Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Yesterday I looked absolutely stupid.

Yesterday I looked absolutely stupid.

I didn’t learn this from the glares of the Mercedes and BMWs as they passed; drivers looking at me without looking at me.

How thoughtless of their country club not to have some kind of sidewalk around it for short, angry-looking joggers with the matching blue Nike Sphere Running shirt and New Balance shoes, MP3 ear buds whipping rhythmically.

Why do people do these things? This is totally unreasonable. I have a perfectly good car and service it regularly. Like every decent, law-abiding schmuck, I bought an expensive square of paper that says I’m insured. Yeah, there’s the whole health thing. Being impaled by a Mercedes hood ornament also is a compelling argument. I kept pace with the music, figuring I’d figure it out in the next 30 minutes or so.

A sign on the mansion to the left had the silhouette of a dog, surrounded by the text “I CAN MAKE IT TO THE FENCE IN 2.8 SECONDS, CAN YOU?” I pondered the reasoning behind flaunting wealth through an 8-bedroom, 4-bath palace with granite counter tops, when it requires the paranoid vigilance of a conspiracy theorist.

It took four blocks to get to the park, where I was greeted by a rusty water fountain. Swine flu, cholera and dysentery flashed through my mind. I recalled how in the Apple II version of Oregon Trail, I couldn’t ever keep my westward-bound settlers from dying horrible, painful deaths. I didn’t care anymore. I drank. Then I began jogging.

It’s easier when you’re actually in the park. You tend to blend in with the others. There’s a point where you’re not just a jogger, but a member of a race of people dedicated to the practice of running in circles. For a moment you consider launching into a conversation with another jogger, about jogging and other jogging-related things. Do we have jobs? Or just really long lunch breaks? I don’t know. We just jog.

I remember the time my dad and I were lost. It was a country road not far out of town, and the only other person was a lone jogger. We pulled aside and asked him for directions. The guy stared straight ahead and muttered something about not being able to stop. That guy was an asshole.

The pace continues. You get tired. You get thirsty. You get pissy. It gets worse.

After a while, it’s too hard to think of more than two things. One of those things is the word “FUCK.” Sometimes, that alternates with the word “SHIT.” The other is the body-wide throbbing. People unfamiliar with the sensation liken it to dying. I’m one of those people.

At that moment you realize an enormous black hole in your head. It’s a hole where your shitty job used to be, where your bills used to live, where fear and pain and death called home. But you don’t think about it for too long because you can’t. The throbbing doesn’t allow it.

Once it’s absolutely quiet, helplessly dominated by the throbbing, you begin to piece together what’s really been going on. Our entire lives, we listen. We listen to our bosses tell us we’re not good enough. We listen to the debt collectors’ threats of indentured servitude. We listen to the television insulting our intelligence. We listen to the news telling us how we’re all going to die. We listen to everyone except us.

All you have at that point is the throbbing. It’s the throbbing that convinces you that you really are alive.

Yesterday I looked absolutely stupid.
It was magnificent.

This post is somewhat of a departure from the previous content on The Horseshoe Blog. My hopes of this blog always has been more journalistic and less introspective. This was based on philosophy about the importance of journalism and how it relates to healthy free speech and a healthy democracy. I still hope for that, but my attention lately has been drifting father away from actual reporting and more to commentary and analysis of mass media. Soon, I don't know exactly when, I'll unveil a blog for this specific purpose. In the meantime I hope you enjoyed what little content I've posted so far and hope to see you around here again.

P.S., if you're interested in knowing what park I'm referring to in this post, please refer to http://thehorseshoeblog.blogspot.com/2009/02/sundown-washington-park-springfield-il.html

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