Born to Run?
Ken Leonard, 6/5/92 - email@example.com
There comes a time in everyone's life when you've gotta do it. OK, maybe it's not thrilling, and mabye it's cliche', but you've gotta do it. I'm talkin' about taking a good, long look in the mirror.
I did just that about three weeks ago.
As soon as the dry heaves stopped, I made a mental list of what I saw, and it became quite apparent that thirty wasn't going to agree with me all too well. Nope, no how.
I'd still be in school. I'd still be driving the car with the loudest transmission this side of Tokyo. I'd still have a job which gives all the rewards of the morning after a good drinking fest. I'd still be sans a Significant Other (tm).
And I'd still have a gut. No, not just any *normal* gut. Not one of those oh-isn't-he-cute-he's-got-some-baby-fat-on-him kind of guts. Not a one-week-of-lettuce-and-rhubarb-shakes-will-get-rid-if-it kind of gut. I'm talking the ULTIMATE GUT, built upon years of couch potatoism, gallons of Sam Adams, and the occasional trip to Friendly's. I inherited it from my Dad originally, but saw fit to make my own improvements. I must say I've done quite well, too.
As all good things must come to an end, I decided that it was time to get rid of this lifetime burden. (Actually, it was probably the easiest one of the list above to solve, and being that I've got a track record of being lazy...)
So I bought a book. Not just any book. This is a Good Book. In it the guy tells you that 'Diets Don't Work.' In fact, there's a whole chapter dedicated to that very topic! I almost dropped my bowl of potato chips from the shock. Hey, I thought as I reached for a Klondike Bar, this is going to be easy.
Then I read The Catch. No, not just any *normal* catch. Not one of those this-is-really-bad-but-it's-only-a-joke kind of catches. I'm talking about the dreaded one:
THOU SHALT EXERCISE!!!
I heard that Moses erased that one, and with good reason. I would have too.
Hmph. Disgruntled, I rolled off the couch and took one final look in the mirror. That's it, I thought to myself, I'm going to do it. *Tomorrow* I RUN!!
About four days later I went out for my first run. I must say I looked great! Old gray sweatpants, old gray sweatshirt, and old gray sneakers. The old gray look. Cool!
Off to the kitchen to grab a box of Twinkies for good luck, I bounded out the door and off into the wilderness. Ta-daaah! Mr. Fitness himself making his grand appearance. It was full speed ahead-- the last Twinkie didn't make it past the half-minute mark. Then I started running.
There's something to be said for entropy. Then there's something to be said for atrophy. There's a finite amount of energy in the universe, and my legs had none of it. What started out as a quasi-running pace quickly degenerated to a frenzied foot shuffle, and finally to a heart-palpatating, exhaustive stumbling. The end of the driveway, I thought, I must reach the end of the driveway. C'mon, Lenzo, you can do it!
I'm glad I didn't have to watch that horrid gray out-of-breath mass crawling on all fours the last ten feet to the end of the driveway. I'd blacked out long before that, and went purely on Twinkie reserves. I awoke some 15 minutes later in a daze and looked up at a collection of small, grotesque faces, accompanied by a being my harried mind decided to call the Tall One. The Tall One admonished the smaller beings: "Now, children, pay attention very closely." The Tall One held up an egg. "This is your mind." The Tall One pointed at me. "This is your mind on Twinkies. Any questions before we head back to the classroom?"
I must have blacked out again because the next thing I remembered was handing the ambulance driver twenty bucks to stop laughing. I staggered to my feet, and wandered back into the house. "All right, you can all go home now...The fun is over...!" went a booming voice. Hmph. I should have given him another ten bucks to put the bullhorn away.
Back inside, I headed immediately for the Ring Ding Reserve, and plowed back onto the couch to plan my strategy. I'd become the laughing stock of the neighborhood and the poster boy for the Anti-Twinkie Movement. I was out twenty bucks. Worse yet I was down to my last Ring Ding. No, I had to get back out there. I had to prove something to myself, my neighbors, the school kids, and the Tall One. I had to "just do it."
Five days were all I needed to recover. But I was ready. I again donned the old gray armor, and with a few Twinkies under each arm I went forth again. Ahhh, the pleasing sound of "shuffle, shuffle" against the pavement, a true testament to how well Hostess packs their products. I got three Twinkies open anyway, tossed the wrappers, and made for the street.
More "shuffle, shuffle." Not bad. Perhaps a bit quicker, I thought. Pace picked up. Oops, not too fast! Taking a lesson from all those Dolly Parton jokes, I was a bit afraid of setting up a jogging rhythm which would create a nasty and potentially harmful standing wave in my midriff. So I backed off. Hey, I *can* do this, I thought as I scuttled down the street, it actually feels kinda...
