Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Decisions, decisions

As the end of summer nears, I have been frantically organizing travel arrangements for two separate family-related trips as well as preparing for fall term in Rome. I’m getting plenty of travel crammed into the next six weeks, but apparently I have a need to do a bit more.

This November I will be turning the big 3-0. Not only is it a milestone birthday in its own right, but it is also my champagne birthday. That just makes it doubly important to celebrate in style.

Having spent the majority of the last ten years in academia, I have not often had the opportunity to celebrate my birthday properly. Occurring at the ass end of November, the day is inconveniently wedged between American Thanksgiving and the end of term. More often than not, I’ve had to work on the day either writing up a paper or two or cramming for exams. After the last day of the semester, I go out with a bunch of friends to celebrate an end of term bash combined with a group birthday party for all us late November / early December birthday people.

This year, I’d like to change that. I want to be utterly selfish and make it all about me, me, me. On that note, I’d like to ensure that it is a memorable occasion.

One of my CB buddies celebrated her 30th atop the Eiffel Tower. My sister partied hard in Miami for an extended weekend for hers. I’ve narrowed it down to one of two things:

1) Travel to somewhere I’ve never been before

or

2) Do something memorable on or near the day

What I have yet to look into so far is airline ticket prices, which sadly is the primary factor in deciding what to do and where to go, especially since my sister Z and my best friend Ellen want to fly out and celebrate with me. But for the moment, let’s ignore that aspect and focus on what would be the most fun to do.

Z, Ellen and I have discussed a bit about which places we’d like to go to for a few days. We originally had a list of 20 or so places then whittled it down to five. They are: Sicily, Corsica, Spain, Malta and northern Italy.

All five are good options, with plenty of sites to visit, good food to eat and a plethora of ways to just relax and enjoy ourselves. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Spain before (Madrid and Barcelona), but I have always regretted never making it to Corduba. As for northern Italy, I’ve never had the chance to properly explore Venice and I’ve never been to Ravenna, so I could easily envision that being a worthwhile trip too. If you all want to weigh in with your favorites, please do so.

Funnily enough, the possibilities for Option #2 are running-related...and would require me to travel anyway. Score! Here are the possibilities I have to date:

1) Half marathon in Cyprus (BONUS: Never been to Cyprus)

2) Florence Marathon (BONUS: Happens on my actual birthday & the course is downhill for the first two miles then flat the rest of the way)

3) Athens Marathon (BONUS: I would like to complete this someday in honor of my paternal heritage)

I can tell you right off the bat that #3 ain’t gonna happen. Possibly never too. Not only is it on November 9th, preventing me from properly training for it, but it is also uphill for the first 18 miles. No way, Jose!

#2 is rather a pipe dream too, I think. I’m racing in my first half marathon on August 31st leaving me only three months to recover from that and then train for a marathon. Half of me would like to wait probably another year before running a marathon—primarily to gain confidence in my running but also to better reach my arbitrarily chosen goal of kicking Oprah’s former marathon-running ass. Her time was just shy of 4:30. I couldn’t make that this year even if I prayed to every god known to man and could somehow leach the running talent out of Ryan Hall’s legs. (Voodoo perhaps? I’ll look into it.)

I know I will be able to run the half mary in Cyprus, so it’s not the distance that makes it of note, but rather the exotic locale. Granted November is not typically beach-going weather in the Mediterranean, but there are still plenty of archaeological wonders to view on the island and we can still have a lie-out on the beach, though no swimming.

Which overall option should I go with? Are there other places/activities I should consider? Let me know in the comments. I’m still in the beginning hope-filled stage of brainstorming, so I’ll worry about the harsh financial realties a little later. For now, let me dream.

Ci vediamo dopo. (See you later)

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

If you link to them, they will come

So my little rant yesterday about my inability to find BodyGlide in the UK yielded some nice results. First off, fellow expat Julia informed me of a shop in London which sells this lovely product. Fortunately I am off to the capital later this week to catch the Hadrian exhibit at the British Museum (check out Patrick Stewart narrating the promo video!) so I’ll be able to grab some before catching the train home.

I also received an email from the president of BodyGlide. You read that right, my friends. The president of BodyGlide, Mr Bill Sternoff himself, was kind enough to write an email directly to little old me letting me know which shops in the UK carry his wonderful products. Can we say rockin’ customer service? Yes, we can! The situation would only have been better had he actually offered to send me some for free, but since I am not the same caliber of shill as Vanilla, I can understand why the offer wasn’t made. Maybe some day, though I will admit my chances of being a BodyGlide-sponsored blogger are slim to none as I won’t even post regular photos of myself on my blog let alone before and after shots of my chafed boobage. Y’all need to go elsewhere for that kinky crap. Perhaps Steve's blog.

Though I was cursing myself at the time for creating yet another email account for me to deal with, I’m now glad I did. Some of you other wannabe product whores might want to think about doing the same. You never know who will end up contacting you for sponsorships deals! Or, you know, send you cease-and-desist letters. Whatever.

Since I feel like I’m on a roll of sorts, I’d like to take this opportunity to express my love for another wonderful company, Virgin Atlantic Airlines.

I have been a loyal and frequent flyer of your airline even before my move to the UK in 2005. Of all the direct flights available between Boston and London, Virgin provides probably the best service overall. The pièce de résistance? Individual screens for each passenger with a wide selection of movies, tv shows, games and music (all on demand) to entertain you during long-ass flights. It’s a freakin’ godsend, let me tell you! I almost never sleep on flights, mostly because there is always one or more screaming infants within two seats of me. They find me like little heat-seeking missiles, bent on torturing me for as much of the 7+ hour flight as they possibly can. Slapping on the headphones and zoning out to whatever entertainment tickles my fancy is the only thing that saves me from being tackled and taken into custody by the air marshal.

Am I happy that you started flying to Chicago, making it easier for me to visit my sister? Of course, though I admit I am perplexed as to why it is cheaper for me to fly from London to Chicago than it is to fly from London to Boston? Is there a way I can parachute out over Boston on a Chicago-bound flight to save me some money? Think about it and get back to me.

I admit I became bitter about your rather high prices and sometimes limited leg and seat room (I’m of average height and no longer a fat ass so I shouldn’t be having this issue, you dig!) and once tried to let’s say ‘stick it to you’ by going with a different airline. Well, after being forced to change my ticket and ending up back in your overpriced open arms once again, I learned my lesson. (Damn you, Richard Branson, you win again!)

This past Sunday, I dropped enough money on a round trip ticket with you guys to feed the population of an entire African nation for at least a year. Despite this, my loyalty to your airline remains strong (mostly because I am this freaking close to having enough miles to get a free round trip ticket).

I know asking for free international flights for life may be asking a wee bit too much. However, I am a very reasonable person and would gladly accept instead a free first class upgrade on my next flight. Please? Pretty please? With sugar on top?

