Last weekend, I had my first Rugby game in 14 years.
It was with a group of guys with names like Craig, Brad, Rodney, and Ewan — guys who even sound like Rugby players.
My name is Andrew, which is why this morning I am so sore my nostrils are the only part of my body capable of responding — albeit only to simple verbal commands such as “Scoot” and “Maul.”
For this reason, I’d like to apologize in advance for any typos you may find in this article. Please keep in mind it was typed using only my nostrils, and a peanut that was strategically dropped onto the appropriate keys through a combination of sniffing and snorting.
I should also mention the spell check feature on my computer requires holding down the SHIFT key while simultaneously pushing F-12.
Although I tried, I was unable to execute this function successfully before dislocating my tongue — which is actually easier than you might think. Especially if your tongue becomes pinched between two keys and, in an attempt to dislodge it, you begin swinging the keyboard from side to side until you are knocked unconscious.
Let’s face it: given my athletic background years ago, I have no illusions about being a great player today. I’m 46 and have a grand total of twenty years of organised Rugby experience in both codes. That experience started when I was 12, while playing for a team called ‘The Pineapples’, which was quite possibly the worst team in the history of District Junior Rugby.
We had nicknames like “Runt,” “Last man,” “Flop,” and “Scrote.”
I remember these names because they were at the top of the roster. Our only win of the season came by way of forfeit when, after witnessing Scrote blow a large mucus bubble, the other team was too nauseated to continue.
This season, taking into account my lack of athletic talent, fundamental skills, conditioning and — according to our coach, a Rugby rule prohibiting the use of oxygen tanks anywhere on the field — I’ve tried to set realistic goals for myself this winter.
Here are a few examples:
1) Realistically, I should be able to run the length of the field in 60 seconds, as long as it doesn’t have to happen in a single half.
2) Realistically, by the end of the season, I should be able to catch a high ball; next year, I’ll try for two.
3) Realistically, I should be able to stop thinking of my groin as a bulls-eye, and therefore overcome my fear of getting hit in the groin from a player nicknamed “The Sterilizer”.
4) Realistically, number three is never going happen, but I’ll learn to deal with it.
5) Realistically, I should be able to score a try if I work on my fundamentals and eventually execute them in a game where, in one unforgettable moment, the entire field is swallowed by a giant sinkhole.
By setting achievable goals like these, I can measure my progress and hopefully contribute to our team’s success.
On the other hand, it doesn’t mean I don’t have a back-up plan. I’m not going to show my hand to the opposing teams by getting into the details here.
But Scrote, if you’re reading this, please give me a call.
Like millions of Australians my age, I recently stripped down, prepared myself for the worst, and stepped onto the scale. Soon after, I retrieved the scale from the RAP waiting room and accepted the fact that, yes — it probably was defective.
At my partners’ suggestion, I tried our own scale. This led to the discovery that, of the 23 scales I tested within a two-kilometre radius of our home, every single one was off by exactly 21 kilograms.
Being a soldier, I had to wonder: ‘Was this a widespread problem? Were we being duped into needless exercise by faulty scales?’
The truth is; I have no one but myself to blame for putting on these extra kilos. This is why, every year around this time, people just like me make a commitment to start going to the gym.
I know this because I recognise most of these people from last year. We all have the same expression: grim determination mixed with a sense of purpose in knowing that, afterward, there’s a McDonalds right across the street. We come dressed with headbands and towels over our shoulders even though we spend most of our time wandering around the gym looking for lost water bottles.
After making this realization, I was motivated to do things differently this time. Never again would I splash water on my face, and then stand close enough to someone to appear as though we are workout partners. It was time to get serious about fitness by accepting the fact that the closest I’ll ever get to having buns of steel is if I happen to leave the bread box open overnight.
I’m in a committed relationship, and have two daughters; what do I need washboard abs for when I know perfectly well that my partner gets more turned on by me doing the laundry?
With these things in mind, I put together a list of goals that will motivate me because they’re actually achievable.
First: buns of steel are out. Instead, I will settle for buns of aluminium foil; as long as they can hold their shape and don’t leak, I’m happy.
Second: I understand that my metabolism is slowing down and, as a result, my body’s fuel-burning efficiency is similar to a Bushmaster. If I’m not careful, I will also weigh as much as a Bushmaster.
Third: I will no longer waste my time comparing my body with anyone else’s, especially if their’s is better. This should make my workouts twice as productive since I will be avoiding eye contact with everyone else at the gym.
And lastly: I will stop using the scale as my measure of success. What’s the point, really? They’re all wrong anyway.
The point of all this is that despite staring down the barrel of 50 years inhabiting this rock, I have learned in all my years of challenges, mistakes and trial that there is no such thing as a hopeless situation. It’s this belief in myself and finding many sources of inspiration that has helped me survive PTSD. Age, mental or physical ability is not a barrier to doing exactly what you want to do. Just soldier on and do the best that you can do.
Now for another dreaded counselling session with the PTI…..
Andrew Douglas is a long-suffering Aussie Digger who, after many hours of sitting in a pit with a notebook and pen writing his woes, has turned his hand to writing for leisure and entertainment in the comfort of his lounge room. He and his partner, Sonia, live in a 100-year-old home in southern NSW, where Andrew uses his home-repair skills to make improvements, such as being able to flush the toilet by turning on the garden tap.