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The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed a Mountain…

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Stairway to heaven

I’d love to live to 100… but, if I don’t… well… if the news about anti-depressants being detected in municipal water systems is true, at least I’ll knock on the Pearly Gates with an upbeat smile on my face.

I may even throw a tiny teehee at St. Peter about whether I’m in the right place…

……………….

(Tragically, three friends die in a car crash, and they find themselves at the gates of heaven. Before entering, they are each asked a question by St. Peter. 
“When you are in your casket and friends and family are mourning upon you, what would you like to hear them say about you?”, asks St. Peter. 
The first guy says, “I would like to hear them say that I was a great doctor of my time, and a great family man.” 
The second guy says, “I would like to hear that I was a wonderful husband and school teacher who made a huge difference in our children of tomorrow.” 
The last guy replies, “I would like to hear them say…… LOOK!!! HE’S MOVING!!!!!”)

……………….

That’s me!

I’m not really afraid of the actual dying part, but I am nervously anxious of missing out on all those things that are important around me.

There is a universe of incredible beauty that wraps itself around us in warmth and comfort… the melody lines of the songbirds, the peach-blushed fiery sunsets and star-speckled inky night skies… the cozy love and generosity of our treasured ones.

I don’t want to leave any of that grace, that splendour, in the rear view mirror. Must all of the soul-elevating harmonic music disappear?

Years back, I used to think that once my kids were born, I could at last die happily knowing there would be investment and insurance $$ to give them a good forward push down the toboggan hill of life. What more could I possibly need from this world?

toboggan

But here I am – still – today, brimming with I’m-so-lucky pride over my grown up kids, and I’m acclimatizing myself to the idea that I’d really like to see the cute faces of, and share time with my yet-to-be-born angelic grandkids.

And I’d still love to visit a ton of places like Cairo, Moscow, Budapest, San Antonio, Texas and The Alamo (here’s a moving modern-day hurting song about the Alamo that I studied in a songwriting course).

So… life at 100. Yea or Nay? Would you like a piece of that cake?

In 2011, the Canadian Census enumerated 5,825 people aged 100 years and older, or a rate of 17.4 centenarians per 100,000 persons. The 2016 census counted 8,230 centenarians, a 41.3 per cent jump over the 2011 figures. That’s pretty impressive.

Yup, our odds are on the increase.

But, I’m already nearing the dropping off point where my Ma died (aged 61).

And in another decade I’ll catch up to my Dad’s departure gate of life (age 73). “Those passengers in Age Rows 70-75 may now approach the gate.

I sense that I’m stepping ever closer to the raggedy sharp edge of a cliff with no railings and no safety net below.

The weighty question: Do our parents write the rough draft of our autobiographies?

I’m going for a “To 100 or Bust” re-write of my life story, but we’ll see what happens.

100 years old.jpg

Here’s the plan: I’m doing some positive stuff that my parents were culturally blind to in terms of health and longevity. They knew nothing about fibre content of various foods, Type 2 diabetes, or the true lung and heart choking seriousness of smoking and weight control.

It’s a crap shoot but I figure I can do a few things to nudge my odds up the steep wall… what’s to lose?… my grandkids deserve a TMI-sharing curmudgeon in their lives.

Will current scientific knowledge and my own resolve get me over the genetic hurdles I face, and welcome me into the Centenarian Club?:

  • I exercise just about every day… run, yoga, bike, boot camp, tennis, HIIT train, swim, spin class. It’s a part of my habit train that I can’t and don’t want to get off. Endorphins and muscles are just too much fun!
  • I sleep 7-8 hours most days… add in delicious naps and I can get to 9 if I’m lucky. Unlucky you to be around me when I miss those zzz’s… I don’t function well on poor or shortened sleep.
  • I try to help others… I often feel damned guilty about not picking up hitchhikers, but my altruism comes through in other areas like working at the soup kitchen and tutoring ESL and literacy students. I pretend it’s only to help others, but it makes ME feel good.
  • I eat a fair bit of fresh fruits and vegetables (my parents thought – OMG! – that canned green peas were health food). And under the TMI category… my bowel habits are exemplary! That’s the GOOD! Here’s the BAD!: I do eat more meat than I know is best and I have an insatiable sweet tooth for baked goods and chocolate.
  • I drink scads of water plus a cup or two of coffee (via latte) each day and one or two glasses of wine or light beer each week. Depending on the science article-of-the-week (Fake News?), this may be helpful. I know it’s enjoyable.
  • I drive my car between the lines on the road and generally stick pretty close to the posted speed limits… which is why I love driving in Utah or Montana with their 85 miles per hour legal highway speeds!
  • I exercise my mind with reading and blog writing and practicing guitar. The mere mental exercise of trying to remember the recipes for a ton of mixed drinks in my occasional bartending “retirement” job is a huge cerebral workout. Then add in figuring out what the new words mean that my kids throw at me is a bonus (e.g. “He was the BOMB!”… “What? he blew up?”)
  • I hang around as much as possible with people that are supportive, make me smile and sport upbeat positivity. I cross the street to avoid the unfortunate Debbie or Donald Downers who throw gloomy anchors in all directions.

You may have noticed that I like certain numbers. Investment returns of at least 15% annually… 10,000 practice hours… or 1,000 hours… 8 hours of sleep… sub 2-hours for a half marathon run.

Life is a cup of meaning in the joy of numbers.

Today I’m adding a new number to my list.

100. 

I like goal setting as an incentive to a milestone or mountain peak.

Why don’t we climb up this mountain and see if we can summit and high five at the 100 peak of life?

mountain peak.jpg

I Get to Run a Half Marathon, and I’m A Lucky Guy

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It’s easy to get complacent and lose sight of the luster, the shine.

I’m joining the (13) Mile-High Club again next week.

I’ll be running the Vancouver Half-Marathon (21 k) in 7 days and I’m worrying about:

  • my fitness levels – have I put in enough sweaty training miles to pass under the finishers’ banner in less than 2 hours (probably not)?
  • a nagging knee injury that has prevented me from doing the training I would like to do.
  • I’m waking up at night sometimes envisioning a nasty, sticky plaque in my arteries waiting to dislodge and take me down mid-race (there are far worse places to perish than in the middle of Vancouver’s Stanley Park on a sunny day).
After the 2013 Vancouver Half-Marathon (me in Red)

After the 2013 Vancouver Half-Marathon (me in red… my youngest, Emma in blue)

I don’t want to think about any of these bastard stray thoughts, but I can only control the voices so much. At least the voices aren’t telling me to kill anyone, or streak naked through my local McDonalds.