I’ll be the bestest spokesperson ever! Just look at what I’m willing to do for your company should you comp me an upgrade:

  • I promise not to dress like an Afghan refugee / purveyor of the Big Issue on my next flight
  • Whilst drinking my complimentary champagne / orange juice, I will look sufficiently haughty while the poor suckers in economy are forcibly marched through upper class on their way to the sardine-like hellhole that is the rest of the plane
  • I will wear clothes with the word VIRGIN emblazoned on them, even a pair of trousers with the word boldly scrawled across the bum. Is there any better advertising than that? I would be the ultimate Virgin whore! (As well as the ultimate oxymoron.)

Come on, you know you want to! Hell, I sacrificed a cheaper flight with a layover in Iceland for you guys, so you owe me. Help a girl out here!

All right then. There endeth the pride-less begging.

But seriously, Richard, email me.

Monday, 28 July 2008

The long and the short of it

The last few days have been pretty warm here. Well, by English standards at least. We’ve been getting into the low 80s F (oh no!) but humidity has also finally descended upon the island making it rather uncomfortable in the Land Without Aircon. Now I grew up in New England, so I’ve had to endure some craptasticly hot and humid summers in my time, which just makes my current weakness to English weather that much more pathetic. My half marathon in NH at the end of next month is beginning to worry me as a humidity-induced DNF becomes an actual possibility. Crickey.

Because of England’s rather mild weather, I haven’t actually had the chance to wear running shorts. I’ve just been running around in yoga pants. Actually I don’t even own running shorts. To remedy the situation I created some by chopping off the lower legs of a pair of bargain tech pants I bought at a sports store’s going out of business sale. I didn’t realize til I brought them home that they were pretty much bell-bottomed trousers. Um, no, not the kind of fashion statement I want to make. So to the back of the drawer they were thrown, until my cheapness ingenuity made them into a more fashionable and comfortable running garment. They're like Jennifer Beal’s stylishly chopped-up sweatshirt in Flashdance, only these are couture for the lower half of the body.

I’m waiting til I get to the states (less than a month left, baby!) to purchase more running gear, including some shorts. Ladies, do you have any recommendations for shorts that won’t ride up? I don’t want to spend the majority of my runs pulling at my crotch. Sends the wrong message, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, I got in my two runs this weekend, 3.5 miles on Saturday and 7.7 on Sunday. Because I was curious, I weighed myself before and after my Sunday LSD. I lost 3.5 pounds in the space of an hour and a half. Damn! Too bad that was just water weight, soon regained with a pub lunch later than afternoon and a get-together at a friend’s that night. Meh, things could be worse.

Besides rocking my ‘new’ shorts, I also took the opportunity to try out a sports drink during my LSD. I grabbed a Lucozade from the store on Friday, but didn’t realize til Sunday morning that the blasted thing was carbonated. Poop. Oh well, I tried it anyway. To put it mildly, I wasn’t enamored of it. Not only did I end up with a tummy full of bubbles (Do Not Want!), but it also didn’t taste very good. Previously I had tried the Lucozade powder and found that to be lacking as well. I’m giving them one more non-carbonated chance before I give up entirely. I’d much rather drink some Gatorade, but besides being provided some at the end of the London 10K, I can’t find any around here. It’s all just Lucozade or Powerade. Blech. I long for the diluted Tang-like taste of Gatorade, but I guess I’m SOL for another few weeks. Oh well, I’ll survive.

Another thing I can’t get my greedy little hands on in this country—Bodyglide. The boob chafage continues and it’s neither fun nor pretty. I checked Boots, a chemist, two sports stores and the new running shop and no one has any. Smartass that I am, I asked the clerk at the running shop if Brits just don’t chafe. She laughed and recommended Vaseline. So, I went to Boots to get some Vaseline. Do they have normal Vaseline? No, of course not. I had to get Vaseline Body Butter. WTF? I feel like I’m preparing myself to be the main course at a cannibal’s banquet. It’s quite unsettling.

Well, I hope the rest of you had a fabulous weekend. Here’s to another Monday morning. (groan)

Ciao, tutti.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Hill humiliation


American Girl in Italy, 1951

Yesterday was another unenjoyable attempt at hill repeats. Eight 400 m repeats were scheduled and I got in four. Want to ask what caused me to cut my session short? Sure you do!

Little f*cking kids, that’s what! SERENITY FREAKIN’ NOW! (*Okay, breathe in, breathe out. And we’re good...*)

Let me explain. Like many universities, this place gets overrun during the summer months with programs for students of varying ages from all over the world, but particularly Europe and the States. I shouldn’t complain overly much since I participated in one such program myself when I was an undergrad. I have learned to somewhat tolerate the massive influx of Abercrombie and Fitch-wearing American university students, though if they could please lower the volume, it would be much appreciated. Most people here aren’t hard of hearing, so I don’t understand why they feel the need to shout all the damn time.

The ones that do really bother me are the younger groups, the European high school and middle school-aged kids who are here attending English language programs. They are awful. God awful. Even worse than the UK kids of the same age, and that’s saying something.

Last week, it was a massive group of French middle schoolers who were blocking the path. This week, I believe the little sods were Spanish. It was mostly the usual—taking up the whole of the path and not moving over to allow for oncoming traffic. But the kicker was when one of the little shits jokingly made a play at honking my breasts. I nearly decked him. I should have and probably would have had he not been with about six of his buddies. Factoring in the rage, I probably could have taken two of them, but definitely not a half dozen. I had to settle for shoulder-checking three of them as I passed by. That’s when I decided to scrap the rest of the session and head home to seethe in solitude.

Basically, I need to find a new hill. I only have one hill session left in my schedule before I switch over to speed work, but if I don’t find another hill location before next week, I may be forced to commit justifiable homicide. And I don’t look good in horizontally-striped jumpsuits, so I’d like to avoid that if at all possible.

I don’t want to be all Debbie Downer now, but this may be a harbinger of things to come. Southern European men are not the most subtle when it comes to hitting on women. Trust me, I’m related to some and I’ve witnessed their horrific attempts in person. It’s atrocious. My running in Rome in the fall may end up being a fairly uncomfortable experience. I am by no means saying that I’m a great beauty that all men will fall to their feet for, but nor do I howl at the moon. I’m average and frankly that’s all the encouragement most men there need to try to make a move. I may have to invest in some Mace. Want to take bets on the likelihood of me accidentally spraying myself with it instead of an overly amorous buffoon? Magic 8 Ball says ‘It is certain’. Boo.

Ciao, tutti.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Another one bites the dust

Here I go, flying off the cliff like the good little lemming I am.

I’ve decided to do the 100 Push ups Challenge. The self-torture will begin Monday. And because I don’t think push-ups will be painful enough, I’ve started looking around for a sit up challenge too. I pretty much lack any kind of strength in my abdominal muscles, so I’m hoping to turn that situation around. Also, getting into this stuff now will set me up well for when I am away for fall term and am without access to a gym.

The first listing on my Google search for ‘sit up challenge’ was this.

Not exactly what I was looking for, but it brought to mind a conversation a couple of my housemates and I had a few weeks ago about Japanese game shows.

One of them sent us a link to this clip. [Editor's note: Mute your computer, there's a lot of screaming in this one.]


Why you’d want to do that to yourself, I have no idea. Hopefully it was for a lot of money.

