Running from School, Part II

The Devil rubbed his eyes, awakened by a stream of light breaking through the cracked door of his bedroom. “Honey?” he asked. “What time is it?”

“Shh…” she replied. “It’s early. You can go back to sleep.”

“No, I’m awake. Where were you?”

Yawning, stretching slowly, she began to get undressed. “You remember that sucker who thought he’d try running again?”


“No, that’s the guy stuck between a rock and, well… you know. Same kind of winning record, though.”

The Devil paused. “I think so,” he said. “But, go on.”

“Well, this other guy, he thought he’d be smart and run last night. And it worked. I wasn’t paying attention, he made it all the way through, and he didn’t squeak a bit. This morning, however, he wasn’t as smart and tried again. That’s when I caught him, kicked him the left calf muscle, and grinned as he whined and cried all the way home.”

“Wow,” the Devil said. “That’s pretty—”

“No, wait, it gets better. So, his calf is hurting and he thought maybe he’d go biking during lunch because, well, did I mention the not smart thing?”

“You hurt his calf again?”

“No, no! Better! I ran across my pal, Cycling, at the store—you remember Cycling, right? She came over a few weekends ago, brought that weenie date who smelled like patchouli? What was his name? Oh, right, Yoga. But called himself Downward Dog.”

“I dunno,” admitted the Devil. “My mind was on a host of other things that night. We hit 1 Billion Served in our torture chambers, and I was trying to think of a theme for the celebration.”

“Who was the billionth?”

“Some nitwit who abandoned his kids and thought he could beat cancer with quack science.”

“I know that guy! Steve Jobs, right? Well, anyway, I ran across Cycling and asked her if maybe she’d do me a solid. And she did! She hurt his right knee ten miles into the ride.”

The Devil stared. “Damn. You’re one mean bitch, Running. Now come here, let’s snuggle.”

“Sounds heavenly.”

Everyone Should Talk Religion at the Dinner Table

A particularly pinkish pork chop tonight prompted me to accuse the InstaPrincess of attempted mariticide by trichinosis, which then found me declaring I was now Jewish as self-defense against any future pork chop aggression (or meals), at which point our four year-old piped up with a “What’s ‘Jewish’?”

Right. So, in a rather stunning metaphysical coup, we explained how some people believed in a god, how some people are Jewish, some are Christian, some go to church, some hang out in a synagogue and some, still, are us—who have no religion—which is just dandy because we can sleep in on Saturdays AND Sundays, and our Wednesday night dance cards are almost always open.

“Do you understand?” Of course he did. We can explain anything to him as long as we pepper the talk with enough examples of super heroes.


We grinned. Bright kid. Our genes, though, so why not?

“I’m Jewish.”


“Because Grandma took me to [an African Methodist Episcopal] church once.”

See? We can teach ANYTHING.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Hyde Park Pilgrim Run

Today I entered my first 5K and knocked it out of the ball park.  First place, even.

Those of you who were with me might be questioning my sanity right now.  “First place?  In what, the line to the bathroom?”  (Not that the bathroom line was a bad place to be; they had some nice bathrooms, lemme tell you, so I’m not at all ashamed by being a member of that group.  The bathrooms weren’t Taj Mahal material (so few things rarely are), but they also weren’t the porcelain poop place of most frats, so while there may have been room for improvement, there was a lot further down they could fall.)

Ignore the bathrooms, you say, not important (not until you need one, sure); let’s talk about this first place business.  You don’t jog.  Ever.  You’ve never run in a 5K before, we’re not even sure you know how to spell it, and we read somewhere–and by “somewhere” we mean the race results sheet–you glided in at a meh of a 26.25 time.  Plus, you continue, and this is the important part, we saw a throng of people make it past the finish line before your questionable mug rounded the corner.

All true, I admit.  But those other people in the race?

They don’t count.

