This might get a bit confusing. There are, according to my Merriam Webster, Unabridged Dictionary, thirty-four definitions of fit.
Nah, i’m not throwing one, a fit that is. There are times i would like to throw one. But i’ve come to realize in my old age, it does absolutely no good and has some negative impact on my digestive system, not to mention this old man’s blood pressure.
And this “fit” ain’t addressing my wardrobe. It couldn’t because damn near everything doesn’t fit anymore. i’ve been needing to lose about 20 pounds (more actually, but i’m not going to admit it), but i don’t run six to fourteen miles four or five times a week anymore and a three-mile fartlek at old man speed won’t get it done, especially when i’m wolfing down Maureen’s chef quality food and sneaking out for burgers occasionally.
The “fit” i’m talking about is related to that running mentioned above. But it was a long time ago before i really started running “running” after i bought a pair of twenty-dollar Adidas running shoes at J.C. Penny’s in College Station, Texas around 1977 — i ran in those shoes without socks until the soles were about ninety percent shoe goo; i might still be running in them, except someone inexplicably stole them while i was in the sauna, jacuzzi, and shower in the Diego Garcia gym in the middle of the Indian Ocean in 1981. Guess the thief was impressed with the shoe goo and the smell since they had never been washed — and after i bought those shoes, i finally figured out i wasn’t supposed to sprint. That’s when i began running almost every day. i was never really fast and never ran a full marathon, but it became something that was extremely rewarding.
i miss it.
As old men do, i was thinking about earlier times and realized i had run quite a bit, long before i started running “running” on my own.
It was Castle Heights. For four years, i was probably the most “fit” i have been in my life. It began with pre-season football (even pre-school) two-a-days, always concluding with an interminable number of forty-yard sprints until the end of the season. Then for the first three years, it was B-team basketball. And in the spring, baseball wasn’t super fit exercise, but Mike Dixon and i, along with most town boys at one time or another played pickup basketball games almost every day, weekends included, and Mike and i were known to play one-on-one after baseball practice and would have until the cows came home, but Mrs. Fahey would kick us out because her apartment wall abutted with the gym proper wall, or we would realize it was past time for supper at home — and that’s when my mother was “fit” to be tied.
However, one thing i remember about “fit” back then in the dark ages was after JV practice had ended. Frank North was a football man, assistant coach to Stroud Gwynn. He also was our B-team basketball coach. We sort of played the way we wanted to play, and Frank would yell at us if we messed up — Pretty much the same in baseball, and i never understood why Jimmy Allen wasn’t the head baseball coach from the beginning. Now Frank was a nice guy who believed in us being “fit.”
Our practices began at two after the lone post noon-mess class — i must confess i don’t think i ever went to a 2:00 to 4:00 drill on the drill field. Football, basketball, and baseball practice always conflicted. Practice ran about forty-five minutes. But did we call it a day and either go home or back to our barracks? Nope. Frank had us running. There wasn’t a great deal of places to run during basketball season. As the varsity took to the court, we climbed the stairs to the fans’ seating area.
Now i loved that old gym, but it was not conducive to large crowds. Seats were one long bench across each side and about four rows of the same bench seats in the west end zone, all in the balcony. There was only a wall on the east end of the court, no balcony. In big contests, cadets sat on the balcony floor with their feet hanging over the edge. i’m guessing the capacity probably topped out at less than one hundred.
But that balcony was a good place for Frank North to have us run. And we did, all the way through varsity practice. We ran in a single line. When we got to the east end wall, we would turn, jump up on the bench seat, run around to the other wall, turn and jump down from the bench seats to the balcony floor and repeat. Lap after lap.
i don’t recall ever really being tired from those runs.
i was fit.
The most fit (not fittest as some folks believe) i’ve ever been.
Now when i get up from a chair, i often think about how fit i was. Didn’t smoke until i graduated. Didn’t drink. Didn’t even drink coke. That stuff would cut your wind, they said. Just ran and played some kind of ball nearly every day.
Until the cows came home.
Note: For those who aren’t from Lebanon or younger than fifty, “Goober” may not be understood. At Castle Heights Military Academy, the senior (high school) cadets called the junior (elementary school) cadets “Goobers,” i.e. peanuts. Somehow, i guess, some Lebanon High School boys decided “goober” was enough of a derogatory term and began using it for all of the Heights attendees. As we did in those days, we didn’t take umbrage unless it was detected the issuer of such a label was mean in intent — as the Virginian said, “Smile when you say that” — and it became a term we laugh about and simultaneously take pride in still today. We don’t whine about “Goober” needing to be eradicated from history.