This Is Why I Teach. Fat Marathon Runner.

I had an excellent conversation—and it really was a conversation—with one of my high school students yesterday. He wanted to know about my use of Facebook and about my decision to temporarily deactivate my account. I am friends with him on Facebook and he has been involved in (or witness to) several heated arguments on my wall.

He wanted to know if that had anything to do with my decision to cancel Facebook. Yes. And I was spending way too much time on Facebook.

He wanted to know if I thought that it was someone’s right to write whatever they wanted on my wall. Yes, but I would enjoy it very much if everyone maintained an attitude of respect and would not call each other names.

He said he wondered if the fact that the wall is technically my property changed my opinion about that. Is it like defacing my property, he wondered, and would I ever delete something that someone put on my wall? No, I think of it as public space and people can say whatever they want if they say it respectfully. The only time I would delete it is if people were mean to each other, because I think mean people suck.

He then asked me if I thought Facebook should add more regulations to help monitor the things that people write on each other’s walls. Poor guy, he didn’t know he just unleashed a beast. Of course there shouldn’t be more regulations. There should never be more regulations; people simply need to learn how to monitor themselves and their behavior in all social situations. All Facebook has done is enable people to be cyberly passive-aggressive in a way that is more exaggerated than they can (or will) be face to face. For some reason, the anonymity of the screen allows us to treat people in ways that we would NEVER treat each other face to face. It’s kind of like warfare: if you don’t have to face the person you kill, the killing is easier, more remote, less personal. Do we still suffer from it? Yes. Do we recognize the suffering as readily? No, I don’t think so, because it is masked by the remote proximity of our interaction. I think the word anonymous may be too strong for what the cyber-relations provide us. Shielded. Blurred. Obfuscated. Those may be better descriptors for our online identities. At the very least, they don’t entirely match our fleshly personas. But I digress from the question. No, no more regulations. I am regulated to death in this earthly body. I don’t want my cyber body to be regulated, too.

He, of course, had a much more active part in this discourse than what I suggest here, because I said it was a conversation, not simply me pontificating. I don’t want to put words in his mouth.

*

On the running front, it is nine days until the half-marathon, and I think I am ready. I chose not to run today because I don’t want to re-injure my Achilles (heel) tendon, so I walked from my house to Starbucks where I am happily typing this entry while listening to the guy in the next chair noisily chomp, slosh his pastry and latte. I have seriously never heard someone smack lips, slide tongue like this wild maned, strangely-clad man. Uncombed, possibly for days, hair, maroon running pants, white t-shirt under inside-out grey sweatshirt, and brown leather dressy sandals. He waits tables at Johnny Carino’s. Or he did. I remember his face. Possibly in order to amplify the eating noises, he has his computer resting on the table between us and he is facing me, so that I can smell his cinnamony pastry as he chews. Apparently, we are close. And, apparently, he has never read Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl,” or he would know to “always eat your food in such a way that it won’t turn someone else’s stomach.” Because you’re turning my stomach, Cuz.

Anyway, I walked some of the three miles barefoot and relished the coming summer. Even though there was frost on the grass, the pavement and sidewalks were warm from the sun. When my feet got tired of the grind of the asphalt, I begrudgingly put on my flip-flops and kept going. My legs and feet were glad for the walk, and I imagine that they look forward to a nice long, slow run tomorrow. I know I look forward to the eight miles on Saturday, hoping that my mental longing for peace and rhythmic breathing will result in the physical cooperation of my limbs and lungs. Ah. I rejoice in the clarity and the solitude of the run.

Yesterday, I contemplated making a special t-shirt to wear when I run the marathon in November. It will say, “I am morbidly obese and running a marathon.” I thought it might make a good point about BMI, and the way those numbers are used to keep people down. Fat people. Fat, running people like me. Although, wearing a shirt like that is a bit like tempting fate. What if I have a massive heart-attack around mile 20? What will people say? Did you see that fat chick drop over? No wonder she died. Why would a morbidly obese 36-year-old try to run a marathon? How could she have the nerve to wear a t-shirt that tempted fate? You see, these are the voices that already go through my head, so I contemplate the shirt. Ironically, it names my fears. Confronts them head on.

Cacomorphobia: the irrational fear of fat people.

Caligynephobia: the irrational fear of beautiful women.

Maybe my shirt should say, “Do you suffer from cacomorphobia and caligynephobia? Then you better watch out, ’cause Mama’s comin’!”

One response to “This Is Why I Teach. Fat Marathon Runner.

  1. unfinishedportraitofsam

    Corb, this post is AMAZING. it needs to be an essay, two. and i laughed out loud in the coffee shop here in Tremont. (now owned by new people, to which i just applied.)

    THIS is why i love you : )

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