26.2 miles of cheering and jeering
today was the new york city marathon. as it happens, the course passes by our street -- the runners travel down 4th ave in brooklyn. we live half a block up from 4th ave, so it's simple for us to walk to the corner and cheer. people, let me tell you something: there are few things more awesome in this world that cheering a marathon runner. i don't care what city you live in, when your local marathon comes through town GO to it and CHEER the runners -- many of them make it easy for you by printing their names on their jerseys. shout their names. tell them that they can do it. tell them they are awesome. they are running 26.2 miles -- and i'm sorry but even if you are a professional kenyan marathoner, that is a fucking hard thing to do. cheer your local marathon. do it for the children.
ok, fine. the truth? two years ago mrs nice guy and i trained for and ran the wonderful burlington vermont marathon -- me on my stumpy little gimp legs -- and every time someone took the trouble to stand on the sidewalk to cheer us "runners," straggling behind at the 9-minute mile mark, it made our sweaty little day.
so to return the marathon karma that was bestowed upon us all those moons ago, mrs nice guy and i went to our street corner to cheer the runners today. we brought the kid. we brought the kid last year too, but that was easier since she was still inside my wife. this time it required a stroller and eight gallons of coffee. off in the distance we could hear the low murmur of the oncoming stampede: hrumbelowhrumbelowhrumbelow. and so we began to cheer. we cheered until we lost our voices. then we cheered a little more.
a note on cheering at marathons: clap, make noise. be as uncool as you can be. as i said before, if someone has their name printed on their shirt SHOUT IT OUT like you were in the ejaculatory throes of some wild orgiastic bacchanal and this person was the greatest lover the world has ever known: "GO GRETCHEN, YOU CAN DO IT HELEN! MY GOD YOU ARE AWESOME!" no one is a more enthusiastic cheerer than mrs nice guy. if you're running, she's your biggest fan. the slower you are, the harder she cheers -- don't even get her started on the blind double amputees waaay in the back of the the pack. she cheers for them like they were the beatles at shea stadium. so sweet.
anyway, as she hooted and hollered, i walked up and down the sidewalk, taking pictures and enjoying the scene (our street corner was at the exact seven-mile mark, not quite as cool as 8 Mile would have been. still, some of the fastest runners made it to us a scant 35 minutes after the race had started. think about that for a second. do the math. then hate yourself).
i returned to my wife and child, standing behind them to provide mrs nice guy with a good vantage point. as i stood there, soaking up the scene on this gorgeous autumn day, i overheard the douchebag standing next to me talking to his ladyfriend: "hey, lookit that baby. looks like she bopped herself good on the nose. lookit that bruise! she got clocked!" the woman he was with whispered in one of those whispers-that-everyone-within-12-blocks-can-hear: "sshhh. i think that's the baby's father" and out of the corner of my eye i sensed her motioning towards me. he took it in stride and said "yeah? well it looks like she bopped herself right on the nose! probably in the crib!"
i, uncharacteristically, said nothing. i was stunned, paralysed with hate. i was beyond angry. i was frangry.
later on in the day i relayed the comment to my wife. her response was excellent: "THAT'S when you should have turned around and totally whipped it out: 'yes, i am her father. and yeah her nose looks weird, because SHE HAS A TUMOR.'"
of course, she's absolutely right. i definitely had that impulse, but ultimately i rejected it because i would have had to deal with his apology or whatever. frankly, i didn't want to engage him.
but still, all of the above just goes to show: this is why i married my wife.