Can't say he never gave me anything
That sound you hear is my father — lounging in his recliner, longing to play golf and laughing his you-know-what off.
Whatever cosmic plane he segued onto back in 2003, he carries forth spiritually (here and in the suburbs of Nashville), as his two sons confront the genetic gifts bestowed upon us.
Primarily among those, as you might have read recently, is his bad back — from which he no longer suffers, but he no doubt relishes the torment his progeny now suffer.
“It only hurts a little while,” he say about this pain reflective of the polluted water in our gene pool.
Well, not “say,” precisely it more spouted forth a sing-song melody, perhaps the only time we’d ever hear him sing.
I can name that tune in three notes.
He was chortling plain as day recently when I struggled to put on a pair of the medieval torture device known as “compression socks.”
The back pain had led to the purchase of a standing desk, which in turn had led to the swelling of the feet, which in turn had led to the purchase of the socks which take the patience of Job and the skills of MacGyver to wrench into place.
I suspect that compression socks exist, in part, to tweak those areas of the back that led to the chain-reaction purchase of them in the first place.
“It own-lee ”
My father would not be seen wearing compression socks. It is unclear even just how many pairs of actual socks he owned — for the only ones he had that weren’t white were the black ones that he brought out of storage for weddings.
He would not wear compression socks, and he would not wrap a biomechanical lumbar belt around his waist.
For that matter, he would not own a standing desk (with a fatigue mat to place one’s compressed feet) and he most certainly would not find himself on his back on the floor with his legs elevated on three couch cushions, with an ice pack on his sacroiliac as he tried to watch television.
The less said the better about the joint-and-muscle, pain-reducing cream applied each night from the piriformis to the gastrocnemius.
His back woes were chronic, exacerbated by falls from a ladder (when he worked as a window washer) and a loading dock (when he worked for the post office).
He’d self-medicate with Pall Malls and beer then head to the recliner or the couch to sleep it off.
He would not show, or admit to having, pain.
It only, he was quick to remind us, hurts a little while.
I heard him laughing the other day as I went through the battery of stretching exercises that now has become as much a part of my daily routine as checking the obituaries from the newspapers in towns I once lived.
We never saw him exercise, and I imagine that he’d get a kick about the floor pillow that was bought to provide comfort when lying face-down — a position, he would certainly note, that he could achieve without a pillow but with the assistance of Pall Malls and beer.
Leg lifts? Nope. Push-ups? Not a chance. Pelvic rotation? He’d likely complain that he did that twice too many times, and look the pains in the tuchus that produced.
I do, however, know that his best reaction would be saved for a combined maneuver that includes a motion described to me as “using your butt muscles to suck on a straw” — imagery that runs in direct opposition to one of his treasured retorts, which he’d unleash when he disagreed with either of his tuchus pains.
I’m less than 10 years younger than my father was when he went to the Big 19th Hole in the Sky and, with every little ache and pain I encounter, the gap draws closer.
So, I wear compression socks and biomechanical lumbar belts as I stand on a fatigue mat and write this on an elevated desktop. I look like a set of stairs on the floor with my legs at 90-degree angles on pillows. I rotate my pelvis and butt-suck a straw during an exercise program designed to send what had been dislodged back home.
Heck, I’ve even learned not only that I have a sacroiliac, a piriformis and a gastrocnemius — but where they are and what they do.
I do all that because, among more important things, I happen to like my recliner and want to lounge in it again without guilt, and I sure as heck long to use my genetic imperfections to get charity strokes on the golf course.
And, I must admit, there’s a part of me that smiles at the notion that, somewhere in the cosmos, there’s a guy out laughing his you-know-what off behind, and at, my back.
The only thing he was wrong about, of course, is how long it hurts.
Mail Tribune news editor Robert Galvin won’t take this sitting down at firstname.lastname@example.org