It Never Hurts Too Much to Laugh!
I am a runner. Not a very fast one, mind you. In fact, I am so slow that these days in local races, they time me with a calendar.
While I am a sixty-one year old tortoise, I am still doing five-milers (albeit very slow ones) five or six days a week as I have been doing now for over forty years. My two favorite running routes are the trail in beautiful Overton Park and the Vollintine Evergreen Green Line. Both routes are just a short jog from my home.
I can’t tell you the number of times I have run the Overton Park trail. When I started running there, Gerald Ford was President, and I was a brunette with a Fu Manchu moustache. I looked like Sonny Bono running through the park.
In recent years, I have run the Green Line from Rhodes College to the abandoned Sears Crosstown building. And I’ve loved every mile of it.
But over the past month, these two running routes have not been, in the words of Roy Rogers, “happy trails.” I have had a series of unfortunate running events.
Three weeks ago, I was accosted on the Vollintine Evergreen Green Line by a young man who knocked me to the ground, put a pistol in my face, and demanded my i-Phone. In an extraordinary act of courage and bravery, I gave it to him. He then told me to turn around, and he stuck the gun to the back of my head. He told me to run and not look back.
Do you remember the scene in the classic ‘70s film, Blazing Saddles, in which pistol-wielding Klansmen confront Sheriff Bart, played by the late, great Cleavon Little? Sheriff Bart looks at his racist accosters and says, “And now gentlemen, for my next impersonation…Jesse Owens!”
Well, like Sheriff Bart, I ran like a combination of Jesse Owens and Usain Bolt, setting a new Vollintine Evergreen Line speed record.
They say lightening does not strike twice, but last Sunday, it happened to me again, this time on the Overton Park trail. Yes, I had a new i-Phone, and I was dumb enough to carry it with me again. My phone has (or had) a Nike app to record my mileage and an i-Pod of my favorite running songs. And I was dumb enough to think that I could safely run with it through a crowded Overton Park that included runners, walkers, bikers, several policemen, and unfortunately, at least two thugs.
This time I was not confronted by a man with a gun. I was confronted by two men, with a combined total of four fists. They hit me from behind and then slugged me in the face, breaking my jaw. When I awakened, I was once again without an i-Phone.
The police have told me that I am the latest victim (actually a two-time victim) of an epidemic called “Apple picking.” It’s going on in cities all across America as robbers are targeting runners or walkers with cell phones.
Yes, I am both the dumbest and unluckiest crime victim in history.
My jaw is now wired. For the first time in sixty-one years, someone has shut my mouth. My wife and dearest friends won’t admit it to me, but they consider it a blessing.
But it is only a temporary one. In a few weeks I will be as good as old…and once again, talking like a magpie.
I’ve always believed that a sense of humor gets you through rough times. Never underestimate the ability to laugh at yourself and your situations, no matter how challenging.
Laughter is indeed the best medicine, so here are a few jokes I’ve given myself as prescriptions over the last few days:
They say that in America a man is assaulted every seven seconds...and he's getting mighty tired of it!
The doctor says I've broken my leg in two places. I better stay out of those places! (In this case, Overton Park and Vollintine Evergreen Green Line.)
In a classis routine of the late, great comedian Jack Benny (whose shtick was that he was cheap), a robber approaches him, sticks a gun in his face and says, "Your money or your life!" Jack Benny just looks at the robber and says nothing. "I said, your money or your life!" repeats the robber. "I'm thinking! I'm thinking!" responds Benny.
If you have some similar jokes, send them to me. I need the medicine.
Let me close with one of my favorite quotes. It is from a little-appreciated Irish writer named Aubrey Menen, and I think about it each day:
There are three things in life which are real-
God, human folly, and laughter.
The first two are beyond our comprehension,
So we must do what we can with the third.