Throw me a bone here

Tonight I went to the gym and ran and crunched and pumped and chinned and ran some more.

I am trying to drink more water both outside of, and during my workouts because my lips currently feel as though they have taken up house somewhere smack dab in the middle of the Sahara.

If I really tried (and well, lost all sense of social decorum – or more importantly, of right and wrong) I could probably give myself a pedicure using only my mouth.

Anywho, it was during one of my many trips to the bathroom to drink water from the sink (I keep forgetting water bottles and as I was saying before, my gym leaves something to be desired both aesthetics and amenities-wise.  ie) no available water fountain.  Seriously, it’s amazing there is even a functional plumbing system in the change rooms and that we’re not forced to drink the rusty water droplets as they leak from the overhead pipes) that I noticed that outside, tied up on the deck was one of the cutest, most forlorn doggies I have ever espied.

I walked over to the window and there he was, lying on the cold hard concrete.  I crouched down to get a better look at the fella (I don’t actually know for sure if the dog was of the XY persuasion – I am one of those strange individuals who assumes that all dogs are male and all cats are female, while holding absolutely zero preconceptions about the sexes of all other animals) and as I folded myself into a squat, he looked at me and actually sighed.

He sighed!!!

Like an old man, leaning back in his rocker, eyeing his pipe that has recently gone cold, pondering whether or not he should refill the bowl with his favourite tobacco, or whether or not there is ample lighter fluid in his zippo, or perhaps how he got that small hole in the top corner of his right slipper – THE DOG SIGHED.

I sighed back.

He then looked at me – a stare that was both long and hard, almost pleading – before yawning a big, darn-right terrific yawn (a yawn like how the lions yawn in national geographic photos or PBS documentaries) before turning away and resting his chin on his front paws.

The word yawn has lost all meaning to me now.

But I digress.

The lonely and abject dejection in his eyes, combined with the fact that he actually just exhaled as if to say – PEOPLE AM I RITE? – pretty much broke my heart in half.

Plus, anyone who is operating on the West Coast of Canada (WCOC or Wuhcock if you will) these days knows that the temperatures have been anything BUT temperate.

It’s colder than Frosty’s carrot stick out there.

Who could do that to their pet?  Tie them up outside, alone in the freezing night air.

Cripes, can you imagine what the whole scenario must look like from the eyes of this canine?  You head inside and proceed to run on a machine that goes nowhere.  Then you repeatedly lift what can only be rubber, over-sized chew toys.  Then you frig around on your back for a bit, contorting yourself into the positions that the cat tends to sleep in- but only when she’s really, really exhausted.

That dog probably wasn’t just tired and sad.

He was probably thinking to himself: “Shit.  What an asshole.”

And let me tell you, he wasn’t the only one.

People who don’t exercise with their pets when it’s a viable option – I’m not purporting that people should run marathons with their super old doggies or Chihuahuas,  but within the acceptable limits – don’t deserve to have the pet in the first place.

Take responsibility and do the right thing.  Spend that time with your dog – they are not the only one who will benefit from the activity!

For example, tonight, in spite the cold, it was actually a super lovely evening.  The jerk owner could have gone for a nice long walk with Mr. Pooch, enjoyed the crisp, invigorating air, got some quality bonding time in, and if they still felt the need to feel the burn, could have gone to the gym after having dropped their dog off back home.

It’s the humane thing to do.

So all you pet owners out there, I have one piece of advice:

HEY – BE A MAN.  DO THE RIGHT THING!

Oh and bring a water bottle to the gym.  Drinking straight out of the tap is for the dogs.

Baby ran, she ran away

There is a scene in Forrest Gump, where the film’s protagonist is laying in a military hospital, somewhere in war-torn Vietnam, with his buttock taped up from a hostile incident with an enemy’s sniper rifle (“something just jumped up and bit me!”) next to the morose and suicidal Lieutenant Dan. Forrest has managed to procure two soft-serve ice cream cones, and in his eagerness to communicate his good fortune to said Lt., he yells out

LIEUTENANT DAN! ICE CREAM!”

Only, Tom Hanks’ pronunciation is such that it doesn’t come out sounding that way. Indeed, it sounds as if Forrest turns to his superior and exclaims:

LIEUTENANT DAN! ASS-CREAM!”

