Letter From Milo: Mr. Exercise

December 31st, 2019

The other day my wife got on my ass about the state of my physical fitness, or rather, my lack of it. I had just awakened from a pleasant afternoon nap when the lovely Mrs. Milo came home after a hard day of selling real estate, lunching with her slutty girlfriends, and teaching Pilates classes.

“Have you been lying around in your underwear all day?”

“Ah, no, dear. I was just in the process of…”

“I wish you’d be more active. You’re starting to look sloppy. You need to start exercising once in a while.”

“I took a nice walk today.”

“Yeah, I know. You probably walked down to Swillagain’s and spent the afternoon drinking with all the bums that hang out there.”

“That’s a harsh thing to say. I know for a fact that two of the guys have regular jobs.

“Since when is pot dealing considered a regular job?”

“So, what’s your point?”

“The point is that you’ve got to start taking better care of yourself. You have to start exercising. I don’t care for you that much anymore, but your daughters are still somewhat fond of you. They wouldn’t mind having you around for a few more years.”

“Okay, sweetie, I’ll give it some thought.”

Physical fitness is important to my wife. When I first met her she was a touring dancer, in as good a shape as it’s possible for a human to be. Dancers take strenuous, exhausting classes every day, and often put on even more tiring performances those same evenings. They have to stay in shape. Their bodies are their instruments. I doubt there are many people on this planet, aside from professional athletes, who are in better shape than professional dancers.

When my wife retired from dance, she had a hard time giving up the physicality of the dancing life. She tried taking an occasional dance class but old injuries – knee, neck, ankle – kept flaring up. She fretted for years about her physical conditioning. I mean, God forbid that she should gain a pound or two. Then she discovered Pilates, which, as I understand it, is something the Communists invented to replace sex. She liked Pilates so much that she became a Pilates’ teacher. Now she’s happy. She’s found a physical regimen that can keep her busy and in great shape until she’s 112 years old.

One the other hand, I don’t give a rat’s ass about exercise, physical fitness or anything else that distracts me from the important things in life, like drinking, smoking, drug abuse, eating red meat and entertaining impure thoughts.

That said, I know my wife will make my life miserable unless I start some sort of fitness program. And once the kids start in on me, well, let’s just say things will get interesting, in the Chinese sense of the word.

So, the next afternoon I went down to Welles’ Park, a Chicago Park District Fieldhouse on Sunnyside by Lincoln Avenue. They have a well-equipped gym there which, since I am of a certain age, I can use for free.

The guy behind the counter was a typical Chicago Park District employee – gruff, overweight, with a pack of smokes in his shirt pocket. I thought I smelled liquor on his breath, too, but I wouldn’t swear to it. After I filled out the paperwork and received a laminated Welles’ Park membership badge, the guy offered to show me around the fitness area.

“You ever use any of this shit before?” he asked, pointing out all of the exercise equipment.

“Can’t say that I have. What’s that?”

“That’s called a stationary bike. You gotta watch yourself on that thing. We had a regular customer, used to come in four or five times a week. He’d ride that thing nonstop for an hour. Last week he was riding on it and just keeled over.”

“Was he okay?”

“Fucker died.”

“That’s too bad. How old was he?”

“About your age.”


“That’s a treadmill over there. It’s like a walking machine. A couple of months ago a guy was on it and had a heart attack. He died, too.”

“How old was he?”

“About your age, I guess.”

“What the fuck!”

“That thing over there is a rowing machine. Last month a guy…”

“Don’t tell me. He was about my age, right?”

“No. I believe he was a bit younger than you.”

I had heard enough. I handed the Park District guy the laminated badge and said, “You can take this badge, give it back to Mayor Daley and tell him to stick it up his fucking ass. This place is a death trap. I’m getting the fuck out of here.”

I was a bit shaky when I left Welles Park. There’s no telling what terrible things would have happened to me if I had stuck around and tried a few exercises. Fortunately, I had to pass Swillagains on the way home, so I stopped in for a few drinks and enjoyed a hand-rolled smoke with my friend, Nickel Bag Bernie, just to calm down.

When I got home, a few hours later, I was in the physical and mental shape that I prefer above all others. The lovely Mrs. Milo, sipping a nice white wine, was waiting for me. “Well, how did it go?” she asked.

“How did what go?”

“Your trip to Welles Park.”

“It went okay.”

“Did you try any of the equipment?”

“Let’s say I checked things out.”

“So, do you feel any better?”

“Honey, right now, I feel great.”

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