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The novelist Tom Robbins watched movies at the theater in Warsaw, Va., where we live. It’s the white building on the right. The theater burned down in the ’50s and after TV entered the picture nobody thought to build it back.

In 1946 Robbins watched the Natalie Wood movie Tomorrow is Forever there, and while realizing it was a “Hollywood tear pump” wrote: “I sensed the world in me and me in the world, felt fundamentally connected, saw the many as all and the all as the one; one and all bobbing along forever and ever in an unending, indestructible river of tears and tickles, breath and meat.”

High Stepping

When my mom passed away in 2009, my wife and I packed up our three kids and left the Washington area where I worked downtown, and moved in with my eightysomething dad out in the country, on the Rappahannock River in Virginia. It’s what people around here call the homeplace, the family home.

When friends and family come visit, they’re sort of on vacation, so it’s like I’m on vacation too. This is not healthy. So I’m constantly adopting some new exercise regimen. Lately I’ve been taking a cardio class at the Y three times a week.

At the Y, as in most social situations, I’m 20-30 years younger than the people around me, mostly retirees. The class features exermusic hits of the ’80s, ’90s — and today.

“Say Paul,” the instructor said on her headset, “What is a funky cold medina, anyway? Paul’s probably the youngest one in here.”

“Cocktail?” I ventured, squatting.

“Cocktail!” the instructor said. “I hadn’t thought of that.”

In the back, two old ladies leaned into each other:

“What is it?!” one said. The other answered: “What did he say?”

I am mildly amused/disturbed by my situation. The older broads are nice enough though. Unless you touch their 12-pound weights. Don’t use their 12-pound weights.

They do not like that.

Checking Out

I always appreciate when the cashier at the grocery comments on my purchases. Today, eyeing a container of hummus, the lady behind the counter said: “This stuff is nasty…”

Earlier in the week, a cashier noticed I was stocking up on chicken soup and cough medicine. “Somebody’s got the flu, eh?” Glad I wasn’t buying a pregnancy test (“Hubba hubba…”) or roach spray.