I don't pedal every day, but I try to, in the late afternoon, but there are gaps in my fidelity. If I'm having guests for dinner, I spend prep time in the kitchen. If I've been out shopping, I'm too tired from all the walking. ( I gave up my car several years ago. I have a cart instead.) This week I 've been very faithful. I set the time back a little and I have a new book that draws me down to the machine. It's a recumbent pedaller, no handle-bars, so I can lean back and pedal and hold a book with my free hands. (The book I am reading is a mystery called Elizabeth Is Missing and the protagonist has Alzheimer's.)
So, different time, different people. This week an old man has been in the exercise room, rowing and bicycling. We don't talk much because I'm reading and he's breathing hard, but I break after 15 minutes to do some stretches and then again after another 15 before I leave. We have both been self-congratulatory about our exercise efforts despite our extreme age. Yesterday I told him how old I am. I'm 83, I said bravely. He said he was too. I would have thought he was older, but I didn't say so. However, he said to me, "You don't look it."
"Not a day over 82," I said and laughed. At this age, it doesn't matter, does it, I mean, what you look like. Well, I don't like to look frail, as I did a few years ago before I stepped up my efforts to be fit. The creators of all these stupid birthday cards with their condescension and stereotypical humour have no idea what they're talking about, with one exception. Mostly they repeat bromides:
You're only as old as you feel
Good wine and good cheese improve with age and so do you
Your head is a good landing place for flies (for bald men)
-all sorts of bad jokes about downward sliding breasts and bottoms (for women)
-all sorts of bad jokes about forgetting what your private parts are for
Well, you can go read a few yourself. The exception was a card I gave my mother on one of her last birthdays.
"Some advice for your birthday: keep moving or they'll throw a tablecloth over you."
I've never seen that card since but I use the advice for myself. That's why I keep pedalling.