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The Limbo -- How Low Can You Go?

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Treetops soak in the sun, the forest is stunning, silent and still and the eve of Thanksgiving is one week away. Laree’s in the loft constructing messages of health and goodness, God bless her, and I’m straight-faced, hoping to untangle myself from myself by applying my mind to the moment and my fingers to the keyboard. I’d rather get drunk, but I don’t drink. It didn’t work when I was 35, why should it work 35 years later?
Today is Wednesday. Sergio Olivia died Monday, the day before yesterday. That’s what day it is. He was not supposed to die, nor was Zabo or Mugsy or Mom and Dad. They’re too important, too special. They’re matchless, priceless and irreplaceable.

When in doubt, pray. I pray a lot. When in doubt, work out. I work out a lot -- well, not so much anymore, but it seems like a lot. And therein I derive my strength and salvation. I’m heading for the gym, five miles down the road, left, right, left. Give me an hour, a bench, a pair of dumbbells and equal portions of will and courage and life goes on in Boomtown, USA.

Sergio was more than any other muscleman, any other man of the iron. Muscles stretched his skin and leaped from his body with joy. When he moved they rumbled like thunder in the mountaintops. If you fell over, he bent down and picked you up. Hands of iron, back of steel, heart of gold.

Eat, hungry or not… I just put together some nutritious leftovers I found in the refrigerator. I’m one part frugal, two parts cheap, three parts lazy and four parts dumb. The wholesome pre-workout concoction tastes like paste made somewhere on the border of China and Mexico. Fork into mouth, do nasty chew, gulp down with lukewarm tap water, shudder and gag. Buck up, bone-butt. Nothing like repetitious gagging to flex ’n pump the neck, jaw and facial muscles.

Just over 45 years ago -- mid-September of 1967 – Sergio, in a white sailcloth robe the size of a circus tent, stood pumping his calves on the first step of a backstage staircase at the Academy of Music in New York. I walked over to greet the heaving mound and share a moment of mutual adrenal madness amid the frenetic din. Shortly after visiting the great man in the large white tent, I left, daring not to unpack my own… tent, that is, a pup tent of my homegrown, handmade variety. Got home before the evening traffic. He won the Mr. O later that night. Some’s got it, some’s ain’t.

In the back of my mind I’m wondering if I’ll make it to the gym in one piece or if I’ll be devoured or obliterated along the way. There are lions and tigers and bears, I’m told; fiscal cliffs and roadside bombs and natural disasters, they say.

Phooey, patooey! Here’s the plan for my afternoon workout, fifth since my magnificent month of mayhem, mishap and malfunction:

Wide-grip pulldowns, 4 sets x 10 reps before the neck (pause, reduce weight, spin 180 degrees and extend the set), 6 reps behind the neck.
Superset with Hammer incline press, 4 x 8 reps.

Single-arm cable crossover, left-right, left-right, for pecs and stuff, 4 sets x 10-12 reps.

Seated dumbbell alternate curls supersetted with lying bent-bar triceps extensions, 4 x 6 reps and 12 -15 reps.
The combinations, daring and dazzling, work the whole upper catastrophe without getting crazy or chaotic. Now, out the door and behind the wheel, before the iron and over the steel, aside the comrades amid the clashing. No prisoners!

Give me an hour, twice a week. I walk (clomp, stagger, lurch) my hillside driveway on odd days. But wait. Every day is an odd day, come to think of it.

Go… God’speed… The Candy Man

I don’t cling to God. My Lord lifts me up. And that’s no gun. That’s the Cross.


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