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What causes me the most concern about The Mom’s recent holiday in Mexico is that she has found herself in a group of friends who are sporty. The Mom is not sporty. In any sense of the word. She did not wear jeans until she moved to Berkeley. Nor running shoes. When she mentions phys ed classes she was forced to endure in school a pall comes over the face, as though remembering something that for her has resulted in a low level form of PTSD.

As kids we were encouraged to be active– this was, I believe to tire us out. I suppose it might have done, eventually. We did all manner of things: swimming, skating, skiing, riding bikes, running around outside. You’d have thought that The Mom was some kind of athlete, because you know parents like to encourage their children to do things they can do. You would be so very wrong about this with The Mom.

I have never actually seen the woman ride a bicycle though she insists she can. She has confessed to the inabiility to turn a somersault. Which was difficult when as children we wanted some help, though we eventually mastered it and I remember being called down when my parents had friends over to dinner to demonstrate.

“Look!” The Mom would cry. “Somersaults! Just like that!” As though I had magically pulled a rabbit out of my ear.

I have never figured out how to turn a cartwheel, and remember desperately wanting to and asking her for some advice. She was unable to offer more than a shrug though, and a confession that she had no idea of even where to start with such a thing.

Though she can swim it’s not the sort of swimming we were taught. And she does walk. She can go for fairly long distances too, a fact I tested when she was visiting me here in Bristol. It never occurred to me that I walk a lot because I giro if I can do it, it’s probably not a lot what with my diseases and bad back and general unwillingness to do things that are tiring. But apparently six miles a day is rather a lot. Who knew?

On some of her more recent vacations The Mom has returned with some rather startling tales. She has always had a fear of boats – I believe this is limited to large cruise ships but can’t be sure. So when she recounted some tale in Australia I believe, or Mexico, hard to keep up these days, about going off in a boat, miles from anyhere, then having to hop in the water and swim a fair ways before wedging herself through a tiny opening and into some weird cave to see A Cool Thing, I was astonished. She doesn’t like boats, panics easily, and does not like having to go into small places. And yet, she did. And apparently the cool thing was indeed well cool.

So when she begins recounting these tales of adventure that her companions have undertaken, I’m half surprised when she doesn’t add, Oh, I went too.

“Oh, did you now? You’ve really taken up sailboarding? Or surfing? Or  hang gliding?”

I can picture her wee face giggling as though she’s finally been caught out. And replying, “yes dear, well you see all these years I’ve actually led a secret life of physical prowess and extreme strength. I mean, where do you people think you get it from? Crazy D cycling hundreds of kilometres, you swimming four to five times a week as though you’re training for something, L’il Sis and her yoga and ability to lift all the heavy things. You didn’t think you inherited that from your father, did you?”

I imagine her then lifting up her long-sleeved shirt to reveal pipes that would be more fitting on a weightlifter.

Honestly, none of this would surprise me. What would surprise me is if she had been able to keep her cover photo of Senior Citizens Extreme Sports monthly from us, which is the only reason I have to believe it’s not actually true. She couldn’t keep that under her hat.

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