The only show I was familiar with was Takeshi’s Castle, which has been redubbed and edited into Most Extreme Elimination Challenge (MXC). This show is HILARIOUS! My roommates in MA and I would watch this all the time. If you haven't seen it before, check out one of the numerous clips on YouTube, like this one which is a collection of some funny eliminations.

I don’t know what it is about people voluntarily offering themselves up to the gods of pain that I find so entertaining. I guess I’m just evil like that.

Anyway, it appears they are making a Takeshi's Castle-like game show in America now. Check out this link to see the promo video. Have any of you seen it? I’m curious to know if it’s as funny as the Japanese version. Probably not, considering the US is the land of lawsuits, but you never know.

Ci vediamo domani. (See you tomorrow)

[Editors's note: Nitmos, I know you will be unable to see these at your workplace. FYI, the first video involves a bulldog and chimp 'helping' each other do sit ups and the second shows a bunch of women with meat strapped to their foreheads who then stick their heads through holes in a tabletop while a huge lizard is set loose upon them.]

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

The Wizards of Blogland (Part 5)

[Editor’s note: It’s a looooooooooooong post, people. Put the office phone on hold, grab a coffee and lock your door. This is gonna take some time. If you are new to the 'Wizards of Blogland' story, read parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 first. Unless you like ruining the endings of stories for yourself, then by all means read on but at your own confusing peril.]

Xenia, Marcy, Nitmos and Viper finally made their way into the city limits of Nike Town. The streets were teeming with athletes and sports enthusiasts. Three women cycled past the quartet, their bikes emblazoned with their names: Viv, Merry and MissAllyCat. Evidently forgetting the results of his last amorous encounter, Viper smiled suavely at the cyclists.

‘Afternoon, pretty ladies.’

Not to be outdone, Nitmos flashed a cheeky grin, using his hands as imaginary pistols to shoot at the women. ‘How you doin’?

The female cyclists smartly raised their eyebrows at the men, and particularly at Viper's My Little Pony bandaids, before haughtily turning away. Nimos and Viper looked rather dejected.

‘Twits,’ said Marcy to the guys.

As Viper and Nitmos argued about proper pick-up techniques, Xenia and Marcy approached a women with Nancy written on the sleeve of her running shirt.

‘Hi,’ said Xenia. ‘Do you know how we can find the Wizards of Blogland?’

‘Sure,’ she replied cheerily. ‘Just walk two more blocks down this street then take a right onto Izumi Road and the building will be one block down on the left. Can’t miss it. It has a gigantic neon sign.’

‘Thanks,’ said the girls.

Noticing the new woman in their midst, Viper and Nitmos were about to try out their pick-up lines once again until Xenia and Marcy dragged them away, sparing the poor woman. They trekked the three blocks quickly and were soon standing before the building. The woman was right, you couldn’t miss the building unless you were blind. The neon sign spelling out ‘Wizards of Blogland’ was at least 30 feet tall.

Subtle, thought Xenia to herself.

The four of them passed through the revolving door and entered into a large foyer with one lone desk in the center staffed by a single woman. A woman with the most impressive guns any of them had ever seen. The name plate on her desk read Miz Fit.

‘Hi, we’re here to see the Wizards,’ said Xenia.

‘Do you have an appointment?’ asked Miz Fit.

‘Erm, no.’

‘Then you cannot see the Wizards.’

‘Can we make an appointment?’ asked Marcy.

‘Of course.’ Miz Fit opened the day planner on the desk and flipped through the pages. ‘How about October?’

October? But that’s three months away!’

‘October 2009,’ corrected Miz Fit.

‘Isn’t there any time we can see them today? Our issues are rather urgent.’

“No.’

The quartet was disheartened. How were they going to meet with the Wizards?

Luckily, Nitmos’ body began to make a loud rumble, signaling the imminent release of ass-fruit. In a moment of genius, Marcy swung Nitmos around so his bum pointed directly at Miz Fit. ‘Lady, something fruity is going to come shooting out of his colon at high speeds in just a few seconds. Either let us in to see the Wizards or prepare yourself to be ass-fruited.’

Xenia and Viper looked on their comrade with admiration while Nitmos’s face was a mask of concentration as he prepared for launch.

Unaware of the true danger she was in, Miz Fit scoffed at the group of them. ‘I will not let you in to see the Wizards without an appointment,’ she stated firmly.

Suddenly a nectarine shot out whizzing by Miz Fit’s ear before smashing into the wall behind her. The woman’s eyes widened in horror both at what she had just witnessed and for almost being shot with ass-fruit.

‘Oh crap, here comes another one,’ groaned Nitmos.

‘OKAY, OKAY!’ shouted Miz Fit, getting up and running to the door cleverly concealed behind her. ‘You can see the Wizards now!’

Marcy whirled Nitmos around again so that he wouldn’t harm any of them with the next shot. In seconds, a cherry plopped out but with little force. Nitmos looked down at it in disappointment. ‘Should have had more distance,’ he mumbled to himself.

A harried Miz Fit ushered them quickly into the room and shut the door. The four runners found themselves in a plush office. The room was circular with several doors leading out of it. In the center was a huge mahogany desk. Behind the desk was seated a man perusing a Victoria’s Secret catalogue. The name plate on his desk read ‘Vanilla – Head Wizard’. Upon the entrance of the runners, he quickly tossed the catalogue into a desk drawer, shutting it briskly.

‘Who are you and how did you get in here without an appointment?’ demanded Vanilla.

‘We’re four runners who really need the Wizards’ help,’ said Xenia.

‘You need an appointment,’ Vanilla stated emphatically.

‘There’s no time for appointments, homie!’ shouted Marcy. ‘Homeboy over there has an explosive ass. We need our problems resolved before his ass goes really haywire and takes us all out.’

Presented with such an urgent and disturbing situation, Vanilla decided to skip the formalities and get straight to the point. ‘So, besides the malfunctioning colon, what other issues are there that need sorting out?’

‘I need a new crotch,’ said Marcy.

‘I need new nipples,’ said Viper.

‘I also need some non-cramping calves,’ said Nitmos.

‘I need a dissertation,’ said Xenia.

Vanilla looked at Xenia quizzically. Worried, Xenia added, ‘The Good Running Witches said you’d be able to help me.’

Vanilla humphed. ‘Wait here a minute. I’ll be right back.’

He disappeared into one of the many doors. The four runners waited around nervously. Two minutes later, Vanilla re-entered the room hurriedly, slamming the door behind him. Muffled voices could be heard behind it.

‘Who’s in there?’ asked Viper.

‘No one. Pay no attention to the men behind the door,’ said Vanilla.

Vanilla was carrying what looked like a gigantic metal chastity belt complete with a plethora of latches, switches and gadgets attached to it. Placing it on the floor, he looked over at Marcy. ‘Okay, miss. Here we have the Groininator. A fabulous invention of mine,’ he gloated. ‘Should fix you right up. Just step right in. We’ll situate it on your area and presto, a new groin!’

Staring warily at the contraption, Marcy gingerly stepped into it. Vanilla then helped Marcy lift it up and lock it into place. ‘Now let’s see..’ he murmured. ‘I think I just need to flip these two switches.’

‘You think?!’ said Marcy nervously.

