Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Impressive Lex Went For a Run

Though I’ve told this story before, it has been a few years, so here goes.

It was a beautiful, blustery Spring day in Winnetka, IIlinois, the kind of day where you can smell the mud and flowers both. 

It was near the end of my high school Junior year, track season was just over and I had qualified for, and had a plane ticket to, the Junior National Decathlon Championship in Hayward, California. 

Not to brag, well, OK, to brag, I was the only one in the country in high school to qualify. (Junior Nationals is 19-and under. I was 16, the next youngest to me to qualify was an 18-year-old Stanford freshman. A 19-year-old from Fisk University, Tony Hale, won)

Our local newspaper/magazine, “The Winnetka Talk” even did a small piece about it including a picture of me that resembled a DUI mugshot. The title was “Local Boy Goes West” or something equally lame.

Truth-be-told, I was feeling pretty chuffed. Oh, hell, who am I kidding? I was so full of myself even I could barely stand it.

So I wanted to share with the rest of New Trier (Nee) East High School what was the beauty and the glory of me and my chiseled frame in all it’s athletic splendor.  It only seemed fair.

Thus I started to go for a run, resplendent in my tight tank-top track shirt and too-tight 70's shorty-shorts - despite low 60 degree temperatures - headed west along the sidewalk of Winnetka Ave., right in front of the school, my long blonde, Eagles/Stones-wanna-be, parted-in-the-middle hair flowing in the breeze, just as school was letting out for the day. 

Yes, I had planned it that way.

In full stride, I was right in front of a huge crowd heading for the school buses or the commuter train or a ride in Mom’s car or just walking home.  As I was trying to take note of who was admiring me without giving them the benefit of looking back at them, I spotted an amazing sight out of the corner of my eye.

Across the street in front of the pharmacy, White’s Drug Store, was Julie Davis - picture Keira Knightly with long, thick flaxen hair -  she was bent over and pushing her bicycle into the back of her Mom’s green and faux-wood Ford station wagon.

Much to my dismay, Julie did not see me.

Suddenly providence intervened, a strong gust of wind off Lake Michigan flung Julie’s green- plaid skirt heavenward revealing her glorious white, tight panties and a butt so taut one could chip a tooth. (Julie actually was an award-winning modern dancer)

It was at this same instant, as I was mentally recording this gorgeous sight for posterity, out rang a tremendous;


Next thing I knew, I was on my ass on the sidewalk staring up at a “No Parking” sign that was vibrating violently side-to-side. Cartoon birdies twirled in a circle over my head.

The only thing more painful than the sting from the side of my face and ear was the laughter growing rapidly from the student body.

Suddenly this was a Mel Brooks/Norman Rockwell/silent movie-] crowd scene: people bent over laughing, holding their stomachs, pointing, hands-over-mouths, slapping thighs and wiping tears, tears I tell you, from their cheeks.

Yes, I scurried to my feet and continued running to get to the Indian Hills Country Club Golf Course as if nothing had happened. No, I did not look back to see if Julie Davis was laughing.

By the time I got home early that evening, I had convinced myself it wasn’t that big of a deal. Surely I had imagined it far worse than it was. 

As I shut the front door behind me, the smell of my Mom’s  meatloaf baking in the oven -she used just the perfect amount of diced yellow onions  - wafted over me and assuaged my worry with genuine comfort and relief.

Just then, my sweet, wonderful apron-adorned mother walked up, gave me a big hug, gently patted my head and said;

“I am so sorry you ran into that street sign, honey. But I sure wish I had seen it.” 

Then Mom dissolved into shoulder-shaking chuckles. 

Apparently our neighbor, Mrs. Owens, had called. She had been picking up her daughter, Betsy, saw what happened and was concerned. 

Not so concerned, however, she could keep from laughing so hard she could barely describe it to my Mother. 

Was the experience humiliating? You bet. Was it humbling? Oh, sure. Was it worth it to see Julie Davis in her underwear?

You bet your ass.