in a frenzied whirlwind of hypertension, tracing vellum and india ink, my montblanc and i fly like the wind to meet the tightest deadline with glacier-like sangfroid. as new york’s most commercial artist, mine is a dynamic, supercharged, albeit totally sedentary existence. the new york stock exchange is an oasis of calm by comparison to the lightning-paced crayon carnival i call my studio. as the eye of this creative storm, i never leave my drawing board. so it will come to no-one’s surprise that i awoke one morning to discover that i was hideously fat. a double-page spread. reckless daredevil that i am, i’d also taken up smoking, having quit nearly eight years before. clearly, a call to action was in order. “something must be done! who will rise to the challenge?” unfortunately, i was the only one in the room. i arranged a visit to ranch motel, our country’s plushest fat farm.
full of resolve and my final bialy with shmear i leapt gracefully aboard the 9:15 local to albany, not having leapt gracefully enough to make the 8:30 express. my last marlboro light ever lay smoldering on the platform.
at each and every opportunity to get out and smoke, i made the acquaintance of my fellow travelers. a virginia slim, a kool, three newports and a merit ultra light later i bid a fond farewell to this cosmopolitan and erudite crowd. although my newfound friends did not weep at my departure, there was much sighing, and in large, grey visible puffs. it was a touching scene, and as i made my way toward a bright new future, i wondered if the ascetic joys of ranch motel could possibly compare with the unbridled sensuality that is amtrak.
sights and sounds of ranch motel
i entered my well-appointed suite. though tastefully festooned with original offset prints (celebrating the aerobic pleasures of the hunt) my eagle eye detected something was amiss. shock was followed by dismay as i stared, doe-like, at the unsullied plumpness of my six white pillows, undented by even the tiniest box of godiva chocolates. and it didn’t stop there. no minibar, no ashtray, no room service and…. no bible!
“he who conquers others is strong, but he who conquers
himself is mighty”
-ranch motel morning propaganda sheet
sign seen in the spa lobby:
“seize the moment”
-lecture 5:00 - 5:01 p.m.
it occurred to me more than once that the management, in a well-meaning, yet misguided attempt to comfort its weary, sweet-starved clientele, was trying to make up to them in terrycloth what it had foresworn to deny them in butterfat. each guest, in an outpouring of exuberant hospitality, is gifted* by the hotel with a lovely robe made up entirely of towels. he or she may then blithely pirouette from one steamy moment to the activity without the slightest of cares; at the mere mention of moistness, the fortunate athlete has at his or her damp disposal an unparalleled selection of enormous, turkish, lily-white, towels. the slightest dab, and presto! the blissfull state of dryness is restored. we’re living in a loopy, laundered paradise. in a time-honored spa tradition, the offending rag is then slam-dunked into the nearest net hamper, which uniformed minions empty instantly, ever-ready to ensure the pampered few with a never-ending stream of…. towels.
i feel strongly, as an american, that if thousands and millions of naive, pathetic ne’er-do-well boneheads want to go to hell in an organic handmade basket, it’s their perfect right to do so. even if they are gullible, tofu-eating bimbos, i have no right to judge them. furthermore, i freely admit my own folly; to wit, if there had been anything else to do at 5 o’clock, i never would have set foot in a yoga class, and it was not my intent to sully the path of enlightenment for those weak and misguided goofballs with whom i shared this utterly pointless, meaningless experience.
o, mysterious east!
on the floor, beside each devotee of the inane, was a towel, a blanket, and a pink kleenex. everyone was deeply attuned to the instructor’s soothing, hypnotic voice in the darkened room. the otherworldly sounds middle-edged men make when playing racquetball were almost muffled by the carpeted peach colored walls. occasionally, soft screams issued from the shiatsu center.
“hold one nostril and breathe in, then the other and breathe out.”
as each cross-legged, barefoot new yorker experienced anew the unique sensation of 35 years of accumulated congestion, pollution and just plain snot, i managed to keep a straight face. right through the fish, the plow, and the warrior positions, up to and including the lamb korma. then, rolling up her towel, the teacher continued the speil in a soothing purr: “now everybody roll up your blankets”. obediently, we started rolling up the big heavy wool blankets. she gently corrected us, pointing to the towels. i couldn’t help myself, crying out for cosmic justice. “but you said blanket !!” i became completely hysterical laughing uncontrollably.
i really lost it. then, a voice rang out in the darkness; a voice with a not-so-new-age-edge. “perhaps there are some people who shouldn’t be here right now.” i gave up, choosing to remove my corporeal presence from her auric plane. i never found out what the kleenex was for.
i was kicked out of yoga class.
a dream date with ken
at this point i was reminded of an urgent deadline: barbie magazine had finally called with a fabulous commission and i knew my ranchin’ days were over. i’d learned a lot about body fat, protein, and, most of all, friendship. not only that, i’d more than made up for the cost of my trip by hoarding those tiny bath oil, shampoo, and hair conditioners, sure to be worth a fortune on the black market. with that in mind, i bid a moisturized adieu to ranch motel, effortlessly pirouetting my well-steamed, herbal-scented self aboard the 3:15 out of albany. i composed a little song while the berkshires rolled by:
song of the lonesome yogurt (the mountain biker’s lament)
i’m an ole cowhand
and from whar’ i stand
ah cayn’t see mah toze
cuz mah gut’s too grand!
thars a lil’ ole shack
in the berkshar’ hills
whar they starve ya up
and they rubs ya down
and it cost a grand
jest ta hang around
yippie oy owh per day
i’m an ole cowhand
but ah never planned
gettin’ stretched and pulled
like a rubber band!
where yer haulin’ weights
and yer eatin’ greens
and yuh miss yer beer
and yer pork n’beans
and yuh jump aroun’
wearin’ spandex jeans
yippie oy owh per day
© laurie rosenwald