fitness routines are where you find them

Dear Uma: I am still smarting a bit over your remarks about my so-called 'sedentary' life. Just because you have horses and a new lover doesn't mean I am not getting enough exercise. And OK, I have started smoking again.

Dear Uma:

I am still smarting a bit over your remarks about my so-called ‘sedentary’ life. Just because you have horses and a new lover doesn’t mean I am not getting enough exercise. And OK, I have started smoking again. You are quite the detective, able to pick up the sound of my puffing over the telephone.

It feels great, frankly; I am doing so much better work-wise since I began smoking again because it helps me focus. In order to prevent myself from getting back to a pack-a-day habit, I have put the cigarettes on the highest cupboard in the kitchen so that every time I want one I must stand on a chair and reach up. Clever, isn’t it, to build an exercise program into my habit. Believe me, that long stretch to the pack has already toned my upper arms, while the climbing up and down the chair has added immensely to my leg muscles.

In further attempts to get some healthy movement into my daily doings I bought down-filled pillows. They are great for upper arms, too, and back and shoulders. Every night before putting my head down I have to spend a few good minutes punching down my pillow. Down pillows are good in another way; when they are punched down, they stay down, adding emotional satisfaction to the feeling of physical well-being. They also have to be punched every morning to make them plump and pretty on the bed.

Oh yeah, I have also begun painting the bathroom. When I got the pillows, I also bought some new towels which made the walls suddenly appear dingy. Climbing up and down a ladder constitutes a workout, too, especially when you consider how awkward it is to paint a room as small as our bathroom. To further increase the effort, I am doing the whole job using a brush; no rollers for this fitness buff!

Speaking of bathroom, I discovered there is a toilet paper that is called “cashmere;” isn’t that odd? The manufacturers are allowed to claim it is as soft as cashmere, leading me to wonder how many people have ever actually touched cashmere. I have, and it made me feel vaguely discomfited by the notion of wiping with something made from an animal. It reminded me of the cartoon of the bear and the rabbit.

Shortly after ruminating on the increasing strangeness of advertisements, I had an encounter that added to my growing awareness of ads, consumers and what often emerges from this mixture.

I was checking out television sets, paying particular attention to the plasma TVs, when I was approached by a young man who asked me, in all seriousness, how often one would have to refill a plasma TV. After realizing he truly was anxious to know, I found a salesman for him who was able to reassure the fellow that should he be astute enough to buy a plasma TV, no refills of the plasma would be necessary. It is a credit to the salesman that he did not fall on the floor laughing.

Maybe it is time for the Lobotomobile. I saw a short documentary about this controversial attempt on the part of the Canadian government to bring peace and contentment to a electorate growing more and more addicted, angry, and dysfunctional.

This idea involves a mobile clinic, with trained personnel able to perform a simple lobotomy quickly and painlessly. The operation is, of course, done only on those who are willing. That willingness, even enthusiasm, is brought about by a member of the lobotomy team whose job it is to persuade folks that this procedure is the answer to all their problems.

The fellow is very good at his job. In the film, which was made in an actual small town that bore a startling resemblance to Watson Lake, actual residents who bore a startling resemblance to folks in Watson Lake, gathered to hear the pitch.

In a matter of minutes, the crowd was persuaded, to a man, to have the operation. The promise, the absolute guarantee, of no more pain or anxiety had them lining up, jostling one another in their eagerness to be transformed into calm, happy people, able to enjoy calm, happy lives.

The film showed the actual operation, but I didn’t watch that part. All I can say is that the whole thing seemed to take very little time and involve no recovery time; the patients came out of the van and walked home. Their gait would have to called more of a shuffle than a walk and could not be said to be of a brisk or animated nature, and they were all sporting great black circles under their eyes, but it was clear these folks would no longer be any kind of a problem to themselves or others

Should the lobotomy mobile clinic be approved, it would be bad news for some manufacturers.

I bought a hoodie which came with an incendiary agenda.

First, one label declared the garment to be “147 per cent made with love” and the buyer was commanded to “respect that.”

Among the plethora of sewn-on labels, the smallest one revealed the article to have been made in China, thereby throwing some doubt on the “love.” The “147 per cent”? To me, that figure said more about the advertisers and their target market than anything else.

Another label said the company was “changing the game, one garment at a time” and that “everything that grows has roots, so adopt children, not styles”.

Are we to adopt Chinese children? And only after we have adopted the style of this manufacturer? Are they able to provide the children? Children worn with their 12-hour days in some dark factory?

Then, on a label made from heavy cardboard, strung on jute and attached with a small safety pin, came the company statement in its entirety:

“We are a company designed to overthrow the masses by our influence. Our slogan is simple: ‘underground inventive and overground effective’

“We want to focus on the ones who are trying to pay the rent with their passions. Think of us as a support group for the independent and underground culture. We are trying to put the spotlight where it really belongs because it is much more than clothing, it is a way of living”

Makes your heart beat faster, doesn’t it? Such an articulate and meaningful statement to come from a company that manufactures hoodies; it gives one hope for the future of all those tired little Chinese babies just waiting to be adopted by hoodie-wearing folks who are willing to pay $79.99 for a cotton garment festooned with bright red messages of intent to change the world. Oh, and people who have that kind of money left over after paying the rent for their passions.

When my fever of emotion had cooled, I got at the tedious job of painstakingly removing all the red labels from the hood, the sleeves, the bottom hem, etc. etc. from my bargain ($15 in a sale bin), and began to imagine wearing it to the coming summer wiener roasts, unaccompanied by a child of any nationality.

I suspect the writers of this company’s advertisements may have already been to the Lobotomobile.

There you have it, Uma: real evidence of my resolve to exercise more. Reaching for the ciggies, painting the bathroom, punching my pillows, picking off labels, and searching out and cutting and preparing sticks for wiener roasting. Top that, if you can.



Heather Bennett is a writer

who lives in Watson Lake.