GCSPrank Is Here

For people who spend the day saying and writing things that others accept, while thinking things that are infinitely more interesting.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Bill urged me to join and being the son of an Air Force veteran (retired), I figured it would be a good experience. Forget the fact that I already had longish hair and an aversion to clothing more complicated than jeans, T-shirts and sneakers, and that my idea of disciplined behavior was limiting my sarcasm to only several forays a day. Air Force ROTC was waiting for me.

In some mysterious way, I lasted a year. Despite the long hair that gave me the moniker of “Custer,” (yet never to my face), a laissez-faire attitude towards “gung ho” activity and no interest in pursuing a career where brown-nosing was a requirement, I occupied a space in the Air Force’s universe for those nine months. A full-term stillborn, if you will.

The second semester we had a Phys. Ed. requirement of running a mile and a half in under 12 minutes. I noted the fact, then promptly ignored it, even when it was mentioned ever so often. I must point out that despite my love of sports, running just for the sake of running was idiocy to me. I could run all day on a baseball field, a basketball or tennis court or on a beach playing touch football all afternoon, but running just to get back to where you started from? Puh. Leez.

Suddenly one morning, Bill tells me that the final day for the P.E. requirement was that day; in fact, that the timed trial was going on at that moment. I threw sarcasm his way, missed and went to the Rebel Coliseum.

Several LeMay-wannabes were gathered, a few holding stopwatches. Nothing like redundancy. I walked up and said I had to run and their glances were almost interested enough to be perfunctory. One nodded and said I could start anytime. I dropped my notebook on the ground and started running, although I was dressed for day, not sports. Someone had told me 12 laps around the dingy dome was the requirement, so a minute a lap was required. Woop-de-doo.

I ran with a blur of anger in my head. Stupidstupidstupidstupid was the rhythm of my run. I noticed one poor sap, red-faced and heaving as he lugged fat and gristle around with two buddies encouraging him every two seconds. Along the way, I heard another trial was set for late afternoon, so runners who failed now could try again. I shook my head: I’d do it now or forget it.

Time passed and I kept my rhythm. I lapped the heavy-legged sap whose buddies were now pleading with him to go on, to pick up the pace, to make it happen. I lost track of the laps as my pace never changed and I kept running, just running, doing nothing but running.

I passed my timekeeper who raised one finger. “Last one!” he told me. I ran on. Then, as I passed the halfway point of the final lap, I heard a yell. “Seventeen seconds to go!” I immediately kicked into a sprint, passing the lumbering trio and racing to whatever passed for a finish line. I pulled around the final turn and accelerated as I passed my timekeeper, who clicked his stopwatch and nodded. I took several more steps to slow down, then walked over. As I did, the trio went by me. A collective groan washed past me. “Twelve nine.” Lumberjock had failed.

I was handed a clipboard with my name and 11:57 next to it. Uh-huh. I signed, the timekeeper signed and I picked up my notebook. The trio was now a duet as the main character had collapsed to the ground, his whole body heaving for breath. I heard someone say “You can do it this afternoon.”

In a car, I said to no one in particular. As I walked to the cafeteria, I noted I hadn’t even broken a sweat.


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