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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

It’s a Spandex Train Wreck, Not a Marathon

Today was Patriots Day — explained once or twice in the past here, if you’re unfamiliar — around these parts. In general, it’s a fine holiday, because it lets us witness the Boston Marathon, because the Red Sox play a special eleven AM game at home, and — most of all — because we get the day off, and no one else does.

Of course, in specific, it’s a poopy dumb holiday, because this year, for the first time since I moved to Boston over a decade ago, I didn’t get the day off either. Our office worked on Patriots Day, like the rest of the schlubs schlepping to work on a Monday morning in the lower forty-eight.

Seriously, what good is a private fake holiday that you don’t get to share in? Stupid, that’s what.

(I don’t care if that didn’t make sense. I’m busy whipping up a good petulant over here. Mind yer business.)

I happen to live just a couple of blocks off the main thoroughfare that the runners hurtle down on their way to the Collapsing Line. And the office happens to be a few blocks on the other side of said thoroughfare. So for most of my commute to work today, I was treated to the sights of people walking to and fro, setting up chairs, lining up water stations and arranging rows of gleaming new Port-A-John stalls.

(I hope to god they were new. Otherwise, the ‘gleaming’ is far more disturbing.)

In other words, I watched a bunch of people preparing to leisurely spend their days off getting front-row coming-down-the-stretch seats to the Boston Marathon. Or planning an especially rowdy bout of ‘drinking in public on a random April Monday’.

(If you’ve ever been here for Marathon Day, then you already know these are one and the same thing. What better inspiration for chugging a couple dozen brews over the course of a weekday morning than watching hundreds of two-percent-body-fat stick figures nearly kill themselves hoofing it downtown from the outskirts of the suburbs?

It can be a little intimidating, to be sure. At least, until you find your purpose in the bottom of that frosty mug in your hand: Those runners have their job; I’ve got mine. It’s a delicate symbiosis, but it works. And everyone wakes up feeling hung over tomorrow.)

Her leg flailing and puffing and Elaine Benes-like thumb juts would be tragic comedy fodder at best, like sending a clown into the lions’ den before the Christians, to be eaten hilariously first.

But I couldn’t join in the festivities; not this year. In fact, I had a meeting in the morning, so I was forced to hustle past the gawkers and water cups and shiny john closets on the way to work. I’ll admit it soured my mood a bit. I wanted to stay out in the fresh air and sunshine, taking in the sights and the sounds and whatever that unsteady guy leaning on the lamppost is drinking at a quarter after nine in the morning. I felt my liver squoosh against my skin, like a fat kid pressing his nose up to a candy store window.

Alas, the office beckoned, so I hurried across the street and on my way. As I reached the other side, I saw a remarkable thing — a young woman, maybe in her mid-20s, wearing spandex pants and running garb and rocking a high-tech pair of running shoes. And jogging.

On Marathon Day. And right beside the main race artery, of all places.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. I mean, the nerve. Sure, people run along this street all the time, on other days. Those times are then. But now — with dozens of world-class distance jockeys careening down the road at you? What’s the angle, sister?

If you were really serious about running, you’d be out there with them. If you’re not, then why flaunt your amateur moves right down the runway of prime-time Marathon central? You don’t see me warbling Carmen off-key outside the Metropolitan Opera House, or acting lazy and belligerent on the steps of Congress. Those places are where the REAL people do their work. Not schlubs like us.

I figured if she made it as far as the main street, she’d be laughed off the sidewalk. It was nearly time for the first wave of professional runners to skitter by; Her leg flailing and puffing and Elaine Benes-like thumb juts would be tragic comedy fodder at best, like sending a clown into the lions’ den before the Christians, to be eaten hilariously first.

The most humane thing I could do was prevent this girl, this… jogger, from making a fool of herself by the raceway. So I made sure to catch her attention, and as we passed I snorted and said:

Child, please. You’re no Tatyana Pushkareva.

For the record, that did stop her in her tracks. I kept walking and didn’t look back, but I assume she saw the error of her ways and walked — with a slow, even gait — the rest of the way to the spectator area. No need to thank me, young runner. Just don’t bring that weak game around the count when the big girls and boys are playing, is all. Everybody else we’ll see running today entered a big honking race. What did you do this morning, eh? Have a nice big bowl of “Working Up to My First 5K-Os”?

As for me, I made it to work. I did not get the day off; I did not pass ‘GO’ and collect two hundred dollars. But I did save one young stranger from making a fool of herself. And if I can do that for just one person, then it’s all worth….

Nah; who am I kidding? I’d still rather have the day off. A whole parade of ostrich-kneed yobbos could hobble their way down the marathon route, and I wouldn’t give two sweat-stained lycra ass flaps. I was just glum about not having the holiday, and took it out on some random awkward waif.

So Patriots Day wasn’t all bad. But still the day off would be better. Next year, I’ll just have to loaf harder. Until then — practice, practice, practice.

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