Column: Apt questions probe a better understanding of the self

I found myself in a contemplative mood again recently and began to analyze who I have become in a mere 56 years. I reached several conclusions.

I am not a particularly bad person. I rarely beat my wife. In fact, she recently pointed out to me that there is no one on God’s good earth who is remotely afraid of me. Not my children. Not my friends. Not any enemies if there be such. And certainly not my wife. She admitted this while laughing, somewhat rudely I thought.

She allowed as how that was a good thing, not the rude laughter but that I am not a scary person. Perhaps, but it does lessen the self-reliant man against the odd visions I’ve always aspired to.

I concluded that I am not as shy as I once was.

I decided I don’t ever want to belong to a civic organization again. They suck your blood.

I also admitted that there remain quite a few things I don’t understand about myself. For instance: We recently joined a gym in an effort to eliminate some of the excess baggage we’ve accumulated in 56 years of riotous (ha) living. We stretch, work out on machines designed by the Marquis de Sade, swim in the freezing cold lap pool and them warm up in the hot as Hades whirlpool. Why they don’t just pour the whirlpool water into the lap pool is more than I can fathom. It would save time.

What I don’t understand is why I will drive all around the parking lot looking for a space close to the door so I don’t have to walk far to get to the place where I plan on exercising. Why do I do that? I don’t understand.

Neither do I understand why someone who really dislikes being cold will stand up to his chest in ice water, waving a long stick with a little piece of fur and feather on the end of a long piece of string trying to convince a trout someone just released into the stream to bite and then, on the rare occasions when it does, looking it over for a few seconds and turning it loose.

I’ve stood in that cold water for as long as eight hours with scant success but with each cast expecting a 6-inch trout to lose its sanity and bite a wad of fur. I’ve waded in a trout stream for so long at a time that I couldn’t hold the rod still in my hand because every muscle in my body was shivering. And this hours after the first back spasm hit and doubled me over in wretched pain almost severe enough, but not quite, to convince me I had had enough for the day and to go home, swing by the gym, crawl into the whirlpool and eat a handful of pain relievers. It borders on insanity. I don’t understand it.

Nor do I understand why I would ever disagree with my wife. In just a bit more than 25 years of wedded bliss I can never recall coming out on the good side of a disagreement with her. She’s way too slick for a mere country boy to best in a battle of wits.

Well, I do understand why I do it now. It’s great fun.

I’ve also concluded that I’m not very smart.

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