I Didn’t See This Coming

I had dinner with Martie, Coach, Pooh and Tigger last night.  Its summer break for them and since my hometown has zero good shopping opportunities (excepting Home Depot, of course), they came up my way for some good eats and some good spending.

Right in the middle of a story I was telling at dinner, I looked over at Pooh and noticed that she’s suddenly become a young lady.  Her roundy little face is not really roundy anymore and her chin is suddenly all pointy and sweet and her cheekbones are making an appearance and she looked so grown up that I couldn’t stand it.  I started crying halfway through a sentence.

Coach was astonished, although probably not as astonished as an outsider would have been.  I mean, he’s been a part of Martie’s life since forever and Martie and I are what you call emotional at times.  I think he was particularly torn because while he was sitting next to me as I cried into my napkin, Martie was across the table from him and suddenly crying into her napkin, too.  I could see his dilemma – he wanted to race around the table to her, pat me on the arm, look proudly at Pooh but since we were all in a circle, he could only dart his eyes around in a panic.  Tigger just sat there like, “wha . . .?”

Back when Pooh was a toddler and Tigger wasn’t even a two-celled being, Martie and Coach bought Pooh a swing set.  She loved to swing but she hated bugs so getting her to go outside was super successful until a fly buzzed past, then she was hell bent on heading for the sofa on her squeezy little toddler legs.   We all thought it was adorable because everything toddlers do is adorable, but I also thought it could be changed so I tried that.

Pooh and I were happily swinging one day when a buzzy creature whizzed past.  Pooh got off the swing, covered her eyes and wailed, waiting for me to take her inside.  Instead, I spotted a butterfly on some of the marigold plants in their rock-walled planter and developed a plan.

“Come with me, Pooh,” I said, taking her by the hand.  “Let’s go look at the pretty butterfly.  Not all bugs are scary.”  She, ever trusting, took my hand and willingly followed.

At the planter, I bent down to brush the dirt off the rock wall and then curved Pooh into the crook of my arm as I sat down.  As I held my hand out to the butterfly, I felt a small stick on my behind.  I ignored it because the butterfly was flitting toward my fingers and I was excited to show Pooh the beauty of it.

I felt another stick on my behind, like maybe I was pressing into a sticker bush.  I scooted forward.  Then I felt another and another and another.

“What the . . . ?” I thought.  “Do marigolds have thorns?”  I looked behind me to see what I was sticking my butt into and saw the most horrifying sight.  Fire ants.  Fire ants!  Oh, geez.

Apparently that dirt I brushed off the rock wall was their home.  I just whisked it right off into oblivion which, as you know, will piss a fire ant off like nobody’s business.  Whoops.  In retaliation for my destruction they attacked my behind numerous, numerous times.

I stood up abruptly, knocking Pooh over, and did the only thing I could think to do.  I stripped off my pants.  Which, in case you are unfamiliar with how clothing works, will leave you virtually naked.  Realizing that neighbors were likely now peeking out of their windows due to the loud squawking next door, and realizing that being naked in my sister’s backyard with her squeezy little toddler was in no way sane, I stuffed myself back into my fire ant-riddled pants and ran for the house.  I did remember to get Pooh and as I ran, I tucked her under my arm like a football, screeching the whole way.

As we ran, Pooh very calmly touched my behind with her finger.  “Ant,” she said.  She giggled.  “Ant,” and then she’d poke me again.  “Ant, ant, ant,” all the way to the house.  I set her down on the laundry room floor, stripped myself again and threw everything into the washing machine while Pooh said over and over in her toddler language, “Ant.” Har, har, Pooh.  Very funny. Got over your bug phobia, didn’t you?

I’ve told that story a thousand times.  Used to Pooh would ask for it, and then would tell it to Tigger in her own language which often made no sense. The two of them would cackle in the backseat of my car, highly amused at my injured behind and my naked self.

Now if I told that story, Tigger would giggle to be polite and Pooh would give me a half smile and then text her friends something that has nothing to do with me.  They both still hug me tightly when we get together and we still have big fun talking about boys and clothes and nail polish, but one day soon they are going to flit off with their friends right after giving me that tight squeeze and talk about boys and clothes and nail polish with them, not me.

