Now it can be told: This cautionary tale may take some time in the telling so I invite those with limited attention spans to move on to another thread, for the rest of you Arrseurs and Arrsettes, I suggest you brew up a fresh batch or tap a keg, pull up a gunny sack/bivvie bag and settle in for a sad account and, possible lesson learned. Now I don't think I'm jeopardizing PERSEC by saying that the ol' Rocketeer is on the shady side of 60. While I am under no delusion that I still have the body of a bronze Adonis, I considered my current stature as ' robust' rather than ' rotund', though, I have learned to my chagrin, this isn't a universally held opinion. My current state is, I will admit, a byproduct of my rather sedentary lifestyle. My current occupation requires me to sit in pursuit of my goals, and, while it doesn't generate funds in the same way as a CEO of a bank in full bailout mode, it allows me to indulge in my avocations of drinking, eating and sex on a routine, if not regular basis. While I have been relieved of my obligation to serve at Her Majesty's pleasure for some time now, my spouse is still active and is required to regularly meet BFT requirements to stay deployable. While our relationship isn't exactly May-December, there is enough of a difference in our ages that she is still admired and considered in some circles as 'buff' and I am envied for making a 'good catch '. [ I like to think that I punched above my weight class in snagging her and she seems to appreciate that, when I mention it at parties ..ahem.. I digress ] Apparently, my circle of sycophants who consider me buff is considerably diminished, as I learned a short time ago. There I was enjoying a deluxe turkey club sandwich and a goodly daught of stout when I realized that, although I was still enjoying food and beverage, the third segment of my triumvirate hedonism had been rather sparse of late. I determined to find out. One evening during our 'pillow talk' I delicately broached the subject. " Hoi!, what's up with you, then? " I was informed by my beloved that it was becoming increasingly difficult for her to imagine shagging Daniel Craig when she was in fear that I would crush her ribcage or smother her at an indelicate moment. My suggestion of ' alternate scenarios ' [ after all I'm a writer, I can conjure up some good'uns ] met with a disinclination to participate. " If you think I'm going to dangle from the ceiling fan in some mad fantasy, forget it. It could no more stand the strain than you could. Remember I saw how you installed it. " Well, in due course, my birthday rolled around and, I perceived that she had discussed matters with the children [ no, not our secret role playing ,but my allegedly excess avoirdupois ] as the 'gifts' all spoke to a recurring theme. I received a sweatshirt with a catchy embossment which read " Contents packed by weight, some settling may occur ", a DVD called Fab Abs [ with nary a naked women to be seen, just pouty twenty-somethings flexing themselves silly in front of mirrors ], a book the size of the Encyclopaedia Britannica called " The Ultimate Belly Buster " by the, so-called, Men's Health Collective, and, from my dearly beloved, a one year membership in a Fitness Club. Put me right off my slab of double chocolate fudge birthday cake with the strawberry creme filling. It turns out that this wasn't meant to be joke and I was actually expected to use the damn thing. So, after much grumping, some cajoling on her part and the real threat that I'd left with just eating and drinking on my recreational list if I didn't ' tone up' I dug an old duffel out from under the crawl space [ which, I will be big enough to admit, did seem a little tighter than I recalled ]. I'm man enough to accept that being able to see one's feet without leaning past balance point and not wheezing and gasping for air when tying up one's shoes are desirable, if modest aims and objectives. So, with my bag in hand I tossed in a, still servicable, pair of mil-issue grey gumby PT shorts whose drawstring sported only a few knots and splices and a relatively aromatic-free T-shirt from the pending-clean file, a nicely broken-in pair of Walmart $ 12.95 - on sale - ' cross trainers ' and, with ticket in hand set out one fine morning to ' check out' the establishment. Well, while I didn't expect to see something out of Rocky I through X, all old boards, fading posters, flooring reeking of sweat, blood and broken dreams, I was unprepared for the horror before me.. First off, it was in the midst of a shopping mall FFS!.. The whole frontage one giant plate of glass so that passers by were obliged to witness the ineffectual efforts of the sagging middle class as they walked miles to nowhere on endless arrays of hightech treadmills outfitted with mini-TVs, Ipod plug posts, Wii connections and gawd knows what else. Across from this spectacle was a coffee dispensing emporium replete with chairs and tables so that, after picking up your frappelattechai low fat goat's milk cinnamon flecked byproduct you could sit and watch the indolent divest themselves of buckets of perspiration. I noted that women of disparate years were all sipping and oogling the males on display with no discretion at all and wondered what happens on ' Women's Day ' when the females are prancing and puffing, do they allow men of all ages to sit and sip and gawk or do the mall cops roust them for ' conduct unbecoming '? Not about to