April 26, 2007

The Case Of Der Vet Tow-vul

Check out this little anecdote ripped from pages of the series of the Annals of Inconsiderate People.

A couple of months ago I go to the YMCA for a swim, just like I've done hundreds of times over and again throughout the past five years. I put on my bathing suit, put my clothes in a locker, take my towel and head towards the pool. Again, just like I've done every time.

I hang my towel on the hook by the showers. The far right hook; the same hook I always use. I'm a creature of habit. The far right hook is so far away that it practically ensures nobody will mistake my towel for theirs and leave me wet and naked. Once upon a time when I first started swimming at the YMCA, I put my towel on one of the middle hooks. One day I came back into the shower area and noticed my towel was missing and another towel of similar color but considerably lesser quality was hanging a few hooks over.

That won't happen again.

So anyhoo, I walk into the shower on the far left side. Again, creature of habit - it's the same exact shower I always use. I wash my body before going into the pool because there's a sign that says we should shower before going into the pool. I'm a law abiding citizen, even when it comes to the fairly flexible not-quite-laws at the less-than official YMCA.

As always, I leave my towel on the hook in the security of the locker room and go out to the pool for my swim. As we discussed, it was the far right hook.

I have a good swim, as swims go. I didn't drown. And I suppose that's good.

I finish my swim and head back into the locker room. It's cold, I'm wet - I want my towel. I turn the corner and reach for my towel on the far right hook. The same hook on which I had securely placed it not 45 minutes previously. The same hook I'd been hanging my towel for the better part of four years.

You can probably imagine my surprise and dismay when my hand came up empty, aimlessly grasping for air. There was no towel on the hook. More specifically, there was no MY towel on the far right hook.

Son-of-a-BITCH! I scream out loud. Somebody stole my towel! SOMEBODY STOLE MY TOWEL!!

I'm angry. I'm pissed. I'm also cold and wet and could sure use a towel to dry me off.

Instinctively, I turn towards the shower. Somethings different. Somethings wrong. In a fraction of a second, my mind scans the entire shower area to figure out what looks different than it did 45 minutes ago.

The ground. I look on the ground in front of the shower. A bath mat was laying on the floor. There was no bath mat before. I've showered in this shower for 4 years, there has never been a bath mat. Why is there a bath mat? Oh wait, that's not a bath mat....that's a towel. That's MY towel!!! My nice clean towel is laying on the shower floor!


What the.....This is BULLSHIT! I scream even louder.

Some inconsiderate fool decided he wanted a bath mat to dry his feet so when he finished the shower he grabbed my towel and threw it down on the wet, dirty, disgusting floor of the men's locker room in the YMCA. Then he, undoubtedly, rubbed his grimy feet all over it.

I'm gonna be sick.

I picked up my towel.

I looked up to see a large, 70-something year old Russian fellow standing in front of me, his overly bloated, hairy stomach practically hiding his swim suit under it's numerous folds of skin.

Ees dat yer towvul? he asked me.

Yes, I said in true anger. Ready to fight. I'm cold, I'm angry. Welcome to the new Cold War, bitch. Yes, dat ees my towvul! It ees! Did you do this to my towvul?!

No, no., he replied quickly, sensing my anger. But eet happen to me tvice so far too. I keep my towvul in locker now.

Harumph. What a perfect time for a harumph. The Russian squished his way out of the room towards his locker and, no doubt, his nice clean towvul to dry himself. As for me, I picked up my damp bath mat of a disgraced towel and hung it on the hook. Expletives were flying out of my mouth like it was a profanity convention and I was the keynote speaker.

I took a shower, cleaned the chlorine off of my body then went over to the sink and dried myself off with paper towel. I dried myself off with anger.

Now I don't let my towel out of my line of vision. The far right hook is no longer my towels habitual home. From now on, it never leaves my sight.

It's a warzone out there and if you don't be careful, next time you turn your back you may end up as the next bath mat.

