Have you ever thought about why high school is so hard?
It isn't because of the subject matter, although most Algebra II students who are days away from liberation may argue that point.
It isn't because of the food -- compared to what school cafeterias offered in my day, today's high school students are eating cuisine designed by Mario Batali.
No -- it's hard because it's one of the last times in life you have to do so many things you're bad at with so many other people watching you do them.
Every day, students charge headlong into Physics or French or The Scarlet Letter with witnesses by the classroom-full, knowing they don't have the faintest clue what it's about, and knowing they need to figure it out or fake it before the teacher finds out.
If you disagree, think about the last time you voluntarily chose to do something you were bad at and allowed people to watch. This is different from doing something you don't want to do, and dancing at anyone's wedding doesn't count, because -- well, that's not exactly a story suitable for sharing, is it?
You can't remember, right?
I can -- it was just this weekend.
I got out of bed well before 8, drove to a neighboring town, and ran three miles with a number pinned to me, just like Usain Bolt -- except that's really where the comparison ends.
Based on what friends tell me, watching me run is like watching Quasimodo trying to get to the head of the ride line when Disney World opens in the morning; not only is it not going to happen, it's not even going to be close, and it isn't pretty to watch. A guy I ran with this weekend made sure I was OK at the end of the race, since I was running with my left shoulder down. "Thought you should know" he said.
I'm truly glad he mentioned it, because no one ever does. I'm taking a running class to try and sort out the many things wrong with my stride, and so far no one has said a thing. This either means I have great classmates, or they think I deserve some slack for just being vertical at the end of the run. Even the volunteers stationed along the route last Saturday cheered me on, leaving me to feel a little grateful, but a little like the world's ugliest pole dancer who still gets applause in this everyone-gets-a-trophy society.
So why did I pay good money on gas, clothes, a class, and an entry fee to greet the world and look this awkward?
Meals on Wheels.
The proceeds from the race benefitted the local volunteer program that makes sure people who need support are nourished and not forgotten. If something that beautiful can come from something so ugly, I figure it's worth a shot.
I hope you do, too, because you need to get out to Farmington Hills this Friday. The first Cipriano Classic is going to be run at the Farmington Y at 6:30 Friday night. Yes, the traffic is awful around there on Fridays, and I bet there are many other things you'd rather do with your weekend -- but tell me you know any family in Metro Detroit who needs something beautiful more than the Ciprianos.
So cancel your dinner plans, pull on your shoes, and I'll see you there. Like any good teacher, I'll be in the back of the pack, making sure the rest of you behave, taking great pride in being ugly for all the right reasons.
Take your mark.