Columns » Bob Lancaster

Getting fit with B.G.

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Our Bro.-Gov. has committed to an uplift program that aims soon to have most of us Arkansans slim, ripped, and smoke-free Probably only Oregon among the states will have a population as sleek and trim and free of the tobacco stench. We'll all buckle up, too, no doubt. And know CPR. And how to Heimlich up chicken bones. Stop when schoolbuses stop, dispose of litter in the proper receptacle. It's an idyll, nigh a utopian vision. But does a warning light flicker on your dashboard, too? Yes, the old Adonis looks more now like a fugitive dugong. Yes, the chinning bar yonder now only hoots, thinking of the spectacle. Yes, I'm glad I quit the cigs 20 years, 2 months, and 4 days ago, and I know the importance of sparing our youth this stupid, miserable addiction. But what business is any of this of the Bro.-Gov.'s? Isn't he one of them Reaganists, always plugging for less gubmint meddling and intrusion? Isn't it the other party's horrid old libs who are given to such raptures as Uncle Shug monitoring our waistlines and plotting remedial group aerobics? Do you have sneaky midnight doubts, creeping notions of being drawn into this behavior-mod thing by conformity's suck, like when the spouse with a Lysistrada dare in the eye signs you up for yoga class, or the preacher unasking inserts you into the church-bus driving rotation - because "it's the right thing" and they just knew you wouldn't want to be left out? For what seem to be perfectly good reasons, and with the best of intentions by all concerned, you get dragged aboard bandwagons. And into the gluey ooky of fad, cult, cause, movement. They get you into the costume, and it's all over then. Fitness is one of those enthusiams. An old one. Used to go under the more general rubric of hygiene. All of which leads me to suspect this is more in his capacity as the bro. than as the gov. Using the gubernator's office as bully pulpit to persuade us slob Arkies to do better by our bodily temples. To subtly make us feel sinful, guilty, estranged if we don't get with the program. You know there really is a WWJE diet - What Would Jesus Eat - based on biblical references and inferences. Loaves and fishes predominate, I understand, and the wine he prestidigitated for the wedding feast at Cana is presumed a merlot. One of the desert temptations deleted by the translators because the reference had not yet come to pass is said by the WWJE diet developers to have been some prototype Krispy Kremes. What better proof of his divinity could you ask for than that he politely declined? All else that I know about the WWJE diet I read in the New York Post recently. You could look it up. Maybe it wouldn't work this day and time without concessions (MSG, Sweet 'N Low), but you have to admit, whatever else Jesus was, not one of the authorities has ever suggested that he might have been fat. That sort of brings up a topic yet unbroached by the Bro.-Gov., one that will need addressing if we're expected to get serious about this Shape Up Arkansas campaign. That would be the topic of HWJE, or How Would Jesus Exercise, assuming diet and exercise to be key in his fitness regimen as they are in most. I'm fairly certain the HWJE answer wouldn't be as a jogger. Although usually masked by a grim visage, there's a certain chuckleheadedness about jogging. That's the very quality that would make it appealing to, say, Bill Clinton, but would cause the Son of Man to scorn it as a vice. Not a serious vice, as, the Bro.-Gov. might argue, gluttony or sloth, but a noticeable vice, if not one that Jesus would bother to mention. He wasn't so much offended by people's vices as he was impatient with them. Vice is vice because it's a waste. It's doing something that doesn't matter by somebody who does. For example, he wouldn't have pumped iron, either. Pumping iron just isn't on the agenda of people with things to do, with miles to go before they sleep. You pump iron when you're in prison and all else fails. When there's no place left to tattoo. Another exercise he wouldn't have done and that nobody should do, no matter how invigorating the New Age music that accompanies it, is that stairstep business: step up, step off, step up again. How much flab did that ever take off of anybody? If you're going to do that, you might as well be a circus elephant or a Mexican flea. You just waste your human beingness if you use it to stairstep, pump iron, or jog. Also, I wouldn't want any special exemption, like George W. Bush got during Vietnam, but exercise in my experience has been serially traumatic. Psychotic ball-team coaches alleged to be working me into "condition" but I know homicidal sadists when I see them. They made me swap them good rotator cuffs and sound knees for hip pointers and rung bells. Bonus exercise was their preferred torture, meted out in the running of after-practice laps. I personally bested several cliches running laps, including running laps till the cows came home. Till the fat lady sang. Till the last ding-dong of doom clanged and faded from the last worthless yodda yodda. I feel like I've done my laps, in other words. And if the Bro.-Gov.'s fitness program has laps, or anything resembling laps, include me out. Let me put the Veggie Tales Singers' "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything" on the Victrola and tuber out on the futon. A little Jabba the Hut mightn't be pretty, or healthy, or statistically emboldening, but it maybe could supply some aesthetic redress to this death-camp survivor look, the ecstatic grimace of the Ethiopian long-distance runner, that has come lately to enthrall our statehouse.

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