April 21, 2007

A Very Important Press Release

This is a very important press release, so pay attention. You may want to even take notes. Perhaps you should consider printing this out and putting it on your refrigerator. Tattooing the information on the inside of your eyelids wouldn't be too far out of the question.

Here's the info: My girlfriend, Catherine, is amazing.

Pretty simple, eh? Feel free to send this out to the Universal Press Syndicate if you happen to know anybody there.

There are a variety of reasons why she is amazing. Of course there's her intelligence. And her friendliness. We can't forget her compassion and definitely not her sense of humor. Then there's the beauty... ah, the beauty. But this press release isn't talking about any of those things. What we're promoting in this very important press release is her uncanny ability to kick buttock.

You see, Catherine used to be a couch potato in every possible sense of the word. I mean, she wasn't actually a potato. She's always been human, so I suppose it's not every sense of the word... but you know what I mean.

For some reason, she started doing a little bit of walk-jogging a bunch of years ago and ended up walk-jogging a marathon or two. Through it all she never really saw the brighter side of 11 minute miles. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but you'll see where this story is going.

For some other reason that is currently unbeknownst to me (but that should be knownst to me, now that I think about it), Catherine decided to try her hand at swimming and biking. Oh wait, I remember - it's knownst. A couple of her friends decided to do the Malibu Triathlon together so Cat joined the team. That was the reason she started swimming and biking. Yeah, that's the ticket.

As soon as she started, Cat absolutely hated swimming and the more she tried the worse it became. She kinda liked the biking part, so stuck with that. She started running more and slowly transitioned the "walk" out of the "walk-jogging." Next thing you know, she's finished Malibu and is all of the sudden a triathlete.

Things get a little foggy from this point on cause this is where the metamorphosis happens. Since that Malibu race a few short years ago, Catherine has transformed from a post-couch potato caterpillar to a tri-utterfly (That's not even close to being funny, but you can't hurt a guy for tryin'). She consistently finishes in the top 3 of her age group at just about every multi-sport event she races.

The second multi-sport race Catherine ever did in her life (the one after Malibu), happened to be the Duathlon National Championships. She finished 3rd in her age group. That of course brought her to the third multi-sport race of her career: the Duathlon Long Course World Championships in Italy. Yep, third place again. She's only been in this game for a few years and already has more hardware than Bob Villa.

Fast forward a couple more years and we find ourselves at the first race in the Bonelli triathlon series earlier this week. The first race of the season is always tough, there's that itch of doubt that yearns for a good scritchin'. You're just nearing the end of the dreadfully boring base training phase, yet still so far away from any speed workouts in your training season.

But still, Catherine threw her doubts over her shoulder and stepped up to the starting line of this sprint triathlon.

First of all, swimming is Catherine's weakest sport. So you can imagine my surprise when she came out of the water as the 10th woman... overall! Holy Dolphin Flippers, Aquaman! What a great head start to then have her zip through the bike and run like a regular old pro.

So how'd she do?
Yep, third place in her age group, thank you very much.

That's my woman - the transformer. From potato to medal winner. Amazing, really.

And that, my friend, is why we've had this very important press release.
Thanks for listening.

P.S. For the record, if my girlfriend ever were a potato, she'd definitely be a sweet potato.
: )
Though maybe a little less orange.

April 18, 2007

Death Must Need A Counterweight

Lately I've been thinking a bit about mortality. I'd have to say this has probably been brought on by a few things, not the least of which were this weekend's 5 hour drives to and from Las Vegas.

Driving through the desolate desert for five hours leaves a lot of time for solving many of the world's problems and tackling mankind's most befuddling philosophical perplexities. As for me, I decided that instead of taking a broad sweeping approach and coming up with the ultimate solution for everything, that I would much rather hone my focus on one key issue. So I chose mortality. Seemed like as good a place to start as any.

I recently hit a milestone age, that being 40. Apparently I'm a serious adult now. I'm not anywhere near suffering from mid-life crisis, but I suddenly have a pretty good idea of what it's going to feel like when you're running down the road and suddenly slam, face first, into life. I suppose that got me started on this mortality contemplation kick.

