Buchan: Foolish pride dampens Atlantic crossing

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WALLA WALLA - No question about it, foolish pride can be problematic.

I found that out - again - not so long ago when my wife Margaret and I took an Atlantic Ocean cruise in which we sailed from the sultry shores of South Florida to the ancient city of Rome.

It would require many hours at the keyboard and rolls of newsprint to narrate all that we did and saw - the adventures and the challenges we experienced - during this long-awaited and carefully planned three-week sojourn, our first beyond North America's shores.

Suffice to say, most of them were jam-packed into the final 12 days after we made landfall for the first time in the Portuguese Archipelago of the Azores.

As busy as we were during the latter part of journey, nine of the first day 10 days were of the laid-back variety and mostly uneventful as we sailed the ocean blue.

I can neither recommend nor discourage an Atlantic crossing. For some, that many days in an endless expanse of open water quickly turns to boredom. For others, it's a rewarding respite.

I will only say that I'm glad I did it, and leave it at that.

For the most part I was able to fill my days by taking the time to read a couple of novels, by soaking up sunshine poolside and, on occasion, taking advantage of a variety of entertainment venues.

There was also, of course, all that food - massive breakfast and lunch buffets, succulent formal dinners - to both savor and fend off.

My personal salvation in this battle against boredom and the waistline bulge was the ship's state-of-the-art physical fitness gymnasium located high up on the 14th floor overlooking the foredeck. I arrived their daily - as regular as clockwork at 2:30 in the afternoon - and spent the next 90 minutes on the exercise machines.

Determined to maintain whatever fitness I had brought on board, I worked away and watched the waves roll by as Jimmy Buffett crooned in my head phones his many tales of life upon the sea.

And it was in the gym, I must admit, where I allowed my foolish pride to take control over common sense. And it's all because I suffer from what I call the Carol Franklin Condition.

Carol is a regular at the Walla Walla YMCA. And she's a physical fitness fanatic. I swear she doesn't possess one single ounce of body fat. And she can wear out any machine in the building.

I am not in her class.

Nevertheless, I have this attitude - this condition - that mandates that if I get on a machine next to someone, I'm not getting off until after that person has finished his or her workout.

Silly, yes, but clearly beyond my control.

A few years back, I made the mistake of beginning my workout right next to Carol. I didn't know if she had begun minutes earlier than me or if she had been at it for an hour. I just knew that I wasn't quitting until she did.

She darned near killed me.

I made a similar mistake one of my first days at sea when I began my workout next to this young girl who appeared to be in her late 20s, maybe early 30s. With her perfectly placed hair, small, slender hands and brightly painted red fingernails, she didn't appear to be a threat.

Wrong!

She attacked her machine with a fervor that I had seldom seen before. I didn't think she was ever going to quit. And my condition wouldn't allow me to.

When she finally did, I held on until she was out of sight and then gratefully called it a day.

I never saw her in the gym again. I'm secretly hoping that perhaps she suffered from a condition of her own, possibly pulled a hamstring and spent the rest of the cruise with her leg propped up on a pillow.

Contemplating the consequences of foolish false pride.

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