No, listen, hear me out:  All 5Ks yearn to be 10Ks, so there’s a upward class mobility thing going on.  You can protest that 5Ks aren’t socially conscious–or even conscious–but facts can’t be helped; 5Ks want to be 10Ks.  So, like other groups that want to jump the social divide, 5Ks expect a certain level of decorum, and if the participants don’t adhere to said level, they run afoul (or in the case of this run, afowl) of the unknown but very powerful “Cut loose, Turkey, you’re gone” rule.

Let’s start with the shoes.  If you’ve ever seen running shoes, you instantly know that all of the major shoe companies are locked in a deadly battle to see which one can design the ugliest shoe possible.  Perhaps it started off as a joke at Nike, a one-off, a “HAW HAW, I bet the boss will freak when he sees this neon green monstrosity.  We hear an intern is blind from staring at it too long.”  But it turned out the boss had gone to an art school, and so had a total loss of knack for good design, and the design was approved and people bought it (the thinking went, “Well, surely they made up for the neon green by making it even springier.  I’ll buy it!”), and, and…

Thermonuclearwar.  Reebok caught on, Brooks gave their color palette over to the blind, and Saucony… well, Saucony kept doing what they normally did and no one really noticed.

So, anyone who had uglier running shoes than mine were instantly disqualified.  It’s sad, but it had to happen.

Which left ten people and me.

Five of those guys were rail-thin with calves the size of Popeye’s forearms after a spinach fix.  It’s obvious they were trying too hard, and as every 5K knows, when you try too hard you can’t be cool and it’s no 10K for you.  So, they were out.

My competition was now five people.  Tough, true, but I could handle it.  I’d come in sixth, but sixth is respectable in some parts of the world.  But not this part, and it didn’t matter, because three more were instantly booted due to their silly costumes.  Turkey hats, pilgrim outfits, tutus, viking helmets… all awesome on Halloween, but for a socially paranoid 5K like this one, it’s obvious you can’t have too much fun. You have to take it more seriously, but not too serious otherwise you’re trying too hard.

So, two enemies left.  And me.

“Hey, you got pig stink in your eye!” I yelled at the closest.  And when he looked, I thew pig stink in his eye.

One person left.  And me.  I tried the pig stink.  Didn’t work.  She wouldn’t budge.  “Shoe’s untied,” I helpfully offered.  She pointed to her velcro and surged ahead.  Foiled!  “Velcro’s untied!” I yelled in desperation because we were closing in on the finish line.  Not even a hint she heard me.

Second place ain’t bad, I thought. I could live with second.  They get medals, right?  I could–but, no.  I’m not a quitter, I won’t settle for less than my rightfully earned gold.  I tried one more time.

“I’m telling your mom you picked your nose and ate your booger!”

She whipped around.  “I did NOT!” she cried because she was five and very sensitive about stuff like that.

I zoomed by.

And that’s how I won my first 5K.  The InstaPrincess hasn’t said anything yet–won’t even look at me– but I know she’s very proud.

Romney Loves You, Big Bird

The Arena. It wasn’t really an arena—not like a giant sports arena—but it was the best they had. After President Romney led Paul Ryan through “The Street”, laying waste to all of the unsuspecting muppets and their buildings, not much was left. “Sesame”, for example, was crossed out on the pockmarked street sign and replaced with, “The Truth: The Hand is Up Your Ass!”

There wasn’t much. What Romney did leave behind was a warped sense of violent justice. “You have problems,” he sneered from under his wavy hair, “you take them to the Arena. Anything goes.”

And that was how they lost Snuffleupagus. Elmo, who had been one of the first to have his strings cut, had gone crazy.

“Can you tell me how to get…” he’d start singing softly—and then louder, wilder, eyes wide, “TO HELL!”

Even worse, his mind had reverted to imaginary slights from years before. “First there, then not there. Only Big Bird can see him. He’s a spy, a terrorist, a monster, that shit-colored elephant. Snuffleupagus, I’m calling you out!”

The remaining muppets laughed. After all, how did Elmo really expect to take on a behemoth like Snuffleupagus?