As if that's not enough, within the past three weeks, two of my friends' mothers died. I have to admit it left me with a bit of trepidation earlier this month as I sat in my mother's hospital room in New Orleans.

Like the stench of an unlit gas oven that has been left on too long, the tension of post-Katrina destruction permeated the air throughout the entire city. In New Orleans these days, greatness has turned to good and bad has turned to worse. It's a forlorn skeleton of the town it used to be.

So as I watched my mother recovering in her hospital bed from fairly routine, but major surgery, I couldn't help but feel a bit heavy-hearted. Someday she will pass away. And in years to come I will probably be the one laying on the hospital bed, where my father's father and his father before him all lay. I, too, will pass away.

Death is a natural part of life, yet death has become so sad to us humans. It marks not a transition or a celebration, but an end. With death, the road has stopped. Most likely, you never even saw the sign that said "No Thru Traffic. Dead End."

Death tears us apart. It adds weights to the ventricles of our hearts that pulls on the strings of emotion. Death makes you want to engage - to know the victim's more than you had. As if you missed something along the road of life, death is your excuse to catch up.

Sometimes I read through the obituary section of the paper to learn more about the lives that have left us. I've realized that there are two types of obituaries. The first kind is written for all the people who have had a modicum of celebrity in their life. Their obituary is usually a few columns long and provides an uplifting description of all their important life achievements and how the world has become a better place because of their existence and blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda. I finish reading those pieces and feel a sense of, wow, I really need to start doing more with my life pretty quickly if I want to be even half as important as this person clearly was.

The other kind of obituary is the small little paragraph about the person you've most likely never heard of. These paragraphs are usually delivered by either the family or the mortuary and tend to be short and to the point, giving a very brief description of the person, their life, how they died and what family survives them. These are the obituaries that I find the most heavy-hearted.

I wonder who those people were that their lives should be condensed into a generic paragraph. I wonder of the injustice that has been done to them. Of all the lives they've changed and the people they've made smile. I wonder about the joy in their hearts as they held their newborns years ago - those newborns who, decades later, are relegated to the status of "survived by two sons and one daughter." I wonder about the stories these people had to share, the tragedies and triumphs they experienced. I wonder if my life will be relegated to an 80 word classified.

Every day the New York Times prints the names of soldiers who have died in Iraq. Whenever I see this little box, I make it a point to read this information. I soak in the names, ages and hometowns for these soldiers who have given their lives for our freedom and safety. It's the least I can do to celebrate them.

It was just about this time during my drive back from Las Vegas that I passed the car accident. I'm not sure what hit the Toyota, but it was clearly a very large object... like a meteor, or a UFO or maybe a mac truck driven by a guy too busy eating a burrito to notice where he was going.

What was once a four-door sedan had been crumpled into a metal ruin that could probably fit in the glove box of a Mini Cooper. As I looked at the remains of the car while I drove by, I felt a wave of sadness blanket my body. No human being could have escaped that accident. There, but for the grace of God, go I, traveling through the wave of the path of destruction. I suppose my heart shed a tear for the people crushed in the car.

I began to wonder who they were. Did I run into them while I was in Vegas? Was it the couple that rode up the elevator with me? Or the guy at the roulette table? What tears will their parents shed upon hearing the news. Will these people who once lay inches from my car, who may have been passers-by in my life, who's lives have been irretrievably vanquished in the blink of an eye - will these people be scornfully immortalized in a generic newspaper obituary that I will neglect to read?

So what of the Toyotas? And what of the recent disaster at Virginia Tech? Thirty-three lives that have been dramatically taken from us in a flurry of outrage, like the victims of that big black amorphous cloud in Lost. Where is the good in all of this? Where is the meaning?

Death, it seems to me, should have meaning. Death must need a counterweight.

Nearly 400 years ago, Sir Isaac Newton figured out that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. For every negative charged particle, there is a positive charged to counter-balance it. For every pressure of force in one direction, there is an equal and opposite pressure pushing against. With every loss, with every bad - there must be good.

