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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Strange Happens 

Sometimes you just never know. I’m not saying that a person needs to be on-guard for all matters of strange occurrences, but I am saying, sometimes you just never know. For example, I recently bought a new pair of running shoes (versus buying an old, already used pair, because that would be dumb). This was a good purchase for me, since my “off season” had gone on a bit too long. I was happy to get them home and begin the ritualistic bonding with the shoes where I imagine the miles, the weather, the inclines, the freestyle declines, the dogs, the Gatorade, the blisters, music and sore muscles that we’d endure together, and how I’ll be a better person for pursuing this goal. I was, in fact, with this single purchase, drawing a line in the sand to denote the “before” portion of sedentary life and my imagined, glorious new life “after” with these running shoes. If it sounds like I had a vivid fantasy with my imagined destiny now within my grasp, that would be accurate. I also wanted to avoid harshing that fantasy with fallen arches, which would surely introduce pain and humiliation, thereby negating all other elements of fantasy. High arches sounds so sleek, slim and sexy, and they probably are, however, to a runner, they are a volatile condition requiring the right podiatric accessory. Along with my new silver and purple Aisic running shoe, I also bought the humbling arch support inserts. I passed on the handicapped dayglo vest, but committed to the arch supports. At home, continuing the fantasy of my new and improved life, I took these arch supports from their protective plastic wrapping and the tissue packing paper contained therein fell out with a thump. The last I knew, tissue paper was not inclined to make noise other than the rustle of the paper itself. I picked up the bundle of tissue paper and still can’t make sense of what I found: a plastic yellow half-circle with the clear indentation of upper teeth marks. Was this a complimentary bite-plate for runners willing to push harder? With no instruction booklet or indications on the package, I was left to asses the situation alone. It’s amazing what the unkind mind will drum up for explanation. “Why?.Was this left in by accident at the packaging plant? Did the same company who made my arch supports also make a myriad of therapeutic accoutrement for the nearly able athletes? Or, god forbid, did someone at the packaging plant accidentally- possibly while laughing at the thought of a hobbled loser buying this product - then lose their dental accessory and now become the spark for my imagination?” What is this thing? Am I supposed to use it? Do I need to use it? If ‘yes,’ why do I need to use it? I’ve ran a lot of miles, a marathon, many many 5 and 10k’s – never once did I feel that my teeth were in jeopardy or discomfort. Perhaps I have some researching to do… And sometimes, maybe it’s just that strange happens.

Not long ago, while in New York City and caught in the cold weather without a proper winter coat, I stopped in to a Catholic Charities bizarre looking for a warm coat. As luck would have it, I found one. It was a long, black wool Benetton brand coat with a pretty silk lining in it – all for $10. Oh happy day! And, “only in New York.” Here’s a coat that would have cost far too much money off the rack in a department store, but thanks to a kind and generous Catholic, I now was prepared for the worst of winter weather . I paid the nice man, put the coat on, and began my trek back to my apartment. I went to slide my Metro card into the pocket of my regal new-to-me coat and what the what? Where’s that pocket? I know that this jacket has pockets… I stopped, devoting my full attention to placing my Metro card carefully in the pocket. It was then that I discovered the most curious condition of this coat and its previous owner: the pockets were still stitched together. “What person doesn’t use pockets?” Then it occurred to me that, perhaps a person without arms wouldn’t need pockets. Maybe a person who’s wheelchair-bound wouldn’t need pockets. The list of potential “Who wouldn’t use pockets” kind of people, became shamefully long. Just who was this person, how have we crossed paths thanks to a Catholic Charities bizarre, and what am I supposed to do now? I kept my eyes open for possible conditions so as to add identities to the list of “Who wouldn’t use pockets?” I often wonder still, what condition, situation, or life hurdle kept the previous owner from breaking the stitches open to make use of the deep silk-lined pockets in this fine coat. Eventually, I came to accept that sometimes, strange happens. But rarely is that the first thought that my mind will settle for.

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