Fit for nothing


I exercise a lot. Every day, I will surf for as many as four or five hours on the crystal waters of the Internet. It is strenuous exercise, trawling through the pile of junk on the world wide web in search of that little titbit that I can use to make myself seem like a more interesting and knowledgeable person at parties, and usually I get back home from the office exhausted and wanting to flop on the sofa, exercising only my right thumb in clicking straight through two channels of political discussions, a game show with contestants who have the IQ of expired cheese and a Latin American soap opera dubbed into Greek where the actors mouths move twenty seconds before you hear them talk.


All this is very hard work and enough for me, because I am extremely lazy. I used to enjoy working up a sweat at the gym, lifting hundred pound weights with my thighs while reading a magazine feature brawny men with veins popping up all over their bodies striking a pose and smiling inanely. I used to do as many as fifty sit-ups in under five minutes (well, maybe it was five in under fifty minutes) but I gave it all up because I couldn’t be bother to walk the few hundred metres to the gym.


I do not and cannot ride a bike, not having removed the safety wheels of my little bicycle when I was a kid. I do not play basketball, for the plain reason that I am short and useless and I haven’t played football in six years. I don’t even walk any great distances anymore, preferring instead, like most Cypriots to get into my big, gas-guzzling car and drive whenever I want to go to a shop, seeking to find a parking spot as near as possible to the shop and preferably in it. This is why they lower the shutters when they see me coming.


No, I do walk a little to be honest, but that about it. I don’t really get any exercise most of the week. But every Saturday, my sister and her husband come over for lunch with their two toddlers, who I love to bits, and, after my niece is done sulking and shouting and my nephew has bumped into enough furniture we try to usher them out into the yard and away from the furniture.


Then I get out an old ball, the kind you buy from kiosks for a fiver and running around with it doing my best to impress the toddlers. My niece will often watch me as I try to jump with the ball between my ankles saying: “I am Blanco, Mexico’s greatest striker.” By that time, my nephew has wandered off to eat the flowers.


Often I will pretend I am the great Johan Cruyff and attempt to impress them with a signature turn, but occasionally I will end up missing the ball and falling on my face. While my niece looks at me baffled, my nephew will toddle up to me offering me a flower and saying: Tataki”, even though I am only his sister’s godfather, “here, have a flower. It will perk you up and give you energy”. At least that is what I assume he is saying. To me it just sounds like: “googoo joojoo bababa tataki?”.


After I give them both a great big hug and several big, sloppy kisses, we will go inside where my niece will often ask me to play chess while my nephew asks me if he can eat one of the bishops.


I want to teach my niece chess. It might be the only exercise I’ll be getting in the cold winter months. But I’m afraid she’ll learn quickly and will soon be checkmating me in straight games. I imagine my nephew will then pick up one of the pawns that I have lost in battle and offer it to me saying “Googoo booboo dada. Joojoo ba?” which means “It doesn’t taste like much, does it? Got any flowers?”


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