So, I asked myself, what is our counter-balance for death?

It is life, I soon realized. With every death, there comes life. Life not necessarily of a new born, but life filled with memory and passion. The force of death is so strong, it can push people to participate in life. In this way, death breeds life.

Eight years ago my grandfather passed away. It was hard for me, we were close. Yet though he is dead, he is not gone. I think about him often, I feel him with me. He is in my dreams. With his death, I've inherited a life of memories and feelings. And I suppose that's what this all comes down to. It's about reading the names of soldiers in the paper and knowing the history of the thirty-three victims at Virginia Tech. And remembering. It is mourning with sadness and remembering with smiles.

Dying is not failing to breathe. It is not leaving this world. To truly die is the moment when nobody remembers who you are - when the last person with the last memory of you finally passes away.

Until then, we breathe, we live, we smile, we laugh, we remember. And in so doing we become the counter-weight to all of those who can't.

April 12, 2007

10 Things That Annoy Me At The Pool

1. The special people (and you know who you are) who stay in the middle of the lane even though I am clearly sharing the lane with them. And, may I add, I have been sharing the lane with them for quite awhile. They definitely know I'm there. Which brings me to...

2. Jamming my fingers into the lane line in the middle of the stroke and screaming in pain under water, all because I'm trying so desperately to stay clear of the schmuck hogging the lane.

3. People in the next lane who stay close to the lane line while they do a highly exaggerated, version of the breast stroke, leaving me swimming in a paralyzing hit-me-in-the-face, kick-me-in-the-balls type of fear.

4. All the folks who haven't gotten the childlike cannonball out of their system and have to enter the lap pool by jumping into the shallow end. It just ends up splashing everybody around them and creating unnecessary micro-tsunamis that seem to hit my face just as I'm about to take a breath. What's so wrong with softly easing yourself into the lane like everybody else does?

5. People who ignore me even though I'm frantically waving my hand underwater in front of their face every time they approach the side of the pool in order to let them know I'd like to share their lane. We both know that you see me very clearly. We both know that you are hoping I will walk away and choose another lane. Well guess what, I'm not leaving. Deal with it. Move over.

6. People who spit - ccchaatt-ptooooey! - onto the side of the pool where I walk.

7. Those select folks who feel entitled to stroll across lanes and cut off other people mid-swim, just because they need to use the stairs to exit the pool. I'm all for using the stairs - I like the stairs. Let me suggest you try playing a few more games of "Frogger" before you ruin my flow again.

8. Wet paper towel or toilet paper on the floor around the pool. What is paper towel and toilet paper doing in the pool area anyway? Never mind, I don't want to know.

9. All the flip-turning swimmertudes who splash me while I'm standing on the edge of the pool dreading that first cold dip into the water.

10. The fact that people breeze by me in the pool just because I don't know how to do a gosh darn flip-turn.

[So you know, these thoughts were inspired not only by my recent swimming adventures, but by the recent comments made by no wetsuit girl....overseas on my I Don't Get Butterflies post. As I read her comments, I suddenly realized that the chump she was talking about is me. Ah, it's a sad realization when the person you make fun of is the same one you see in the mirror every morning. So, I dug down deep inside and became one with my inner-chump. My chump and me, we came up with these 10 annoyances. Thanks for listening. We need to go eat lunch now.]

April 10, 2007

A Momentary Lapse of Wit

Me: Knock Knock
You: Who's there?
Me: Legs
You: Legs who?
Me: Legs skip the run today, I'm too tired


Me: My legs are so tired.
You: How tired are they?
Me: They're so tired it just took me 80 minutes to do my 70 minute run


Me: You wanna know how tired my legs are?
You: Sure, why not.
Me: My legs are so tired....My legs are so tired.....um.....I can't think of anything witty to say. Never mind.


Me: Knock knock
You: Who's there?
Me: Jamaica
You: Jamaica who?
Me: Jamaica me crazy with the stupid jokes about how tired your legs are. Shut up already, would ya.

