Sometimes it is hard to find humor in our current situation. But I got an email the other day with an ad regarding having to stay at home during the pandemic. It was about exercise equipment. It started by saying, “Let’s talk about the elephant in the room—you. Yes, you. You, the elephant in the room. You know I am talking about you because you are sitting around getting fat.”

Okay, so maybe it didn’t really say it in those words, but it implied it. Then it went on to advertise the exercise equipment, along with videos and online groups a person could connect with to help them keep their weight down. It implied that if a person were to stay healthy and fit, they would survive the health challenges that were thrown at them a lot better.

I do believe that is true, but there is something that tosses a wrench in the works for me. Years ago, I was trying to save a calf and myself from being killed by a pack of coyotes. It was thirty to forty degrees below zero, and I had to run for my life carrying the calf. I froze my lungs so badly that I had pneumonia for weeks. It still affects me. It makes me think that if I end up getting the covid virus, I would have about as much chance of survival as an ant in a gully during a thunderstorm.

For that reason, my thought process brings me to consider that if I am possibly going to die, why not die happy? Happy, of course, meaning dying surrounded by family and at least ten pounds of chocolate.

So, back to the advertisement. Scrolling down through it, I saw page after page and image after image of people doing all sorts of exercise in tandem with others connected on screen. But I immediately knew that this all was a big gimmick, and there was no truth to it.

How, you might ask, was I able to so quickly see through this false advertising? It was really easy. All the people in the advertisement pictures, who were sweating and working out like Spartans ready to go to battle, were smiling. No one smiles while they are doing agonizing muscle-burning, gut-wrenching exercises unless they are in Junior Miss trying to impress judges, or are being paid to lie on commercials.

To make matters worse, Easter came right in the middle of the stay-at-home order. Easter is that holiday where a burrowing, gregarious, plant-eating mammal with long ears, long hind legs, and a short tail (thanks, Oxford dictionary) brings truckloads of chocolate to everyone. Easter is my worst self-indulging celebration. Chocolate-covered marshmallow eggs are even better than anything the big jolly guy brings at Christmas time.

Even though my two youngest children who are currently at home include one from college and a senior in high school, we still go all-out for tradition. Unfortunately, back before the epidemic hit, I bought candy more like when we had all ten of our children at home. Back in those days, the two Easter bunnies in my house took hours to figure the right hiding places for everyone. The younger children got the easiest hiding places, and the older children had the hardest ones.

The Easter bunnies were always kind to my wife and me and hid our Easter baskets in plain sight. But one year, my older children snuck home early from church and hid my Easter basket in the hardest place they could find. It was days before I found it. Okay, so it wasn’t days, maybe hours, or probably ten minutes, but by the time I found it, I was a chocolate-deprived Tasmanian devil after a chocolate Bugs Bunny, ready to eat all candy in my path.

So, you may ask what I have done to try to keep my weight even minutely below blimp-size on the fat register. The answer is gardening. The weather is finally warming enough that the snow pile outside our north window is down to only four feet high. The garden raking and cleaning has brought me closer to thinking about carrots, cabbage, and cucumbers instead of bunnies bearing bonbons.

The fresh air and sunshine, along with the thought of the reward of good things to eat, make it the best exercise of all.

Daris Howard
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Daris Howard

Daris and his wife, Donna, have ten children and were foster parents for several years. He has also worked in scouting and cub scouts, at one time having 18 boys in his scout troop. His plays, musicals, and books build on the characters of those he has associated with, along with his many experiences. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer