As an author and humorist, Reid Champagne is known for his absurd & sophomoric observations of everyday life. While the story of how Reid met wife Carol (after being widowed late in life) is so sweet it belongs on Hallmark, his family would argue his inept & smart-ass tendencies belong on a 2020 reboot of Grumpier Old Men.
I turned the corner during my morning jog, already lost in a spirited dialog with my chosen, invisible nemesis running partner. Across the street I noticed a cyclist gesturing with one hand and then the other, presumably to a nemesis partner of her own. There we were, the four of us out for our essential morning exercise, two real and two imaginary. (It’s true she could have been engaged with a bluetooth connection, but I prefer to tell this story my way.)
When I first started running, I was my own nemesis partner. But I soon tired of my whining and complaining over how hard running was. Eventually, I settled on situational adversaries, generally work colleagues that I couldn’t confront the way I wanted to without being fired for it. On the road though, I could totally unload, railing at them for their stupidity, castigating their manhood and generally decimating their stature and position in the company. Refreshed physically and purged of all vitriol by the end of my run, I’d go off to work, where I was generally considered one of the quietest, most mild-mannered and even-tempered people to work with. By the time I began training for marathons, I was like the Dali Lama at work.
And it has the continuing effect of getting all this bile out of my system, without the shame of apologies, completing diversionary community service requirements or attending anger management classes.
Since I’ve retired from the workforce, I’ve been forced to look elsewhere for running partners, careful to ensure they remain among the chief antagonists still in my life. That’s proven to be no problem, especially over the last four years. Confronting one of these imaginary nemeses on a jog, rather than in real life, is far safer given the current interpretation of the second amendment. Interestingly, I’ve been as unsuccessful winning these imaginary arguments as I would no doubt be in real life; still, I feel vindicated and don’t have to wear a bulletproof vest when I run.
Needless to say, after more than 30 years of jogging, I’ve gotten into the habit of carrying on these imaginary conversations throughout my day, even after my jog is completed. “Who are you talking to,” Carol will ask, after observing me sitting quietly on the couch staring at the ceiling. “But I saw your lips moving,” she’d counter, following my denial. Finally, I’d admit the truth that I was having it out with a boss back from my working days. Carol’s eyes would widen with some level of alarm, but eventually she stopped asking, wanting only to know after all was said and done whether I still had my job or not.
I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have these perceived enemies to fight with. I’m undefeated in these mano y mano duels, which has got to be good for my self-confidence, compared to my real life record in confrontation. And it has the continuing effect of getting all this bile out of my system, without the shame of apologies, completing diversionary community service requirements or attending anger management classes.
Goes without saying, Carol continues to encourage my jogging.