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My Best Guess and Your's

Mike Baker, March 2016

The Judge and I run together a few times a week and we had missed our Tuesday run because he was having a foot problem and I was having a knee problem and so we agreed to meet up Wednesday but only after my Hot Power Flow yoga class earlier that morning.

Our usual Tuesday run is up the hill from the Thornton Greenway entrance up to Myles Johnson Road and down Myles Johnson to the gas station and back, which in not as hilly as the 30k route or as long, but it has three or four nice sized unfortunate hills.

They are unfortunate because they are unfortunately the ones you’ll have to run up if you’re going to run this route but as it turned out Bill was right when he said the first liar always loses because I said I was fine to run to the gas station after Hot Power Flow yoga and the Judge called my bluff.

We ended up not turning onto Myles Johnson at the top of the hill but continuing on to the bridge which is another two miles down the trail, giving us a six insted of seven mile run which it turns out was all I had in me after an hour of Hot Power Flow yoga.

I’m getting old but only in my body, as my brain is pretty much eternally fourteen or so, and you’d think being surrounded by women twisting themselves into pretzels would be distracting, but like I said my brain might be fourteen but my actual blood pumping heart is almost fifty.

I had spent the hour praying to a God I barely believe in to please not let me die here in this overheated room, especially since I’d never had the conversation with any of these women -- whom I don’t believe I had ever met or spoken to before about what they need to tell my wife were my very last words.

And this is just in case you and I are doing something together when I finally shuffle off to Buffalo or whatever happens when you die, make sure you tell my wife the last thing I said was that I love her, whether it’s the last thing I say or it's, “Oh hey look, someone dropped their wallet.”

I mean, I do love her quite a bit but you never know, I mean we all think we’re going out like Allen Ginsburg saying something meaningful but most of us will be face down in the mustard yellow colored shag carpet our mothers-in law never replaced.

The point is, I’m suffering on a run that is easier than our normal run and it's a cool Spring morning when I should be light as air, floating along with all the joy the universe has to offer but the Judge has had this business situation he’s been dealing with and its three miles before the story is over.

He launches another story about a dude that tried to kill himself by jumping off a bridge and ends up killing the driver of a truck and only injures himself which means instead of facing the great hereafter he’s going to be facing a judge (not the Judge as the Judge is a retired judge) and looking at twenty years in prison for manslaughter.

This is when I realize the difference between Jews and Irish Catholics. The Judge is Jewish and I’m Catholic. Catholics are just poorly educated Jews who drink too much and who, instead of drinking, brood -- and maybe they’d be happier drinking and we Catholics could quit laying bricks for a living if we could just sober up and read a book once in a while.

Now on our last run, the Judge and I were under similar circumstances, whereby I had lifted weights in the morning and met the Judge in the afternoon to run this course he’d made up near my job because he is both a good friend and he likes to watch me suffer which, it turns out, is a common trait among many of my friends.

It’s not just that I had lifted weights in the morning but it’s hot out, not really hot like Florida-summer-110-degrees-with-100%-humidity-hot but maybe 80-degrees-after-months-of-cold-weather-hot, and it seemed like a damn desert out there.

It was just that I had lifted weights and it was the Arabian Desert in the Myers Park neighborhood but also I’d started a new diet whereby I hadn’t had a carbohydrate to eat in over two days and here we were climbing the hill at Hole #9 which is a hill of proportions so mythic it’s been mythic since the 1970’s when people ran in dolphin shorts and dudes wore half cut t-shirts and thought they looked tough.

I haven’t bonked in a long time but half way up hole #9 I started walking. But not just walking, I took off my t-shirt and put it on my head and began cursing the Judge in language I am not allowed to even consider putting on these pages.

Regardless, the Judge and I soon parted ways and I came up on some Police arresting four young men who were seated on the curb, hands behind their back in handcuffs with the Police in tactical regalia and pistols and batons and such things as Police are prone to be found holding, and they, the Police and the four gentlemen in handcuffs, were taking up most of the sidewalk.

I tried to slide past, a short bearded sweating shirtless man with his shirt on his head trying to act as if he might be invisible which it turns out he’s not and one of the fine members of the Leon County Sheriff’s Department put his hand where his hip be at.

This is a note to any of the youth reading this story or even their parents, you never ever never want to see any member of law enforcement put his hand where his hip be at because that is where his Glock 9mm is kept.

I am a middle aged, chubby bearded white collar office worker heading to my job after, albiet shirtless with my shirt on my head, after an afternoon run through the neighborhoods around where I hold my white collar office job and here is this fine upstanding member of Leon County’s law enforcement community with his hand where is hip be at and I might had pee’d myself just a little.

Now I’m telling the Judge this story, about the very fine member of the Leon Law Enforcement community putting his hand where his hip be at and all the tactical gear and the four fellas sitting on the sidewalk, as we're running along on the way back to our cars, his is a truck an mine is a car, when I let out with a pitch perfect, “We had rakes and shovels and other implements of destruction…”

I want to pause a moment in my story to tell you that I have a lot friends who are hippies and they’re fine people, much like the very fine upstanding members of the Leon County law enforcement community and particularly the very fine upstanding member of the Leon county law enforcement community who had his hand on his Glock who didn’t shoot me, except perhaps that hippies are likely to smoke more weed then the fine members of the Leon County law enforcement community which I’m not saying is the case with the very excellent member of the Leon County law enforcement community that most definitely has his hand where his hip be at as I tried gingerly to avoid eye contact and just get inside my office to my white collar job.

I just never thought of myself as a hippie, well I might have joined the back to the land movement back in the 70’s, had I been there back in the 70’s, but I wouldn’t have been one of those sturdy folks still living there out on the land now, but one of those skinny starving folks hitchhiking back to town to call his parents for bus money home.

But really the thing I want to tell you about is the little West Indian fella I saw the other day because, like I said earlier, I’m getting old and things are breaking down a little and so the day before I ran up 120 stories of stairs after running three miles and found, for reasons still unknown to me, I could bend my left leg and I was having knee problems, like I said.

The West Indian doctor fella had this dumpy office and he looked like a retired third world general on the outs with money, kind of stuffed into old clothes in a cold drafty office what wasn’t so much furnished as his office has stuff in it, like a desk and some bone models scattered around, a foot here and skull there, papers and a calendar book.

Like I said I’m not a hippie but I know a few and there I was on the trail running, able to quote in pitch perfect tone Arlo Guthrie’s line from Alice’s restaurant Massacree, “Shovels and rakes and other implements of destruction.”

And here I was getting something between physical therapy and some kind West Indian body magic and paying good money to get it done, and I was back on my heels feeling humbled in this old fella's presence like I might be the only person who knew he was actually the Dalai Lama.

And there I was on the trail running home with the Judge and I remember this old West Indian fella that might be the Dalai Lama, gentle and kind as a lamb, but cranky and decisive at the same time and I remembered the way I knew how to be that fourteen-year-old boy, the one my Mama was proud of, and just said, Yes Sir, a lot.

And the Judge was worrying about his business situation again and I found myself saying yes sir a little bit but not actually yes sir as that would be weird like hugging your wrestling coach weird because you generally want to punch your wrestling coach’s lights out for making you run stairs until you puked.

I mean yes sir like you might get your uncle a beer because he’s your uncle and even if he’s already a little drunk, you’re gonna drive him home and listen to his story for the fifteenth time about getting divorced that night because mostly you’re glad you got him home in one piece and somehow you’re glad to hear that story again on the long dark drive taking him home because some day one of you won’t be there and that drive will be lonely and quiet.