Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Elliptical and the Bike

Be careful on your walks this winter. Sometimes there's an incline at the intersection and you find yourself frantically grabbing at the traffic light pole so you don't fall into the street. It's melancholy and treacherous. Day after day of freezing rain and ice storms have transformed the world into a gigantic science-fictionl ice rink this winter. The yards are ice. Not icy snow, really ice. The world is stunning but unnavigable. I’ve never seen anything like it.

So everyone is stuck indoors. And mad as hell about it.

So we must go to the health club.

 At the health club treadmills are all taken and eveybody’s huffing and puffing on the elliptical. The elliptical is MY THING. You walk up and down on those pedals while you watch that movie, Elf, which has been playing on all the channels all the time since Thanksgiving. No, really you don’t want to watch Elf. It's only one step above Project Runway, which you also got stuck watching once here.

The solution during this cranky time is to switch to the bicycle. Like other bicyclists, I've discovered that it is possible to read a small paperback, WHICH YOU MUST PROVIDE, during exercise. At the health club, there's a pile of germy sweated-up Newsweeks, abandoned by my peers. (Recently every issue is about Obama. Obama lore! These will be collectibles someday!) So, like all desperately bored health club members, I've discovered some books that make perfect workout reading.

1. James Welch’s lyrical Winter in the Blood, a classic first published in 1974. In the new Penguin edition, it is only 137 pages, easily read in 20-minute increments on the bicycle. The narrator, an American Indian with a drinking problem and a bad knee, often gets stuck walking back from town to the ranch, where he lives with his mother, Theresa, and Lame Bull, whom she marries early on in the novel. His mother goes out with Lame Bull one day after many jokes about marriage, and comes back married, much to the
surprise of the narrator.'s witty and sad, a novel about regrets, the past and the present.

2. I tried Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union. It is brilliant. It cannot, however, be read on a bicycle. The paperback is gorgeous, but I finally realized I'm not making a fashion statement. A fourth done, none of it at the health club. Well, it's a great book and I didn't really take it to the health club...

3. Any mystery will do.

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