Saturday, February 27, 2010

Marathons and Scotsmen in kilts

Today was the 31st annual Cowtown Marathon, which I heard on the radio is one of the largest mutli-race events in the country (that means they have the marathon, a half-marathon, a 10K, and various other assorted races for kids, etc.) What is means to us in Southwest Fort Worth is that it messes up traffic. I got away relatively lightly--slid down a back road on my way to Central Market only to discover that for two blocks it was part of the race. Cops let me go through with a caution to go slowly,which I did. But I could see that I couldn't come home that way (road was blocked going the other way) and University Drive, the main thoroughfare I was avoiding, was a parking lot. Coming home, I cut through a shopping "village," and then on to University, just after the point where the runners were crossing. A policeman waved me through, and it was smooth sailing. Jeannie, though, said she was trying to go home from Hulen and went on so many side streets, she doesn't even remember where she was.
The Cowtown is more than a nuisance to me--it's a sentimental trip back in time. In the late 70s, a group of doctors, physiologists, and who knows what used to meet in my living room to talk about establishing an Institute of Human Fitness, promoting a healthy way of life, and running (my ex was a big runner--but that's another, not always-happy story). At the time a friend was living with us, and she and I would be in the kitchen, making the richest, fanciest desserts we could imagine--I particularly remember Ann's Italian cream cake. Those health and fitness freaks would scarf it down! But it's always fun to say the marathon began in my living  room.
I called my friend Charles this morning to reminisce, and he verified the origins. The first T-shirts had a runner named Cowtown Charlie, which was, of course, Charles--though my ex liked to think because of the mustache it was him. I still have one of the T-shirts, tucked away somewhere. The first marathon was in 1979, and Charles and I talked a bit about those days. Colin would have been ten, Jordan just four,and I am amazed to think that while I worked publicity for the event (I loved being in the midst of things), I let them wander the area around the North Side Coliseum, where among other threats there is a river. What was I thinking? I wouldn't let me grandkids do that today for all the tea in China. But the kids loved the day--and so did I. The first year the weather was all sleet and snow (I won't repeat what Joel said when he heard the sleet hit our roof) but he left early and I drove the kids up there in that weather in an old Cadillac I was then driving. Amazing! I told Charles it made me nostlagic, and he admitted to the same feeling but reminded me, "What's done is done"and I added  "and certainly for the better."
On the way home, having successfully avoided the traffic jams, I cut through Forest Park and came upon a groups of Scots, in kilts, practicing I don't know what but it looked like something for the Highland games. I couldn't stop and gawk, much as I wanted to, but one glimpse reinforced my belief that there is nothing sexier than a Scotsman in his kilts. The only thing missing was a bagpiper.Thrilled my Scottish blood.
Spent the rest of the day mired in the manuscript I'm editing, Trash History: Discoveries of an Accidental Historian. It mostly has to do with Civil War, Custer, Bonnie and Clyde, and the Alamo, but it is a charming fun book and an especially illuminating look into re-enactments. Note to non-fiction authors: avoid those blasted embedded notes. They're driving me crazy! I'll finish it tomorrow and email everthing to the editor at Texas Tech Press. Note to most readers: buy this book when it comes out next fall. It's really fun!

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