April 07, 2007

I Don't Get Butterflies

Completing a tough swim workout is like eating a big Chinese meal. You'll be so overly-satiated when it's done that your entire body will hurt. Yet two hours later it's like it never happened.

This morning's swim was just like a mega-Chinese meal, complete with shrimp fried rice, orange chicken, lo mein noodles, szechuan beef and a healthy dollop of won ton soup to wash it all down and leave barely enough room for the fortune cookie. Though you somehow manage to eat two of them anyway.

That's how the swim workout felt. It was jam packed with 100 yard sprints and 50 yard sprints and so little rest that every 10 second moment of peace I had to recover was spent panting and swearing and wondering if my lo-mein arms would fall off into the won ton pool.

I kinda lost count of my splits for the 100s and most of the 50s because the rest time was so short my watch wouldn't register the lap times. However, I was able to clock in a few of them and guestimate the others and, I gotta admit, I was going pretty fast for me. In fact, somewhere around the eighth 100 yard repeat, I hit the wall at a personal record setting 1:24.7. I've never swum 100 yards faster than 1:25. Those .3 seconds were huge for me. They still are. Which is probably why I'm telling you about it.

Of course, Michael Phelps just swam the 200 meter butterfly in 1:52.


I told my mother about Michael Phelps' 200 meter butterfly time and compared it to my 100 yard freestyle time to try to explain to her how friggin fast that kid swims.

Well you're not too far off his time, she said.

Yeah, I don't think you get it, ma. You see, he's going twice as fast as me all the while swimming a stroke that's supposed to be a lot slower.

She looked at me with a bit of confusion. Or maybe it was lack of caring. Like a good mother, she'd rather believe I was the world record holder. Still, I wanted to get my point across...

I pointed to the other end of the room. It's like if Michael Phelps and I both raced to the other side of this room, I explained. It's only 15 feet, it only takes 2 seconds to get there, and he'd still beat me by at least 1 second. He's that fast, the little so-and-so.

Of course, today I heard that Michael Phelps swims 8 to 10 miles per day. Every day. That's crazy. No wonder he's so fast. I suppose if I started swimming 8 to 10 miles per day that I could swim the 200 meter butterfly in....um...... uh.....in....... well, I couldn't. Butterfly is one of those strokes that is not in my extremely limited swimming repertoire. In fact, whenever my workout calls for a 400 meter IM, I really only do three strokes and toss in a double scoop of freestyle.

After all, when am I going to actually swim the butterfly in a triathlon? The answer is, I'm not. Never. Sure I've been known to do a few breast strokes here and there. And I'm not opposed to flopping on my back if need be in a tiring, stressful moment. But butterfly? Bitch please.

Butterfly is up there with flip-turns. I've refused to learn how to do a flip-turn because swimmers do flip-turns. I'm not a swimmer, I'm a triathlete. Big difference, bucko. Us triathletes, we don't do flip-turns and we definitely don't do butterflies.

Lo mein, though. We like lo mein.

April 05, 2007

Not Allergic To Pain

Is it just me or do you also get an overwhelming feeling of doubt before a race? Is it the kind of doubt that makes your butt-cheeks clench and your stomach rumble - or are these things we shouldn't talk about in public? Maybe it makes you become really quiet in the minutes before the race. Or really loud. Are you, like me, the type of person that gets really agitated before the gun goes off? Maybe all your family and friends know better than to speak to you - or perhaps even breathe near you - right before the start.

So tell me, are you like me?
[Are you my mother?
No I'm a steamroller.
I'm sorry... I've digressed from clenched butt cheeks and stomach rumbling to a children's book. I need some serious help.]

No matter the race distance, I always get nervous. Century ride, 10k run, Ironman triathlon - you name it, I've got that feeling of doubt in the beginning. It makes me quiet and it makes me angry. If you see me before the starting gun, you are more than welcome to come over and talk to me. I'll smile and talk back and try my hardest to be friendly. But deep inside I really want you to leave me alone. Let's talk after we finish, ok?