make a spectacle of myself I slunk into the establishment and flashed my pristine membership card. Love to my wife for coughing up the extra funds for the ' Executive Membership ' so that I was only sneered at and offhandedly dismissed rather than treated like scum for having only a 'Standard Membership '. Still, since I didn't have the ' Elite Membership ' I was required to pay for a locker rental and put down deposits on towels and robes and purchase slippers ' - all of which are ' complimentary' if you have the right coloured tickee. The machines available to ' enhance body image ' [ says so in their brochure ] are state of the art, though, in my opinion they are as much 'art' as some of the sh!t Saatchi buys [ anyone recall his purchase of the lifesize model of the artist's head made out of frozen blood? - IIRC, his spouse, Nigella, ' inadvertently' unplugged the machine that kept in intact and it melted away accidentally, causing much consternation to the insurance company ] Anyway.. I steered clear of these Cyborg Issue Bowflex monsters and opted for a quiet piece of plush floor near the free weights and barbells where I could conjure up faded memories of the CF 5BX programme and old issues of Charles Atlas': 'Guide to Not Getting the Snot Beat Out Of You' handbooks. Bear with me, I'm getting to the denouemont [ I think calling it a climax would be somewhat inappropriate -given the circumstances.] There I am pumping iron, haha, admiring the fact that my biceps still respond to movement without protest and trying to ignore the yuppie Gen-x'ers or whatever they're called these days in their designer workout duds all emblazoned with corporate sponsorships happily flaunting themselves or trying to look serious in their studies of the machinery and/or stock tips coming across their earbuds. I decide to do some floor exercises and sink down onto/into the grey plush meadow they call a carpet. I do some push up- though the rolling action in the moves isn't something I recall from Basic, then some sit ups, well, a simulation of some and finally some leg raises, bringing knees to chest or the close proximity. And then... divine punishment for my hubris at thinking I still ' had it'. The O-ring on my sphincter gave out. With legs raised 'things' erupted and a hot stinking miasma began to burble its way down the shorts and out the leg holes toward my knees. I tried to look in control but the lava flow continued with a pungent aromatic component. I tried out the Jim Short[t] thousand yard stare scoping out the terrain.. thankfully, I was out of the way enough not to be noticed, not that anyone was paying attention to an over-the-hill old guy. To my relief my plush white rental towel/sweat absorber was nearby and I snagged it with a smooth move. I was able to wipe the ' effluent' from my legs and wrap the towel about my nether regions kilt-like so that the stains were all turned in.. then I proceeded to waddle, like a gangsta rapper in low-riders, toward the locker room/showers. the gods smiled upon me at this point and I made it intact, so to speak. I was able to divest myself of the offending attire, surrepticiously stuff the sch!t-stained towel far into the laundry bin and, snatch a second fresh towel from the ' Elite' cabinet - without paying or being spotted - and slipped into a shower stall where I dispensed with the evidence. Someone had thoughtfully left a plastic baggie on top of one of the lockers and I was able to rinse and roll my workout garb into it and hid them in my duffel, then, refreshed I retired to the Juice Bar for a much needed carrot smoothie and a calming of my nerves. In my absence there had been some commotion and I looked out from my perch to see the carnage. One of the ' associates' was wearing a Swine Flu mask and down on his knees scrubbing the carpet where I'd been! There was a rather large brown stain, a second associate was hurtling up lugging a steam cleaner, a third was trying to calm two patrons while covering his mouth to prevent the gag reflex from taking over and one of the two exercise freaks was pointing madly at the ceiling and mouthing off. SCHWEET, I though, I must have hit the ceiling with a stream.. Good Drills, it had to be ten twelve feet high.. I didn't want to move closer for a good look to verify the target.. but.. Then a wave of nausea came over me.. They weren't pointing at the tiles, but a a round black glass orb!!.. Damn it all to hell!! I recalled the sign as one entered the establishment.. " Premises under surveillance for your protection." Gawdammit!! I was caught on tape!.. I was going to go viral on Youtube FFS!!.. I left as quickly as discretion would allow.. ..the missus is wondering why I haven't followed up my first 'visit' and is getting pretty hot under the beret over the fact that ' it wasn't cheap, you know' etc.,etc... but how can I go back without shaving off the 'tache and dyeing my hair al a the Fugitive?? these memberships are not 'transferable' and the nearest other franchise is a fair drive away..I've no guarantee that the bumvalve won't give out again under the strain..so I've been working out and dieting under cover of darkness in the basement to keep up the pretense that I'm still 'enjoying her present' On the upside, the fear and embarrassment coupled with the strain on my nerves has dropped me from 220 lbs to 184...and I can pull the zipper on my pants all the way up and not look like a mong anymore..