Helluva Prize I Won

Whenever I go to an open-air festival, such as Comfest, Pride Weekend, or Hot Times in Olde Towne East, I often make up for (usually) not buying anything at the vendors’ booths by entering whatever drawings or contests they have.  (This was how I acquired the Kings in Their Castles book at Pride Weekend last summer.)  Usually, I don’t count on winning anything, and I grudgingly accept the fact that I may be bombarded with emails and phone calls pushing the product.

I’ve entered contests just for the sake of entering them, even when the prizes I won were totally useless to me.  As a kid, I remember winning a two-year subscription to a hardware store distributors’ newsletter, and two free shaves at a barber shop in Bakersfield, Calif.  (I was too young to shave then, and–as my recent pictures will attest–the prize is just as useless to me now as it was then.)

This time I won a prize.  I am the proud recipient of three 100% free workout sessions at CORE Fitness Studio.  My reaction at first was that this was like giving a kid with a broken leg a pair of roller skates, but I decided to keep an open mind, got on the phone, and set up a session for this morning.  I am by no means the beanpole that I was in high school, and I naïvely thought that once I swore off booze for good, the pounds would just melt away and the beer gut would be a not-so-fond memory in a matter of weeks.

I came to the session with many misgivings.  I have had few positive experiences with sports, and physical-education classes were nightmarish for me.  I cultivated a small library of quotes to justify my hatred of any type of physical activity: “I am a brain, my dear Watson, and the rest of me is a mere appendage,” a quote by Sherlock Holmes (who was an excellent fencer, boxer, and equestrian), and my fellow Ohioan Thomas Alva Edison: “All I ask of my body is that it carry around my head.”

Being ridiculed by your fellow students in phys. ed. for your lack of physical prowess or ability was bad enough, but the worst part was when the teacher joined in or encouraged the ridicule.  This was the case in junior high, and another student and I who received the brunt of the teacher-encouraged ridicule were so angered by it that we plotted (I’m not sure how seriously) various ways of ending the treatment.

The trainer I worked with at CORE today was quite decent.  He evaluated my body mass, and calculated my ideal weight (my current weight minus about 40 pounds, I’m sorry to say), and the regimen he put me through today wasn’t totally pleasant, but I didn’t come out of it feeling sore, or vowing not to come back.  He was the antithesis of the stereotypical middle-school phys. ed. teacher who would organize a dodge ball game, explain the rules, blow his whistle, get the kids started, and then go back to his office and smoke a cigar.

The block on Parsons Ave. where CORE is located.

My trainer was with me every step of the way, spotting me during my first experience with bench-pressing (I won’t reveal the weight), small free weights, and the stationary ski/walk machine (I don’t remember the name of it.)  I surprised myself by being able to do about six or seven sit-ups and push-ups–I didn’t think I could do any!  I wasn’t too stiff and sore–I was able to walk the mile and a half from CORE (on Parsons St. in Olde Towne East, just south of Broad St.) to the office without wanting to collapse anywhere en route, and while I was more aware of some of the muscles and nerves in my body than I was when I first walked in, none of them were jangling in pain.  I didn’t even need water until I came in to work.  (I belong to the Water Club at work–about $2 per pay period for unlimited access to water from The Water Store’s cooler.  Yes, bottled water is a scam, but the water in the cooler is colder than what comes from the fountain.)

I was even planning to walk home from work, but once the tornado sirens began sounding around 4:30, I decided to come home on the bus.  My pod is right near a west-facing window, and I could sit there and watch the visibility lower by the minute.  I could see the main post office on Twin Rivers Dr., but it was blurry and indistinct, like I was looking at it without my glasses.  Off in the distance, the twin buildings of the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Department of Public Safety were totally obscured.  If I looked hard enough, I could barely make out the steeple of St. Aloysius Church just west of ODOT and Public Safety, but if I didn’t know it was there, it wouldn’t have registered.

I am a floor warden, so when the alarms began to whoop outside, and the alarm lights began to strobe, I made sure everyone headed to the nearest stairwell to await further instruction.  It was so close to 5 p.m., the last quitting time for the night, that I had no one to shepherd to safety once 5 p.m. came, so I left as well, and waited for the bus with a nice background sound of tornado sirens.  Other than the rain, it wasn’t bad outside once I got onto High St. to await the bus.  (I saw one of the windows on my floor actually ripple once or twice during one of the wind gusts, so I was concerned about going out into the weather, but it turned out not to be anything major.)

Although I’m quite tired right now, I’m typing at a pretty frenetic pace.  I’m using the Stones’ “When the Whip Comes Down,” from the Some Girls album, as background music while I work.  (I’ve never had a typing lesson, but I’ve heard about typing classes where the students would type to music.)

No Calm Before the Hurricane

My only long walk today was down High St. tonight, since I needed something from CVS.  The one near us closes at 10 p.m., and it was past 10 when I stepped out the door.  So, I headed to the one at Lane and High, just a little over a mile south.  I had a dim recollection that Ohio State would be playing the Miami Hurricanes tomorrow, but Saturday is so jam-packed with activity for me that even if I was a football fan, I wouldn’t have time to watch the game or go down to the ‘Shoe to watch it.

