Each year for the last five decades, The Hamlet becomes the epicenter of the running world during the third weekend in August, hosting two grueling marathon races. To this I say:
"I fucking hate the third weekend in August."
Here’s the funny thing—I used to run. In fact, I used to be a jock in the complete sense of the word. Over the years, I’ve turned away from athletics. I don’t watch sports on television; I avoid athletic events such as professional football, hockey and basketball games; I don’t read the sports page; I laugh when yet another athlete is caught up in some sort of scandal; I feel contempt for the high salaries professional athletes receive; I am mystified by the adulation given to athletes. For this marathon to be happening outside my window, it’s a terrific irony.
I can't adequately convey the inconvenience this marathon places on residents' living conditions during this marathon weekend. Allow me to list my personal grievances:
1.) The street noise, usually a low roar during the summer, is heightened to a carcophony of loud music, cheering spectators and idiotic announcers. This is all punctuated by the clanging assemblage of large tents and street barriers.
2.) Parking is impossible, meaning residents cannot park in front of their own houses for four full days. If a resident parks in front of their own home, their vehicle will be towed. These parking restrictions are strictly and gleefully enforced by The Hamlet's Nazi Police Force.
3.) The street upon which the marathon embarks and finishes is closed to traffic. If you are a Hamlet resident and live on this particular street (such as the Brunette and me), you must locate a Nazi to ask permission to escape this temporary prison. If you manage to escape The Hamlet and want to return to your house, you must perform the same action-- locate Nazi, ask permission and drive up to your house. Remember though!-- no parking in front of your house, or your vehicle will be towed, motherfucker.
In my mind, there is a deep disconnect between the way I feel about this weekend and what I see outside in the spectators' shining, rhapsodic faces.
Some other complaints:
Music- the marathon organizers play one CD which has approximately 15 tunes on it, which is set to "random" play. "Random" takes on a different meaning when you have a choice of 15 songs from which to choose played during the course of a nine hour event. This CD has two songs on it that I really love, sung by Aretha and Squeeze, but being on the marathon loudspeakers, even these two fabulous songs take on a perverted, twisted feel. I don't think Difford and Tillbrook imagined while writing "Cool For Cats" it would be listened to by a bunch of middle-aged wanna-be jocks wearing "Life is good" t-shirts and Tevas, while swigging a Gatorade. Other songs on this pathetic playlist include "YMCA", "Get Ready 'Cuz Here I Come", "Shake Yer Booty", the "Rocky" theme (natch).
As the runners bottleneck at this point in the marathon, the noise is becoming louder and louder, the announcer's voice higher and higher.
I cannot think, people.
Please- someone stand behind me and shove an icepick into the base of my skull.
Another lovely scenario:
Fortunately, I happen to have off-street parking for The Hovel. I have a little private spot marked as such. I guard this spot jealously, because for some mysterious reason, the white letters painted on the side of the building that typically read, "NO PARKING TOW ZONE" are sometimes read as, "NO PARKING TOW ZONE EXCEPT YOU, MY SPECIAL FRIEND". When I come home to find my special friend parked my spot, I will either have them towed or I will vandalize their car, depending on how generous I happen to feel at that moment.
Friday night, coming home after a 15-hour workday, I drove into my parking lot and saw two rolloff dumpsters in my parking space. Imagine my excitement knowing the marathon organizers saw fit to place these in my precious parking space. I called Audrey at Nazi dispatch and explained the situation to her. "There's nothing we can do," she said. Ah, God. Why? Why?
Here's some stupid shit that the announcer has screamed into his microphone so far this morning:
"Well, folks- I just looked at my watch and it's three minutes to High Noon- we should be seeing Gary Cooper at any time now!!!"
During "YMCA", he screeched to the spectators just before the chorus, "OKAY! EVERYBODY! SING ALONG!!!" No one did, which was a cold comfort.
To an oncoming finisher, "Give me a high five!! Everybody gets a high five, you betcha!!"
Next year, I'm taking myself on vacation during the third weekend in August.
I know I'm not wrapping this posting up properly with a summary statement, but holy God. I am unable to hear myself think.