In Vermont we live happily content within a season-to a point. When the point is about to be passed, the season changes. Good. We love it.
Regarding seasons, I crave change; regarding my daily activities, not so much.
I eat lunch at the same place every day I'm able, and I'm able most every day. I make my bed every morning, brush my teeth three times a day, and exercise every day, a couple times a day. I foresee a day when I won't eat lunch at the same place every day because businesses don't last forever, but mostly all the things I do every day I will do every day until my last.
If you go to the gym I go to, about the same time span I go, on a regular basis, and have the slightest ability to perceive, you know I read the newspapers on the cardio machines every day. On the Stairmaster I ply open the papers, which depending on my interest in that day's content takes me 15 to sometimes a little more than 30 minutes to read. I'm off the Stairmaster after thirty minutes, and I set and continue my cardio on a stationary bike, continuing to scour the final bits of the paper, or cracking open and starting on the New York paper. If I finish it before the hour, I read on a book I've brought.
This newspaper reading. It's what I do, every day. I love to do it. It's my little thing. It's my pleasure. It's a habit, a weakness, call it an affectation if you'd like; I don't care what the heck it is, as long as it is that I read my papers while I exercise my heart every day on the Stairmaster and stationary bike-damn it.
A week ago a gym regular who also brings and reads a New York paper everyday, walked over to me up on the Stairmaster and asked if he could see my paper for "just a minute." Just a minute, is what he said. He'd forgotten to buy one that day.
I was curious. Will he actually just "look" at my paper and for "just a minute," while standing beside me, and hand it back, or will he read my paper for a great deal more than a minute, on his favorite stationary bike, which is across the way and down from mine? And if he does read the entire thing, will he bring it back as soon as he's done, so if I'm done reading my Vermont paper I can continue reading with the New York paper, the way I so love to do every day of the year?
By the way, the guy is a good guy, we chat occasionally. He certainly knows I read my New York paper at the gym every day.
What does the guy do when I hand him the paper? He takes it to his bike, places his towel on the handlebars, sets the paper on his towel, settles in, starts spinning his legs, and reads. And reads. And reads. He ain't just taking a quick look.
When he's completely finished he turns to the vacant bike to his left, and sets the paper on the seat. He ain't bringing it back, at least not until he's done his workout. Holy crap!
I finish the paper and start on my book. Freaks me a little to be reading out of my regular sequence, but I hang in. My 30 minutes is up on the Stairmaster before the dude is completed his spin, so I go over and politely ask if he's "all set," with my paper to which he, while streams of sweat meander down his ruddy cheeks replies "Oh yeah, I was waiting for someone to come past here so they could bring it over to you."
"Oh," I nod, having already turned, paper in hand, to my stationary bike.
Is the man's behavior selfish? Or am I selfish feeling like I won't lend him my paper the next time he asks, if only on principal?
I don't mind I wasn't able to read my paper when I wanted to, I just wonder, if I had a kid, would I teach he or she that if they forgot their paper on a certain day they should not borrow someone else's, but instead, they should go without that day, or wait and buy themselves one the next time they had the chance.
At least I got a kick out of the guy.
Funny thing, a couple days after, another guy, short, loud, always spoutin off about politics and how Stowe residents are constantly getting screwed, came barreling toward me and said "Hey Rusty, I forgot to buy the New York paper today, let me borrow yours." I said no.
No harm done all around.
Rusty DeWees tours Vermont and Northern New York with his act "The Logger." His column appears weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listen for The Logger, Rusty DeWees, Thursdays at 7:40 on the Big Station, 98.9 WOKO