So, walking down High St., it was impossible to go a city block without passing porches loaded (and overloaded) with people, all of them drinking and cheering, with endless renditions of “Hang On, Sloopy!” and “O-H!”  “I-O!”  The game doesn’t even start until 3:40 p.m., and yet everyone is out on their lawns, porches, and the streets, and the drunken enthusiasm has begun.

The open containers of alcohol have been blatant tonight.  On my way home from CVS, I counted no less than a dozen people leaving private residences or their cars carrying open bottles and cans of beer.  The irony is that I worried about getting a police officer’s attention when I left CVS with an open bottle of Diet Pepsi!

Errands will take me far from the campus area for most of the day.  I am thankful for this, since I wonder if the enthusiasm of a crowd which is stoked already, when kickoff is still 14 hours away, can be dialed down once the game is over.  The outcome of the game really has no bearing on what a crowd–especially one fueled by alcohol and fan adrenaline–will do.  At OSU, people will riot as a way of celebrating victory, as happened in 2002 when the Buckeyes defeated Michigan (see below picture).  In 2002, one of Jay Leno’s Tonight Show monologues said that the first duty of the then-new Department of Homeland Security was “to protect Americans against Ohio State football fans.”  (Seeing Homeland Security’s stellar success at capturing and killing Osama bin Laden, as a Columbus resident I am thankful Leno was only kidding.  Bin Laden would have to text-message his GPS coordinates to Homeland Security before they’d even be remotely capable of capturing him.)

Aftermath of the OSU-Michigan game of 2002,
downloaded from http://www.dipity.com.

People are just as likely to take to the streets out of frustration when Ohio State loses a game.  This is impossible to predict, and I’m not predicting that the partying I saw tonight will lead to a disaster tomorrow evening.  In fact, the overall atmosphere (I shudder away from the word vibe–it’s a cliché I should avoid like the plague (get it?)) of the street seemed to be festive and fun, more like the Undie Run Scott and I happened into last spring.

That hasn’t always been true.  When I first lived in Columbus, in 1985-1986, there were many nights when I would be prowling the bars on High St. (many of which have long ago been razed) and would have a feeling that the street just seemed ugly.  There was a hostility and bad feeling that seemed to be in the air, almost like static electricity, and as much a part of the air as the carbon dioxide.  I didn’t feel that it was directed at me personally, but it was on those nights that I would still get drunk, and prowl in vain for a one-night sexual encounter, yet I would be doing it with my guard up, or as on alert as you can be when you’re getting hammered.  Those would be the nights I’d take a cab home instead of walk, or would go straight home after the bars closed, instead of trying to find an after-hours party.  My wariness paid off.  I didn’t pick up The Dispatch the next morning and find out that I had just escaped a full-scale riot, but at no time was I beaten, mugged, or pickpocketed.  I often think that maybe I was such a careless–if not outright sloppy–dresser that many a would-be thief thought I was too broke to be worth rolling.
In my entire drinking career, I was never cited for open container, because usually I was pretty conscientious about not carrying open containers of alcohol in public.  The closest I came was my last quarter or two at Ohio University, when the school began to crack down about where alcohol could and could not be consumed.  In the dorms, you were permitted to drink and serve alcohol in your room, but it was forbidden in any of the public areas.
An R.A. almost cited me for this once.  I was propped on my bed late one fall weekend afternoon, reading and drinking a beer, when I thought I heard someone knocking on my door.  (I lived on New South Green, in a single room.)  I had called out “Come in!” but no one turned my doorknob.  A little frustrated, I got up, opened my door, and went out into the hall.  It wasn’t until I saw my R.A. staring me down that I realized I had carried the beer can out with me.  She let me by with a warning, but I realized I should have taken the nanosecond necessary to set the beer down on my desk before I stepped from the sanctuary of my room.
Many people groaned about this new policy, but we all knew the alternative was a dry campus.  (The president of O.U. would have been lynched if that had ever become law, I’m sure.)  Even if I had been a teetotaler at the time, I would have thought this ridiculous.  It made no sense that the powers that be were proposing that it was okay for you to go up to Court St. and get blasted, and then stumble back down to your dorm and vomit in the hall or (as happened in my residence hall more than once) in the shower, but sharing a 12-pack with your legal-to-drink friends while watching videos in your room would be verboten.

I’m probably worrying for nothing.  I doubt many of the people I saw tonight will be sober by game time, and if they are, they will be hungover and in no condition to continue.  As for me, I have something to do that will consume most of my morning.  At noon, Susie and her friends from Girlz Rhythm and Rock Camp are performing at the Hot Times Community Arts and Music Festival in Olde Towne East.  She and the others will be on the grounds of the Columbus Health Department (formerly the Ohio School for the Blind), and I’ll be on hand for the performance.  I give you fair warning I’ll be posting pictures of this in the blog later this weekend.
Where you’ll find Susie and friends come high noon,
240 Parsons Ave. (corner Parsons and Main.)
Unfortunately, I will be missing the “Burn No Sacred Books” Day service at church, a service that will both honor the memory of the people who died on 9/11 in 2001 in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, and counteract the lunacy of Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida and his plans to mark the anniversary of this tragedy by burning copies of the Koran.
The third event I am sorry I will miss is God’s Family Reunion, in the parking lot and property of Faith Believers’ Ministry in Mineral, home of the Feed My Sheep pantry that I visit with Jacques on those rare Mondays when I am not working.  I have known about this since spring, and was planning to take Susie to it, but her services are needed at Hot Times.