When you are 75 years old, they will first chase you off the golf course…and then chase you off the streets. While walking with my golf club disguised as a cane, I came across several baseball fields. They are ideal for hitting balls up to 80 yards, and some even have fences that protect corona golfers from the intrusion of dogs and kids on bikes and moms with baby carriages. And no one is playing baseball, because even a sandlot game requires 10 players in some proximity. So why did the maintenance crew throw me off the field, for merely hitting little balls a short distance? I think it was because I looked happy.
H.L. Mencken observed how with our Puritan streak comes the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy. I will add that it seems OK to be working out. However, don’t be caught doing anything that remotely resembles play. (Playing in your 70s is even worse because, after all, statistics say you may die on the spot!)
(You may have seen this coming.) There are basically two kinds of people in the world: those who work out, and those who play. There are those who work out so that they can play better, but they always aim to play. I certainly do. I reveal here that I hate working out just to breathe hard and sweat. I believe I can only play now. Working out for its own sake is often a modern flagellation like those Middle Ages sinners who whipped themselves in penitence to God. Now the sin is being fat, I guess, or worry about getting fat or weak…or old. And in fairness we can remember that the ancient Greeks devised the Olympic Games to keep their soldiers always fit for war.
People also used to walk or run just to get someplace. Catching a bus or a criminal ( or running from a crime, of course). Trekking on trails in the forest. Little of that now, with Uber on our phones and mountain bikes with studded tires. Add to that racers who just like to exceed everyone else…but then that verges on play, does it not?
Then I noticed a little boy, spinning a hula hoop around his waist. This did not look like torture. He didn’t seem to be getting anywhere, either. He was simply defying gravity, for a short vacation. We elders are pretty far from defying gravity by now, but I caught myself wishing he would forget his hula hoop. If he did, then I could hit golf balls at it from 20-30 yards. What fun that would be.
He did forget to take the hoop with him when he ran off to join others, but his mother remembered, and peered at me oddly as she swooped in to rescue her son’s hula hoop (- just in time to vitiate my first shot). Why, I thought, should I not have my own hula hoop? On the way home, I stopped in a nearby “dollar” store. I bought four small hula hoops, each two feet in diameter. I’m going to leave you to imagine what I will do next with these hula hoops. Hula? Hardly. One hint: it will not be working out. It will not be torture. I’m also going to leave you to wonder what people on the street thought when they saw an old man with a cane (or golf club?) carrying 4 small hula hoops in his left hand. Hoops are very hard to hide.
Copyright 2020 — David Hon