Beans and Sleater

I was about two-thirds of the way through my final Peloton ride of my 40s when I realized a personal record was within reach. I would need to push it, I mean really push it – like somewhere beyond what my doctor would advise and closer to what a really mean personal trainer would demand – but man, what an accomplishment it would be!

The instructor was Ben Alldis and while he isn’t mean, I find him to be quite motivational. When he says, “C’mon team – you can do this” in his British accent it sounds like he’s saying “C’mon Tim – YOU can do this!” So, I grunted and gritted it out eclipsing my best score for a 30-minute ride by two points to impress a fitness trainer I will never meet and to make myself proud.

I thought it would be euphoric, cruising into my 50s like Lance Armstrong minus the doping regimen. But I was too spent to celebrate so I peeled myself off the bike and lay on the floor thinking of how Margo might say “nobody cares, Dad” and how Kristen would explain to the paramedics that I was trying to best myself at exercising. Beans, our younger dog was lapping up the sweat from my arm and I didn’t have the energy to shoo her away. For a moment I had a good sense of just how embarrassing it might be to die.

But I didn’t, which is great because I was able to spend the long weekend in the mountains with family and friends and do a little bit of birthday celebrating. Those who already have crossed that 50-year threshold just LOVED having a new recruit. Woohoo! Tim’s old now, too! I tried pleading that my actual birthday wasn’t until the day after we returned so technically… blah blah blah. Nobody cares, Dad.

On the ride home I thought ‘hmmm I think I caught a cold…’ and minutes later it was uh-oh – “Everyone put on a mask!” Covid had been flying around the kids’ schools in May. Elliott missed a week of exam preparation at the beginning of the month with it and Margo missed the final week of school. We were limping into the summer already and sure enough, my 50th birthday was going to be spent in isolation.

Even though my kids were unlikely to be reinfected so soon after having Covid themselves, they wanted me to feel every bit the leper because they had spent their time quarantining and it was only fair. I binge-watched season four of “Stranger Things.” Through my closed bedroom door, I mentioned to Margo that the main characters – Dustin, Mike, Will, and Eleven – would have been born the same year as me, 1972. You may be surprised to hear that my daughter didn’t care much about that fact.

Kristen on the other hand, as she scrambled to handle EVERYTHING around the house, seemed a bit jealous of my forced downtime. I caught her a few times barging in before I could get my mask on, trying to catch herself just a touch of Covid and a week of rest. She didn’t catch it from me but managed to snag herself some Covid at her college reunion a week later. Team Sullivan wasn’t exactly thriving.

Typically, Kristen works from home on the main floor, and she’ll keep the back door open so the dogs can come and go from the backyard as they please. But it was 100 degrees outside that week so I closed the door before I went to work. Later that day our older dog Sleater, who is perfectly well-trained, made her way upstairs into the master bedroom, glanced at an isolating Kristen, and then continued to the bathroom. Defiantly, she pooped on the floor. She looked at Kristen as if to say, Nobody. Opened. The Damn. Door. Get it together people

Tim Sullivan

Tim Sullivan is an award-winning columnist who writes about family life and thinks everything is at least a little funny.