I’ve planned my life to be about as stress-free in this western world of 2014 as you can possibly get:

  • I work a 3 day work week at a lab job I enjoy with people I enjoy being around.
  • I’ve saved and invested and can afford a couple of nice vacations each year that stimulate my mind and quell my ADHD.
  • I live in an amazingly beautiful area of Canada that has mild (by Canadian standards), almost snow-free winters and warm, dry summers.
  • I have a great family life.

And I sometimes forget that it’s not like that for everyone.

Forgetting that is not good.

I also forget that it hasn’t been this way everyday for me.

Forgetting that is not good either.

I also forget that it won’t be this way every day into the future.

That is the way it should be …

… dwelling on possible future negatives is no way to live each day.

I have friends and relatives with:

  • cancer
  • joint replacements
  • pneumonia
  • heart disease
  • diabetes
  • elderly relatives with serious concerns
  • children with major illnesses
  • jobs they hate but feel they can’t leave

They all SUCK. Oops, let me clarify that … the concerns suck, not my friends and relatives (mostly!)

vulnerable cancer patient

I’ve rubbed shoulders with most, but not all of these worries at one point or another in my lifetime.

You might say I was paradoxically lucky because my parents died at relatively young ages. My Dad pulled through a heart attack at my age (he didn’t survive heart troubles 15 years later) and my Mom died of a heart attack just 3 years beyond my current age. This means that, like what so many of you are experiencing right now or will someday, I didn’t have to deal with care homes and dementia and all those nasty elder issues. That’s life-luck lived on a double-edged sword.

On the other hand, I wasn’t serendipitous enough to escape those same ravages with my in-laws. I spent many days, weeks, and years in a milieu of their chronic pain and dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

After I spent 10 years lifting my tiny little kids out of car seats, I spent the next 10 years lifting and pulling my not-so-tiny mother- and father-in law out of car seats because their poor bodies had seized up like the Grim Reaper’s rigor mortis had forgotten to wait until they consumed their last breath.

It was challenging for me, but it was a rat’s-hole hell for them.

My oldest sister died from a rapid and aggressive lung cancer a couple of years ago. At our summer family reunion in the mountains of Jasper, Alberta she was fine. In November, just 3 months later, we held handsful of damp Kleenex, dressed in black attire at her vigil.

I’ve said goodbye to a number of work colleagues who suffered death by cancer. For a few years my one arm was stretched longer than the other from pallbearer duties and carrying caskets too frequently. Yes, I’ve been a pallbearer more often than I’ve been a wedding usher or best man. Apparently, people trust me more after they’re gone than while they’re here.

The other day on my way to work, I met an old acquaintance, Lydia, coming in for blood tests at my lab. She has hemochromatosis (iron overload that saturates the liver and if left untended will kill). She looked pale and tired but was upbeat despite her chronic weakness.

My son had a life-threatening infectious illness at the age of 9 that struck me deeper than anything I had ever experienced. Most of my bodily energy went into producing tears through the fears. He spent the entire summer in a hospital bed on IV antibiotics before getting out just the day before school returned in September.

And then I remind myself of Leo at the gym, 90 years old this November. He looks like he could be 70, trim and fit enough that he should be running in the half marathon with me next Sunday while his wife of 65 years sits confused in a care home.

Woman in care home

If you have any of these worries hanging over you, I hope they pass soon and life doesn’t ooze melancholy into your head. It could.

Joining this party here on earth means that there will be hangovers to be suffered.

Every delicious, intoxicating drink of life that lifts our inner spirit will be met at some time by a visit to the washroom where we’ll retch and puke our guts out and wonder why we ever came to this festivity.

It strikes every one of us to varying degrees and the only difference in the long run is how we absorb, cope, and move on.

I smile inside to myself as I plan and prepare for the long morning run next Sunday alongside 10,000 others.

Surrounded by healthy, fit people, I’ll glance out across the Vancouver harbour towards the majestic white-shrouded North Shore mountains and the stunning, crystal blue sky. I’ll deeply inhale the cool, fresh, cedar-scented air rushing by while my feet swoosh-swoosh-swoosh over the long stretch of asphalt.

I’ll run. I’ll think. I’ll remember.

  • I could have cancer or diabetes or another chronic illness.
  • I could have family members needing intensive daily care and attention.
  • I could have a son in jail for rape and a daughter in detention for prostitution.
  • I could have been born a Jew in Germany in 1935.
  • I could earn my livelihood pumping out putrid smelling offal from the backdoor of a slaughterhouse.

I’ll run. I’ll think. I’ll remember.

My runner’s high can be supplemented by gratitude and knowledge of the good things that run like rushing rivers through our lives. The laughter, the smiles, the vistas, the sweet tastes and succulent smells.

In those times we need to stay awake and hydrate ourselves in the gush of refreshing water.

I’ll run. I’ll think. I’ll remember. 

I get to run a half marathon, and I’m a lucky guy.

Now there's a RUNNER's HIGH ...

Now there is a RUNNER’s HIGH …

Double DD’s … A Sweet Slice of Heaven Lies in Perfection?

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Meg Ryan sliced through my heart …

Meg-Ryan before after

She didn’t have to. She had a choice. And I’m left in a soggy heap asking why?

She must have known she had me enthralled even before she went all gastronomically orgasmic in When Harry Met Sally.

And now here she is looking like someone from the Real Housewives of Hollywood — pumped and plumped lips, cheek implants, brow lift and who knows what else.

She’s a 10 who hit the math subtraction sign of her plastic surgeon on her iPhone and sadly, regrettably, ended up a 5.

It kills me when, like a fluffy puppy, you’re cute and adorable and intelligent in a beautiful little bundle, and then you ruin a recipe approaching perfection by adding a cup of salt — there’s no going back.

Every time Meg cocked her perky little head, flipped a few strands of her blond ringlets and coyly smiled at me in Sleepless in Seattle or You’ve Got Mail, I felt a gentleman’s stirring which meant I couldn’t stand up for 5 minutes.

But Meg? What blurred your senses making you think you needed a Dexter-style slicing and plumping?  Let Dolly Parton and Pamela Anderson and Bruce Jenner have the implants and injections and tucks.

Gold Medalist Decathlete Bruce Jenner

Decathlete Bruce Jenner … Olympic Gold turns to Plastic …

Now me – at my objective best – I have physical faults, lots of ’em.

How do I perceive such? Let me count the ways:

  • My nose is too wide.
  • My hair is thinning and I have a bald spot.
  • I’m a bit overweight.
  • I have wrinkles criss-crossing my wrinkles.
  • I have sagging skin on my jaw line, the start of jowls.
  • Secretly, I fear I’ll never be a folk-singer star.

