Tag Archives: athlete

The Runner’s Manifesto

When running on the busy Chicago lakefront, be prepared for closed restroom facilities. Be prepared to run far and fast, because you are running on a thin strip of grass between Lake Michigan and Lake Shore Drive, and there are only bridges every mile or so for runners to access the more frequent restrooms on the non-lake side of the highway.

Be prepared to imagine your buttcheeks clenched so tight that you couldn’t sneak a well-lubricated Q-tip™ up there. Be prepared to accept that five minutes of such clenching while running is the equivalent of those little machines that scramble eggs inside the shell: your intestinal blender is set on purée.

When you finally give up and are reduced to hiding behind a clump of unmowed waist-high grass so that you can be seen neither by the people fifty yards away with the Frolicking and Curious English sheepdogs nor the heavy traffic on the road, be educated about the physics of nice flat rocks:

  1. they won’t scratch your exposed and sweaty ass
  2. they allow you to squat very low to the ground
  3. they have a far greater splash factor than grass

Next time:

  • you will wish to store a handkerchief in your pocket
  • you will wish to wear older, less white running shoes
  • you will wish to make your exit with haste, for Frolicking and Curious English Sheepdogs are expert at locating fresh purée
  • you will wish to remove your headphones while squatting so that you can hear the approach of strangers over the blare of C+C Music Factory

Be forewarned that being caught sniffing your fingers quizzically while sprinting from a clump of unmowed grass makes you look suspicious to dog owners and runners.

Be pleased with yourself for sporting compression shorts that are too tight to suffer crack contamination.

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The lake effect

Summer in a southern town: an outing to a small, man-made lake, my girlfriend and I. This was a special day, as we were finally taking out her little sailboat which we’d been hauling and storing for years without ever using.

At the lake was a tiny beach where you were allowed to swim – a crescent of imported sand, a tennis-court sized plot of green-brown water demarcated by a rope with bobbing buoys, the whole area packed with the hundreds of people who decided that this was a fine use for a sunny July day. There was a concession stand and public bathrooms and picnic tables, and the whole thing was entirely unappealing: hot and crowded.

If you are lucky enough to have your own 12-foot yacht, you don’t have to mingle with the rabble. You launch at the boat slip, so of course you fall in the water. The county park ranger tells you there there’s no swimming except in designated areas, so you tell her you weren’t swimming, but she pretends she doesn’t hear you. You clamber back into your yacht in your now-wet blue-and-white flowered board shorts, muttering under your breath.

We got the sailboat all set up and waited for the wind. We waited some more. A slight puff filled the sail, and we were glad. We were still only about ten feet from the boat launch, however. We paddled a bit with the single oar to get away from the no-swimming-woman, but it was impossible to move the boat with any speed or specific destination in mind. But there wasn’t much in the way of wind, so we decided to enjoy the sunshine, drifting around the lake. We drifted eventually to the center of the small lake and had a picnic, letting the light wind take us where it might. While I was enjoying my sandwich, my meal was interrupted by the emergency broadcast system. First, shooting pain. Then:

BOWELS: We are full. You have thirty seconds.
ME: I’m eating lunch!
BOWELS: Twenty-eight.
ME: I’m on a boat, motherfucker.
BOWELS: Twenty-five.
ME: There are bathrooms at the beach.
BOWELS: The lake is a giant toilet.
ME: I’m not alone! What about her?
BOWELS: Nineteen.

My entire life I have been deeply envious of anal retentive people. I have about as much retaining power as a sandcastle wall. These emergency broadcasts are accompanied by sharp, shooting pains which make it clear that my bowels aren’t fucking around. NOW.

I explained to her, in an oddly tense combination of great humility and panic, that I had to go to the bathroom RIGHT NOW. That’s an unfortunate euphemism, but I couldn’t say that I was going to take a shit right in front of her. I yelled “Sorry!” over my shoulder and plunged into the lake.

First, I had to get off my board shorts. This wasn’t, of course, the first time that my bowels had pulled this particular stunt. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say that I know you have to get the shorts off.

I got the shorts to my ankles when my bowels released their burden. I propelled myself away from the boat backwards so I wouldn’t be floating in my own squid ink. All the pain stopped.

Relief. Ahhh.

“Are you okay?” she called.

“Don’t look!” I shouted. There was a trail of tears between me and the boat, and the last thing I needed was for her to be looking at it. We’d been together for years, but there was no reason for her to inspect the shameful herd of tiny brown lake otters surfacing by the boat. I continued pooping; my bowels weren’t shitting me about being full. It was a lot.

I was so relieved that I didn’t crap on the boat and that the intense discomfort was gone. I was so relieved that I didn’t quite make full sense of the loud noise breaking the quiet of the lake.

