Sweet Teeth and Faulty Scales: Hitting Two Hundred

LOOK-BACK: 200 FOR THE 2000s.

Five years in China, partly ’cause I walked everywhere and pounded basketballs on car-free pavements, helped me climb down from a high-level status I’d never asked for and never fully believed. When I went there in 2009, I was still tipping my bathroom scales a little too ferociously. In Dalian, it was a lot harder (or, in a few cases — I’m looking at you, Haagen-Dazs! — the price tripped my cheapness alarm) to get sweet treats that met my lofty Canadian-consumption standards. Summers back home were exercises in box-ticking (can’t get that in Dalian, gotta do it now!). Um, and in not exercising that much. My personal record: one summer, in our seven weeks home I put on seven kilos — 15 pounds!

So now we’re back for good, and this summer’s victory is that I’ve kept my balance, dietarily, and though I’m not where I’d like to be, I’m still well under the critical threshold that so alarmed me at the beginning of my Chubby Decade, towards the end of the 20th century. The piece below, another one that pre-dated this website and never saw the light of readership day, was my reaction to realizing I’d hit 200 pounds. The words below were indignant and disbelieving, fun to read years later, and pretty much useless in getting me to actually do anything about the ballast I was packing. Not right away, anyhow.

Two hundred?  Now that’s just a lie.  Hah!  Hah!  says I to myself, it’s an el cheapo scale, and besides, it was on a carpet, and shoot, it’s been cold and I’ve been sick, and besides, hey, I like to eat, it’s not like I drink or smoke so I deserve the occasional treat and I just need to get working out a little more regularly and by the way, I’ve never cracked two hundred and I still have pretty good moves for an old guy…

Okay.  So this new level of larditude is not exactly one of the “firsts” I’d envisioned for the (pre)Millennial Me. Plea-bargains and pitiable denials aside, one nasty bit of gristle in the stew of midlife is unrequited affection:  I love ice cream but it doesn’t treat me right.  (There, I’ve said it.) 

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Waking Up the Dads

These things happen when you’re a wai guo ren in the most Chinese places, instead of hanging safely in the ex-pat havens. I had boldly gone – and only through the dumbest of luck – where no “outside country person” had likely gone before. No big deal: I was in the mid-court seats of a chilly Dalian gymnasium, the ones where Party members or other administrative kingpins sit for the bigger ceremonies. It’s the closest thing to corporate boxes at my university’s indoor stadium: padded office chairs roll freely behind a ten-metre-wide desk, instead of the moulded blue plastic bum-holders in the rest of the building. Can you see me now?

I was minding my own business avidly minding every bit of business connected with the on-court director of our newly-stumbled-into youth basketball club, and with my son’s performance of a medley of this young coach’s greatest hit, “50 Ways to Beat a Pylon”. (It’s probably just a coincidence, but in my head it has the same tune as Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”.) Reassurance to my sports-averse readers: this isn’t really about basketball. It’s about me, and China, and Chinese fathers (one of ’em),

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