OK, that last one isn’t a real physical fault, but it just goes to show you the depth of my insecurities.

It’s sad that my outsides are sliding and sagging down a Sochi Olympic slope. I’ve watched my juvenile bloom drain and melt away year after year in the bathroom mirror. Where’s Dorian Gray when I need him?

But you know, I’m at an age and a stage where technology could help me retain a semblance of my youth, if I choose.

And so I ask myself…

Would I take on a bit of plastic surgery?

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Plastic surgery has become a part of our western culture — like it or not. It has insidiously seeped through our pores like the creams and lotions we massage into our dermis to magically remove the wrinkles.

We pretend that advertising and peer pressure doesn’t affect us, and then we go buy the latest iPhone.

When we see enough people getting BOTOX injections or calf implants or beautiful voluptuous breasts, we begin to believe that it must be OK. Once everyone in your office has had lip plumping and liposuction, don’t YOU begin to feel like the odd one in the group?

Let’s not beat ourselves up about this.

It’s not bad – alright, maybe a bit sad – but it’s who we are. It’s the nature of humans to be a part of a culture, a society … to belong.

You can't handle the boobs!!

You can’t handle the truth …these Babies are REAL!

I can tell myself that I’m superior and above such frivolous thoughts. But am I really? 

What used to be a perk of the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous out there, has, like maybe owning a Porsche or a 150″ theatre-style TV, become a possibility for Mr. or Ms. Anyone with a few extra dollars of expendable income.

Remember Bill Clinton’s successful campaign slogan from 1992 that helped him defeat George Bush Sr.?:

It’s the economy, stupid.

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Well, plastic surgery should have its own slogan:

It’s our insecurities, stupid.

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I have insecurities, you have insecurities, we all have insecurities.

And so we place ourselves under the knife or needle to fix on the outside what we can’t or won’t repair on the inside.

The inside stuff is just too difficult, and often emotionally painful to deal with. If we can fix the outer problems, maybe our critical inner voices will melt away, right?

Or maybe its just that we struggle with respecting or accepting the value of aging and therefore reject the mantle of wisdom.

…………………

I have a friend Julia, who recently had some work done to her face. Twice actually.

Julia is an attractive, slender, divorced woman in her early 60’s.

Unlike Meg and so many others who have become possible substitutes on The Walking Dead, she looks really good after her facial manipulations.

When I talk with her, I see a perky youthfulness that gives her a freshness that had ever so slightly waned as she entered her fifties and then her early 60’s. The changes have been subtle but restrained enough to see that there wasn’t an attempt to regain a face of a 30 year-old.

It makes her feel good about herself and I can’t criticize her or judge her. I guess I only hope she didn’t do it as “Whore Lure” to attract the male of the species.

…………………………..

I feel badly Meg. You didn’t need to change for me. You were good and nice in so many ways already. And I’m really glad you didn’t have breast augmentation, despite your modest endowment in the pectoral area.

I don’t like the look of fake boobs. And honestly, large real boobs don’t really call out to this Man on the Fringe.

But I digress. Have you noticed that I’ve skillfully avoided answering the question I posed earlier?:

Would I take on a bit of plastic surgery?

.

My hesitant answer?

Forgive Me Father for I have sinned!

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  • I admit that a portion of my fitness activity is partly an attempt to retain a semblance of youth without taking a blade or needle to the temple that is my body.
  • I’ve had my some amalgam added to a couple of my teeth to remove the appearance of gaps.
  • I’ve had my eyes surgically-lasered so that I don’t need to wear glasses.

By a matter of degree and nuance, I’ve already joined Meg Ryan and so many others desperately seeking perfection.

I won’t be running to a cosmetic surgeon any day soon, but, in a few years, if my Levis begin to sag badly in the rear — or heaven forbid — I should succumb to one of those “male enlargement” e-mails … well, who knows what sin I’m capable of!!!

Butt implant

It’s a Mad Mad Mad Lululemon and CrossFit World…

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There are people out there trying to kill you.

Years ago (full disclosure: 25 years ago) I went to something called aerobics classes. I’d go to the school gym in Comox on Vancouver Island where I jumped and stretched and ogled the girls in stretchy crotch camel-toe-creating leotards and leg warmers while moving to the music of Flashdance. It was hard sweaty work but lots of fun, the music was motivating, and we all knew it was good and healthy for us.

At the time, I believed I was giving everything I had, and pushing my physical limits to the extreme.

Aerobics1980

Little-by-little over time I watched the ladies change out of their leotards – figuratively speaking – and into shorts and T-shirts, then fancier Nike technical wear with sweat-wicking properties, and most recently, of course, into the wonderful world of butt-enhancing LULULEMON. This transformation was accompanied by newer forms of exercise:

  • Pilates
  • Zumba
  • TRX
  • Boot Camp
  • Yoga in 50 flavours
  • kickboxing
  • aquacize
  • circuit training
  • BOSU ball class
  • Spin Class

The number of fitness-type classes and styles has exploded.

But back to the ones who want to kill you.

Women Crossfitters

They call themselves CrossFitters. Their bodies look nice (actually they look great!), but they have designs on hurting you badly. At the same time that they break you down in order to build you up, they are wanting to empty your bank accounts, and then have you thank them for it.

There are CrossFit joints springing up all over the place. Their monthly fees are as high as the pain they inflict. CrossFit has risen to the pinnacle of exercise in the church of all that is deemed beautiful with voluntary bodily torture. It’s extreme, it’s tough, and it’s cultish.

And like Moore’s Law of doubling computer chip capacity and capability each 18-24 months, I wonder if we’re not in the era of Moore’s Law for fitness trends.

Crossfit Games

QUESTION: With little time but ample financial resources available to many of us in the 21st Century, and the swollen numbers of Superhero-style movies, are we moving into an era where Joe (Joelyne) Average desires the physique of a superhero?

It’s just not enough to be fit and healthy. The push is on for us to bulge and swell – not like Rob Ford –  so that our clothes require additional wiggle room to accommodate the ripples of musculature we’ve pressed the huge weights to acquire. CrossFit is out there to make superhero bodies.

Of course, who am I to throw stones? Extreme comes in lots of flavours. I participated in two Ironman races in my younger years because I wanted the very same prod administered by CrossFit gyms that I couldn’t manage all on my own. Before I began the training needed to Swim, Bike, and Run for more than 12 consecutive hours, I looked on the sport as total lunacy.

And then I did it.

I just wonder where the limit exists as we press harder and harder. At first, marathons were huge (they still are, believe me), then triathlons, then Ironman-length triathlons, then Ultraman Triathlons. Crossfit latches on to the human goal of striving above and beyond what we believe is possible, especially for the average person on the street who has never dreamed of Olympian effort for themselves.

