My mom is a great storyteller. Family stories have been passed down, retold countless times, and loved since I can remember. On Sunday, my mom told us a story I had never heard before, and how it’s even possible she never told us this doozy, I do not know.
Because it’s pure gold.
Back in the time of Mom Jeans, VHS, and Kenny Loggins cassette tapes, my mom and her brother had a battle of epic proportions.
It was Christmastime, and my uncle was visiting, as he did every year. My cousin and I were young, and likely we were the reason the whole fam bam was at the park in the middle of December.
For some insane reason, the topic of who was faster on foot between my mom and my uncle came up in conversation. My uncle swore he’d literally beat the pants off of my mom.
Well, that pretty much sealed the deal.
My mom and uncle readied themselves for a foot race that would easily rival that of Usain Bolt…if he were middle aged, out of shape, and if he considered tight Lee jeans appropriate running attire.
Quite handy for the two marathon runners was that the particular park where we were had parallel bridges, not too far away from each other. My grandmother, humoring her two always-picked-last-for-sports-children said she’d call “ready or not”.
I guess now is a good time to paint the scene.
My good ol’ Uncle Gary, or, My Own Personal John Candy was one of the best parts of my childhood. If my mom was a good storyteller, it’s only because she learned the craft from the king of all storytellers-her older brother.
As for my mom, it was she who I inherited my overly curvaceous bod, cellulite, and body hair from, so…
I think the picture is fairly clear.
They were 100% the kids who cheated on running the mile in PE class (or walked the entirety, coming in with a record time of 12 minutes).
Basically, we had a pair of real marathon winners.
I don’t think my mom even took the race seriously. She probably figured she’d have to embarrass him by beating the pants off him in front of God and everybody, or that he had a cheat or a trick ready and waiting.
This was why she was far more concerned with what he was doing at the starting line, instead of readying herself for moving more quickly than she had in years.
She was staring him down, incredulity and an ounce of fear growing, as his Rocky-esque stance proved he was ready and actually serious.
Suddenly, Grandma called, “Go!” and it was all just a blur of color block windbreaker and handlebar mustache.
My mom was glued to her spot. Stunned.
Pretty quickly, she couldn’t contain her laughter and broke down in hysterics.
She said, “At the starting gate, I collapsed in laughter. I saw him there, this 300 pound man, with his 32 year-old shoes flapping, going like the wind.”
As my mom was dissolving into a puddle of tear-soaked Jordache, Grandma was yelling, “Go, Judy! Just go a little bit, Judy!”
After listening to this story, it was only natural that I dared my brother to our own relay race.
I was fairly certain I’d beat the crap out of him. I’d only been an aerial yogaist for five weeks straight, and all of my walks to 7-11 had to make me more capable of movement than him.
The last time I was witness to him doing anything that resembled physical exertion was when we went on a family picnic five years ago, and I dragged him on a “hike” up to a lookout, barely half a mile away. It was not his favorite.
I figured I’d finish and have time to bake a cake before he came across the finish line.
As he confidently, unwaveringly got into his runner’s stance, I began to doubt myself as a shoe-in for first place.
Maybe he runs during his time off? Had I somehow completely missed that aspect of his life?
I said to my mom, “I think I’m kinda scared!”
She replied, “Maybe you should be. Sometimes fat people surprise you and they run like the wind!”
Spoiler Alert: I lost miserably.
Not only did I lose, I came incredibly close to eating asphalt.
You know when you are trying to go faster than your body can catch up and your head has literally a head start? Well, that was me the entire 20 or so feet we ran.
Not only did he beat me by running a hell of a lot faster than me, he did so with bare feet.
When my dad yelled, “Go!” (BTW, my dad was excited enough to watch this spectacle, that he actually paused the golf he was watching, and said, “Now, I gotta see this.” as he practically ran outside), I thought my body would be moving quicker than it did. It was like I was in slo-mo, shlepping through molasses. Before I could even start actually moving, he had propelled his body through the finish line with his Fred Flinstone feet.
It wasn’t even a competition.
Moral of the story: Don’t underestimate people carrying around some extra weight, because they can move. With the exception of this fat chick. I can’t move quickly for anything.
Also, family stories are better when you don’t try to reenact them. Don’t let history repeat itself, people!