Once I cross that finish line, everything is fine. In fact, everything becomes fine before I even get to the finish line. There is a certain point in a race when the blanket of fear that has covered me in darkness suddenly gets blown to the wayside. I once was blind, but now I see. More specifically, I see the finish.

This emotional freedom usually happens about halfway through the run. It's the point when I finally realize that I will make it to the end. Everything will be ok.

So you see, what this all comes down to is an irrational fear that I won't be able to finish the race. As I'm standing at the starting line, that little voice inside of me is poking at my brain in the most annoying way and trying to convince me that I will have to drop out of the race. Mind you, I've only had to drop out of one race in my life, and I knew before I even started that I was too injured to finish the run. Yet still that little voice with the annoying poking seems to always seep into my brain and taunt me.

I don't like that voice. It's like the little fella in the idiotic devil suit that sits on the guy's shoulders in all those stupid antacid commercials. Annoying little bugger. I hate those commercials.

Here's the funny thing - just about every time I pony up to the starting line of a race, I know in my heart that I could go the distance. It's not even a question. Even at the Ironman start, I didn't doubt that I had the physical wherewithal to finish. What the little devil poker is hitting on has nothing to do with physical ability, it's mental stamina. This voice tells me that I don't have the mental stamina to make it to the finish. It tells me that I will experience lots of pain and I don't have the strength to handle the pain.

As I said, it's an annoying little fegger.

You know what else I also recently realized? This same doubt isn't confined to races. I have the same damn feeling about long training sessions. How crazy is that?!

Take yesterday's swim for instance. 3500 yards total, with a main set of four 600s. I've swum much further than 3500 yards before without coming close to drowning. Yet when I got into the pool this morning, I didn't think I'd make it to the end. Seriously though, was I really thinking that I'd end up drowning in 3 feet of water with a woman in full scuba gear next to me?!

Yet somewhere about 2600 yards into the swim as everything was going more than fine (like it always does) I felt that blanket of doubt fall away. I'm going to make it, I told myself. It was the same feeling I have near the end of every race. I'm going to make it.

The truth of the matter is that I have a fairly high tolerance for pain when it comes to athletics. I'm not a strong guy. I'm not particularly fast. My mental stamina is probably the biggest thing going for me. I've been through some hellish races, physical pain, bonking, mental meltdown... yet I always keep moving forward. Always. Yes, I have walked through the valley of death, and I wasn't scared. In fact, I stopped for a sno-cone on my way through.

So I'm not quite sure why doubt follows me around so.

I was in my doctor's office the other day for a follow-up appointment after my recent surgery. As I sat there in the office waiting for the doctor to show up, my eyes glanced around the room. I saw my patient file sitting on the table, spread open for the doctor to read. I was bored so I squinted over to look at the file and see if it said anything interesting - like maybe when I was passed out the doctor hid a gem in my gums like some cross between Little Shop of Horrors and Blood Diamond.

I couldn't really read most of the words on the page though I'm fairly sure none of them said anything about diamonds in my face. What did stand out were four words in red written in the nurses handwriting at the top of the page. It said:

Not Allergic To Pain

A wave spread over me as I read those words. She's right, I'm not allergic to pain (or pain medication, for that matter..which I imagine is what she meant).

I started thinking about that devil of doubt that pokes my brain before a big challenge. How he continues to annoy me, yet never has brought me down. I don't like that little guy. I want to squish him.

Bring on the pain, I say. Let it rain down on me. I will finish the race. Always. I will see the brighter side of the finish line.

I am a survivor. And I'm not allergic to pain.

April 02, 2007

The Crucial Importance Of A Back Blinky

It’s 6am. It’s early. It’s dark. It’s cold. Well, not that cold. But it’s dark. And that usually makes it seem colder. So let’s make believe its cold.

I’m tired. Mostly from last night’s six hours of restless sleep. I’m really an eight hours guy. Not seven hours, not seven and a half hours and definitely not six hours. Eight. I need eight.

