Cardio exercise has many benefits. Without it I fear my blood pressure and waistline would reach unseemly dimensions. When my back isn’t acting up, I try to put in an hour of it five or six days a week at the gym I patronize, alternating between the elliptical machine, the treadmill, that sit-down bicycle thing, and walking in the exercise room. (My gym, sadly, thanks to our current preference for high-sounding abstractions over simple and straightforward descriptive words, is officially a “health and wellness center.”)
My gym, uh, health and wellness center, is a friendly and sociable place, with many habitués (even a couple of sons of habitués) well past the smartphone and earbud stage. The hardcore there refer to ourselves as The Loyal and Fraternal Order of Aged Gym Rats. So there’s usually someone to talk with while grinding away at that interminable hour. Alas, for all of cardio’s upsides, there’s one crushing downside. Cardio when one engages in it solo is booooring. Boring, boring, boring. In about five minutes I’m thinking of a couple of dozen things I’d rather be doing than putting one foot in from of the other, in front of the other, in front of… It’s hard to leave one’s brain in neutral for an hour.
Hitting it wrong one morning, and finding myself banging away on the elliptical machine by myself, I spent the time trying to think if I could imagine anything more boring than cardio exercise. The only thing I could come up with was being forced to listen to the collected speeches of Gerald Ford on continuous loop. Talk about durance vile. Then we could learn if a healthy human could actually be bored to death. (The late Jerry was a fine man and a patriot. But he could put a leprechaun to sleep on St. Patrick’s Day.)
More recently I’ve come up with a second item that causes near-terminal boredom. Joining the narcoleptic Jerry in the mind-numbing category is the endless press coverage of Meghan and Harry and what these two privileged but shallow youngsters will now devote their room-temperature IQs to. There may be something in the world I’m less interested in than these two and their squalid prospects, but it would probably take me a couple of weeks to think of it. Coverage of these two should come with a warning: Do not drive or operate heavy equipment for at least three hours after listening to the latest Meghan—Harry update.
In addition to boring me when even an adult news network like Fox abuses airtime on these two, I can’t help but wonder what the intelligent, competent, and always dignified Elizabeth II has done to deserve the family she leaves behind. When I hear monarch-in-waiting Charles talking, I say a prayer for Liz II’s health and hope against hope she will be the first human being in history to live forever (which is about as long as an unattended hour of cardio exercise feels like).