I drive down Hollywood Way in Burbank to get to work every morning. I always pass through Chandler Blvd. There is a bike/run path that crosses that intersection, so most mornings I see a few tanned, toned, jaunty runners jogging in place, waiting for their turn to cross and sprint their way to endorphin induced bliss.
I both envy and resent these perfect bodied personifications of the California fitness cliché. Before I moved out here from Ohio I just assumed every Californian has two percent body fat, that once you set your chubby foot across state lines, your skin becomes more golden and your ass suddenly looks amazing in your now too baggy jeans. Sadly, I discovered my idealistic fantasy was just that…an ignorant fantasy. Yes we live in California, it is beautiful outside most of the time, and I know I should be jogging along side of you, or at least riding alongside on my beach cruiser, I know, alright, stop flaunting your cardiovascular superiority over me already! My misguided frustration is usually forgotten by the time I pass by the Porto’s Bakery on Hollywood Way and Magnolia, and my panic over my plushy belly is replaced by a longing for an avocado cheese omelette croissant and a tall hot chai tea latte. Fortunately for my wallet and my waistline, I almost never have time to stop at Porto’s to fulfill my craving.
This morning, as I reached the stoplight at Chandler, a vision caught my eye to the left. There was this tall beefy man with the build of Will Ferrell with a slightly larger belly, waving his arms in the air as he jogged in place. And then, suddenly, he flung his hands to the ground, propelled the lower half of his body into the air, and desperately tried to defy gravity but ultimately failed as his folded legs barely made it off the ground. I believe he was trying to accomplish a cartwheel, but all that really was achieved was his butt in the air facing the street in what ultimately resulted as an extremely awkward attempt at public gymnastics.
However, you would have thought he had just completed a perfect triple backflip, because he then joyously leapt into the air, invigorated from his fumbly tumble, and plodded along across the street, sweat flinging from his disheveled curly mop of hair. Stunned, all I could think was that I wanted to get out of my car and cheer him on and then leave my car in the street to run with him. This pasty, ungraceful soul was panting his body down that exercise path, paying no attention to his audience, and quite possibly somersaulting his way to his finish line. He is the superhero of the before picture, clumsily morphing himself into an after picture. And there I sat, a lousy waste of flesh, driving myself to my desk job.
So today at work, I took the long way to the other buildings I needed to visit. I walked a little quicker up the stairs. Serendipitously, a coworker gifted me a pedometer late in the morning, and I’ve had it clipped on ever since. I even paced the kitchen as I heated up my sad little Lean Cuisine lunch. I’ve gulped down more water than usual. I’m making an effort in the hopes that one day…just maybe…maybe I too can become a cartwheeling superhero.