My arguably overly-competitive wife fairly dragged me out of bed this morning by my heels. Insisting I make good on my half-hearted, casually-issued “promise” last night to the effect that I would run with her in the morning.
I generally love the idea of running with my wife. I really do. Just the thought of the two of us gallivanting with full lungs and full hearts, holding hands while prancing along Crissy Field, brings a smile to my face. Look at us! Soulmates! Look at me! World’s Greatest Husband!
The reality of these runs tends to be quite different.
Take this morning: While admittedly not on par with the Bomb Cyclone, the weather was uninviting. Still dark, pouring rain in big fat drops that the Super Doppler failed to detect and report on a quick check of our iPhone weather apps. The dog obsessively walked circles in the street, clearly struggling to muster the courage to execute her morning constitution in the midst of this downpour. So Hilary and I stood witness, helpless and slump-shouldered, getting soaked to the bone before the run had even officially begun.
Eventually we begin. And with the rain and cold and dark and headlamps and lengthy pooping routine and failure to stretch beforehand, I note that my lower back is knotted up like a fist as we cross Marina Boulevard. I commence with shuffling, reluctantly, in the general direction of the Golden Gate Bridge. But this is not the worst part. The worst part, I know, is that my own personal drama is about to be magnified exponentially.
Typically, amidst early morning drudgery such as this, my gender is embarrassingly underrepresented. Don’t get me wrong. There are many males of varying ages who populate my daily existence with myriad admirable qualities and aplomb. (Exhibit A: The, um, heroic gents photographed above.) Nevertheless, I have long since made peace with my own inferiority, and that of all men, when it comes to the Gumption Department. Any man who has witnessed a woman giving birth knows what I’m talking about. No man would willingly give birth once, let alone more than once. Sixteen years after my firstborn’s birth, and I still can’t fathom how or why Hilary agreed to go through that experience twice.
So this morning, I fully expect that all the dudes will still be asleep. Leaving the suffering of soaking wet, early morning runs to the tougher gender. And Hilary will amplify my shame by uttering a barely discernible “mmhmm” every time we cross paths with yet another woman gamely gritting her teeth through these lousy conditions. Yep, this run is gonna suck, pretty much all the way around.
Except for some reason, this morning was different. My own physical discomfort never really resolved. But I was able to find distraction through engaging my wife in quantifying this Battle of the Sexes. Counting up the number of men running compared to the number of women doing the same. Audibly as each human passed us in the opposite direction, completely oblivious to their critical role in my household’s bragging rights.
And of course, as the Battle unexpectedly jockeyed back and forth in the 10-10 range nearing our run’s turnaround point, Hilary and I began splitting hairs. Does a walker count? How about a walker who was apparently or soon will become, a runner? As in, “those are definitely running clothes, so she must be just warming down, she counts!” Are we allowed to interfere with fate by patting a startled walker on the butt in an effort to inspire the runner within, thereby adding another notch to our gender’s count?
In the end, much to my surprise (and that of my far tougher wife), the men won in a relative landslide, 17 to 12. It wasn’t even close, as it turns out. I haven’t the foggiest idea how this happened. But I do know that I will spend the weekend beating my chest about the resiliency of my fellow men, maybe this whole giving birth thing actually isn’t that much of a big deal, your “bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan” refrain pales in comparison to my Spartan qualities, etc.
Of course I won’t say any of those things. Nope. Because such boasting will only lead to my being grabbed by the heels again on another cold and rainy morning next week. And I don’t think we men are capable of repeating this morning’s victory. So I will have to settle for (quietly) savoring this one glorious morning when indeed, for once, it was rainin’ men.
Thanks for reading.