I was thirty-two years old and had the body of a coke-fueled alcoholic on the fast track to The End. I had not lifted a weight since I was nineteen years old and I soaked my body nightly in Seagram’s VO, Elephant Beer, and other people’s girlfriends.
I was dating my wife-to-be for all of a week when she suggested we would have fun if we went for a bike ride.
A bike ride.
Yeah, ride a bike.
Truth be told I would have gone “all in” if she suggested we try jumping as high as we could to touch the moon.
That far gone.
I arranged to have my Sous Chef run the back of the house for my date. Very few chefs would have taken off such a busy night (Friday) at the height of busy season, but there was NO WAY I was going to miss this date. I delivered precise instructions as my SC scribbled furiously. I was involved preparing a feast for Karen and I.
Later, when our innocuous little bike ride was over, I would cook a gourmet dinner for the two of us as the sun reluctantly ducked below the Pacific horizon.
Had it all planned out.
We met at Overlook Park in Santa Barbara (not kidding; just got a little bit goosey writing that) as the site for our first date. It ended up being the Launching Pad to Hell.
We got on our bikes as we lazily rounded the coast, and before I knew it, my legs were burning and my main muscle groups seemed to have all gone on strike together, leaving me huffing, puffing, and pumping as fast as I was able to catch up with Karen.
Way up ahead.
We had gone 27 miles on this windy day and still had to go back.
It was not a flat track either.
Up, down, and around the rocky coast, ending up at the University of California at Santa Barbara where I was taking acting classes.
As I finally caught up and approached the waiting girlfriend, I used every bit of will and control to breathe normally through the nose so as not to give away how out-of-shape I really was.
Of course I smiled and guffawed through my collapsing lungs that I could go another one hundred miles if she wanted to.
She was breathing as if she had just awaken and gotten out of bed.
I was smiling and talking shit as if I had just awaken and gotten out of bed.
But I was dying inside in every fiber of my being.
I couldn’t feel my feet.
My head was pounding like it was really going to explode.
My mouth was dying-of-thirst dry.
Don’t even mention quads.
Or glutes. Please don’t mention the glutes.
Somehow, I made the return trip to Overlook Park. As we sat watching the sunset, Karen intimated that she had just recently moved from Honolulu where she would bike everywhere on the island.
So she had these ribbon-of-steel legs up against my once Atlas-like legs. My legendary legs actually led one friend of mine to ask Karen how they kept me up.