I’m so, so excited for them and their young little lives, truly, but man . . . . that really hurts.

 

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13.1. Yeah, I Did It.

Four years ago I said, “Y’all, I’m going to run a half marathon.” And then I did.  I totally did, except I only ran 3.1 miles of it which is practically the same thing.  Then last year I told you all a story about drinking like a fish with My Girls and embedded in that story was a second promise to run a half marathon.  And then I did.

Okay, that is a lie.  I can’t even fiddle around with that one and pretend like I did something great.  Instead, what I did was spend all my money fixing my car for the 95th time after it kept crapping out on me and then I could not afford the trip to Cleveland for the race.  (Recently spent another $450 on that vehicle getting some additional mechanical repairs; meanwhile the side piece under the passenger side doors hangs limply down from the frame in the manner of droopy drawers.  Best car ever.  Get a Hyundai Sonata.  Go ahead.  Tell me all about it when you do.)

What I learned from those two experiences is that when I tell you guys I’m going to do something, I don’t do it.  There’s really no explanation for it, but I’m not so dumb as to keep telling you about my goals and whatnot and then have them not come to pass.  If it’s all the same to you, I’m keeping the big stuff to myself.  You can hear about it afterwards, like this:

I COMPLETED MY FIRST HALF MARATHON.

WITH MY GIRLS.

AND I WILL NEVER DO ANOTHER ONE AGAIN.

NEVER.

Months ago, and who even remembers when anymore as my “drinking like a fish” stories with My Girls are beginning to run together, we lounged around in our fuzzy pants and contemplated a second shot at doing a half together. Lo and behold, the next day my checking account was debited $35 for my race fee.  A race in Medina, Ohio which sounds cute but also foreign and far away.  I do recall Squash (the Girl who hails from Ohio) promising us that her weather would be fine and that the course would not be hilly, and I do recall some amount of enthusiasm as we each whipped out our mobile devices and our debit cards and happily signed away the fees.  We clinked together glasses of rum and Coke and then merrily called Luke over for pizza and girl movies.  (This happens often so while I cannot pinpoint the exact trip, they all kind of follow the same itinerary . . . .)

From left to right:  Squash, Nurse Bananahammock, Woney, and your favorite, Jimmie

From left to right: Squash, Nurse Bananahammock, Woney, and your favorite, Jimmie

I realized immediately after that trip that I was really going to complete this half.  And right after that I realized that I needed to train for it.  And then not long after that I realized that Daisy was the perfect person with which to train because she walks like the Energizer bunny and her complaints are very soft-spoken.  We began traipsing up and down the Greenway, three- and four-mile walks here and there and then longer walks on the weekends.  We kept adding mileage every Saturday and eventually walked 11 miles in one go.  It was awful.  It was hot and hilly and our legs were so tired.  We only meant to walk 10 that day, but I misjudged the mile markers (surprise) and when we finished we had walked just over 11 miles.

 

My Greenway

My Greenway

I could tell how the half was going to feel based on that one walk with Daisy.  We were at mile nine and Daisy wearily turned her head towards me.  She gave me a long look and said, “When we get back to the car, I’m going to beat the shit out of you.”

I looked wearily back at her and said, “You can’t catch me.”

And she wearily said, “You can’t run.” Valid.

She probably would have beat the shit out of me except we had promised each other pancakes that day, and our desire for pancakes outweighed her desire to kill me, so we carbed up and eventually forgot about our tired feet.  Carbs are magical.

 

Don't they look delicious?

Don’t they look delicious?

The day arrived for the half marathon.  I was excited enough to be full of hope and naïve enough to not be full of dread.  I had on comfy clothes, a bra that cinched the lady bits into battle ax position, and two pigtails.  There were 13 miles ahead of me and a medal and a chocolate milk at the end.  I was with My Girls and the weather was fine.  The promise of a flat walk was unfounded. We received an email a month before the race that was apologetic in nature – changes were made to the course so that the last eight miles were stuffed full of hills – but I live in Nashville.  We are hills.  I could take it, sure.

