Confessions of a reluctant runner. Part 10, Derideo ergo sum

I grew up reading Mad Magazine. Back in elementary, through junior high and even into high school I would buy the current issues as well as pick up earlier editions at second-hand book stores. In fact, much of which I knew about politics, current events, and, well, culture in general came in the form of satire from within the pages of Mad. One article I remember well was a reworking of The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe. It was entitled, The Jogger, and was written by Frank Jacobs and illustrated by Jack Davis (Mad #214).
I used to read this poem and think to myself, “Joggers are insane! Why do they torture themselves like that? There’s no way all that running can be good for their health. How many of these whackos die of heart attacks?” I could not, for one moment, understand what the allure was to embark upon, much less the desire to continue with, such an activity as running. And so I continued for some years, confident in my smug dismissal of these trotting loonies.
Needless to say, or perhaps not so as I am writing this now, my perception has changed. I realize now that I have become that which I had once mocked. This is clear to me as I slowly get back into form, looking forward to my next half marathon in February. Worse even, as I betray my common sense, the same common sense that declared I would not repeat this summer’s fiasco, by allowing myself to be drawn toward 42 km of death-dealing rocks by the siren call of the marathon.

I, therefore, offer myself up to you for judgement, incredulity, and yes, even mockery if it so please you, as I present, The Jogger by Frank Jacobs.

Once upon a morning dreary, half awake and eyesight bleary,
While I fetched the “Daily Herald” lying there outside my door,
As I stood there, stretching, yawning, wond’ring what the day was spawning,
Came a figure through the dawning, fiercely running as to war;
“Who is this,” I asked myself, “who runs as if he’s off to war?
Just a loony, nothing more.”

Striding down the street, he ran there, trotting past each parked sedan there,
Till the air was filled with gasps that I had not heard heretofore;
Soon I knew as he came closer, he was not a loony, no sir,
Or some early-rising grocer racing toward some distant store;
“You’re a Jogger,” I exclaimed, “and not some grocer with a store!”
Quoth the Jogger, “To the core.”

I could see his Pro-Keds clearly, and his perspiration nearly
Soaked right through the cotton sweatshirt and the running shorts he wore;
Shorter breaths he now was taking, and from grunts that he was making,
I felt sure the must be aching from the labors of his chore;
“Does your body ache,” I asked, “each time that you perform this chore?”
Quoth the Jogger, “Ev’ry pore.”

Round the block he was now veering, then quite soon was reappearing,
Battered, scarred and bleeding in a state most people would deplore;
Ev’ry garment he was wearing now was either ripped or tearing;
Furthermore, his legs were bearing signs of toothmarks by the score;
“What on earth,” I asked, “has caused these signs of toothmarks by the score?”
Quoth the Jogger, “Dogs galore.”

Suddenly, it started raining, and I thought he’d be complaining
Of conditions unforeseen that Mother Nature had in store;
Drenched with rain, he soon was dripping, and sometimes he lost his gripping
Causing him to wind up slipping on the pavement bruised and sore;
“Give it up,” I pleaded, as he lay there gasping, bruised and sore;
Quoth the Jogger, “Let it pour.”

On and on, he did continue, straining ev’ry bone and sinew,
Round the block and back again until each passing was a bore;
“Hey,” I asked him, “aren’t you done now? Surely this can’t be much fun now;
Fifteen miles or more you’ve run now since I’ve been here, keeping score:
Isn’t that enough?” I uttered, as I stood there, keeping score;
Quoth the Jogger, “Just one more.”

Then it was that I did see there just how old he seemed to be there;
Ancient was his weathered face with wrinkles I could not ignore;
Years of running so insanely made him look much older, plainly,
Than his age, which I felt mainly must be fifty-five or more;
“What’s your age?” I asked, expecting he’d say fifty-five or more;
Quoth the Jogger, “Twenty-four.”

Advertisements