Before she could stop him, Vanilla went ahead and flipped the switches. Instantly, Marcy began to grimace in pain. ‘Shut it off! Shut it off! NOW!’ she screamed.

Vanilla fumbled around but finally turned the machine off at which point Marcy promptly decked him.

As Vanilla lay sprawled on the floor rubbing his jaw, the door he had entered through burst open. Two men came rushing into the room. ‘You didn’t throw those two switches, right?’ one asked Vanilla.

The runners all stared at the new arrivals. Both men were wearing white lab coats with the names Ted and Laminator embroidered on the front. The one named Ted was also sporting some headgear with a plastic faceguard.

‘Who are you guys?’ asked Nitmos.

‘We’re the Wizards of Blogland,’ answered Laminator.

‘How many of you are there?’ asked Viper.

‘Just the three of us,’ said Ted.

‘I specialize in correcting medical issues,’ stated Laminator.

‘I’m an inventor,’ said Ted.

‘So what do you do?’ Marcy asked Vanilla.

‘I’m the brains of the operation.’

The four runners stared at him in disbelief.

‘Hey,’ he grumbled. ‘Do you think it’s easy getting an outfit like this off the ground? Someone’s had to advertize, get our name out there, get sponsors. Without me, there wouldn’t be a Wizards of Blogland.’

‘So you’re a schyster,’ said Xenia.

‘No, I’m a businessman. There’s a difference.’

‘Not much,’ mumbled Marcy. ‘I’d like to request someone competent to operate this groin machine or else I’m suing.’

Miffed at the affront to his pride (though obviously true), Vanilla sullenly sat on the edge of his desk as Laminator went to work pressing buttons on the Groininator. Immediately there was a humming sound and then a pinging noise, very much like that of a microwave. Laminator unlatched the Groininator and took it off Marcy. Marcy immediately began bouncing around to test out her new groin. All was working perfectly.

She beamed at Laminator. ‘Thanks so much! It feels better than new!’

‘It should be. Your groin is now made of nearly weightless gold.’

‘What?’ Marcy looked down her shorts and saw the bright glow emanating from her nether region. ‘Holy crap, I have a golden hooha!’ she exclaimed.

Nitmos and Viper sidled over to try to get a look for themselves, but Marcy snapped her shorts back into place and glared at the guys. They didn’t even have the decency to look sheepish.

‘Who’s next?’ asked Ted.

Viper stepped forward. ‘I need new nipples.’ As he said it, he took off the My Little Pony bandaids. Everyone in the room gasped in horror at the sight (even Xenia and Marcy though they knew what to expect). All the men then preceded to cover their own nipples with their hands as if suffering sympathy pains. However, Ted recovered quickly.

‘We have just the thing,’ he declared.

He ran back through the door then reemerged with two suction cup-like contraptions. He placed them over Viper’s craters and pressed some random buttons. Again there was a pinging sound when the process was finished. Ted removed the cups to reveal Viper’s new silver-looking nipples.

‘Oooooo’ cooed Viper.

‘They’re made of adamantium,’ explained Ted. ‘Chafe-proof. Guaranteed for life.’

Viper was quite pleased with his new nipples, but even more so when Ted presented him with attachable tassels. He placed them on and gave them a whirl. As he continued to fondle his resurrected nipples, Nitmos turned to the Wizards.

‘Me next, me next,’ he chanted.

‘And what do you need?’ asked Laminator.

‘I need non-cramping calves and the pooping-chocolate-covered-strawberry-spell fixed.’

‘Ah, I thought I recognized you,’ said Vanilla to Nitmos.

Laminator ran back through the door and returned with what looked like greaves and a metal sumo diaper. Ted and Laminator strapped the gadgets onto Nitmos and in seconds their work was done. Once the machines were removed, Nitmos ran a circuit around the room, stopped, squatted and shat out a pristine chocolate covered strawberry. He picked it up, took a sniff then popped the whole thing into his mouth, chewing with evident pleasure, while everyone else in the room tried to hold back their gag reflexes.

Three down, Ted turned towards Xenia. ‘And you?’

‘I need a dissertation.’

Ted frowned. ‘I’m sorry, but I can’t help you with that one.’ He turned to Laminator who shrugged his shoulders. ‘Sorry.’

In desperation, Xenia turned towards Vanilla. ‘Can you do anything?’

‘Nope. That’s something no one can do for you. You just have to do it yourself.’

Xenia felt deflated and hung her head in despair. Marcy came over and patted her arm in sympathy. ‘You can do it, chica. I know you can,’ she said reassuringly.

Sighing, Xenia looked up at the Wizards. ‘Well, can you help me get home then?’

Ted perked up. ‘That we can definitely do!’ He once again trotted through the door and came back with what looked like a James Bond jet pack.

Xenia eyed it warily. ‘I’m not sure that’s a good idea. I’m not really coordinated.’

‘Not to worry. Anyone can operate this thing. See here,’ Ted walked over to Vanilla and against his will strapped the jet pack onto him. ‘All you have to do is press this button and...’ Ted accidentally pressed the button and Vanilla immediately shot straight up through the ceiling and was gone. Everyone in the room looked up through the gaping ceiling hole in wonder.

‘Hmm,’ said Ted, ‘should have fixed that hair trigger.’

‘What am I going to do now?’ asked Xenia. Laminator and Ted pondered Xenia’s situation. Looking at the floor, Laminator saw Xenia’s shoes and asked, ‘Are those Running Knitter’s Asics?’

‘Um, er, yeah, I think so,’ Xenia hedged.

‘You have your way home then. Just close your eyes, click your heels three times and say ‘There’s no place like Blogland’ three times and you’ll be home.’

‘That’s all I have to do?’ asked Xenia incredulously. ‘Why didn’t the Running Witches tell me this?’

‘Today is two-for-one at the Chippendale’s bar. Things like this slip their mind on those days.’

Xenia swore under her breath. Having released her ire, she turned to her travel companions. ‘Well, if this works, I won’t be seeing you again. Have nice lives.’

Nitmos and Viper nodded their farewells.

‘Take care, chica. And good luck!’ said a teary-eyed Marcy.

With a last wave, Xenia closed her eyes and clicked the heels of her shoes three times.

‘There’s no place like Blogland. There’s no place like Blogland. There’s no place like Bl...’

Xenia. Xenia! Wake up!’

Xenia felt her shoulder being shook. The jostling and the insistent voice brought her out of the fog. Still rather drowsy, she slowly raised her head, turning to see Meg next to her with a curious Frayed Laces looking over her shoulder. She quickly looked around her and realized she was back in her tower office sitting at her desk. Everything looked as it had before the tornado. Xenia was very confused.

‘What happened?’ she asked.

‘You fell asleep.’

‘How long have I been gone?’

Frayed Laces and Meg looked at each other in confusion. ‘What do you mean how long have you been gone? You haven’t gone anywhere. You just fell asleep. We just got back from lunch break and found you taking a nap at your desk,’ explained Meg.

‘It must have been a dream,’ said Xenia.

‘What was a dream?’ asked Frayed Laces.

Xenia tried to summarize the events of her dream to her colleagues.

