Monday, August 23, 2004

An Almost Olympic Moment

I intentionally stayed in on Friday night so that I could be up and cognizant in time to watch the women's marathon at the Olympics. I wouldn't normally watch a marathon...Who really needs to see 81 sweaty women with 0% body fat run for two hours? But this time I had to watch. You see prior to running in a red dress in search of beer I actually ran for medals and ribbons and the like. When I found out that one of my former competitors, Deena Kastor, was slated to compete in the Olympic marathon I had to watch. Seeing Deena run on NBC Saturday took me back to those glory days and made me wonder what might have been...

The year was 1988, it was six months after my arrest and part of my "rehabilitation" effort required that I take up a sport and become "involved" at school. It turned out the local police knew I could run and informed a counselor at the school so I ended up on the cross-country team. It seemed like an easy enough sport - you just had to put on some shoes and run. I also realized that you got to miss class to go to meets in which all you had to do was run for about 18-20 minutes and then listen to music and watch the event. Not a bad gig if you can get it. Besides, I was a little, scrawny thing that lived off of microwave popcorn and Pepsi and wasn't really suited for any other sport.

One of the best races of my career occurred that fall at the Paramount Ranch Invitational in Agoura, California. The course ran through the sets and scenes where they filmed Little House on the Prairie. It was really a cros-country race - there was even a water crossing in which we splashed across a creek. It was on that course that I crossed paths with, and beat, a young Deena Drossin (now Kastor). Of course, it was a freak incident for me - some speculated I must have cut the course - and she beat me the other dozen or so times we raced. Still, on the Saturday morning of the Olympic marathon I pulled out my old scrap book, donned my high school running jersey, popped a bag of Blast 'O Butter, opened a Pepsi, and dreamed of what might have been...

After I accepting my imaginary Olympic medal I was pulled back into reality considering the enormity of what it must have taken Deena to get to the Olympics hit me. I pondered her deidication and commitment to a goal and retraced my life in comparison to hers...I figured that for every beer I'd had she must have run at least a mile; for every annoying boyfriend, a demanding coach instead; for every spontaneous trip - a training schedule; early to bed rather than dancing the night away; having to choose a PowerBar over extra crispy french fries, Gatorade in lieu of a cosmopolitan, running shoes rather than heels. As I closed the scrap book, proud of my old competitor Deena I realized that for me the memories count than the medals.

I know this was a cheesy post, but I was feeling sentimental...

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Location, location, location

I went down to Long Beach on Saturday for a run and picnic called "Hashstock". It was put on by the same folks who do the annual Red Dress Run in San Diego and the Mexican Mardi Gras so I figured it would be a good one. The premise was to be a modern day Woodstock but with a run preceding the concerts. I had high hopes for this event until I remembered that it was Long Beach...

The festival was to begin and end at Police Academy Park. Upon arrival I immediately did a stop, drop and roll and ducked for cover at the sound of gunshot. I had flashbacks to my brothers firing BB guns at me as a child but that is another story for another day... It turns out Police Academy Park is, as the name would suggest, right next to the Police Academy and directly borders the shooting range. No kidding. There was a whole squad of cadets toting their glocks with only a chain link fence and about 20 feet to separate them from Hashstock! In the meantime, the tie-dye clad runners amassed for a pre-run pint from one of the many kegs already set up for the run. I still haven't decided if the choice of location was meant to be ironic - or just poor planning.

Cynic that I am, I began to think...only in America. Then I remembered the antics of the Chinese Army Cadets when I was abroad. You see, in China each male must do four weeks of military service. Yes, it is a short committment but they have no GI Bill or clever slogans to lure the boys in. Anyhow, I recall the first spring morning of "boot camp" on the Guangxi University campus. I exited my dormitory and thought I heard gunfire but assumed it was the kitchen staff at the cafeteria out procuring the traditional giant garbage rats for lunch. As I rounded the corner to cross a bridge I saw about 100 students lined up in their Mao outfits on the other side of the canal. They had set up targets - leaning against the base of my dormitory (which housed all the foreigners) and were firing across the canal at the targets. Other cadets were in the rooms on the bottom floor changing targets through the windows and ducking to avoid the firestorm. Just moments before I had been in my third floor room preparing for the day and now I watched as these young men fired aimlessly, literally, at the foreigners' building. Windows were broken, bricks chipped, air conditioning units obliterated. Part of me was frightened, part amused, and part dumbfounded. The cadets clearly had no training and the weapons dated back to at least the Opium War.

I inquired further about the Chinese Army training in Guangxi and learned that in addition to shooting at the foreigners' building the students were trained in guerilla warfare by watching such western movies as Rambo and Predator. No wonder so many of my male students wanted the "English" names of Sylvester and Arnold. Many were also taught a "swimming theory" course in which they directed hoses at one another and paddled (the canals were filled with various forms of waste, human included, and not fit for swimming).

At least we can rest easily knowing that the Long Beach PD could probably take the Southern Chinese Army if such a need arises...but I would suggest avoiding Police Academy Park in Long Beach if gunfire might interrupt your picnic.

Monday, August 16, 2004

The Uberheisse

The prolific poster known as Anonymous has posed the question of how I can be single if I am so HOT, as was reported by Mark (friend from college).

Of course, everyone knows that all hot chicks are spoken for by the age of 31 so there must be something wrong with me, right?

Anonymous has posed a valid question regarding my hotness/singleness so I will attempt, with tongue in cheek, to explain the protocol we hot folks operate under...

It is a little known fact among the truly hot people of the world, secretly referred to as the Uberheisse, that we must remain single until our hotness has peaked. We take a vow, often in our early 20's - after the majority of the population's hotness has faded - to remain single until such time as we begin to cool. Indeed, there is a secret handshake, a password, several acronyms, even a membership card. Among the many rules under which live, the Uberheisse consider taking oneself off the market prematurely to be selfish and recognize that it can, in extreme cases, lead to societal upheaval as a result of no single hot people being available for the fawning and fantasizing of the masses. The members of the Uberheisse who have broken their vows and married often find that it is impossible to be super hot and be committed to just one person as the masses just won't allow it. Examples include many famous actors, actresses and models who end up divorced and really, unable to recover their hot status.

And then there is the moral dilemma each uberheisse must face at a certain age: accepting when one's hotness has peaked. As a member approaching age 32, I realize my days of a member of the elite group are numbered. It is only when my hotness begins to cool that I shall be forced to act as an average member of society and quickly grasp the last, best person that is interested in me. Until that time, however I shall do my best - no matter the sacrifices I must make - to remain single and seemingly available to the average adult male.

So Anonymous and others who doubt the ability of a hot chick to remain single, please take a moment to reflect on how your quality of life would be affected should all the female uberheisse members suddenly be snatched up into relationships. After all, without hope, hand lotion and a hot chick, what does a straight man really have?

Friday, August 06, 2004

The Great Picture Debate

To post a picture...or not to post a picture...that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler to enable the reader to use one's imagination or to appease in to the attention-deprived, uncreative masses and just post a damn picture.

I choose not to post pictures because although I am willing to share my stories, for entertainment and humor, I am unwilling to share myself for those purposes. Besides, what would it matter anyhow? It seems better that the readers who don't know me exercise their imaginations and dream me up however they choose and those who do know me, well, you know me so it's not a far stretch.

Enough said.