I want to hate and ridicule CrossFit, but I have to admit I feel a grudging admiration for a group that drives their minions hard and asks for more Herculean effort than we believe we are capable of. It’s as extreme as it is impressive.

And so as I sit here typing away on this amazing computer, wondering what technological miracles will sit at my fingertips in 5 or 10 years, I’m also supremely curious about where we will carry ourselves physically.

But really, and more important to know is that wherever our physical boundaries lie, Lululemon will ensure we look fabulous getting there.

lululemon-athletica-brand

The Heart of the Matter

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This existence of ours is as transient as autumn clouds. To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance. A lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky, rushing by, like a torrent down a steep mountain.” – The Buddha

heart-of-the-matter

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In 1989, Don Henley ( of the band EAGLES) and JD Souther wrote a beautifully bittersweet song called THE HEART OF THE MATTER (listen to it here)sometimes referred to as FORGIVENESS — adapted from the title of a 1948 book written by Graham Greene.grahamgreene

What is this “heart of the matter“?

Is it the meaning of life? Is it the loss of love? Is it plunging deep beyond the surface truths to the underlying core of reality in life and relationships?

Henley’s own heart of the matter calls to the surface the intense pain he feels when he learns that his former fiancé is now in love with someone new.

Author Greene sees the heart of the matter as referring to failure, as well as the price we all pay for our individualism and the impossibility of truly understanding another person.

We all have a Heart of the Matter meaning that is unique to our lives in one form or another.

My heart of the matter at one time seemed to be a matter of the heart, or so I thought.

In my mid-20’s I started having panic attacks. Of course I thought I was the only one to have this frightening experience, but I soon discovered that I wasn’t standing alone on the deck of that ship. At all.

Initially, the bouts came on in the workplace or social situations or even in anticipating social situations. My heart would start to race and thump like it was trying to explode out of my chest. I would feel the swelling wave of anxiety rise; the inside of my head would cloud in like it was filled with cotton batting. Before I knew it I was hyperventilating and certain I was having a heart attack. Classic panic attack.

As time passed, these surges of alarm would arise unprovoked, just lying in bed or whatever.

ANOTHER heart attack?

panic attack

I knew the likelihood was infinitesimally slight, but in the moment and amid the sensations, rational thought just wasn’t available to me. I ended up rushing to the ER a couple of times and after ECG’s and some blood tests, all was normal, except for the one damn Chilliwack ER doc who mistakenly thought I had a faulty heart valve … you think I had anxiety before?

Psychologically, I began preparing myself to die and through the process grew increasingly calm and accepting of whatever fate lay ahead. The strongest feelings for wanting to live on were in wanting to have children that could carry a small piece of my DNA forward.

It took about 2 tense years before a prescient Emerg GP ordered a simple thyroid test and I was found to have hypothyroidism. A couple of weeks of hormone replacement meds and I began to feel normal’ish once again, although the anxiety feelings took a while longer to subside. I had my life back thanks to a little pink pill that cost about 15 cents per day.

That doctor looked deeper than the surface symptoms and found my heart of the matter — even though it wasn’t my heart that mattered — and with some simple treatment, I was able to get back on track again.

A New  HEART of the MATTER

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The heart of the matter means something different to me these days. Now, it’s what I come to unexpectedly when I’m writing these blog posts.

Off the cuff, I’m not a solidly academic, well-thought out person. Verbally, I’m almost inept in terms of forming coherent thoughts in the moment. I’m so wholeheartedly jealous of those who can instantly formulate and express out loud their solid opinions and viewpoints in a smooth, flowing manner.

If I stand to give a toast or an impromptu speech of any sort, I’m a lost cause. I’ll do it, mind you,  just don’t expect the Gettysburg Address from these Lincoln-less lips. Desert sands whip and swirl and howl in my ears and wipe away or smother any fertile thoughts. This is where writing becomes my saviour … hallelujah!

Normally, each Monday morning I sit at my home computer, a steaming, sweet latte on my left, the sun just beginning to unleash a few loose strands of orange light through the window.

Latte Kitty

I (sometimes successfully) ward off the e-mail demons calling out to be read, and begin composing a blog post. It will begin with a germ of an idea, a small vision or a concept that intrigues me. It has to have a kernel of a universal message so that I’m not strictly navel-gazing.

Then I charge in with wild typing abandon not knowing where the road will lead.

I do this intentionally.

Sometimes, the idea courses a dry, lifeless riverbed but more frequently it develops and swells into a torrent. A new life is born on the screen and it just materializes out of the ether that is my subconscious. The heart of the matter surfaces almost unbidden.

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With every in-breath
you are adding to your life
and every out-breath you are releasing what is not contributing to your life.
Every breath is a re-birth.”
― Allan Rufus

Where does it all lead?

I’m seeking out change and renewal and intensity in every direction. I’m finding re-birth in a bouquet of thoughts and activities that I ignored previously.

It’s exciting to me, and when I feel a case of nerves arising, I remind myself that whenever I’ve jumped into something new and novel, the end result has always been worthwhile and satisfying, like chocolate sprinkles on a banana split.

My little ADHD mind grows impatient frequently, so the directions I pursue may not last forever; in fact, they probably won’t. I accept and allow myself room to change.

The key to my heart of the matter rests contentedly in my pocket, waiting to open whichever door I choose.

heart keys


Death of an Everyday Senior

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I’ve mused here before about how I might like to die.

Surely, since we don’t seem to have the choice over whether we die, we should be able to exercise the choice of how we might die … it’s only fair, right?

A truly loving God would acquiesce and give us that much. Merely munching an apple offered by a snivelling snake shouldn’t take away all rights and freedoms, should it?

APPLE _,SNAKE AND BEAUTY

And so in the spirit of my despair over lack of choice, the following is a true-to-life little black-humour tale of :

HOW I’D PREFER not TO DIE.

About 10 years ago, in the small’ish lab in which I work on the 3rd floor of a medical building in downtown Penticton, it was approaching 5 p.m. and near closing time for the day. I was putting the last samples of patient urine and stool onto agar-culture plates to incubate and grow bacteria overnight. Yes, somebody really does have to do this!

In the front patient-section of the lab, an elderly gentleman – we’ll call him Mr. Jones – was stretched out long on a thin mattress-covered table in a small private alcove. Liz, one of the lab assistants, was placing little sticky electrodes across his bared chest so she could perform an ECG (electrocardiogram).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Even dogs can have an ECG done…

Penticton sports a mild climate – by Canadian standards – and mixed with sun and beaches this means that the city is full of retirees. End result? The lab performs a lot of ECG’s to check on the ticker health of local seniors.

