When Kory and I first met a few years ago, I was in the worst shape of my life. I was smoking a pack a day, drinking as a rule every evening, and was about 25 pounds heavier than I am at the time of this writing. The only thing in my world that was in worse shape than myself, was my yard. I needed major landscaping and tilling work done, but after only 2 hours of pulling weeds in my dirt drive, I attempted to stand upright and found I was instead stuck like a man perpetually in search of a lost contact lens. Apparently my “weed pulling” muscles were far from in-shape and I was soon forced to return to my reclining lounge chair next to the air conditioner where I could catch my breath, have a smoke, and find this cat’s phone number who said he did landscaping on the side.
Happy to help, Kory had my yard looking good in just a few days. Soon, we were fast friends, toasting frosty beers over my newly sculpted outdoor fire pit, replete with a serpentine gravel walk we fondly dubbed as the Zen path. I decided then, that it was time to get on “that” path in the real sense and cultivate more than just my backyard.
I’d already tried working out with a few overweight pals, but I needed an accelerated routine. All my fat friends were just like me, thinking we could find our self respect again by simply praying that someday “they’d” invent a really good tasting diet beer; or create a pizza that actually burns fat – but only if you go to sleep right after eating it.
Anyone who knows Kory knows that he’s a fairly no-nonsense, logical fellow. He’s climbed Heart Mountain now more than 30 times and one look at him tells you he’s one friend you want coming over when it’s time to move heavy furniture. He admits to being “built for distance trail hiking.” But what he doesn’t admit to right off, is that he enjoys taking abrupt “shortcuts” which invariably involve climbing strait up a cliff or over a ridge meant for only those with cloven feet and knees that hinge inward rather than out.
When I first began hiking with Kory, he’d of course pick the route and would set the pace, making me think I was doing okay. For the longest time – sometimes maybe two minutes or more – I’d be walking in step with him, thinking, I can do this, I’m keeping pace with the great Man Goat. Then, like a winged gull lighting off the bow of a slothful barge, Kory would pull ahead, powered by some unearthly force, saying:
“Well, I’m warm now, going to step it up and try and get a little work out in. Hope to see you at the end of the trail.”
Not wanting to die alone, I would do my best to keep up without swallowing my tongue. Once my tongue was fully swallowed, I’d modify the term “keeping up” to simply mean, still being able to see this tiny figure the size of a bean, off in the distance.
Last week I bought a new pair of trail shoes, anticipating another summer full of long, hard hikes with Kory. I’m lighter than I was last year, smoke free, and am sporting a slightly less pickled liver, so I have hopes of finding a bit more Zen, and a little less pain this season. But knowing Kory, I’m sure he’s got his eye on a shortcut just ahead that will shave miles off the trail and put me back in traction. No matter, he’s helped me get this far so I guess I’ll just keep my wish bones crossed and continue to take my fat chances on the trails ahead.