"I wonder what it would be like if we all became what we wanted to be when we grew up? I mean, imagine a world filled with nothing but firemen, cowboys, nurses and ballerinas."
- Lily Tomlin
This bit came to mind as I was remembering going to see "Rocky" for the first time. I was fourteen years old, and I had been flirting with the notion of becoming an athlete of some sort for a while then. I had been on the football, track and wrestling teams, and I felt that my physical condition was something that I could manipulate. Watching the training montage, set to the blaring horns of Bill Conti's "Gonna Fly Now", something inside me stirred. When we got home that night, I went downstairs and started hefting my older brother's barbells. I started to imagine my new training regimen, and even if I never set foot in the ring, I was going to become a lean, mean fighting machine. I was going to run and lift and push and pull and do everything that I saw the Italian Stallion did, with the notable exception of the raw eggs. I didn't see the connection between raw eggs and anything but throwing up.
And so it went. For about three weeks. I even managed to talked my parents into getting me a speed bag. By the time we got it put up out in the garage, the magic was gone. I had moved on to the next thing. In the summer of 1979, I saw "Breaking Away". This coupled with my interest in the Red Zinger Bicycle Classic spurred another flurry of athletic endeavor. I went for long (five to ten miles) training rides wearing my Campagnolo biker's cap, with the strains of Rossini whistling through my head. My bicycle fever broke long before the snows came, and I was once again left without an avocation.
It wasn't until my freshman year in college, after a repeat viewing of "Marathon Man" that I caught the bug again. Dustin Hoffman's character obsesses on legendary Ethiopian marathoner Abebe Bikila, and that footage from the Tokyo Olympics that plays in his head still shows up in mine around the time I hit mile five. I guess the best thing is that I've stuck with this particular fixation for twenty-five years now - even though I did just recently see "Rollerball" again.