In a turn that no one anticipated, suddenly, unexpectedly, Mr. Jones gasped weakly and went limp and unresponsive … cardiac arrest. His skin tones dissolved into an ashen grey and his mouth sagged open … breathing came to a halt along with his heart.

All the stops were pulled out to resuscitate him.

Within minutes, the lab was jammed with firefighters, ambulance paramedics, police, doctors, and 5 or 6 of us lab folks.

The poor fellow was hoisted unceremoniously off the ECG bed like a limp Muppet and laid out in the middle of the lab floor. People in white coats and various other uniforms pumped and suctioned and intubated and shocked his poor spiritless body, doggedly determined to save this life and and AND…BUT…

… MR. JONES DIED.

ekg-flatline

The frenetic movements and loud voices of the medics gradually stilled and bit-by-bit a calm settled over the room.

It was over … Mr. Jones was over. Nothing more to be done. Just take the body away and everyone could go home.

And so the firefighters departed … and then the doctors … and since it was now well past closing time, all the lab staff melted away as I had volunteered to hang around and lock up once Mr. Jones was packaged up and taken away.

And THEN, the police and paramedics started to leave…HUH…

But, what about Mr. Jones?“, I inquired.

He was still placidly laid out on the floor with tubes sticking out everywhere… plasticy grey-skinned but otherwise quite peaceful looking. He seemed content.

Well“, said the paramedics, “we only transport living patients to the hospital, and since he’s deceased, our job is done here“.  Off they went….

Police??

Well… the doctor was here and declared it a normal death, no criminal concerns, so we’re out of here too. Try calling the coroner to see what she wants done with him“.

…BUT BUT BUT…

Suddenly, the lab door closes. All is deathly quiet and Mr. Jones and I looked at each other (metaphorically, of course) with puzzlement. He might have even grinned ironically at me, but I think my mind was perhaps playing little games on me at this point.

After a moment of absorbing the situation, I finally phoned the coroner. I explained the full story to her in great detail, and then she broke out laughing (it’s a morbid world I live in!). There was no foul play involved and so she too determined that it didn’t involve her.

laughing-woman

Me-“oh yeah, so what do I do now, just cart Mr. Jones home to meet the family?

She suggested I call the man’s family at home to see if there was a funeral home that they would like me to call and have Mr. Jones picked up. Kind of like calling 1-800-GOT-JUNK for a pickup.

GREAT…I get to break the news to Mrs. Jones that she can put that dinner plate back in the cupboard because Mr. Jones ain’t coming home for his supper. They didn’t teach us this stuff in lab school.

My heart was beating fast and hard when I dialled the Jones’ home number…a man’s voice answered…

Hello, is this the Jones’ residence?

Yes, this is Dr. Jim Striker, Mr. and Mrs. Jones’ family doctor.

Umm, I was just calling to tell Mrs. Jones about an unfortunate event concerning her husband-

Yes, I know…my brother Mark was the Doc that attempted to revive Mr. Jones at the scene…he called me to let me know that Mr. Jones had passed, so I came to the family home to break the news.

WHEW, my heart started pumping again! Didn’t have to tell the wife the bad news after all.

Dr. Striker conferred with the bereaved widow for a few moments and then gave me the name of a local funeral home that could pick up Mr. Jones.

This little tale ends a short while later with my poor old new friend Mr. Jones rolling out the door of the lab in a zippered shiny black bag.

Funeral home body

And so the curtain falls and the movie ends?

Yes and No.

When Mr. Jones woke up early that morning, he didn’t turn over, tenderly kiss his wife’s cheek and think to himself,

“This is the day I will die. I’m going to wait until I’m surrounded by strangers and then croak”.

He may have had an inkling that because he wasn’t feeling very well that time was running short, but nothing as dramatic as pegging out in a 3rd floor medical laboratory. This would never have been in his plans as he pulled the door closed to his house a final time.

It doesn’t really matter if I die like Mr. Jones. There are far worse ways to reach the end, but Mr. Jones’ death is just the start of a message I took away from this event. It reminds me that, short of suicide, we don’t have the choice of where and when we’ll expire. The day arrives and it … just happens.

I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

Woody Allen

What matters more than how or where we die, is how we live. We have the capacity, no matter our lot, to find fulfillment in our days. It comes down to choice.

It’s complicated and it’s messy… but it’s simple, really.

Hope Flower

Do You Remember Your First Time?

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It was the first time I had seen a bloody, mangled body with my own eyes.

Not the first dead person mind you, but one so violently traumatized.

I was working in William’s Lake B.C. in the early 1980’s and the jarring ring of the phone in the middle of the night woke me from a deep sleep. Of course I was semi-comatose and incoherent when I mumbled hello into the phone… the woman’s voice on the other end of the call said I should come into the lab to cross-match blood for a victim in a Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA).

William’s Lake is a small, valley town in the interior of the province surrounded by enormous cattle ranches, fishing lakes, and the occasional mine site. The blended scent of earthy straw mixed with horse and cow manure is a simple rural joy to have wafting through your window on an early spring morning.

You would almost look out of place if you didn’t wear a cowboy hat and drive a pickup truck. Although I owned a cowboy hat, I only wore it occasionally (like once a year for the annual town rodeo), but I had purchased an old, green C10 Chev 1/2 ton pickup truck. I bought it used and it had a CB radio that I could call out to other cowboys and say “10-4 Big Buddy”. I fit right in.

Williams Lake Stampede

I got out of my pickup in the dark and entered the unlocked side door to Cariboo Memorial Hospital, in the days before security-above-all meant you locked doors to hospitals. The lab was just inside the entry to the right and the Emergency Department was directly opposite to the left. I could hear hurried scuffles of activity going on in the ER as I retrieved my lab coat and blood collection tray from inside the lab.

I traversed the linoleum hallway bridge between the lab and ER where the relative serenity of the hallway broke into a din of urgent voices and trundling stainless steel carts loaded with medical supplies and equipment. I strode to the main circular desk in the ER amid the bedlam and within seconds, multi-coloured paper lab requisitions were pushed across the counter at me by Linda, the head ER nurse. Normally jovial and friendly, she barely looked up. Mayhem was on the verge of breaking out. I scanned over the lab orders and then gathered up the forms.

Where will I find this guy Linda?

–He’s in the back utility room. He’s bleeding out fast. We might need the blood unmatched.

...it was a bit like this...

…it was a bit like this…

I hated cross-matching blood. Little errors could cost a patient’s life. Very simplistically, you mixed patient blood with donor blood and then looked under the microscope for little signs of agglutination (cells sticking together which indicated incompatibility). No stickies and the blood was good to go. But the differences could be so slight. I never slept well after doing cross-matches in the middle of the night. Dead patients with clotted up arteries and veins inhabited my fractured sleep.