A motor. A skiff with two park rangers buzzed toward me. The megaphone blared a man’s voice: “THERE’S NO SWIMMING EXCEPT IN DESIGNATED AREAS. GET BACK IN THE BOAT.”

I look at my girlfriend, her mouth an O of surprise. The boat circles around me, about twenty yards away. I’m going to have to swim through an entire otter colony to get back to the boat. I reach down to pull up my board shorts. But they aren’t there.

“NO SWIMMING. GET BACK IN THE BOAT.”

I can’t find my shorts. I do a 360 but can’t see them anywhere. They are blue and white and flowered, so I should be able to see them. This lake is not particularly clean, even on a good day, and today is most assuredly not a good day.

I wave to the rangers to let them know I hear them. “Gotcha! Everything’s fine,” I shout. I’m just shitting in your little lake.

“GET BACK IN YOUR BOAT NOW.” They are motoring closer.

I am swimming in the middle of a bad dream. I can’t just clamber back into the boat naked, for God’s sake, with two park rangers and a future ex-girlfriend watching.

I’m thinking I swim around to the other side of the boat to climb in. My girlfriend’s seen me naked, at least. I’m half-treading, half-swimming, and I feel what I imagine to be a particularly mature otter rub against my loins. Yuck. I look down and am gratified to see a familiar clump of blue-and-white fabric.

Saved. I fumble awkwardly with my shorts, trying to slip them on and keep my face out of the water, swimming away from the skiff while the rangers shout each last warning to me. I finally wrangle my legs into the leg-holes and pull them up. I am no longer naked, I am no longer full of shit, and I am happy.

I climbed back into the boat and waved to the rangers and smiled weakly at my future wife. She shook her head and grimaced and we paddled back to the beach.

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Some parties you don’t want an invite to

The Poop Date
by Norton Loomer

I learned everything I know about modern dating while sitting on the toilet one day after school.

Normally I don’t use the student bathroom for my business, but I had a teacher meeting to get to and didn’t feel like making the quarter mile trek to the staff bathroom, only to find the stall occupied by one of the pot-smoking janitors. Besides, it was after school, so I figured I was in the clear. Sure enough, the bathroom was empty, so I locked the door, dropped my pants, sat down, and admired the writing on the wall while I waited for the big event.

I wasn’t too far along when two rowdy students, way too rambunctious for a public bathroom, began making a ruckus. At first I thought they were just there to change for whatever after school activity they did, so I just continued to sit and mind my own business. They let out a string of profanity, but other than that, they weren’t really causing me any problems. I sat there and tried to go undetected, being careful not to expel any bursts caused by the buildup of six hours without a bathroom break.

But left alone I would not be. When the initial shouting was over, a whispering began. I couldn’t quite make out what the young lads were saying, but it seemed to have something to do with me occupying the stall. I continued to focus on my own business, but sometimes the pressure gets to be too much.

Then the banging started. “Hey, who’s in there?” one of them shouted in an awkward pubescent squeak while the door rattled and quivered. Unsure the little latch would hold, I ripped off some toilet paper and prepared for departure.

“Hey, answer us!” the other one shouted.

“Yeah. Get outta there. We’re on our poop date.”

I quickened my pace, but not in time. Like a nimble monkey, one of the students emerged over the top of the stall and shouted something unintelligible at me before leaping off in what looked like fear.

“Hey, I think it’s the track coach,” he whispered after a surefooted landing on the tile.

“I don’t care,” the other one shouted. “This is our poop date! He needs to get out of there.”

Embarrassed for all of us, I finished wiping but remained fixed to the seat. I wanted to give them the chance to escape. I’d already seen one face, and although I hoped it was a vague enough depiction that I wouldn’t recognize him in the hallway, I knew I would never be able to forget him.

“I’m outta here,” the climber said.

“No. You need to stick around for a poop date.”

The climber didn’t acquiesce. There was some shuffling of bags and feet followed by steps that gradually distanced themselves from the toilet. Then silence. Surely they were gone.

I rose, pulled up my pants, and stepped out of the stall, the toilet automatically swallowing behind me. Marching to the sink, I spied a young man hanging out by the urinal. He gave me a funny look, but I refused to make eye contact. I pretended it wasn’t one of them, that the funny look was just the reaction to seeing a teacher in the bathroom. Students don’t seem to think we have normal lives. They don’t expect to see teachers outside of the classroom. We don’t even have bodily functions. We’re just weirdos who coop ourselves up in a classroom for days on end, slaving away at lesson planning and paper grading.

After my meetings were over, I went down to the track to organize cross country practice. On my way into the stadium, the climber, dressed now in his football gear, gave me a curious smile, and I knew my embarrassment exceeded his. I nodded to let him know I would never speak of this, and his return glance told me that he would make his dating life a bit more private from now on.

That is until he posted a picture of himself naked on Twitter. At least that’s what I heard.

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