Friday, May 30, 2014

Triathlon's Fourth Event - Excuse-Making

The discussions I overhear (and sometimes participate in) between competing frenemies before triathlons go something like this:

Triathlete 1 - Hey, man, good to see you! You’re looking great! You ready to race? Gonna win this thing?

Triathlete 2- Oh, I don’t know, I haven’t been able to train much, you know, because of the (pick one)
a. new baby
b. tax season
c. doctoral dissertation
How about you? Been training?

Tr1- Me? No, man, I haven’t been able to run at all since I pulled a hammy
a. at a duathlon the company softball game
c. doing the Dougie at a wedding reception

Tr2 - Oh, listen, you think you’re out of run shape? I
a. tore my meniscus
b. fractured my tibia
c. contracted spinal meningitis
 six months ago and haven’t run a step since.  I’m planning to walk it today if I can complete the swim and somehow get through the bike.

Tr1 - Swim? Dude, my head hasn’t been submerged since you saw me at this race last year. I
a. tore my rotator cuff
b. blew out my eardrum
c. developed an unreasonable seaweed phobia
and haven’t swum since. I hope I still remember how. You might see me getting towed in behind a kayak.

Tr2 - Oh, don’t worry, bro. I’m sure you’ll smoke me. I’m just treating this as a training day, you know, trying to get back into it.

Tr1 - Ah, OK, good luck.

Translation? Both guys are pre-making excuses for a possible poor performance, pre-constructing admiration for a possible strong performance, and robbing the other guy of any satisfaction derived from having a better race. I hereby resolve to no longer proffer or accept any lame race excuses. Mm hmm.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Ode to the Dogs in Friendship, Arkansas

Now, Texas dogs will cut down a 20 mph cyclist like an antelope.

Lusting for the hyper-oxygenated blood from an engorged calf
those Texas dogs calculate the angle like a blue-chip defensive back under the Friday Night Lights and they’ll come after you.

And if they can catch you, they’ll eat you down to your teeth, hair and eyeballs and floss their teeth with the sweaty lycra you were wearing.

But the dogs in Friendship, Arkansas, free from the cultural baggage of being Texas dogs,
run even faster

but they’ll just lope alongside you
backs bowed, fur flying, tongues lolling, paws burning on gravelly shoulder semi-pavement.

“Fear not!” they want to say. “Just let us obey some instinct for the chase. We’re not hurting anything. Just let us run with you for no doggone good reason.”

Just let us run just because. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Dream of April 29th

Blue like when your kindergarten teacher said, “Blue like the sky.” Diaphanous blue, Caribbean blue was the sky as I swam from a beach I couldn’t remember toward the horizon without measure. 

Like I could swim forever through glassy clear pre-diluvial salt water in spite of the old-school camouflage utility uniform I wore. My sleeve made a slapping noise as my hand would knife into the water and when my topside eye and mouth surfaced to breathe I looked around for shark fins

until I bumped headfirst into a concrete wall and I hauled myself over it and swam across a pool to an astroturfed beach where two new college graduates were being married in front of a host of young witnesses

 and I crawled out of the water like an amphibian, ignored by the crowd.  I asked them who was getting married. And they told me names which I immediately forgot and they said that her major didn’t matter but that he was getting degrees in Information Technology and Mass Communications and that they would move to a gated community in Bentonville where he would be trained as a Jedi of Just-In-Time-Logistics.

I wanted to tell them that he would be 60-hour-week cubicle-bound retail fodder and that she would convince herself that loneliness was solitude with the help of shopping and Pinot Grigio.

and I wanted to tell them about real love and disaster and war, failure and missed promotions and first home satisfaction and how to pack dishes in a cardboard box and yardwork and cooking together.

that they will see God’s own face in that of a child who will fill their hearts to overflowing and that those full hearts will be smashed flat when they have to leave her at college. 

I wanted to tell them about how hard another person can grip your hand in a hospital room and about grey hair and no hair and the Slowing Metabolism and the Simple Vasectomy and the Full Hysterectomy and the Bad Back

 and about Term Life Insurance and the Deductible and the Co-Pay, the Limited Liability and Death and Dismemberment.

But I didn’t say anything.

And they all walked away and left me ridiculous with water dripping from green sleeves and pantlegs and I stood there watching them walking in their certainty    

and so I waded back and swam to the wall, this time diving down under the space between the wall and ocean floor where a fully inflated black and white soccer ball rested on the floor alongside a leashed black and white cockapoo puppy that looked expectantly at me as I dolphined my way underwater to the ocean side. 

And I surfaced and started my swim back toward the beach I never saw.  And I was tired now, bonetired as I alternated lifting each arm out of the water.