They both blinked at her in stunned silence.

‘She’s totally looney tunes,’ mumbled Meg to Frayed Laces.

Xenia frowned at Meg.

‘Were we in the dream with you?’ asked Frayed Laces.

‘Kind of. Victory looked like an amalgamation of the two of you.’

Frayed Laces and Meg were immediately affronted. ‘You cast us as the bitch of the story?! Thanks a lot.’

‘For big fat nothing,’ added Meg with emphasis.

Xenia tried to apologize to her friends, but they were having none of it. Before they stalked off, Frayed Laces plunked a package down onto Xenia’s desk. ‘Here. A parcel came for you in the mail,’ she said begrudgingly.

‘Thanks,’ said Xenia meekly, as Frayed Laces and Meg sat down at their desks and got back to their research.

Sighing, Xenia turned back to her desk and looked at the package. She hadn’t ordered anything nor was she expecting a present from anyone, so the package was a mystery. She looked at the upper left hand corner to see the sender listed as ‘V. Von Imanass’. She had no idea who that was, but decided to open the package anyway.

Inside, cocooned in bubble wrap, was a plaque. Xenia removed it from the box and examined it with a sinking feeling of dread. The plaque read: ‘First place, Ohmyhooha-Nike Town Ten Miler’.

It may have been her imagination, but she swore she heard a faint cackling laugh in the distance. Quickly, Xenia looked down at her feet and saw that she was still wearing Running Knitter’s Asics and socks.

At that moment Xenia realized her battle with Victory had only just begun.

Shit.’

THE END

--------------------------------------

There you have it—the completed tale of the 'Wizards of Blogland'. Since I only received a few threats of bodily harm because of it, I’m counting this venture as a win.

I want to thank you all for your interest, encouragement and patience. I especially want to thank Nitmos and Viper for being such good sports. I obviously did not torture Vanilla as much as he deserves, so I’ve already slated him for a principal role in the next story. For some reason, Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel come to mind, but if I choose the latter, then either Nitmos or Viper are going to have to co-star. Gentlemen, you can fight amongst yourselves about who will don the pigtails and running skirt.

However that probably won’t happen for another few months. Writing W.O.B. took a huge chunk of time and now I need to catch up with my real life work and prep for my research trip before I attempt another story. I have a feeling the wait might be for the best anyway.

Ci vediamo dopo. (See you later)

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Master of Suspense

I'm taking Lily's advice and making you all wait til Wednesday for the hopefully final installment of The Wizards of Blogland.

Okay, not really. I mean, you will have to wait but it's not because I'm sadistic (though I'm sure some of you would disagree with that personal assessment). I'm just very swamped with work right now and today is the last day of excavation too, so I'm super tired. Why has real life not put itself on hold for me during the last three weeks while I've mucked around in the dirt? How inconsiderate.

Anyway, thanks to all of you who have linked to me and this convoluted story. With the exception of POM, I have no idea why you'd want to spread this story around Blogland, especially considering the horrible things I'm having done to your persons. Or will have done. (Your time is coming, Vanilla.) You must all be masochists.

If you feel the need to comment, but require some direction (other than wanting to inflict bodily harm on me), how about telling me what your favorite Hitchcock movie is. I'm declaring my preference for North By Northwest with the photo above. I heart Cary Grant.

Ci vediamo domani. (See you tomorrow)

P.S.--Lily! I'm not ignoring your email, I'm just being lazy. I'll get back to you later this week. In general though, everything is going well. Thanks again for everything!

Monday, 21 July 2008

The Wizards of Blogland (Part 4)

[Editor’s note: Best to read Parts 1, 2 and 3 first or else this really won’t make any sense. Not that it does anyway, but whatever.]

Xenia, Marcy, Nitmos and Viper continued to run/shuffle their way along the yellow track road towards Nike Town. Occasionally Nitmos’ calves would cramp up, so Xenia and a very begrudging Viper [Editor’s note: There, you happy now?] would support him and keep them all moving forwards. As a courtesy, when Nitmos felt the urge to, uh, let one off, he would yell out ‘Fire in the hole!’ allowing his companions time to flee to safety before another piece of fruit rocketed out of his bum.

As they crested another rolling hill, the skyline of Nike Town came into view.

‘Finally!’ cried Marcy, ‘my crotch is really killing me.’

‘Just a half mile to go. Hang in there a bit longer,’ reassured Xenia.

Just as they were all taking another stride forward, a woman appeared out of nowhere right before them, halting them in place. Xenia was surprised and confused to note that the woman looked incredibly like a combination of her fellow grad students, Frayed Laces and Meg.

‘It’s the hot chick!’ exclaimed Viper.

‘What?’

‘The chick from my race, the one at the pub.’

‘Hey, she was at my race too,’ said Marcy.

‘And mine,’ added Nitmos.

The woman was wearing the latest in posh women’s running gear, wearing just enough lycra to stay on this side of slutty. She swung her long hair behind her as she cracked her chewing gum.

‘Hi?’ ventured Xenia.

‘Hand over the socks,’ demanded the woman.

‘Excuse me?’

‘What, are you hard of hearing as well as slow?’

Xenia went from confused to pissed off in no time flat. ‘Who the hell do you think you are, Barbie?’

‘The name’s Victory. Vicky to my friends. You of course will address me as Victory,’ she sneered.

‘And that matters to me why?’

‘Oh, that’s right. You wouldn’t know who I am, would you, loser?’

‘Homegirl is asking for a beatdown.’

‘Word.’

Marcy looked at Xenia pityingly.

‘I was just trying it out,’ she said sheepishly.

Victory tossed her hair again. ‘I’m Victory, you twit. I’m the reason anyone wins any kind of contest or event. That includes running events.’ She stared pointedly at Marcy, Nitmos and Viper when saying that last part.

‘You make it so we can win?’ asked Nitmos.

‘That’s right, dipshit. Without me you wouldn’t have all those age group awards.’

‘So are you why Nitmos and I missed out on age group wins in our last races?’ asked Marcy.

‘Duh,’ mocked Victory.

‘But why?’

‘Because I don’t like being taken for granted.’

‘So, you caused these runners incredible pain to make your point?’ asked Xenia.

‘Yeah.’

‘Do you also boil bunnies in your spare time?’

‘Listen Molasses, I don’t have all day. Give me the damn socks!’

‘Why do you want my socks? Go to a store and buy your own.’

‘Those were supposed to be mine.’

‘What do you mean?’

Victory huffed impatiently. ‘Those socks were the prize in the Independence Weight Loss Challenge.’

Xenia was still confused. ‘But you have no weight to loss.’

‘No shit, Sherlock. But I wanted to win so I could have the socks.’

‘But didn’t some girl named Stacy win those?’

‘Yes, but Running Knitter didn’t want to give up her socks, so she did a switcheroo with a pair she purchased from Target.’

‘Sneaky narcoleptic,’ muttered Xenia to herself.

‘Last time, slow poke,’ threatened Victory, ‘hand over the socks.’

‘Hell no, I’m not going to hand over the socks. I got them fair and square. [Editor’s note: Okay, not so much, but work with me here, people.] Bugger off and get your own.’