In any neighborhood there are hidden dangers: nasty dogs, Nunzio the Enforcer, old ladies with umbrellas--you get the idea. In my neighborhood there are two: moms with kids driving mini-vans and Domino's delivery people. Well, I think I'm the first person in my neighborhood to get thwacked by both at the same time.
Dazed (again), all I could hear were nondescript voices as I looked up from a reclining position on the street...
"What the hell are you doing blocking traffic? Kids, get back in the car..." "Real sorry, Mister. You look like you could use a free pizza..." "Mommy, mommy! Is he dead?" "My insurance company is gonna sue you!" "Ma...Look! You smushed his Twinkies!"
Auuuggghhh. Fortunately I blacked out again.
This time I gave the ambulance driver the thirty bucks. "Ya know, Mr. Leonard, you're just too far out of shape for this... Why don't you just go get yourself another gallon of ice cream and stay inside where it's safe? Watch aerobics on TV or something, OK?" Hmph. I should've given the ambulance guy another twenty to keep his opinions to himself.
That's it, I thought, no more--I give up. I nabbed a handfull of Oreos and wandered back to the couch to sob. I tried, I was defeated. It would be life as it always had been. As I sat down on the couch, another spring let go. Yup, life as it always had been. No more of this...ummm...
...ummm...running...? My jaw hung open as I looked out the window to behold perhaps the hottest chick I'd seen since moving to my apartment. Just as in those tacky B-movies, she came jogging by in wonderful slow motion---a highly tuned machine she was: wonderfully toned legs and arms moving in perfect, synchronized harmony; a perfect example of the capabilities of the human body; a credit to years of training, practice, and endurance floating by effortlessly...
...Complete with a raging set of momboes!
Eureka! I had forgotten the real reason I wanted to get out and run in the first place---BABES! Almost at once the manliness within me, long since androgynized away, began to return. I felt facial hair begin to grow---No! I *heard* it grow! Test the voice...Yup. No longer a soprano (that's a story for another time). It was like Puberty Lite---going through it all over again, with half the zits!
With a loud roar, I downed the last of the Oreos and crashed through the door after my prey, the Mighty Gray Hunter in his Mighty Gray sweatpants! I was like a locomotive out of control, arms and legs flailing wildly, engine churning violently--Vogon poetry in motion.
And there she was not too far ahead, thanks to the slow motion special effect. Huffing and puffing, my engine working overtime, I charged on ahead towards my goal, drawing ever closer.
I was so pumped up by this point I passed her doing about 60, and she gave me one of those "Hi! Bye!" things as I blasted past. Oops, I thought, I need time to regroup. I slowed down, and, as is always the case with Male Thought Patterns, I began to think of a way to impress this lithe nymph when she caught up to me.
A few seconds later we were trotting side-by-side. "Gee," she said, "Whew! I've gotta stop for a minute." Hmmm, and I thought *I* was tired. She slowed to a stop, and in my effort to show her my physical stamina, I continued jogging in place. And in her effort to sho me *her* physical stamina, she proceeded to do some stretching exercises. Not to be outdone, I began to jog merrily in circles around her. Wow, I thought, this is great!
"Hey," she asked, "What's your name?"
It was at that point, during my merry circles--my puffery, my reassurance of my manhood--that I realized I was totally out of breath.
"plaahhhh...heeeeeeuuuuhhhh...whaaaaaaa..." was all I could manage, and I was lucky to get that much out before---yet again---my vast gray bulk made friends with the pavement.
- - -
"Look, just give me fifty and I'll leave you totally alone," remarked the ambulance driver, shaking his head as he looked down at me.
"Just get me home," I muttered.
"Yeah," he said, "home to where the Oreos roam..."
But I was too hurt and too embarrassed to hear him. All I wanted was to crawl back onto my couch with a box of Fig Newtons and forget my latest set of disasters.
I got up the next day for the sole purpose of taking another look in the mirror. I brushed aside the crumbs on my old gray sweatshirt and turned to get a profile view. No need to suck in the gut and toss out the chest, I thought. It, like touching my toes, never worked anyway.
Thirty, I thought, would come sooner or later, and I wanted to at least be around to see it. Hmmm...Maybe I can drag that old bicycle out of the garage and...
- - -
Well, I'm still in school, and I still drive the car with the loudest transmission this side of Tokyo. My job prospects are no brighter, and neither is my social life.
But, DAMN! Lemme tell you about my blisters...
...ken leonard... 6/5/92