A while ago, I went on a hardcore hike with my boss and her niece. Up and over mountains we trekked, hiking straight up into the air and down again. As we finally made it down Everest, I exhaled, resting in the knowledge that we were done.
“Halfway!” My tri-athelete employer enthusiastically announced.
Her niece and I looked at each other and rolled our eyes.
“Come on, guys! Halfway! This rocks!”
“Wait.” Her niece protested. “We each have to touch the lamppost.”
“It doesn’t count if we don’t touch the lamppost. It’s like we were never here.”
Three hands reached out, touched the lamppost and headed back up the hill.
Ever since, when I feel like my ass has grown another foot and I need a dramatic physical shock, I hit this hike again. And I always touch the lamppost. Through the whole first half of the hike, I tell myself over and over, “Just hit the lamppost. Once you make it to the lamppost, you’re done. Because you have no choice. You have to turn around. Just touch that goddamn, stupid, hideous lamppost.”
Today, I took myself on that goddamn, stupid, hideous hike. And not planning on having the time, I hadn’t packed my good shoes. Having over an hour to kill before picking Zoe up for dinner, I just grabbed the too-small Adidas shell tops I keep in my trunk and tossed off my heels, sans socks. In denim and cashmere, I forced myself up that hill. Somewhere near that lamppost, my feet became a sea of blisters, screaming in agony.
“This was a stupid idea.” I said aloud, barely able to breathe. “I’m almost at the lamppost, though. I have to hike all the way back anyway. And it doesn’t count if I don’t touch that goddamn, stupid, hideous lamppost.”
I plugged on, down the final halfway-point hill towards that dreaded beacon of light. And to my horror, I found a mass of Tour de France cyclists crowding it, their spandex glistening in the sun, their hairless man-legs flexing in self-satisfaction, their entire group blocking MY lamppost. Um, how do I get around this one?
I HAVE to touch the lamppost. My feet will never be the same again, and there’s no way this shit isn’t counting. Seriously. I have no choice. I MUST make contact with that lamppost. I mean, if I don’t, I might as well have sat at a bar this whole time.
Team Live Strong showed no signs of moving.
And I was approaching, sweating through my make-up and pearl earrings, looking like a housewife on a crazy rampage.
I marched closer. Still, not the slightest movement away from my lamppost. Don’t they know? Don’t these idiots KNOW it doesn’t count. Shouldn’t they be cheering me on like some lesser episode of Oprah’s bootcamp? Isn’t there some kind of athletic solidarity clause? Move, bikeshorts! This HAS to count!
“Excuse me.” I huffed and puffed. “I have to touch this.”
One of them moved over. “What?”
“It doesn’t count if I don’t touch it.”
I reached forward, touched that goddamn, stupid, hideous lamppost and turned around, heading back up the mountain. As I hiked in the opposite direction, I heard one cyclist ask the other, “What was that all about?”
“The lamppost. It’s like her benchmark. She’s got to touch it or it doesn’t count.”
See? Athletic solidarity. I told you…