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Soup of This Day #45: And My Time Is Running Wild

August 4, 2011

Mad Max Interceptor
I could drive this car. It could fit a child seat – Photo: John O’Neill, 2007. John O’Neill is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

I used to have this personal check that I applied to my health. I called it the Armageddon Standard and it worked like this: If Armageddon kicked off today how well would I be able to survive? When I was young I measured up pretty good. I was fit, outwardly healthy and had few encumbrances. I used to run a fair bit and I played a lot of football. I could shoot a rifle, butcher a sheep and had spent enough nights passed out drunk in bus shelters to believe that I could rough it. All of these I reasoned would stand me in good stead for a Mad Max style life.

Yeah, not so much, if at all, anymore. Now, approaching middle age my body is starting to show signs of weariness. My eyesight is deteriorating to the point that soon I will need glasses and there is a badger streak of grey through the right side of my beard. My joints creak and ache and the fire in my belly has been replaced by a dull ache and a couple of surgical scars from when they took out my gall bladder.

Bastard gall bladder.

Where once I struggled to gain weight, now I’m battling to keep it under control. A couple of months ago I moved from the cruiserweight division in boxing to the heavyweight class. Which would be ok if I actually boxed or even trained like I was planning on boxing. It’s worth noting that in the Olympics I’d be super heavyweight.

Bastard Olympics.

Periodically I get defiant about this creeping of age, raging against the dying of the light by swimming laps, lifting heavy stuff and riding an exercise bike. There’s some irony for you, I’m attempting to outrun middle age on a stationary exercise bike.

A couple of months past I was on said exercise bike, watching TV as I tried to pedal back the years. A doco started and I automatically looked for the remote to change channels when something hooked me. I ended up staying the course for the full hour or so that it was on. It was called Men Who Swim and it had been made by a Welsh journo Dylan Williams. Williams had moved to Stockholm, chucking in his day job for a supporting role with his Swedish wife and family. Entering middle age, struggling with a foreign culture and stuck in a low paying job caring for the elderly he could easily have gone off the rails. He rope-a-doped though and countered, signing up for an unlikely club, a group of Swedish men learning the art of synchronized swimming. Which could be the start of a joke or a sequel to Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The thing is that even though some of the men might be camp, maybe even gay, you can’t really tell because this isn’t the focus that grabs you. Instead it’s a poignant look at men dealing with middle age. And somehow coming out as winners.

Watch it if you get the chance, it’s really quite good.

Tim Wakefield is another guy facing up to middle age. He turned 45 a day or so ago and celebrated by turning up to Fenway to pitch a start against the Indians. He was in search of his 200th win and was going to need some support from the bats to get over the line. Early on he got that with Big Papi knocking a 2 run single in the 1st after Wake had kept them quiet and hitless out the gate. In the 4th the Indians came back to level it. The Sox edged in front again in the bottom of that same innings, thanks to a Scutaro force play that scored Big Papi. Wakefield then held his end of the bargain up by keeping the Indians quiet until the 7th. The 7th has been a happy hunting ground for Boston this term but on this day it saw Wake give up the tie run.

Tito obviously then felt that winning the game was more important than 200 because he called God’s favourite knuckleballer in, too a chorus of boos, and sent Randy Williams in to relieve. Williams, who I’ve bashed a bit as being too expensive went against type and got the Sox through to the 9th on level pegging. Papelbon kept the Indians down in the last and it was over to the bats for a chance at a repeat of the previous night’s walkoff heroics. With 2 out leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury came to the plate. He had singled home the winner the previous night but with none on would have to do it all himself to avoid extra innings. Like the night previous he had been 0 and 4 at this point and when the 1st pitch was marked down as a strike it didn’t look like that would change.

Except it did. Man did it change.

Ellsbury too a 0 and 1 pitch and knocked it back over the mound to deep center. It seemed to hang for a while before dropping down neatly into the 1st row of seats. It was Ellsbury’s 1st career walkoff homer, the 68th win of the term for Boston and it improved Papelbon to 4 and 0 for the season. Unfortunately it wasn’t win 200 for Wake who when he gets there and he surely will, will be the oldest to do so.

One last character to introduce; Attilio Pavesi is an Italian cyclist who won gold at the LA Olympics in the individual and team road races. ‘Hang on a sec’, I hear you cry, you well-read reader, you. The Italians did win the teams event but the USA’s Alexai Grewal won the individual. True, but you see, you’re looking at the 1984 Games. Pavesi competed in the 1932 edition and until yesterday was the oldest living Olympic champion. He emigrated to Argentina prior to WW2, organised cycling events in his adopted homeland and died in a Buenos Aires retirement home this day just passed. He was a couple of months shy of his 101st birthday.

That’s some smile Attilio.

And so, inspired by a Welsh member of the Swedish Men’s Synchronised Swimming team, a 45 year old knuckleballer with 199 wins in the Majors and a 100 year old Olympic cycling champion I’m getting back on the bike tonight. I’m not looking to be a hero. Apparently all the children say that we don’t need another one. I am hoping for a life beyond middle age.

I may not out-ride the advancing years but I aim to throw a few elbows in the intermediate sprint.

2 Comments
  1. Jacoby is so much fun to watch. Let’s keep him forever.

    • Yeah I like him too. Lot of folks don’t seem to but he’s produced some highlights over the past 4 seasons or so and I reckon he brings something special to the team.

      Hoping he stays past this year.

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