‘You asked for it.’ Turning her head, Victory called out over her shoulder, ‘Girls!’

Suddenly, three figures materialized in front of the running quartet. They were three of the ugliest chicks to walk the face of the earth. Warts, pimples, greasy hair, funky teeth. You name it, they had it in spades. They had been residents of The Ugly Tree and when they fell out they hit every branch on the way down. The quartet simultaneously shuddered in revulsion.

‘Jesus, what are they? Gorgons?’ asked Xenia.

‘I think I may vomit,’ said Nitmos.

‘Not before me, homie,’ added Marcy.

Viper stayed silent with a horrified look on his face.

‘Let me introduce you to my friends,’ smirked Victory. ‘From left to right, we have Chafe, G.P. (short for Groin Pull) and Cramp.’ All three smiled at the quartet causing another wave of chills to pass through them.

‘Viper,’ said Victory silkily, ‘you remember Chafe, don’t you?’

The ugliest of the group stepped forward, apparently trying to smile sexily at Viper, but basically just distorting her already unfortunate face even more. ‘Hey baby, did you miss me?’

All three runners turned to stare at Viper. Viper’s face had turned three shades of green.

‘Those must have been some pretty strong beer goggles,’ remarked Xenia.

‘I told you he got into some kinky shit,’ whispered Marcy.

The creature known as Chafe continued to address Viper. ‘Sorry I had to leave without saying good-bye, but I had to get back to work.’ She smiled at Victory. ‘But I have some great news ...I might be preggers! Fingers crossed! Isn’t that great, snookums?’

Viper immediately fell backwards, passing out.

‘Damn. Demon spawn,’ muttered Xenia. Looking down at the comatose Viper, she added, ‘Double-demon spawn.’

‘Homie, I think that’s the sign of the apocalypse,’ whispered Marcy to Xenia.

‘Only if the child has 666 tattooed on it. Seeing both its parents, I wouldn’t doubt it.’

Nitmos had remained silent through this exchange, thankful that he had only been punished with leg cramps and a malfunctioning rear end. But, to be on the safe side, he covered his junk with his hands, fearful of being sperm-jacked like Viper.

‘That’s enough of that, Chafe. You’ll have time to chat with snookums later. Back to the matter at hand.’ She turned towards Xenia once again. ‘The socks or else.’

Xenia quickly assessed the situation and realized she probably didn’t have a chance in hell of escaping this situation without permanent damaging being inflicted on her and her travel companions. However, sizing up her opponent, she thought it was a safe bet that Victory was all show in the athletic department. Her outfit was too carefully picked out to accentuate her attributes, her hair too coiffed for her to be a real runner. She looked like the ultimate girly-girl posing as an athlete. Xenia decided to take a leap of faith.

‘Do your worst,’ she dared.

Just as Victory turned to order her minions to decimate them, Xenia quickly grabbed a water bottle from Marcy’s fuel belt and threw the contents at Victory’s head.

‘OH MY GOD, MY HAIR!’ shrieked Victory. ‘MY HAIR IS BEGINNING TO FRIZZ! I’M FRIZZING! I’M FRIZZING!

Victory’s posse ran to her aid, but all she did was continue to freak out. Reassurances of ‘We can go to the beauty salon right now’ and ‘You have Ken Paves on speed dial, right?’ did nothing to calm the enraged woman. As G.P. and Cramp carried an hysterical Victory away, Victory got out one last threat, ‘I’ll get you one day, Xenia. And those socks too!’

Victory and the two minions vanished from sight, leaving Chafe staring at the group of them. Viper picked just that moment to regain consciousness. Groggily, he sat up and said, ‘I just had the worst dream...’ He trailed off when he spotted Chafe. Very quietly and without moving his lips, he whispered ‘Help me!’ towards his travel companions.

Nitmos was having none of it. Self-preservation was strong in that one and there was no way in hell he wanted to direct Swamp Thing’s attention towards himself. However, as always, the girls felt some sympathy for Viper’s situation. [Editor’s note: Though it was totally undeserved might I add.] They argued quietly about which of the two of them was going to speak up in his defense. While they were doing this, Chafe knelt down by Viper’s side and held his hand in hers.

‘Sorry about the theatrics. Victory can be a bit overdramatic sometimes. But anyway, enough about her.’ She smiled shyly at the ground. ‘So, you want to come meet my parents?’

Marcy and Xenia were playing Rocks-Paper-Scissors to make the decision for them while Viper screamed silently in horror at Chafe. Finally, Xenia beat Marcy’s paper with scissors. A disgruntled Marcy glowered at Xenia for a second before taking a deep breath, turning and addressing Chafe.

WHAT do you think you’re doing touching my man?!? Get your hands off him, hussy! He’s my bitch,’ she stated the last emphatically.

Eager to extricate himself from Chafe’s claws, Viper nodded emphatically. ‘Yup, she’s right. I’m her bitch.’

‘But ... but ...’ stuttered Chafe. ‘What about our wonderful night together?’

Viper looked liked he was going to barf again. Nitmos too for that matter as he cowered behind Xenia.

‘That was a screw-up he’ll be paying for the rest of his life,’ stated Marcy harshly. ‘I won’t ever let him forget it.’ She turned away from Chafe and laughingly smiled down at Viper. ‘Will I?’

Viper swallowed his pride and reminded himself that the alternative was unbearable. ‘Yes, honey,’ he meekly responded, though he nearly bit his tongue in half in the process.

‘But what about our baby?’ wailed Chafe.

Marcy looked her up and down critically. ‘My ass you’re pregnant,’ she challenged.

Chafe kicked at the ground in frustration. Taking one last look at Viper, she shuffled off, grumbling ‘That’s the last time I listen to Victory. Fake pregnancies never work.’

Viper heaved a huge sigh in relief as Nitmos peered cautiously over Xenia’s shoulder.

‘Is it gone yet?’ he asked fearfully.

‘Yes, you pansy,’ answered Xenia.

Marcy lent Viper a hand getting up. Dusting off his shorts, he mumbled something incoherent at Marcy.

‘Sorry, what was that, homie?’

‘I said thanks,’ he said resignedly.

‘Now was that so hard,’ she mocked.

‘Come on everyone. You too Big Daddy.’ Xenia’s barb caused Viper to begin his normal grousing once again. ‘Let’s get the hell out of here before Victory gets back from the salon.’

The quartet took off at a brisk pace, eager to finally get to Nike Town and meet with the Wizards of Blogland.

[TO BE CONTINUED]

UPDATE:

Here is the final part of the story:
Part 5

----------------------------------------------------------------------

On a personal running note, I went for another 10 miler this weekend. Well, what was supposed to be a 10-miler. I overshot a turn by a good distance and had to backtrack a ways to get back to my trail. [Editor's note: I just figured out I ran 11.28 miles on Sunday instead of the 10 I had planned. Shnikeys!] The cows were not amused by my noisy presence on the overgrown path and I was not amused with how many puncture wounds I took away from the flora. Overall, everything was fine, though my legs felt pretty dead towards the end of the run and my knees are super sore today. Guess it wasn't the best idea to spend the whole of today on my knees troweling the dirt. Hopefully they can sort themselves out before my run tomorrow morning. Fingers crossed.