All of the curtained areas in the main ER area were filled with MVA victims — the curtains swayed with views of nurse-pastel-uniform-coloured legs and linen-suit-doctor legs running about beneath.

I walked quickly towards the back room where supplies were stored, items cleaned, and occasionally, patients kept. There was a “Y” entry of two rooms once you entered. I could see figures on stretchers on both sides. A strong odour of chlorine antiseptic confronted me as I headed into the right side room of the Y.

Strange, no staff milling around this one. No sheets or blankets covering him to keep him warm.

As I moved closer, I began to sense why no one was paying care to this poor fellow.

He was solitary and quiet.

There was no movement, no sign of chest breathing. His skin tones were grey and uneven.

A black leather jacket was splayed and ripped open leaving much of his arms and torso easily visible. His hair was wetly matted in a flurry of directions around his head and face. There was a strange and unnerving juxtaposition of limbs heading off in unnatural directions. Heavily tattooed legs stuck off the edge of the gurney. A glistening leg bone stuck out of one lower leg like a tree stump that had been blown from the earth in a hurricane. I could see little red river trickles of dried and drying blood snaking down his multi-coloured forearms — multi-coloured by the large array of tattooes blending roughly with red and blue and black bruising from the trauma of being torn apart in a motorcycle crash. Soon there would be painful tears shed somewhere.

It was horrific and mesmerizing and fascinating.

motorcycle-accidents

Police and emergency workers come across this sight all too often in their day-to-day jobs. Over time, they grow immune to the horrors of what can happen in high speed crashes. No one wants to feel numb, but how else to cope?

I’ve seen lots of blood too but it’s mainly contained in glass tubes and bags for transfusing. It has no real human connection, kind of like the few autopsies I’ve sat in on where there is no sense of a real person laying on the cold stainless-steel slab so long as the face is covered with a towel or sheet.

It’s like the distinction between a house and a home. When there’s no face visible, it’s just a lifeless, uninhabited “house” with no warmth or connection to anyone. But unveil the features of the human face and all of a sudden the house undergoes the transformation into a “home” where people live and share their smiles of joy and tears of sorrow.

This guy laying on the gurney was a HOME. I took in the vision of this former living being for no more than 10 or 15 seconds – after all, a barely living patient in the adjoining room needed replacement blood and fast. It all happened so quickly.

I didn’t know his name. I didn’t know his story. I didn’t know who loved him, or who hated him.

I only knew that it all ended here in this very surreal and still moment in this small-town hospital Emergency Room. The memory and sight of this trauma locked itself indelibly inside my head, unlike so many other scenes that have long melted away like burning candle wax in the cold of a William’s Lake night.

memories2

Half A Man In Gym Class?

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My legs were screaming at me to stop. But the finish line was tantalizingly close, so I ignored them – as best I could manage when it feels like there’s a newly-graduated surgeon extracting a bullet from your quadriceps – and pretended I was a swift Kenyan runner.

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“My” group of Half Marathoners…me in red, my daughter Emma in blue…

I enjoyed a run through the park with 25,000 others a week or so back … Stanley Park in Vancouver, as a matter of fact.

The mass of multi-colour clad, multi-aged runners combined in a tidal blur of sun, sweat, and spectacular vistas of the snow-capped mountains on the north shores of Burrard Inlet. With the bright sunshine warmly carpeting our pathway, a prettier running location would be hard to find in this world.

It was a half marathon run, part of the Vancouver International Marathon held each May.

Distance running like this is not something I was naturally born to. I’m no Wayne Gretzky, who, I’m pretty sure sliced and diced his Mom’s hoo-ha figure-eight style on the way out at birth with his sharpened ice skates. HE was a natural.

I’ve been a slowly smoldering work-in-progress, one New Balance running shoe step in front of the other to where I stand today as a middle-aged middlin’ runner.

Pet Peeve time: Calling the race a “half marathon” inflames the ire in me because it makes me feel like I could only bother to run half the REAL race. The medal hung over my neck at the end declares, “RAN HALF“.

It’s like they’re snickering and cruelly announcing to me and the world … “real athletes run a full marathon, but YOU could only run HALF a marathon. Lazy Slob!”

Don’t worry… I’ll get over it.

All of this is really just an introduction to telling you that I didn’t like gym class in high school.

It was populated by jock types and smart-ass morons and squat, juiced-up gym teachers with bulky brawn, shrunken testicles, and even further diminished brains. The gym corner office was full of male and female Sue Sylvester wannabes. It didn’t make me feel “GLEE”-ful.

Gym teacher

To be fair, some things were OK, but most of the time my gym experience was being squeezed like a stress ball wearing regulation blue gym shorts. The atmosphere was suffused with wrestling room acidic-scented body odour and unattainable rope climbs and gymnastics pretzels. My life flashed before my eyes a dozen times while attempting to do the mandatory spread-legged vault over the pommel horse.

In my gym classes, participation wasn’t the desired outcome. It was either total mastery of death-defying contests or utter, adolescent, esteem-crushing failure. The good-looking popular girls in their cute boy-melting mini-skirts knew within minutes if you failed to jimmy up the rope to the gym ceiling. Who needed Facebook or Twitter?

Somehow, I scraped through with only semi-crippling psychological damage.

And now, fast forward to today’s gym world.

Fitness-Club

The modern-day commercial gym is an amusement park wonder to gawk at.

There are machines with handles and barbells sticking out in various directions, all laid out in beautiful straight lines. Bright spotlights peer down from above onto stationary bikes, and rowers, and treadmills, and ellipticals, and all manner of thingamabobs with names that only Dr. Seuss could have contrived.

Huge numbers of average folks throng to these high-tech halls of power and fitness to make themselves more beautiful and buff and just plain healthy. It’s good to see but I’m mightily confused – as I am by so many things in my life. Let me explain.

The guys and gals pour through the doors, and plunk down their hard-earned membership dollars. Then, like in the old smoky-hazed drinking parlours from a hundred years ago, the men and the women disperse in opposing directions.

Men drift off towards the big heavy lifting machines and barbell racks where bench presses and monster leg squats await tantalizingly like BBQ’d steaks and beer on a hot summer day. The 350 lb. “grunt” lifts soon begin and the muscles bulge and ripple. This is the “BRO ZONE”.