Which would make Lt. Dan’s reaction all the more understanding (he takes the cone and promptly drops it into his bed pan without the slightest acknowledgment to Gump, or his gift of soft serve).

So where, dear reader, is this all stemming from?

I, like Forrest, think a lot when I run. I am not afraid to admit that most of the information I mull over and dissect during this time is completely, one hundred percent, hands-down crazy. In fact, in some perverse way I almost revel in it. I tend to chalk most of this up to the long distances I cover – there is only so much coherent thought you sustain over a long period of time, especially when you are pushing your body to its physical limits. Once you pass a certain mile marker all bets are off and I really think it’s anyone’s guess as to where my thoughts will meander next.

Etymology is a recurrent running interest of mine – certain words, or elongated descriptors will stick in my craw and I’ll mull over them for a length of time, usually until the steep hill on 10th street or the one at the north-west corner of the Park, when every cogent thought (or semi-cogent, WHATEVER) is thoroughly blasted from my mind, and all I can think about is THIS IS THE STUPIDEST THING I HAVE EVER DONE WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO RUN UP THIS HILL ALL THE DRIVERS IN ALL THESE CARS ARE LAUGHING AT ME.

This past Saturday I was out – completing a three loop pass of Queen’s park – roughly 10 km (at least according to map my run) and I overheard one young man say to another “you just got your ass creamed!” I didn’t pay too much attention to his choice of phrasing until a little further into the run, when I got to thinking about the origin of his term “cream your ass” – re: to beat, humiliate, destroy, etc. etc. Actually, what really ran through my mind was: holy shitballs! Where DOES this come from? What a horrible thing to say to someone! And how did it become part of the common vernacular OF OUR YOUTH? And what about holy shitballs? What’s up with that?

For the time being I want leave shitballs by the wayside – it’s not that I think this word, especially its consecrated version, doesn’t merit further discussion, (it most certainly does ) I can’t help but be drawn to the first phrase, as I am both disgusted and confused at how this description managed to worm its way into society, and truthfully my own vocabulary for an extended period of time, especially when I was of the age of the young, park dwelling men. How does this become a part of someone’s everyday language at such an early age without anyone (particularly over the age of, oh, I don’t know, TWELVE) calling us out on it?

FULL DISCLOSURE: I used to use this term quite a bit in elementary school. Hell, most of my friends did too. Knocked out during the first round of bump? Lady, you just got your ass creamed. Tagged out before kicking the can? I just creamed your ass, son! On, and on we would go…using this turn of phrase pretty much interchangeably with “butt kicked” or “whooped hide” or whatever the cool kids were using at the time.

So where is this from and why? It is easy to surmise that this has some deep patriarchal, homophobic roots. It is an obvious reference to sexual assault, the power to control, demean or overpower someone through a sexual act, while at the same time demeaning those who chose to engage in this act.

It is about asserting power over an individual. It is about stripping an individual of his or her power.

It is always a big wake-up call when you are confronted with how just how pervasive these destructive and outdated norms are, especially in a linguistic sense. While I doubt that the young men I overheard that day in the park use in them as a means to perpetuate homophobia or gender imbalance, I feel that either way it doesn’t matter. The fact that we use them without understanding their history or connotation just goes to show how we as a society have internalized and passively accept these values. They are both deep rooted and benign which makes them that much harder to weed out, especially if people can hide behind the excuse of “well, I never even thought of it that way – it’s just an expression.”

While we are making huge strides towards equality in many areas of society, at least on a macro level, I worry about how little we call attention to injustices on a micro level. Because just like an iceberg, whose visible portion might look surmountable, it is what lurks below the depths that is the most unpredictable and rarely studied, and therefore, most dangerous.

If we, as a society, truly want to see change, make change, be changed it is time that we become aware of the power of language. If one more person tells me that I need lighten up, I just might burst into flames. Because it is not about having a sense of humour, it is about having the sense of what it means to be human, and how your words may impact not just those you are speaking with, but how they may reinforce normative values that you may actually disagree with or actively fight against.

It’s like the person who calls someone out for using the term “gay” and then in the next sentence calls themselves a “retard.”

So this is what I think about while I run. And sometimes, just like Forrest Gump himself, I just want to keep running, keep going, so I don’t have to think about the ways of the world, and ways they can be changed, nay need changing.

And if anyone asks me why I left it all behind? I’d tell them:

I just felt like running.”