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Bragging Rights

By Garret Mathews

The other day, I did 815 pushups. Good ones, too — back straight, nose two inches from the floor, pectorals fully engaged. I’ll take your questions.

My God, you knocked out all those up-downs at one time. You are The Man Times 50.

Actually I did them over the course of an afternoon. I’ll settle for being The Man Times 1.

What was your strategy?

In the beginning, I did 10 at a time followed by a 60-yard walk before I re-engaged. By 3 p.m., groupings of 130, 130, 130, 110 and 100 were in the books. I believed I had a half-decent chance to reach my goal of 1,000.

Then what?

My sinews, never much to begin with, gradually decided this wasn’t a game worth playing. I devolved into doing seven pushups at a time and walking 100 yards. Then six and 150. Then five and who-knows-how-far. At the end, my pectorals not only gave up, they went off to join the other side.

Why do such a thing?

I am out of work, so I have a lot of time on my hands. I hope to kill at least an hour — perhaps more — by bragging.

There has to be another reason.

So I can pretend I’m not old.

Tell the truth, pal. You got a monumental kick out of performing a physical challenge that many folks one-third your age could not accomplish.

Truth be told.

Did you try to make the pushups more difficult by doing some with one arm or attaching weights or clapping your hands in between reps?

What do you think I am? A moron?

Did you have a goal in mind upon completing all those pushups?

Yes. Beer.

Did you have a secret fantasy to get through the drudgery? And let’s keep it clean. Nothing about attractive women.

My mind wandered back to Army basic training in 1971 at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Drill Sergeant Maddox routinely — and loudly — ordered me into the prone position because I could not make up my bunk to suit him.

We had this make-believe conversation: Maddox: “Mathews, you (expletive). My (expletive) cat could make up a (expletive) bed better than that.” Me: “Yes, drill sergeant. Your cat.” Maddox: “Give me 815 pushups.” Me: “Right away, drill sergeant.”

Are you any worse for wear and tear?

No, but I have put in an order for replacement pecs.

— Garret Mathews

Garret Mathews is a retired metro columnist for the Courier & Press (Evansville, Indiana). His 12 books include Swing, Batta (Michigan State University Press). His website includes links to some of his favorite columns as well as material he wrote about Appalachia and the civil rights movement.

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