Once upon a time, I scoffed at running. "Oh, la," said I, "I only run from trouble."
Technically, you could say that my daily morning run is, in fact, from trouble. We are trying to avoid the tardy Patience will get. She's got three, and I'm already in the sights of the Attendance Office for our Egregious Offense of taking a family vacation during the school year (forgive me my ignorant assumption that I, the parent, got to make these sorts of decisions). Then we had a little trouble getting back in routine after our trip, and, well, that's when we racked up the three tardies.
Once the worst of the hot weather allegedly broke (allegedly = I am still wearing tank top and shorts) I set this pretty hard and fast rule of No Driving, Our Feet Work Fine and We Care about our Planet Earth.
Scheduled departure time: 7:45 a.m.
School bell: 8:05 a.m.
School tardy bell: 8:15 a.m.
Actual departure time: "For goodness' sake GET DOWNSTAIRS NOW! I don't CARE that these are the orange socks not the magenta socks and NO you do not need the rubber lizard in your backpack today! What do you MEAN you are hungry, you ate a waffle, a cheese stick and oatmeal...GET TO THE DOOR...GO! MOVE IT! Put some MUSCLE behind the HUSTLE! MOVE IT LADIES!" 8:00 a.m.
So, there we are, already behind the 8 ball (no pun intended).
I shake out my legs and we are off. Patience is either on her bike, or riding the platform on the back of the stroller. Persistence sits in the stroller--a la Princess (which, by the way, is the only name she will answer to for the last two weeks, and you would not believe her wardrobe and the rest? You'd think I am making it up except I have (a) teacher backup here and (b) photographic evidence that I am in negotiation with the school to buy back. And you'll just have to wait patiently for this story as it requires signature authorization from the parent of the other child involved. I'll give you a teaser though: cross dressing.)
So there I am jogging down the main street. Every day. Somehow, always unexpectedly.
I assume my actions go unnoticed. I don't know why I assume this. Perhaps because I wish it were so?
Oh, oh no. My every move is duly noted...and is a frequent source of amusement. Case in point...
Tuesday Night...Neighbor's house, Friend brought the double margarita machine.
We were standing in line in Neighbor's living room and hallway, waiting for a personalized fitting from one of Oprah's top ten lingerie fitters. (No, I am not making this up.) Apparently we are all wearing the wrong bra. Apparently this compresses our lymph nodes and makes us sick. I can't have any more of sick, thank you very much. Plus, we look bulgy, saggy and Old Beyond Our Years. We need Pep. Perk. Cool wick. Convertible strap to strapless and some rubber like things that...well, let's not offend any delicate sensibilities. Suffice it to say, we too-busy-to-get-to-a-store-other-than-Target moms have brought the mountain to us, and the mountain will tell us our actual bust size and teach us how to do the La De Da jiggle so our bosoms are properly positioned in the proper size bra. (I am still not making this up.) (And I really, really shouldn't mock it because, well, it's all true. And the ladies were very knowledgeable, nice and helpful, and WOW, what a neighborhood bonding experience.)
There was little to do as we waited our turns except (a) refill our deceptively harmless margaritas and (b) gossip and gripe/brag about our kids.
"...and so while I was doing that she sneaked into the bathroom and got the toothpaste tube, which she practically emptied all over her hair!" I said, half still annoyed, half laughing.
"Oh my gosh," a friend laughed, "One time mine did that!"
"I don't know," I said, "With mine it's something every single day. I turn to take care of one and the other finds a marker or tube of toothpaste. It's insanity. So we're running late practically every morning."
"And she means running literally," quipped a neighbor, "I see you every morning, jogging. I pass you in the car and we're in a rush. I always think, 'Julie better turn into Flo Jo or she's going to get a tardy slip again!"
Wait. You mean...you mean they have all noticed me running every day? What about the time...
Flashback, last week, morning, usual frantic rush to get out the door...
As usual we were on a tight timetable. "We have to leave in five minute," I called to the kids, "Are teeth brushed? Hair brushed? Hands washed? Faces washed? Potty done? Bums wiped? Toilets flushed? Clothes on? Do you have underwear on? Socks? Lunches in backpacks?" As I called out the checklist for morning readiness (and trust me, it all must be checked) I was hurriedly pulling on exercise clothes. Rats, I needed to do laundry and all my jog shorts were dirty. Too hot for yoga pants, hmm, how about these gauchos? They'll do. Yank them on, followed by sports bra, t-shirt, socks, and running shoes.
Personal hygiene checklist: hair in ponytail, puffy bruised sleep-deprived eyes behind sunglasses, ball cap to hide worst of morning hair frizz, teeth brushed, face washed...eh good enough.
Spot check children. Little one shoeless as usual, garbed in PJs under two princess dresses. Check. Big one wearing vertical sherbert striped capris with light pink horizontal striped shirt. Socks, shoes, underwear, hair in ponytail, all looks clean and tidy. Check.
"Okay, ladies, let's haul ahhhh...err our bums quickly to school," I said, "Patience, you get your bike while I get your sister in the stroller."
To the street corner and beyond.
As I jogged along with the stroller behind Patience, who, I observed, was getting speedier and speedier on that bike, I began to notice a strange sort of sensation along my back. Something a bit like...air flow? The sensation moved south. I let loose of the stroller with one hand and felt...oh crap, my pants were falling off!
While standing still, the gauchos were simply roll top low rise. While running, they slid down my hips. Apparently, I've lost more weight.
So there I was...running late, running down the street, pants running down my legs. I hitched them up and tried to roll the top one more roll. Unsuccessful. I resigned myself to frequent hitching up. Hopefully discreetly.
Marvelous. Ahead of me? The group of junior high kids waiting for the bus. This meant (a) we were even later than I thought and (b) my discretion plan would fail. Junior high kids notice everything, maliciously.
One never grows up so much as to be immune to the taunting of tweens.
I gave a mighty hitch and prayed the pants would stay up as we passed the kids. No such luck. All the tugging, rolling and hitching made the stretchy fabric even more stretched. It was falling further, faster, now.
That's it, I thought, nothing for it but to push the stroller one-handed, hold the pants up with the other, and pray Patience doesn't get into a jam with her bike and need my help.
Down the main street I jogged as fast as I could, trying to keep up with Patience, keep up my pants and keep up some shred of dignity.
Neighbors drove by me, honked and waved. More neighbors rode by on their bikes, calling out "hello" and "better hurry up."
I couldn't wave back because that would mean letting loose of either the stroller or my pants, so I tried to do a regal nod of my head, instead.
All the while I kept thinking nobody noticed.
As I related this story to the very witnesses of my humiliation as if they had no idea it had happened, they laughed hysterically at me and cracked jokes. I may have been laughing the loudest.
Allow me to assure you that if you are in the middle of an embarrassing moment? Somebody always notices.
It was not for nothing though: Patience was on time.
P.S. Please feel free to share a similar story in the comments. Yes, feel very free.
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Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
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