Meanwhile, women amble towards the organized group classes of TRXBOSU, Kick Boxing, PilatesSpinBoot Camp, Yoga and…well, you get my drift. Lululemon butt-hugging apparel bursts out all around like an untended field of pretty dandelions, music volumes crank up and movement begins. There is hard work to be done and sweat to be shed. One of the best things resulting from these classes is a killer “aerobic” workout that pushes the heart and lungs way beyond the comfort zone.

Now, maybe it’s just the gyms that I go to, or the small’ish city  where I live in British Columbia, Canada, but in most of the group classes that I stop in to participate, I’m the ONLY guy. It’s a lonely world for those of us with a Y chromosome.

yoga ine guy

…alone again…naturally…

WHY??

Why do my male brethren avoid the group workout in a room filled with the fairer sex?

  • Too much talk? Who can talk with a heart beating hard enough to be heard across town?
  • Not enough muscle aggrandizing work? Guys…there is no lack of muscle building activity in a TRX or Boot Camp class, believe me!
  • Music too distracting?  Maybe, but it helps to take the mind off the pain and make time zip by faster.
  • Female Intimidation? Are the men coming to the gym fearful of what women might think of them if they can’t keep up in a class setting? Are the “ball-busters” just too much for the male ego to handle?

I wish I knew the answer to my own questions.

Today’s world is taxing enough for a man who is trying to understand how the double X chromosome sex thinks. But then to run into a wall of confusion regarding his own gender-kind seems perversely mean-spirited.

Have I been somehow cluelessly parachuted inside a Twilight Zone world where I’m straddling a gender fence surrounded by a dark, murky haze?

Maybe hanging out with my BRO’s will clear the confusion in my head and remedy the lingering pain in my HALF MARATHON legs.

I’m heading off to the gym to think about this.

kid planking

Way to go BRO!

TRAIN Your Mind, The Legs Will Follow

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There is one time in life that I’m singularly ecstatic that I have both an X and a Y chromosome.

YES…Porta-Potty time.

The only time I really need or use them is before I enter into a sporting event, like a run or a triathlon. Nobody likes to run on a full bladder or bowel. I always look after the bowel part at home before a run but our bladders need more frequent attention, yes? Being able to stand rather than sit in a Porta-Potty is a huge perk for manhood.

Despite the gender advantage, I still hate Porta-Potty lines…but I HATE Porta-Pottys themselves more. I probably don’t need to tell you the reasons why, because you probably “nose”…

…it’s fecal aromatherapy at its worst.

port a potty lines

This is a hell-of-a-lot of nervous bowels and bladders…

But let me backtrack here.

I get up most mornings at 5 am so that I can start the day with about an hour or so of physical activity.

I’m a morning person, so getting up this early isn’t too too difficult. Of course, when the glowing alarm clock radio first starts up, I mutter a couple of 4-letter words and feel like I want to cry just a little. But then I accept the hard truth that the night’s sleep has ended.

My “Kate Upton and her SI swimsuit” dreams waft lightly into the ether as I listen to the CBC news for a few minutes hoping the world’s bad-news stories will just keep going on…but then they end, and I MUST get up.

DISCIPLINE is what gets me up.

Discipline is a word with a lot of meanings. But here, I’m talking about the self-discipline it takes you and me to get up each day and carry out our normal lives, do the things we have to do, like work, and eat, and drive kids to soccer or ballet practice, and sleep. Then, on top of the necessary stuff, we discipline ourselves to carry out some sort of physical activity for the goodness of our health.

HOPEFULLY.

There’s enough science out there to let us know that we have to move our bodies in some way almost every day so that we can live longer and healthier lives. Most of us buy into the science – it might have taken a fit, trim 60 year-old Swedish guy in 1970’s Canadian ParticipAction TV commercials to convince us, but we eventually came around – a call to action!

Participaction

National pride is one motivator, but so is personal history. My Dad had a heart attack after shovelling wet snow in his late 50’s and my Mom died from a heart attack at 60 years of age, so health-related motivation is exceptionally easy for me. I just close my eyes, see their faces and think about their shortened lives, and I can get myself off the couch.

But also, to keep myself motivated day in and day out, I set goals. The dangling carrot (carrot cake!) draws me forward each day.

Just to brag a bit:

I’ve participated in a couple of Ironman races, a few marathon runs, and dozens, maybe even a couple of hundred short-course triathlons, half-marathons, 15K, 10K, and 5K runs.

And now to tarnish my swagger:

I’m telling you that I’ve “participated” because I’ve never NEVER ever come close to finishing at the front of the pack of any one of those races. The fact is, I suck at winning. I was pretty good as a little kid, but no more. Like most things I do in life, I’m just an average guy when it comes to my physical pursuits.

But, know what? I’m OK with this.

Larry Ironman 1990

A MUCH younger and MUCH trimmer me in my first Ironman…

The only REAL competitor I have in any event I participate in is myself…or to put it another way, the clock. I’m only interested in beating my own time from earlier events. I love goal-setting, and so my goal is either to beat a previous outing, or to beat a certain time like running sub-40 minutes for a 10K run (which, to be truthful, I’ve never done…23 seconds short!)

I firmly believe that fitness is more in the mind than the body.

Let me repeat: I firmly believe that fitness is more in the mind than the body.

Our bodies are usually ready and able to do far more than we give them credit for. There’s that old (and probably false) expression that most of us use only about 10% of our brains, meaning there is huge untapped potential. We could quibble about numbers here, but I think that most of us leave a great deal of untapped physical energy inside of us because we lack the mental energy to put it to use. It’s the mental energy that’s critical to keeping ourselves motivated.

So how do we develop mental strength for training our physical selves consistently? Here’s a few thoughts:

  1. Believe deeply that fitness and physical movement are as important to our lives as work and grocery shopping. Make activity a scheduled part of the day, just like picking up the kids from school. Physical and mental health will move ahead in lockstep.
  2. Work upwards gradually but consistently. Injuries are the boogie-man waiting to catch you if you try to move ahead too fast. I’ve found that the adage of adding no more than 10% in distance or speed weekly works pretty well. Mental toughness comes gradually too, so while the physical muscles are adjusting, so too are the mind muscles. Even if adding 10% means walking for 1 minute longer, it’s a stepping stone and is progress. Not everyone starts out as a thoroughbred, some of us are plodding donkeys that resist forward movement.
  3. I like Malcolm Gladwell’s concept of working at something for 10,000 hours to become proficient and masterful…like the Beatles and Wayne Gretzky. Physical activity needs consistency to become a part of your life. Habits, good and bad, need repetition to fool the brain into believing this is the norm and not just a one-off affair.
  4. Associate with those who have a positive mindset towards their health and fitness and are working towards achieving things in life. They will rub off on you and boost your motivation.
  5. Pay more attention to the rewards of your success (an extra block walked, a pound shed), and not on focusing on your mistakes (missed activity, a slow or more anemic workout). Do what is necessary today, and leave tomorrow for tomorrow. One step in front of the other takes you to your goals. In writing parlance, E. L. Doctorow said, “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” Fitness can be like this too. Take it one day, one step at a time and results will come about bit by bit.

