Lighten up, chum

There’s a big-screen LCD TV in the middle of the living room when I come home from work on Friday. It’s not supposed to be here and it sure as hell wasn’t here earlier in the morning either. The fruit cake leftovers in the kitchen point out to my parents having come over in the afternoon. They have a spare key.

I stand motionless in front of the new TV set for I think fifteen or twenty minutes, pissed off as hell. As a personal rule I’m not supposed to take anybody else’s money or expensive presents in life— least of all from my parents— because it sort of muddles everything and it would simply justify everyone calling me a spoiled brat and I guess that bottom line, all mistakes have got to be ultimately my own.
So there I stand trying to make up my mind, halfway between returning the gift and dropkicking it all the way down from the eleventh floor, wondering what sound it would make as it reached the ground

I’m tired, though:
I’m spiritually tired and I’ve been dragging chains as long as the goddamn Titanic lately and this has been a shitty year all and all and I could use a break and I guess fighting mom over a TV set would be something of… ahnn counter-productive. So I don’t.

Of course by this time I’ve already sat down on the couch and I’m sort of going up and down the channels with the remote and I’ve started wondering if I could get away with breaking that rule just this once, that a tiny wee peccadillo into the evening wouldn’t really hurt in the big picture, right? Okay, maybe just dent it a bit but I could live with a dent, couldn’t I?
Okay then, just this once.

Hey, big screen TV, then.

The following morning there’s a scorching sun up in the sky and down here on Earth I’m going to the park to run a few laps around the lake. I end up bumping into this cousin of mine who used to be like, really, really fat until three years ago and now he’s an honest-to-god athlete whereas me, I’m, I dunno, fit, lean? It’s conceivable I’m actually faster than he is for short distance sprints but he’s a long-distance runner with at least twice the stamina and that’s what it counts.

I am able to stick with him for most of his running, matching his speed, though, and as we’re finishing off the last lap (his fourth, my second) we’re both dead tired and I ask him whether he’s ever thrown up after pushing it real hard when running.
He looks at me mystified.

“What? I’m just asking” I tell him, “It’s not like I’m throwing up right now”.
“No, it’s cool,” he says. “Just as long as you throw up away from chicks and stuff”.
“Like, have you ever…?”
“Thrown up after running?” he asks me in return. “Happens all the time if you drink milk shortly before pushing it real hard.”
“Milk? Really?”
“Oh yes. Are you used to drink milk before running?”
“All the time,” I tell him.
“Dude, it’s a no-brainer,” he says. “You drink up a lot of milk before training and once you get on with your ribcage heaving like fuck, up and down, panting like a dog, you’re bound to projectile-vomit anyhow.”
“So it’s not just me?”
“Nope,” he says.
“That’s reassuring,” I reply, and then he reminds me we’re both enrolled to this 10 or 15K running event the following Sunday and I tell him about Jimmy’s birthday party the night before.

He just smiles and reminds me that milk isn’t the only kind of beverage that induces throwing up.

Shortly afterwards I’m walking around the park aimlessly with my iPod on, barefooted, t-shirt off and all that, and then I find myself standing before the bronze statue of the WWII aviator—and true enough he’s always there, year in and year out, and meeting him is like marking the spiritual transition from Spring to Summertime, like a still-life psychopomp of sorts.

And you know what? That’s true enough.

Here I am under this terrific sun, with a big screen TV that dropped from out of nowhere and I’ve just been green-lit to spew milk after exercising. People should actually pay to live like me. I mean, this is the life!

What else can you expect out of it, right?