If you are a guy over the age of 50, you have a tummy, sorry. Worse? There’s nothing you can do about it. It will grow even as the beef in your legs, arms, chest, and elsewhere shrinks. I try not to look at my tummy too often because it is very depressing. Worse, it is useless, and worse-worser-worst, my normal regimen of cycling, which slowed its accretion, is gone, so it spreads and spreads and spreads.
A lot of people are trying to figure out how to replace the intensity, duration, and full-body exhaustion of a crazy hard bike ride. Fortunately I have an instant substitute: Grandsons.
We started off with a round of kotatsu intervals. “What’s a kotatsu?” you may be wondering. It’s this.
It’s also what I’ve replaced all my living room furniture with. The kotatsu, which was our only furniture in Japan for a decade, is great for a lot of reasons but I won’t tell you what they are because the only one that matters for the purpose of this story is the fact that it provides a perfect shelter for a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old when they are being chased throughout the apartment by gramps.
We completed a long series of these kotatsu intervals until I was completely done in and they were barely warmed up. They spiked the intervals with bouts of PiPi hunting, of course. PiPi is the monster that lives in the closet in our bedroom and he scares the bejesus out of little boys who timidly creep into the darkened room and even more darkened closet only to be ambushed by a wailing, screeching, clawing, flapping, teeth-gnashing monster that bears striking resemblance to gramps.
Finally, after a leisurely eight hours, we got to dinner. Obachan had made Ringoro’s favorite food, cheese pizza, from scratch, but cheese pizza wasn’t his favorite food ever as long as Gummi Bears were in the house, and they were, so he hunger struck. His brother Kohaku had better focus and immediately launched into the cheesy cheese pizza while older brother picked, fiddled, and complained about how much he hated his favorite food.
Finally, his mom had enough. She pulled up Ringoro’s shirt
and pointed to his tummy. “See,” she said. “You have a little monkey’s tummy.”
Then she pulled up Kohaku’s shirt. “See? He’s eaten all his pizza. He has a big gorilla’s tummy.”
Ringoro didn’t like the comparison as he gazed at his little brother’s distended abdomen and his face, which was smeared with cheese and tomato sauce and the smile that brother little always gets when he upstages brother big.
“What about Grandpa?” asked Ringoro. “What about his tummy?”
All eyes turned to gramps, who was wolfing down his fifth piece. “What about it?” gramps growled.
“What about YOUR tummy?” Ringoro howled. “Is it monkey or gorilla?”
I pulled up my shirt and out flopped my bulging belly. The boys shrieked with glee.
“Now listen up!” I said sternly. “Cause this is something you little urchins need to hear!”
Hairy tummy baring at the table is a huge no-no, like eating with your feet, and the boys were so excited at the complete disregard for table manners and by gramps’s galumphous gut that all hell was about to break loose, and they knew it.
With a monstrous whack I began slapping out a quick rendition of “Little Brown Jug” on my fat rolls, sending waves of meat jiggling up and down. The boys shrieked with even greater glee, and immediately up went their shirts again as a three-way vicious tummy tattoo ensued.
Finally things quieted down. Their mom looked at me sternly. “You know it’s going to take six months to teach them not to play ‘Little Brown Jug’ on their stomachs during dinner?”
I shrugged. “Wait til I teach them to eat with their feet.”
Kohaku and Ringoro squeaked as they chewed their last piece of pizza.
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