Exercise

There’s a “Fitness Taste” of one sort or another for every one of us, regardless of whatever limitations or preferences we might have. I have “Chairman Bill” (wheelchair bound) who comes for a workout at my local gym with a smile on his face, muscles in his arms, and wind in his lungs each day. If he can get out there, so can I.

There are so many ways to move our bodies daily that don’t necessitate queueing up for a public bathroom break. Man or woman, you could go through your entire life never needing to use a mobile blue upright toilet.

But I’m feeling just a bit smug in thinking that entering a PORTA-POTTY is positive proof that I’ve achieved a supreme level of mental strength.

I Love Your Ass in Those Heels…

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I do…I really do.

It sends my testosterone levels through the roof. You look fabulous and sexy…it’s very flattering to see your tush pushed up high and tight and firm. It sends me into full Male Chauvinist Pig territory that I suppress as best I can but can’t totally deny.

My friend Cyndi calls her high heels her CFM (Come F*** Me) shoes because she knows the effect they have on guys.

And she’s right.

CFM's

I often wonder if you’re slipping on heels just for me and all the other boys? I’m guessing sometimes yes, sometimes no. I could probably be arrested by the thought police for what I think when I check out a woman in spike heels, but that will probably have to wait until FACEBOOK finds a way to monitor my thoughts and put them on women’s WALLS. It’s just a matter of time. It’s scary really.

Honestly, I like to be around women in heels. It makes any occasion – important or totally trivial (even grocery shopping) –  feel more special and it makes me feel more grown up and manly. What you do as a woman affects my emotional and hormonal state.

I know you don’t wear heels for the same reason you wear a Onesie or a fleece sweater. Soft, smooth, and warm comfort are not the raisons d’etre when it comes to perking up your ass and calves.The TV show Sex and the City (which I’ve seen all of about 10 minutes in total) sounds like it’s primary focus is the expensive high heel shoes the 4 characters wear and then how much sex they score as a result of wearing them. When it comes to men, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. These gunslinging girls can put a notch on their red Louboutins for every conquest their heels are responsible for.

sex-city

One man’s fantasy come true…

So why do you wear them? Is it just the obvious?

Do YOU even know for certain?

Is it to look good to other women? You want to appear taller than your normal munchkin size? Is it to catch the gazing eyes of us guys? Does it make you look more professional in your bosses’ and co-workers’ view? And should I care why when I get to enjoy the fruits regardless of the reason?

Here are a few random thoughts about wearing high heels:

  • heels can stimulate your career by transforming you into a confident, yet feminine force to be reckoned with
  • conversely, heels can hamper your career by putting too much emphasis on your sex appeal rather than your brains
  • obviously, heels can wreak permanent damage on your feet and ankles with bunions, corns, calluses, shortening of the Achilles tendon, ankle fractures and who knows what hip and knee joint issues
  • and, of course, heels can improve your sex life because the act of wearing them makes you feel and look sexy and can strengthen core abdominal and pelvic muscles. Who needs ab crunches?

“High heels thrust out the buttocks and arch the back into a natural mammalian courting — actually, copulatory — pose called ‘lordosis,’ ” says Dr. Helen Fisher, an anthropology professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey said. “Rats do it, sheep do it … lions do it, dogs do it. … It is a naturally sexy posture that men immediately see as sexual readiness. [Heels] are a ‘come hither’ signal”….there we go, back to CFM’s!

The official position of the American Podiatric Medical Association is that anything higher than 2 inches is medically unsound. So I guess what they’re saying is that anything up to 2 inches in height is physically healthful, and probably psychologically for both men and women. Hurdle the 2 inch barrier and you’ve gone into dangerous, unhealthy, lascivious, lustful, semi-porn land.

Of course, heels are just the starting point of my Fifty Shades of Glee. There are other areas of feminine guile that spring out at me like a magnificent building standing erect on fertile ground:

  • Cleavage? I personally am attracted to a hint of cleavage but no more. Maybe I’m just not a breast man. Once we get close to nipple territory, the concept of tantalizing and hinting becomes unsubtle and more like Penthouse magazine. There’s a lack of finesse and tease that crosses the line into campy and tawdry. I want to think that all women are the Girl Next Door type…a touch slutty, but only in private. Too much cleavage and I’m feeling like I’ve turned down the wrong street and have gone into the Red Light District.
  • Short hemlines? There is a direct connection between the amount of leg showing above a woman’s knee and the firmness of man’s phallacy. This likely relates to the eye being led by smooth, taut skin further northwards into the woman’s power centre. A short hemline of a skirt or dress is like the Klondike Highway leading to the Yukon goldfields. There is a promise of discovery and untold wealth that sets the dreamer on a path to Nirvana. But why does skin showing above the knee when wearing a skirt differ from the same view of skin when accompanied by shorts? With shorts it’s clear that the highway has a blockage, a frigid snowslide impeding forward progress. A skirt gives rise to a sunny warm day where the road is clear and unobstructed. But, like too much cleavage, the increasingly shorter the hemline becomes, an inversely proportional attractiveness ensues. HINT, don’t CLOBBER, says I.
  • Perfumes? Aroma is a hugely important part of attraction and attractiveness. The picture of my brain below shows 2 areas allotted to sex. The first area is for visual attraction…you know, the high heels, the short skirt, the colour and contour of the cheek and eyes. The 2nd area is consumed by the faint scent of a woman, both natural and artificial. I should highlight the word “faint” because I don’t want to be knocked unconscious like George St. Pierre in a UFC battle, by jasmine and orange blossom  when you enter a room. But, just a delicate, wafting hint of vanilla or lavender as you stand near or pass by is a passage into heaven. There is a special world of seductive scent that we can appreciate all the more if we only close our eyes and absorb.

 

malebrain-420x0

From a purely selfish, masculine perspective, I’m happy to live in a world where high heels exist. Attraction between women and men is a complicated dance of plumage and poetry and perfume that ensures our human continuation and enjoyment. Most of us derive great satisfaction in the appeal of seduction and beauty. Men wear tuxedos, women wear heels.

But when push comes to shove, I can be attracted by so many things about  a woman’s strength and femininity that don’t require wearing stilettos. Two-inch heels or ballet flats tell me that you care enough about your own health to resist the lure of extreme means of allure. I’ll get used to it.

Man in heels

I can never decide what to wear with my heels!

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