Thursday, December 17, 2009

I ponder the bris during my exercise regimen

Every two years a different part of my body breaks down and I go see Larry Paster in Glenside, PA, for help. He and his receptionist/wife brought in Dooley, their 6-month-old King Charles spaniel which had all the aching patients in the office enraptured. His facial expressions were just like a persons. Oh, those eyes!

Larry's got me doing half an hour worth of exercises in the morning, flat on my back on the living room rug, in addition to my usual 20 minutes of stationary bike-riding.

When I take to the bike, I set the timer for 20 minutes and then hop on and begin to pedal. First, I sit there stunned. Ach, I hate this, I think to myself. I can't believe that for the next 20 minutes my legs will be going round and round and I won't be going anywhere.

I look out the window at my backyard. If only the fox would come by. How I'd love to see the fox. Or the owl. On my watch, nothing moves except my feet. Then I stretch forward and pick up my reading material.

I read some poems as I pedal. A sheaf of poems given to a roomful of people at the Abington Free Library by our poetry lecturer Richard Tyre. If you wish, you can read about the murder of his daughter here.

My friend Carolyn gave me a copy of Dylan Thomas's A Child's Christmas in Wales, so I read that while I pedal. Meaning is secondary, writes Thomas. It's the rhythm that counts. He wrote Do not go gently into the night. I always thought it was Edna who wrote it.

Have I told you about the bris in Princeton? The cantor who performed the ceremony began by saying he had three rules for the audience. First, all the jokes about the bris were to be made by him. Second, that photos were encouraged but only when the baby had his diaper on. And the third rule I can't remember. Perhaps it was, Don't try this yourself.

The baby's name is Gilad, which means happy forever. His father is head of infectious diseases at Merck which just paid $41 B to buy Schering-Plough. I guess my people are still tilling the soil. They're all afraid of losing their jobs. These are modest people not showoffs. Merck's grandmother took the train from Durham, NC - oh, remind me to look up Durham Deli in Bristol, PA - I used to go there on my lunch hour - Grandma May is 96 years old. She lives with her daughter.

Her secret to living a long life? B-12 shots every month and she loves hot sauce, puts it on everything. Her daughter drives her to aerobic swimming at the Y where she has many friends. Her strength however is gone. But she doesn't lament, she doesn't complain.

I also met a woman from Nigeria who was the lactation consultant. Her name is Zee Ifan and I told her if she's ever in Willow Grove to look me up. I told her when I was at Goddard College I met Njuguna Karina from Nigeria. The Africans would play volleyball and use their heads to butt the ball. They were tall and dark as the aubergine. But I was in love with Frankie from Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Fr-a-n-k, can you hear me calling out your name?

Noam drove me to the Princeton house. On the way there we talked so much he missed his turn. He drove his dead father's Honda. I played Leontyne Price's version of Barber's Knoxville Summer of 1915 when I got home in memory of his father who'd given me the record. This is how we remember the dead.

Noam and his two siblings served in the Israeli army including the mother of Gilad. Yes, child, she'll tell him one day. Mommy carried a rifle and knew how to use it. No, no, I won't bring it to the mall. I'm not like Sylvia.

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