Here's the thing about running thirteen miles. Well, thirteen miles and change: You have a lot of time to think. A great many of these blogs are at least partially composed as I am out exercising, and I find that three miles is a pretty good way to clear my mind enough to grab a topic for discussion and come up with a clever sentence or two to seed the process. After running seven miles, which I do from time to time on the weekends, I try to sit down as abruptly as possible so that all those clever bits don't get lost before I have a chance to use them. Doing that once again gave me a head full of threads that I struggled to manage.
The fact that I am currently using this opportunity to discuss the process of writing gives you the feeling that I may have over shot the mark when it comes to finding something to say. Do I want to go with the question of whether or not I am a joke machine? How about the my evolution as a patient in the modern health care system? Maybe a simple recounting of what it's like to be fifty-eight years old and find yourself unwittingly participating in a half-marathon?
Because that's what happened. When I left the front gate, it was my plan to try and get in my standard Saturday workout, with a likelihood of getting all my steps for the day in at once. This little gadget my family gave me for my birthday has turned my life into a bit of a videogame. I get a little buzz on my wrist when I've been sitting too long. I get another buzz when I have met a goal. And I can earn badges for doing a lot of that kind of thing. All of which suggests that I'm an easy mark when it comes to achievables. Keeping in mind that these are not even real gold stars. These are virtual. And once you acquire one of these badges, I know that getting the next one will require more effort on my part.
But what about that joke machine thing. Somewhere around mile six, I started to mine the image of the writer's room at the Alan Brady Show. For those of you not in the know, that's where Rob Petrie worked. Rob was played by Dick Van Dyke, and he was a big enough star that they decided to name the show after him. Alan Brady was the show within the show. Am I going too fast? It all seemed to make sense between miles six and seven. Buddy Sorrell, played by Morey Amdsterdam, was the one they called "The Human Joke Machine." No matter what the situation or occasion, Buddy had a line. I decided when I was still fairly young that I didn't want to be that way. I wanted to be the clever, whimsical kind of funny that Rob was. Buddy and his old-school counterpart Sally, played by Rose Marie, always seemed just a little at odds with Rob's "college boy" attitudes. Maybe they were also a little jealous that this "college boy" got the head writer's job. It was his job to take all those flying bits of funny and corral them into something that could be used on a television show that we never really got to see because we were so busy watching the show about making the television show. Buddy's life is show-biz, having married a former showgirl. Rob is more a product of suburbia, with a wife at least two steps less wacky than Buddy's.
It was the beginning of mile nine when I started thinking about health care. I was giving myself credit for being fit enough to keep chugging along as I approach sixty years. I was composing a note to my doctor, whom I have not seen since before this whole pandemic thing began, and assuring her that I have been being safe and careful, and maybe even getting healthier during all this shutdown time. Which caused me to reflect on my son's health, and it occurred to me that his connection to our health insurance was close to timing out. He would eventually be in the position of finding his own personal physician, and that's when I realized that when I was his age, I was more often than not in touch with medical care through the auspices of the emergency room than scheduled office visits and checkups.
Look at me now. Running half a marathon and not collapsing as I made it back to the front gate. Because as it turns out, that's really the mark of being at least marginally healthy: not collapsing. And being able to make it back to the keyboard to write about it.