rate from just one generation ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This is truly scary. I remember when I was in elementary school (eons ago), there was an average of one fat kid per class. We called him, affectionately, the fat kid. I wonder, do today’s childhood classrooms have one skinny kid they affectionately call the beanpole?

Urgh. My chips and brew don’t look so good all of a sudden. I’m sorely tempted to find my tennis shoes and go for a brisk run. Almost.

But gads, it’s so hot out. And look! “America’s Got Talent” is on in a few. Get me another beer while you’re up.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.