From our starting position at the back of the corral, My Girls and I trotted off.  We kept a pretty good clip for quite a few miles (Nurse Bananahammock, the runt of the litter, practically had to jog to keep up with us) and even chatted while we walked.  I greeted every volunteer who steered us in the right direction.

“How you durin?” I’d ask and they would cheerfully wave at us.

“I know, we *are* awesome, this is so great,” I’d say, every time we got the you are fabulous, good on you speech.

Woney said to the Girls, “I knew she’d be like this.”

And I was like that for about nine miles.

Mile nine was the marker where my feet started the burn.  I could hear Daisy in the back of my head saying, “I’m going to beat the shit out of you,” and I thought, “Yeah, this is maybe not so fun anymore.”

By mile 10, I was a grouch.  I was overly fond of pointing out, “That house is ugly.  It looks like doo doo.”

Woney said to the Girls, “I knew she’d be like this.  Just wait.  It gets better.”

By mile 11, I was resigned.  My dogs were barking, one of my pigtail holders had popped off, and my body was one giant salt lick from the sweat.  “I’m finishing this bitch. I did not do all this walking to get swept and not get a medal.  C’mon y’all.  Two to go. Dammit.” Fun.

Woney said to the Girls, “Hold on.  She’s coming back.”

Mile 12 was the killer.  Somehow we had picked up a Negative Nelly who whined about her feet the whole last mile.  “My feet really hurt. Do your feet hurt?  Why aren’t you saying anything about your feet?  This was a mistake.  My feet are killing me.”  Yes, our feet hurt.  Our backs hurt.  My butt hurt.  Woney was drained.  Nurse Bananahammock was winded.  Squash was already finished but her feet hurt, I just knew it.  If any of us had had the energy, we would have stabbed old Nelly over there with an ice pick.  But we had a mile to go and there was no getting out of it.  I really wished for Daisy at that point who would have said to Nelly, “When we get to the finish line, I’m going to beat the shit out of you.”  And she would have meant it, carbs or no carbs.

 

Not magical enough to save Nelly.

Not magical enough to save Nelly.

On we trudged. Resignedly I’d respond to the clapping volunteers, “Uh huh, we are great.  Yeah, this is awesome.  Sure, we can do this.”  Most of that came out as a wheeze through parched and lifeless lips but at least it came out.

Woney said, “I told you she’d be like this.”

As we reached mile 12.5, I said to the Girls, “I usually like to cry at the end of these types of events.  I don’t think I can today, I don’t have the reserves, but please know that I will want to.”  When we reached the last hill we eyed a sign that read, “You can bitch about the hill, or you can make the hill your bitch.  Finish line at the top.” We heaved mighty sighs and stoically placed one foot in front of the other all the way up the hill.  I swallowed a bug.  Maybe it was cigarette ash from a passing vehicle.  I’m not sure, but it did not help. We had to shove an old man out of our way. He was blocking the path and we did not have the energy to veer.  Children ran wildly at us and we cared not if they brained themselves on our knees.  We were automatons and we were going to finish, up the hill, on a cobblestone street, across the line.

As we got to the top, I held one hand out to Woney and one hand out to Nurse Bananahammock. We locked fingers, raised our arms in victory and crossed the finish line together.  Turns out I did have the reserves because I cried all the way across the line, sweaty, grimy, down to one scraggly pigtail.

 

Done.

Done.

It. Was. Glorious.

Here is the medal. Get a good look at it because it is the last one you will ever see on this blog.  I worked for it.  I earned it.  I am proud of it.  And I never want to do anything like that again to get another.  Isn’t it pretty?  Tell me it’s pretty.

IMG_6951

One tired Jimmie.

One tired Jimmie.

Also, you know we drank like fish after that race was over.  Keep this in mind for future posts which I will not tell you about in advance because I want the plans we made to happen.  But yeah, happy times are a ‘coming.