“Go away, little one,” Snuffleupagus said, all curled up in what remained of his yellow friend’s nest. “They plucked Big Bird, a tasty treat for one big political Thanksgiving, and now I’m all alone.” But Elmo wouldn’t. He taunted Snuffleupagus for days on end, calling him an “imaginary freak” and crying out that Snuff’s ornithological love was unnatural. Finally, only wanting to put an end to the pestering and to be left alone, he agreed to meet Elmo at the Arena.

On that fateful day no one showed but the two combatants. The muppets had other worries: Count von Count was on the loose, somewhere, hungry and vicious after the number supply had run out. There were whispers that he had looked “vampire” up in the dictionary and discovered what no one else had ever wanted him to know. “Vlood?” he had yelled out, maddened by hunger. “All this time and it was suppose to be VLOOD?”

Yeah. There were worries. Besides, the muppets knew that it’d be over in a few minutes, anyway. What could Elmo do to Snuffy?

Later on, after it was all over, everyone suspected Rodeo Rosie had been bought by Elmo. She stood silent in the shadows, waiting for her cue; and then she burst from the black running, yelling “Yeehaw!” and blasting away with her six-shooters. The worse part? She wasn’t bought for money; she did it because she was bored. She was seduced by excitement. Now the rest of Sesame Street knew what must have happened to Forgetful Jones, her longtime companion.

After the loss of Snuffleupagus they thought it couldn’t get any worse. They thought that right up to the day Romney returned and made Elmo his new Secretary of Education…

The One Where I Couldn’t Marry My Wife

I’m not a Democrat, although I tend to side with them on their social platforms more often than not.  I’m definitely not a Republican, although counting back thirty years or so I could see why moderates were attracted to some of its planks.  Call it laziness, call it a fear of commitment, call it an unwillingness to give up sleeping with either babe, but I’m pretty much an avowed Independent.  I don’t relish the labels and prefer to find the reasonable, sane center of either the Left or the Right.  If I can find it, that is, but it’s pretty tough these days.

That said, while I understand a lot of GOPers are not one-issue voters, I cannot fathom why  Log Cabin Republicans are, well… Republicans.  Here, for example, is what their executive director said about the President’s announcement that he supports gay marriage:

“That the president has chosen today, when LGBT Americans are mourning the passage of Amendment One, to finally speak up for marriage equality is offensive and callous,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans executive director. “Log Cabin Republicans appreciate that President Obama has finally come in line with leaders like Vice President Dick Cheney on this issue, but LGBT Americans are right to be angry that this calculated announcement comes too late to be of any use to the people of North Carolina, or any of the other states that have addressed this issue on his watch. This administration has manipulated LGBT families for political gain as much as anybody, and after his campaign’s ridiculous contortions to deny support for marriage equality this week he does not deserve praise for an announcement that comes a day late and a dollar short.”

And you know?  He’s right.  It was a political move by Obama.  Anyone who’s been paying attention these past four years knows Obama supports gay marriage, and anyone with half a mind understands that he couldn’t have been elected four years ago if he openly supported it.  For the record, I don’t agree with Obama’s compromise; I think he should have committed himself to civil rights from the get-go.  I understand why he didn’t, and I appreciate the progress his administration has made toward marriage equality, but this is one viewpoint that I don’t think should be compromised–even if it costs an election.

Still, despite my misgivings over how Obama’s handled gay marriage, I just truly don’t understand why Log Cabin Republicans stick with the GOP.  The simple truth is that the GOP, by action and word, absolutely despises them.  They truly hate gays.  We’re not talking simple political expediency here, we’re talking out-and-out bigotry that shows little  sign (almost invisible) of letting up any time soon.

The Republicans kill equal marriage bills, add amendments denying even civil marriage; they refuse to protect gays in matters of work and housing; they push unscientific and dangerous “therapies” to convert TEH GAYZ into repressed and suicidal faux-straights; they encourage and relish in religious bigotry; they truly, truly dislike Log Cabin Republicans.

