I ran a 5K this past weekend. It was, for me, an unprecedented first-time act of madness. When I meditated on the reason why I would do such a thing, it became clear to me that I was trying to emulate my father. Growing up, the arc of my feelings towards Dear Auld Dad went from abject fear, to resentment (although, inexplicably, never hatred) to complete and utter indifference. That I would mirror him in any way is not a small revelation to me.
I’ve never been athletic. I never played a sport in school or entered a race. I didn’t like the idea of putting myself in a position where I could be defeated. I was already experiencing quite enough of that with academics and trying to lure the opposite sex.
When I was a little kid my dad played softball. The team was sponsored by Hildebrant, an old and storied meatpacking company in Cleveland. Dad was a butcher and he cut meat for them. My mom would take my brother and I to the games and I remember those summer evenings with tremendous fondness. She’d buy us a slab of Bonomo Turkish Taffy at the concession stand. We’d smack it against the bleacher seats and divvy up the pieces.
I remember being thrilled when my father came up to bat. He was a big guy and could really smash the ball. It’s one of the few fond memories of my childhood connected directly to him. I felt it was important for my daughters to see me do something athletic. If I could implant that same cheap thrill that I enjoyed into their tiny minds and then nurture it, they might be more inclined to be participants in life and not just fearful spectators sitting on the sidelines, like their pater.
I’ve been doing short runs on a treadmill for many years but I’m no runner, that’s for damn sure. Waiting at the finish line were my two daughters and my mother- and father-in-law. I thought a time of 30:00 would be a respectable showing. I finished in 27:08 and came in 11th in my age category. Not bad for this old geezer. The look on their faces is worth the continued burning in my legs. Isn’t it amazing what you can accomplish with the proper motivation?
Speaking of old geezers, if you were to visit the Barnes & Nobel on 5th Avenue tomorrow at 12:30, you could get a book signed by KISS drummer Peter Criss. Come back at 5:30 the same day and get a book signed by Rod Stewart!
On November 1st you can get a book signed by Ric Ocasek of the Cars. If you had been there on October 9th, you could have gotten a book signed by Pete Townshend. Is this the new trajectory for aging rock stars? I blame Keef Richards for this.
A very good evening for someone walking down 8th Avenue, don’t you think?