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Larry Beahan: Soaking and snacking make time fly at the Y

It was troublesome when our neighborhood YMCA moved five miles away out in the country. But I’ll have to say it made some worthwhile changes. The old place didn’t even have a hot tub.

I was recently sitting in the hot tub at our luscious new facility with eight other senior citizen soakers. As we clambered into the tub, we exhibited a wide variety of sizes and shapes, all of which were now decently concealed since we were submerged to the shoulders in steaming water and looking as naked as plucked jaybirds.

One overly large male, a perennial raconteur, was holding forth. His punch line, “the old geezer hesitated, eh, ‘how much for the soup?’ ” received some muffled guffaws. An older woman picked up the slack with, “Now wouldn’t it be just perfect if they served daiquiris?”

Before anyone could respond, a very slender old man who had entered the tub with the aid of a cane yelped and stood up quickly, a frightened expression on his face. “Something bit me,” he said.

We all looked at him incredulously until someone said, “If it’s a lobster, I want dibs.” We laughed, but the guy just grimaced and climbed out with surprising alacrity. The victim came back for his cane, accompanied by a lifeguard who was carrying a diving mask. The most athletic-looking woman among us in the tub put on the mask and went exploring in the depths around us. She came up empty-handed, shaking her head. No one else got bit.

The administrators must have felt that we needed some sort of accommodation after that incident. The next week they started serving not daiquiris in the hot tub, but free coffee in the front lobby. To top that, a restaurant chain began bringing in stacks of unsold baguettes, pastries and bagels to go with the coffee.

They call it the YMCA, Young Men’s Christian Association. I’ve got a better name: the EESSAS, Ecumenical Elder Saunters, Snackers and Soakers. We aren’t young, and on Ash Wednesday there were about equal numbers of yarmulkes, hijabs and dirty foreheads.

Some old guys shoot hoops, some exercise on machines with a built-in TV and others play pickle ball, a cross between tennis and pingpong, that was imported by Snow Birds.

Our exercise tends to be noncompetitive, except for prized parking spaces. I’d swear some folks come an hour before opening just to get the space closest to the door and race in to be the first ones on the treadmills.

I walk for my exercise, but I set my pedometer when I leave the car so if I’m far away, I’ll get credit for pavement walking as well as track or machine walking. I used to swim but Jeff, my physiotherapist, talked me out of it. He said, “Swimming would be good if you lived in an aquatic world but you don’t.”

He had me buy that pedometer. With it hanging round my neck, he shook his finger at the dial. “Statistics prove that he who takes the most steps lives the longest. Your days are numbered. Read the number here.”

So, I walk the track. I do get a little competitive. My grandson is a marathon runner who also does Tough Mudders and triathlons. I take after him. I have my own triathlon. I walk the track, soak in the hot tub, then fight my way far enough up the bread line to ensure that I go home with a cherry-cheese Danish, half the time.