One more thing. I'm official! Yesterday, I finally signed up for the Swanzey Covered Bridges Half Marathon. No going back now. I now challenge Razzdoodle to stop dragging his feet and sign up for his marathon already. Come on, Chicken! :)

Ci vediamo dopo. (See you later)

Friday, 18 July 2008

The Wizards of Blogland (Part 3)

[Editor’s note: To avoid the Land of Confusion, read Parts 1 and 2 first. You’re welcome.]

Xenia, Marcy and Viper continued on the yellow track road. Thankfully, Marcy’s fuel belt was well-equipped to keep them all properly hydrated—Xenia and Marcy with water and Viper with whiskey. Three miles into their run, the trio came across another curious sight. A runner just ahead of them was alternating between running and squatting. He would take two to three running strides and then it looked like his legs locked up a bit causing him to crouch down somewhat while still trying to shuffle forward.

‘What the hell?’ said Marcy.

‘Looks like he’s trying to take a shit,’ remarked Viper.

‘While running?!’ Xenia exclaimed in disbelief. ‘Actually, I think his leg muscles are cramping.'

‘He’s taking a shit,’ asserted Viper.

‘Cramping,’ countered Xenia.

‘Taking a shit.’

‘Cramping.’

‘Taking a shit.’

‘Cramping.’

‘Homie, you all right?’ called out Marcy to the man.

Just then, the man stopped in a squatting position and all of a sudden an object came rocketing out of his bum and smacked into a tree across the road.

‘Whoa!’ exclaimed the women.

‘Taking a shit! I win!’ crowed Viper triumphantly.

The three of them walked over to the man who was now sitting apparently exhausted on the side of the road.

‘Um, I know this might be kind of personal, but what the hell just shot out of your ass?’

The man looked over at the tree. ‘From here, I’d guess it was an apricot, maybe a small peach.’

‘Any reason why you’re firing fruit out of your ass? A new hobby, perhaps?’ snarked Viper.

The man threw Viper a dirty look. ‘It’s supposed to be just strawberries.

Xenia, Marcy and Viper all looked at the man in confusion.

‘Okay, let me explain. I ran in a 5K in Nike Town a year ago and placed first in my age group. All age group winners received a prize from the Wizards of Blogland. The prize was one request, any request as long as it was within the Wizards’ power. Since I’ve already got everything most people want in life (looks, class, prestige, you get the idea), I thought I’d ask for something that would set me apart from the other great people like me out there. So I chose crapping out a pristine chocolate-covered strawberry at the end of every run and race. It’s a great conversation starter.’

The trio stared at the man dumbfounded.

‘What?’ asked the man. ‘What would you have chosen?’ he challenged.

‘How about a brain?’ suggested Viper.

Marcy elbowed Viper in the nipple crater, causing him to wince. ‘So, if you’re supposed to crap out strawberries, why did you just um...produce a different fruit?’

‘That’s the thing. I ran in another race yesterday and everything just went haywire. Before I could finish, my calves started to cramp up and then I felt what I thought at the time was the strawberry about to come out, so I had to stop. Instead, about thirty grapes in quick succession fired out and took down a bunch of people in the crowd. The worst part is that I missed winning my age group by 17 seconds. 17 freakin’ seconds!’ the man yelled furiously. Shaking himself out of his rage, he continued. ‘Now there’s a whole cornucopia of fruit that comes out at random times and my calves keep cramping up.’

‘Aha!’ yelled Xenia victoriously at Viper. ‘Take that, Nippleless Wonder!’

The man looked at them in confusion.

‘Never mind,’ she said. ‘So, what are you doing now?’

‘Well, I was trying to run to Nike Town so I can get the Wizards of Blogland to fix my situation, but it’s been slow going with the uh...faulty wiring and cramping. So where are you guys headed?’

‘We’re going to see the Wizards too.’

‘Why do you need to see them?’

‘I need a new crotch,’ stated Marcy.

‘I need new nips,’ said Viper.

‘I need a dissertation,’ said Xenia.

The man eyed Xenia curiously. ‘One of these things just doesn’t belong here.’

Smarting from the comment, Xenia retorted, ‘Stuff it, Fruit Pooper.’

To avoid a fight, Marcy asked, ‘So what’s your name?’

‘I’m Nitmos. You guys?’

The trio introduced themselves.

‘So, you guys mind helping me get to Nike Town?’

Xenia, Marcy and Viper all looked at each other. Although perturbed by the idea of flying ass-fruit, the women were sympathetic to Nitmos’ situation. Viper very obviously didn’t care to be bothered, but it was two to one, so Nitmos got to join their merry band.

Since Xenia and Viper were the only ones without injured lower bodies, they stood on either side of Nitmos prepared to support him should his calves cramp. Of course, if he got into firing position again, they were set to flee like bandits. Marcy made sure to trot alongside Xenia and steered well clear of Nitmos’ rear end.

Just as they set off at a slow jog, Xenia spied Nitmos opening his mouth and taking a deep breath. Before even one note could pass his lips, Xenia slapped a hand over his mouth. ‘No. No singing. Ever,’ she said sternly.

Nitmos eyed her warily as she removed her hand. ‘Sure.’

The four of them started down the yellow track road once again towards Nike Town, unaware of the dire situation they would soon encounter.

[TO BE CONTINUED]

UPDATE:

Here is the rest of the story:
Part 4
Part 5

---------------------------------------------
Yes, I cut Part 3 short. I’m giving myself time over the weekend to work out the kinks and, you know, actually write the rest of the story. So far it’s just been swimming around in my very obviously unbalanced noggin.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Ci vediamo lunedì. (See you Monday)

Please hold the line and we'll be with you shortly

I'm heading off to the dig site in a moment, but I wanted to let you all know that I do plan on posting Part 3 of 'The Wizards of Blogland' today, though probably not til 3 pm EST or thereafter. It still needs some work and I know you all have high standards so I'm doing my best. (Or at least a half-assed approximation of it).

The story itself will be four or five parts in total, so I'll post the remaining parts beginning on Monday. Sorry for the cliffhanger, but I need the weekend (no matter how short it may end up being) off. Artists do need their rest after all. (I of course use the term 'artist' loosely.)

The explosion of my Sitemeter has alerted me to the presence of new faces around here. (Damn you Thank you, POM.) Hello everyone! Nice to meet you. Hope you are enjoying my convoluted attempt at creativity. I assure you it won't last long. (Both your enjoyment and my creativity).

One last thing. My Greek guilt complex has finally decided to kick in, so I thought I would just say that I'm writing this story in good fun and I don't mean to offend anyone. (Yes, even you.) If it feels like I'm roasting you on a spit or hanging you out to dry, it's only because I care. Or something along those lines. This is especially true for the individual I may nor may not cast as the antagonist. (My indecision is part of the reason for the delay of Part 3). Just know I've got a whole lotta blog love for you guys, no matter if I've not included you in the story or, if I have, mutilated you and your personality beyond recognition.

Ci vediamo dopo oggi. (See you later today)

Thursday, 17 July 2008

The Wizards of Blogland (Part 2)

[Editor’s note: This won’t make any sense unless you read Part 1 first.]

