My semi-retired status * permits me the opportunity to supplement my 6:00am swim with some additional treadmill time at the Riverwalk Athletic Club, located at the Heritage Hotel in Southbury, CT. I go back at 11:00ish and will watch a movie: walk at a slow pace, covering 5 to 7 miles depending on film length. OR, listen to music: walk at a fast clip while listening to my playlist of curated fast tracks, covering 4 to 5 miles.
Either way, after my stroll I treat myself to 10 minutes in the hot tub, with my tender right knee positioned directly in front of one of the Jacuzzi jets. Given the time of the day, more often than not, I have the tub to myself, and enjoy pleasant solitude with only the bubbling water to break the quiet.
And then there are times when someone else steps into my semi-private domain. And on the occasion that I am about to relate, that someone else was a house guest to the hotel.
Someone else, “Do you play the banjo? I’m on my way up to New Hampshire to play at some country/bluegrass thing. I’ve been playin’ the banjo forever. Just makes me happy. And I know an play all the great ones like Foggy Mountain Breakdown an Doggy Salt an Cotton Eyed Joe an o’course Dueling Banjos. Everyone loves that one! It’s from the movie “Deliverance”. It’s an interesting movie, but there’s a scene in it when this guy gets raped by some ugly-looking backwoods guy. That’s pretty grim to watch. That backwoods guy sorta looks like my second cousin Nestor. I like watching the film but once the banjo part is over I shut it off. I play lotsa other stuff, too. Like I learnt how to play a thing called Brandenburg Number 5 by Bach. Not the whole thing, mind. Just the part they call the cadenza. An then one time I was playing at this thing they call a Bar Mitzvah. It’s a Jewish thing, ya know. I guess it’s a special birthday thing for a boy. An early on in the party all the folks form a circle an dance a thing called the whore-ah; an I learnt how to play their song called have-a-neg-eelah. All the family dances in this big circle an then they put the boy on a chair in the middle of the circle, and a couple the older relations hoist him up high an everyone continues to dance around havin’ a good time! After that they asked me to play Dueling Banjos which I did. But I didn’t tell them the part about the guy getting’ raped in the woods. Ya know that circle dance they did? Well, I was watchin’ cable one night and they had this documentary thing on Indians. An the Indians were dancing around in a circle in front of their teepees just like they did at the Bar Mitzvah thing. ‘Cept they didn’t put anyone in a chair an put ‘im in the circle. Ya know, I don’t care what people say, but they put alotta good stuff on cable. One night I caught a thing on cable on the Civil War an there was this sad song that played in the background, [sings] two brothers on their way, two brothers on their way, two brothers on their way, one wore blue and one wore gray, one wore blue and one wore gray, as they marched along their way, fife and drum began to play, all on a beautiful morning… it’s a sad song isn’t it? [continues to sing] one was gentle, one was kind, one was gentle, one was kind, one was gentle, one was kind, one came back, one stayed behind; cannonball don’t pay no mind; if you’re gentle or if you’re kind; it don’t think of the folks behind; or of a beautiful morning. It’s a sad song an I don’t play it too much. I like to play other things because the banjo makes me happy.
“I don’t play the banjo.”
*I wanted to be full-on retired but the opportunity to lead wine tastings for my friend and former Grapes’ colleague Dave Fieber, who opened a specialty wine shop in New Canaan, was a deal that proved impossible to refuse. Four times a month, I do what I love to do (communicate what I love about wine) AND fund my birthday vacation to Walt Disney World.