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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA



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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Going Up, Running Down

I’m no health nut.

That should be patently obvious from every word I’ve ever typed here, and every picture of me I’ve posted. I’m as likely to drink Marathon gasoline as to run a marathon. I get winded while channel surfing. One of the groups in my food pyramid is ‘nacho cheese’.

Still, I haven’t been married quite long enough yet that I can completely let myself go. When my wife is fifty, maybe, or sixty years old, then it should be safe to assume that she won’t go through the bother of finding someone else. Someone svelter, whose sweat doesn’t smell like bacon drippings. Delicious bacon drippings.

“I’m as likely to drink Marathon gasoline as to run a marathon. I get winded while channel surfing. One of the groups in my food pyramid is ‘nacho cheese’.”

And anyway, I want to live long enough to be ‘that cranky old bastard who lives down the street’ someday, so I make some nominal concessions toward a healthy lifestyle. I eat the occasional salad. I dabble in a couple of sports — fat old man sports like softball, to be sure, but in my current condition running out a weak grounder to third base counts as ‘aerobic exercise’, so it works. But most of all — and easiest of all, I take the stairs at work.

I work on the fourth floor in our building. So that’s three flights of stairs up, once a day, and back down three flights once more. Sometimes twice.

(How do I go ‘up’ only once, and ‘down’ sometimes twice? I walk down the steps for lunch, as an appetite builder. But am I going to risk dropping my tasty truck burrito on the stairs, huffing and puffing my way back up? No way, amigo. Gringo don’t play dat. Me and my burrito ride the elevator.)

Does this tiny nod in the direction of daily exercise make me Jim Fixx? No. It barely makes me Jim Belushi. But it helps keep me marginally healthy, relatively unsedentary, and wearing the same sized pants. What’s not to like?

Here’s the thing: the stairs that I take every day are in a glass-walled corridor. This corridor faces the hallway that houses the elevators. And many days — not every day, but many days — as I’m walking my three flights up to my cubicle coccoon, I see people getting on the elevator. Which is fine. It’s a seven-story building, and you can be damned sure that if I worked even one floor higher, this ‘climb the stairs for exercise’ bullshit would be out the window. EIther that, or they’d find me one day, collapsed and bleeding between the fourth and fifth floors, clutching a Post-It with ‘HELP — OXYGEN!!‘ scrawled on it.

But do these people enter the ‘vator on, say, floor two and then disappear from sight, their destinations lost in a haze of interdepartmental migration? No. More often than not, these people — the sluggish secretaries, lumpy laborers, and ass-dragging administrators — get on at one floor, and get off at the very next. I see their backs as they wait for the elevator, and then watch them shuffle out at the next floor, like corporate drones programmed only to use the shiny metal box to change floors.

In a way, the worst part is that taking the stairs for one flight is usually faster than waiting for the elevators, borne out by my double-sightings of these dilly-dallying doofuses. Yet they insist on making the trip, even when most of them appear to need a good brisk walk — or roll — down a flight of stairs or three. Those same legs get them to the vending machines and coffee pots — what gives?

In the end, of course, it’s no skin off my thighs if these folks want to ride the elevators ten feet at a time. If ever there’s a fire in the building, at least I know I can outrun them. I guess the fitness craze hasn’t swept the whole nation, after all. For every Jim Belushi type like me out there, there are still a couple of Johns around, too. Nice.

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