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.



Dennis Elrod: Bill: We are glad you are on the mend. Joseph told us what had happened on Monday, and then I saw the article in the CA when I sat down to review the daily paper. Leigh Ann and I walk the OFT all the time and have been concerned about opportunists and our awareness is now even more heightened. IT is a sad state of affairs but you have a GREAT sense of humor about it.

Arnold Goldin: Keep up your good spirits (but get a Droid next time).

Peggy McClure: Laughter is good medicine and you are well-equipped! Faith is also good medicine, so keep Philippians 4:13 in your heart--"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Love to you and best wishes for your recovery. More "Mango and Strawberry" smoothies will be on their way!!

buck wellford: The article in the paper made me very angry. This one makes me angry but actually made me laugh as well. I can only imagine how terrifying it was to have that gun pointed at you. Glad you are on the mend Billy. Memphis Police need to do what is necessary to keep that Greenline, and Overton Park, safe! These are major amenities and almost always these crimes are committed by repeat offenders.

Heather Anderson: Bill - terrible news - so sorry! Can't believe it happened in a CROWDED PARK!! :-( Hope you heal quickly. Best, Heather

Lou Anne Pritchard: Oh Bill! I'm so sorry this happened. If you wanted to lose a few pounds there are much easier ways to do it. And I'm sure Claudia and Margaret Grace are enjoying the peace and quiet ;-)

Frank Crawford: Two lawyers went jogging together. When they finished, they stopped at a bar for a few beers to cool down. They were in there longer than they had planned, and when they stepped outside one of them looked up and asked "Is that the sun or the moon up there?" The other one answered "I don't know. I don't live around here."

Jimmie Miller: Two blondes were driving to Disneyland. They saw a sign that said Disneyland Left. They started crying and drove home. Sorry to my lighter-haired friends. I heard about your "mishaps" from Pam and Charles on Wednesday night. I thought to myself, knowing Bill, he will write a funny story about the situation, and you did not disappoint. I wish you a speedy and uneventful recovery. My youngest daughter, age 22, moved to Memphis in July. I hope the police catch your muggers!

Noel Rueff (Art Williams wife): I don't have a joke but I have a similar story. But with a happy ending! I got robbed a few weeks ago at the little shop where I work. I had helped this nice (so I thought) young man who came in & asked me if we had a first aid kit & could I pls. help him because he had a cut on his arm. So I doctored his cut & he thanked me. As he was supposedly "looking around" my co-worker Mimi saw out of the corner of her eye that he had reached behind the counter & grabbed my iPhone & stuffed it in his pants & started walking out. Ever-fearless-Mimi yells out for all to hear "stop him - he's taken Noel's cellphone!!!" & proceeds to go barreling out the door with 2 customers, chasing the thief down the sidewalk, thru the parking lot until they lose site of him. Ever-fearless-Mimi runs back out to the sidewalk & sure enough, sees the thief, & yells out again "stop him he stole Noel's cellphone!!!". Another shopkeeper joins Mimi in hot pursuit, telling her they had also had an employee who had been robbed of an iPhone the week before. The 2 of them jump in his car thinking their chances of nabbing the crook will be improved if they're pursuing in a car. They follow the guy up & down the nearby residential streets & finally lose him for good as he disappears between 2 houses. Meanwhile I'm back at the shop wondering where in the heck is Mimi & did I really just have that nice young man snatch my brand-new iPhone?!? Collecting myself, I call my daughter & tell her what just happened & ask her to call Verizon & report my phone theft. She calmly says "did you download the "Find my iPhone" app to which I say not so calmly "How am I supposed to know - you set the dumb phone up for me!". Well sure enough, she quickly figures out that yes, I do have that app on my phone, & lo & behold, she can see exactly where my phone is- a block away- & it's not moving. So she says to me "do you think you want to try & find it?" . Mind you, I've called the police but they are nowhere in site. By this time Mimi's back from her valiant effort to get this bad guy & I tell her "Emily's on the "find my iPhone" app & she says my phone's a block away - & do you think we should go try & find it?". So of course we go barreling out the door together, running down the street & a new guy joins us in the chase, with Emily telling us thru somebody else's cellphone, where the phone is. We get to the spot & she tells us she's sending a message to my phone so it'll make a sound so we can hear it. We realize we're standing right next to a storm sewer & a big garbage can. Sigh. The other guy has not given up & he continues searching & all of a sudden we hear him say " I hear it I hear it!". Sure enough, he'd found it in the yard of a nearby shop in the grass, but safe & sound. I am so happy I could cry. So I do! Thankfully nobody got hurt & I got my phone back. All's well that ends well! I wonder if this is way too long for your blog, Bill!

Cathy Thomas: Bill, I am so terribly sorry about your assaults, jaw etc, but only YOU could make us laugh about it. They say "laughter is the best medicine", but how does that work with a wired-up jaw!!!???? Take care, Cathy

alan handlet: Sorry to hear about these needless crimes. Don't stop running and F the crooks. Get healthy soon. I am Gavins dad

John: You obviously haven't kept up with the news for the past thirty years or you wouldn't be jogging in that area of town without a full platoon of Navy Seals.

Lee Kull: There is a current book on exercise that advises never to do anything that causes you to sweat or get out of breath. Both are bad for the body. Best wishes for a full, speedy recovery.

Jerry Sisson: Bill, Thank you. Your humor during this humor-less time is a wonderful example. The funny joke that comes to mind is at UT's expense, so out of respect for you, I'll just keep it to myself.

Dan Coughlin: Sorry to hear about these assaults. Having lived in that vicinity (for a very short time) years ago, I guess it's sad to hear but not ultra-surprising, though it sounds like you'll be hittin' the trails again in no time. I don't have a joke, but instead a true story that certainly involves the folly of one human - me. We've all heard by now how it's dangerous (and now illegal) to text and drive. Well, I've also learned that it can also be just as dangerous to dress and drive. On the way to work in February, I was having some trouble with a particular cufflink. Next thing I knew, my car was into the guardrail and then the ditch. Thankfully, I didn't hit anyone else, but my car was totaled because two airbags deployed. Tying a tie in the car is one thing, cufflinks are another. Don't learn the hard way like I did.

Glenn Condrey: Bill, I read your story with a hint of sadness. I too am from Memphis, but I have moved North to Kentucky. Memphis will always be my home...but it is too dangerous to live there anymore. I'd suggest you get a running buddy...either a younger person...or say a hungry Rottweiler.(Don't feed him until AFTER the run...just in case.) There IS safety in numbers!

Lorenzo Derek Renfroe: I am distressed over this. I do not have a joke to add, you are one of the kindest gentlemen that I have had the pleasure to interact with. But I will honor your wishes and laugh ... I could think of a UT joke; but I just want to pray for your speedy recovery.

Jerry stiles: Bill, You are now Teflon coated. Surely it couldn't Happen to you again. Have a rapid recovery. Jerry

Mike Lawhead: Wow, what some people will do for a laugh! Haltom, I don't know what you are doing to attract so many young muggers, but I think a change of routine is in order. Seriously, thank you for bringing some much-needed attention to a troubling problem, but I am sorry you had to endure such pain to do so. I know you are going to keep running, but maybe you should get somebody to ride shotgun with you to fend off the malcontents. Heal up & be safe!

Joe DeGaetano: Bill, so sorry to hear about this. Glad your sense of humor is as healthy as ever! I'm a big fan of your column in the TBA Journal. Take care.

Lloyd Adams (3): Bill, Glad your injuries were no worse. Considered picking up swimming?

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