It’s not a one-issue deal, here.  It’s THE issue.  I’m not defined by my sexuality, but it is a part of my make up and it’s an essential part of who I am.  Were the tables turned and straights discriminated against, I would not suck at the teat of the very group that hates me so.  Whether pride, stubbornness or just one small iota of self-respect, I’d rather go it alone, unwilling to bend knee to a party who tells me each and every way it cannot stand me.

A quick forty-five years ago it would have been illegal in some states for me to marry my wife.  (Neither of us is that old, by the way, not even close… with varying definitions of “close”.)  Thankfully, cooler heads on the Supreme Court (who, up to that point as a historical body, had badly mangled the outcomes of anti-miscegenation cases) prevailed and in Loving v. Virginia struck down all the remaining bigoted laws denying marital rights to couples of mixed race.  Had that not happened, I wouldn’t be married to the beautiful Insta-Princess, and we wouldn’t have our outrageously awesome son, Evil Holland.

I certainly would never join the political group responsible for keeping us apart.  I would have fought separately, independently, and unwaveringly, and afterward I would have kicked the bigoted party in the tooth. (Not really about the tooth thing.  But it’s fun to say.  Ask my wife.  I stole it from her.)

I have little doubt that gay marriage will eventually be the law of the land, and I would be surprised if the Supreme Court wasn’t the trolley ride we hopped on to make it happen all across the nation.  There will be bumps and bruises; and we will see the ugliest side yet to come from the social conservatives, but it will happen.  And I will gleefully celebrate and proudly tell Evil Holland that, yes, this is what it’s like when a country does it right, and to remember this day because one less form of bigotry is allowed to flourish in our political system.

And then I’ll go pee.  Because, man, turns out your body pees a lot when you exercise each day.



Apparently, I’m Not The Worst Father

Sean Harris is an idiot.

How’s that for the first line of the first post for this blog?

As I’m sure you’ve read by now, Sean Harris is a Baptist pastor over yonder in Fayetteville, N.C. whose most famous (and recent) sermon describes how fathers should punch their sons should they show any signs of “effeminate” behavior.  Think I’m kidding?

“Dads, the second you see that son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give them a good punch. OK?”

Not content to pick on just one gender, though, he also went after the girls:

The sermon saw Harris urge parents of girls who are “acting too butch” to make them “walk like a girl and talk like a girl, and smell like a girl.”

So, let me repeat: Sean, you’re an idiot.  You’re also a bad father and, while I’m pretty confident–based on reading your parishioners’ recorded responses to what you said–your feelings are accepted lingua franca in your church, you’re also a terrible pastor.

I accept that I’m a flawed dad.  I recognize that I’m grumpy and impatient; that I’m a little too willing to allow my son to take a break from the dining room and give his (and my) attention to the TV during dinner; and that, now that Spring weather has arrived for its short, short stay, I don’t drag him outside enough to take advantage of it.

But I will never hurt my son, insult him, or make him feel even a little bad for being “effeminate” (whatever that means).  Never mind that I already take issue with defining our sons and daughters by flimsy and vague (not to mention belittling) gender roles, but whittling my son’s spirit down to a nub because he’s not following what’s considered a traditional male path?  Never.

If my son evinces characteristics most often associated with girls, so what?  Who cares?  First, there’s nothing wrong with having those characteristics, and second, my job as a parent is to support him; to teach him kindness and respect; to show him how to be strong and independent; to guide him as a critical thinker so that he can make informed decisions and accept and adapt when he’s wrong; and to both show him love and teach him empathy.

He can end up gay, he can end up straight; he could end up entirely alone because he feels that’s what’s good for him.  And I will love him fiercely. Proudly.  And happily. Because he’s my son and I want him to live life not as a good man, but as a good person.

I’ll stumble along the way, but I’ll learn to be a better father.  I just take comfort now in knowing that I will never be like Sean Harris.