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DeVos: Boy in the Boat

Jon DeVos
The Friday Report
Jon DeVos
Staff Photo |

Speaking of New Year’s resolutions, this year I’ve resolved to not take offense when people stare at my gut and ask why I don’t go to the gym. I’ll quietly explain that I’ve been psychologically damaged after once getting trapped in that narrow space between the mirror and an advanced cross-fit class.

As a sign of sincerity on my quest for physical renewal, I bought a rowing machine. It’s a sleek, stainless steel beauty. Even before I saw it, I could see my new, broad-shouldered self, powering along rippling waters leaving a razor-thin wake, dodging alligators and pythons, ducking under misty waterfalls and scooting past colorful toucans.

Imagining my imaginary odyssey wouldn’t quite sync up with the reality of a bare, spare bedroom. There’s no furniture because nothing fits like a rowing machine. So there I sat, rocking back and forth on this narrow rail, repetitive, repetitive, repetit … eventually, by staying focused and in the zone, a tiny light began to shine. Oh my! It’s coming from the center of a giant lotus blossom that suddenly appeared on the wall in front of me. I’ve achieved a Zen-like state without a clue what a Zen-like state is! Or maybe I’m simply passing out, I’m hard-pressed to distinguish.

The growing light became more and more intense until finally I achieved clarity and saw that I was teetering on the precipice of mortal boredom. The problem with a rowing machine is that the harder you row, the more stationary you feel; the scenery never changes; and you’ll never get there because you’re on a road to nowhere.

So I dragged the contraption over in front of the TV and bought a bunch of nature videos. After watching them while rocking back and forth relentlessly, I’d recommend against DVDs that have “water buffalo” and “hungry lion” as keywords. Seriously.

Nature videos can be tough to take for a lot of reasons. Too many of them start with a close-up of a wide-eyed baby monkey-creature with dialogue that goes: “The hairy-eared dwarf lemur has lived here for more than 600 million years, but this little tyke is the last remaining one because Waferhauser clear-cut Madagascar last week.” Exercise should not make you weep and donate money.

So, it’s on to travel videos. Stonehenge! Now there’s something I’ve always wanted to see. Wow, the video is so much like being there that you can smell the fish and chips and almost taste a dark English beer! Then the camera pans away to reveal a crowded freeway running scant yards from the 6,000 year-old fenced-off monument, a huge parking lot full of giant tour busses sandwiched amidst the litter of tiny British cars, and throngs of people enough to take on a tough Saxon tribe by blinding them with phone camera flashes. Take me back to Fraser.

After gliding for endless hours on my rowing machine, I’m beginning to explore its features. For instance, what is that two-handled bar that’s about three feet out there directly in front of me? If I chose to, I could easily reach out and grab it with both hands, but I’d hate to break something. What is its possible purpose? Rowing, I have found, is simply not as difficult as most people make it out.

And the machine itself, for goodness sake! It must’ve been designed by an unemployed obstetrician because there are stirrups on each side of it, what for, I shudder to imagine.

Back and forth, backandforth, backafor, bakfr, babababaa, this is so boring! I know what! I’ll make popcorn and watch Netflix while I exercise. And ice cream!

Happy New Year! Or should I say Bon-Bon Voyage?


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