But I also need to go for my long bike ride this morning because I can’t do it this weekend. Hence the early wake-up call. And hence part deux, here I am at 6am on this dark, faux-cold morning hoisting my leg over my saddle and pedaling out into the abyss.

I have a headlight on my bike. I don’t use it much because I don’t usually ride a lot before the sun comes up. The headlight sucks. It really isn’t lighting up the road at all. Mental note: put “new bike light” on my Christmas wish list.

But no matter how much my headlight sucks, my rear red blinky is even worse. Anytime I hit a bump in the road, the blinky goes out. When you’re riding your bike in the wee dark hours of the morning and the only people driving cars are either too drunk or too tired to pay close attention, a functional back blinky is a very important element in safe riding.

Catherine let me borrow her back blinky for my ride this morning. Her back blinky is pretty big, very visible and doesn’t shut off in fear. I feel safer with this blinky. Thank you Catherine, my patron saint of blinkies.

There aren’t a lot of cars out in LA at this early hour of the morning. I do one six-mile loop in the area and then start heading down Ocean Avenue towards the eventual sunrise. The sun’s still sleeping though, just like most normal people in this city.

I finally approach the traffic light at the corner of Ocean Avenue and Venice Blvd. The light is red, so I stop. I’m not sure why the light is red, there is nobody else out on the road anywhere around me. But it is red.

Catherine doesn’t like how I sometimes ride through red lights in situations like this. She’s not with me physically this morning, more in spirit. Or, rather, in blinky – a flashing angels beacon to guard me from behind. So I stop and wait for the light to turn green.

I get lost in my early morning nothingness.

I’m really not paying attention to my surroundings, so I never even hear the car approaching from behind me. As it begins to zip by me, I jerk my head over in fear. It is a dark car, black or a very deep brown. Old and dented. One of those generic cars you can see anywhere, maybe a late 80s or early 90s Ford Something-or-Other. Maybe even a Buick. I’m not sure.

What really gets me is the front-end. Mostly how it is all smashed in and folded over as if the car had run into a telephone pole. It is peculiar.

What makes it ever the more peculiar is when the car plows through the red light without even slowing down. I suppose my heart nearly jumps.

Something inside of me feels like that dented front end happened recently. Perhaps it is an innate feeling. Perhaps it is compounded by the red light running at this time of morning. Mostly, though, it is because the pieces of the car are still falling off as it zips by me. I look on the ground as a chunk of the front grill rolls to a stop by my foot.

Peculiar indeed. By the time I think of checking the license plate, the car is too far down the road for me to see. So I glance at my watch. 6:43am. I want to remember this time in case anybody asks me in the future. 6:43am. I repeat that to myself so I won’t forget.

6:43 am.

I continue on my ride and nearly forget about the incident. I get home at 8:30, take a quick shower and jump in my car for my morning appointment. I call Catherine while I am driving.

Thank God you’re ok, she says.


I was so worried about you, she continues. I didn’t think it was you, but you never know. I was so scared.

What are you talking about?

Didn’t you hear? There was a hit and run this morning. A guy in his 20s died. They don’t know who did it.

Whaaat?! What time? I ask frantically.

Somewhere around six-ish, she says. But it wasn’t where you were. It was on Pacific Coast Highway, just up from Ocean Avenue.


Are you serious?! I say. You’re not going to believe what happened to me…

I tell her my story. About the traffic light, and the speeder, and the bent grill, and the falling parts and me checking the time and….

Do you think it was him?

I don’t know, she says. You should call the police, though, and tell them.

I did just that. Shortly thereafter I did call the police and let them know about the traffic light, and the generic car, and the dents, and the falling grill and 6:43am. It was 6:43am, I said. I know it for sure. 6:43am. No I didn’t get a license plate. But I know without question that it was 6:43 am. Yes, it was dark out. I was just sitting there at the traffic light. Just me, my crappy headlight and my back blinky. For the first time in ages, I had a functional back blinky. Maybe it even saved my life.