The Old Coot ain’t no Olympian

Last year it was skipping! An old coot visit to a childhood memory, from a time when it was common to see a kid skipping down the street, an efficient way to cover a lot of ground with little effort. It was an era before skateboards and jogging came into vogue. I went to Hickories Park, found a secluded spot, and skipped. It was fun! It was freeing, so much easier than the jogging I did for 18 years, but stopped two decades ago to save my frame from destruction. Every so often I’m lured back, and take it up again, but a knee ache quickly reminds me why I quit in the first place.  Skipping, on the other hand, felt good; it was uplifting as well.   

This year it’s a whole bunch of things. I started with chin-ups! All I could do was one, and even then, it took a violent kick to get my head above the bar. I call this attempt to reproduce a series of physical skills I once took for granted my “Last Call” list. I’m going to skip my once famous (in my head) a running, two-handed front flip. I tried it thirty years ago, showing off for a bunch of kids at a birthday party, and didn’t make it all the way around. It took 12 visits to a chiropractor to straighten out my back.  

Old coots often get an urge to revisit dormant athletic skills. Emergency rooms across the country will attest to it. I switched to some easier stuff after my chin-up debacle. I dug out my old yoyo and went to town. I successfully performed Rock the baby, Walk the dog, Thread the needle and twenty Loop-de-loops with a “diamond” encrusted Dunkin yoyo I won in a contest when I was eleven years old. Next, I went for something a little more athletic and resurrected my jogging past. I cheated. I gently trotted down Mountain Road in Owego, letting gravity do most of the work. It doesn’t matter how I did it; I crossed it off my Last Call list. 

I plan to check off a few “feats of athleticism” by the end of summer: stand on my head for three minutes – build up my arm strength so I can do three chin-ups (without any kicking) – ride my bike three blocks and yell, “Look ma, no hands.” I’ve tried it several times, but failed, blaming it on the bike. But, I know better; I’ll have to work at it. It’s a balance thing; something old coots don’t have much of. I also want to see if I can shinny (*) up a pole or a thin tree and swim the length of the high school pool under water. I could do two and one/half lengths at one time, but will be happy with one length now. If my Old Coot articles are missing from time to time this summer, you can bet I’ve had a mishap and am getting to know my doctor, the emergency room staff and a team of physical therapists a lot a lot better than I’d like. What the heck, it’s worth it. It’s the Last Call. (Until next year.)

(*) Some people say shimmy, instead of shinny, but shinny is the correct term. You don’t dance (shimmy) up a tree; you climb it by pulling yourself up with your hands and then clamping to it with your shins. Then, move your hands and pull up some more. “Shin climbing” ala shinny up a tree.  

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