Saturday, October 27, 2012

Erging in UB

After gulping down a cup of tepid cocoa in the dining room downstairs, I would dash, with my fur coat half on, through the green drawing room, toward the library, from which came a medley of stamping and scraping sounds. There I would find my father, a big, robust man, looking still bigger in his white training suit, thrusting and parrying while his agile instructor added brisk exclamations ("Battez!," "Rompez!") to the click-clink of the foils.

Panting a little, my father would remove the convex fencing mask from his perspiring pink face to kiss me good morning. The place combined pleasantly the scholarly and the athletic, the leather of books and the leather of boxing gloves. Fat armchairs stood along the book-lined walls. An elaborate punching-bag affair purchased in England - four steel posts supporting the board from which the pear-shaped bag hung - gleamed at the end of the spacious room.

Working out in my library always reminds me of this passage from Nabokov's "My Russian Education." I guess he was right when he said, "the scholarly and the athletic" go together really well.