Xenia watched the witches drive off. Before she herself could begin her run towards Nike Town, she was stopped by Mayor Razzdoodle.

‘Wait, young lady. You can’t leave until we, the people of Ohmyhooha, have properly thanked you for this wonderous gift.’ He indicated the wreckage that was Xenia’s former prison.

‘Oh, uh, no need to thank me.’

‘No, no. We must!’ insisted the mayor.

Before Xenia could blink an eye, she was surrounded by hundreds of midgets, oddly all very Oompa Loompa like in their appearance but wearing black skin-tight leather and lots of chains. She looked at the assembled crowd warily. ‘How exactly did you plan on thanking me?’

The mayor beamed. ‘By sending you off with a song, of course!’

At that moment, all the midgets townspeople began to sing, ‘You’re off to the see the Wizards...’

‘STOP!’ screamed Xenia.

The crowd fell silent and the mayor stepped forward. ‘What’s the matter?’

‘I can’t take the singing. I hate musicals. They drive me bonkers.’

‘But we must thank you.’

‘Can’t you all just silently wave at me as I leave?’

The townspeople conferred with one another and decided this was an acceptable alternative. The entire crowd waved at Xenia as she took off down the yellow track road, the townspeople looking like they too were fond of jazz hands.

About a mile into her run, Xenia saw a woman stepping out of an outhouse on the side of the road. She was carrying a camera phone and appeared to have just taken a photo of herself in the loo. Strange, thought Xenia. The woman spied her running by and called out, ‘Hey chica, where you headed?’

Xenia slowed to a stop next to her. ‘I’m off to Nike Town.’

‘Oooo cool! Going for the sales?’

‘Nope. I’m going to see the Wizards of Blogland.’

‘Whadya need to see them for?’

‘I need a dissertation.’

‘A what?!’

‘A long-winded piece of writing that will buy me my freedom.’

‘Oh, like divorce papers?’

‘Yeah, something like that.’

‘Well, can I come with you?’

‘Sure. You need to see the wizards too?’

‘Yeah. I need a new crotch.’

‘Come again?’

‘I was running in a race and 500 meters from the finish, I get passed by this...thing and all of a sudden I had a stabbing pain in my groin area.’ The woman’s eyes began to fill up with tears. ‘I had to crawl to the finish. I was on pace to finish first in my age group too.’ She sniffed.

Xenia patted her arm sympathetically. The woman soon shook herself out of her funk. ‘Well, that’s that. I don’t want that happening again, so I thought I would go to the Wizards of Blogland and see if they’ll give me a new groin.’

‘Couldn’t hurt,’ added Xenia.

The woman nodded in agreement. ‘So, what’s your name, chica?’

‘I’m Xenia.’

‘The name’s Marcy. So, are you ready to go?’

Xenia nodded.

As they walked back onto the road, Marcy began to sing, ‘We’re off to see the W...

‘STOP!’

Marcy stopped singing and stared at Xenia curiously. ‘What’s wrong?’

‘No singing. This is a Non-Singing trip. Got it?’

‘Okay, chica. Whatever you say,’ placated Marcy.

The two women started down the yellow track road towards Nike Town at an easy pace on account of Marcy’s injury and Xenia’s general lack of speed. Two miles on they came upon a curious sight. A shirtless man in running shorts was seated on a log on the side of the road. His right arm rested on his knee with his hand cradling his skull. The man was slowly rocking back and forth and mumbling incoherently.

The women stopped and approached the figure.

‘It’s the Thinker,’ said Marcy.

‘No, this is the Drunk I-don’t-want-to-thinker,’ quipped Xenia.

Slowly coming nearer, the women began to hear the man’s mumblings were a repetition of two words.

‘Wish keys, wish keys...’

‘You’re wishing for keys?’ asked Marcy, perplexed.

‘WISH KEYS!!!,’ yelled the man, his rocking speeding up.

The women scanned the area and quickly spotted a half full bottle of whiskey lying on the ground ten feet from the man. Realizing what he was asking for, Xenia picked up the bottle and gingerly placed it into his free hand. Once the bottle touched his palm, the man, faster than a speeding bullet, unscrewed the cap and downed the contents of the bottle. Sighing, he fully raised his head and opened his eyes. ‘Thanks for that. I’ve been dry for about twenty minutes. Worst experience of my life.’

At the sight of his chest, both women gasped in horror.

‘Homeboy, what happened to your nipples?!’

The man looked down sadly at the places where his nipples once resided but now were just ugly red divots. ‘I was racing in a 5K. I PR’d and came in first in my age group. That night I went to the pub to celebrate and saw this hot girl who was also in the race. I chatted her up, thought I had an ‘in’ if you know what a mean. But then this friend of hers shows up. I can’t remember what she looked like, I was too drunk by then, but I end up taking the friend home and the next morning I wake up, she’s gone and I have no nipples.’

Xenia furrowed her brow in confusion. ‘How do you not realize someone’s ripped off your nipples?’

‘Dude must have gotten into some kinky shit,’ muttered Marcy.

The man shot her a dirty look.

‘Hey, just saying,’ said Marcy.

‘Who are you two anyway?’

‘I’m Xenia and this is Marcy. And you?’

‘Name’s Viper. So, where you guys going?’

‘We’re headed to Nike Town to see the Wizards of Blogland.’

‘Huh. Think those guys could help me score some new nipples?’

The women shrugged. ‘Anything’s possible, I guess.’

‘Mind if I join you guys then?’

‘No problem. Just one thing.’

‘What’s that?’

‘Homie, you gotta cover up those craters formerly-known-as-nips. That shit’s just unsightly.’

Viper agreed and begrudgingly used the two My Little Pony band-aids Marcy had in her fuel belt to do the job.

Just as they started to run, Viper began to sing, ‘We’re off to..’

‘STOP!’

‘What’d I do?’

Marcy looked at him pityingly. ‘Homegirl doesn’t like the singing.’

Viper shrugged indifferently. ‘Whatever.’

With a hard anti-singing glare directed at her travel companions, Xenia continued down the yellow track road, Marcy and Viper alongside her.

(TO BE CONTINUED)

UPDATE:

Here is the rest of the story:
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

----------------------------------------------------------------

This thing is taking me a lot longer to write than I thought it would. There will end up being multiple parts and it will likely go into next week. I so didn’t plan this well. But at least it gives me the opportunity to entertain some of you and take some well-deserved pot-shots at others.

Most of you are smart cookies, so I’d put money on you guys knowing who I’ve chosen to be the fourth and final member of the disfunctional quartet making its way to Nike Town. Guess away in the comments. It’ll give me something to read as I procrastinate from writing the rest of this story.

On an actual running-related note, I finally got off my lazy arse last night to do my hill repeats. I was supposed to do seven of them. I got in two. Well, not really even them since by the time I had run up most of the hill a bunch of freaking French middle schoolers were swarming the path. They ruined my time on those two repeats (I had to walk for f*ck's sake!) and made me run into the nettle bushes. I hate preteens. Especially French ones. Petits salauds.

Ciao tutti.