I went for a run yesterday afternoon. It was my first time out since my toe was t-boned by a runaway shelf the other day. I’m thankful that my metatarsals suffered only topical damage, in the form of an indigo colored toenail.
Nothing is less romantic sounding than a broken toe. Think about it, if you break your foot, you’re probably a stuntman; while breaking your ankle elicits pained expressions on a three fingers of bourbon level. Broken ribs provoke theological puns about Eve getting greedy, which is snarky without being demeaning. A broken arm somehow makes us seem athletic. A broken knee cap will have your friends thinking there was some nostra to your cosa.
A broken toe is a punchline. Without the punch. Seriously, if you tell someone you broke your clavicle, they offer to make you dinner for a month. Tell them you broke your toe? You’ve gifted them a running joke that will follow you to your grave.
This was one of the many things I thought about during a particularly brisk run whose Murgatroyd was heavenly. A good run is like watering the soul with Tibetan tap water. Somewhere inside the clipped breathing and rhythmic pounding there exists this wonderfully peaceful dimension in which sight and sound possess a flavor.
And so it happened while I was taking a bite of this glorious run, that mortality became a passing thought. Ditching the tunes invites loose thoughts. As a fifty two year old man who carries an aspirin and his drivers license on these jaunts, thoughts of death are not the preferred in flight movie. Death’s name in this instance, was Jimbo.
I know right?
Jimbo was friends with my pal Big Papi. They began falling out of each other’s loops over the last year and change. This change in temperature came about as Jim got dumber about his health and Big Papi, whose real name is Duane, got sick and tired of lecturing him on it. The last straw came when Jim celebrated a successful heart procedure by going to an all you can eat buffet.
The men both suffered from myriad health problems. But whereas Duane’s are the result of a stroke he suffered as a young man that paralyzed the left side of his body, Jim’s problems were self inflicted.
Truth is, I never liked Jim. He was a caveman whose personality was vanilla ice cream. Jim wore NBA jerseys in public, which I happen to think should be illegal for fat white guys. He drank soda because he didn’t like the taste of alcohol, which was not a sin in and of itself. But judging us for doing so? Was. And the whole Jimbo thing . . I mean, unless you own a bait shop, gun shop or porn shop, there is no fucking way you should allow the bo to caboose your proper name.
Clearly, I’m shitty when it comes to eulogies. Or maybe I’m just no good at dressing things up. But I don’t like that Big Papi had to pretend away the pain since there was nowhere for him to put it now. He’s fifty six years old and he’s going to be borrowing time sooner than later as a result of all the curve balls his body keeps throwing at him.
I attempt to change the subject in my head by assembling a poem on the fly. The cold air is a weep of bricks and the sky feels like a Caravaggio and my run deteriorates from bounding to sodden. The thoughts sometimes, they play for keeps. And death, its real name is time. I’d rather think of nothing at all, but its too late. Barbarians at the gate, the nasty little fuckers. So I push harder now, if only to hurt somewhere else, and it makes me feel as if I have something to lose. I find my rhythm inside the purpose of those twenty minutes.
I’m running away from home.