Chapter 26, Blog 1
By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang
Good ol’ Sheila, I could have killed her. A week after the interview, The Times ran a page one story detailing my Olympic Trials quest with a photo of my push-away-monkey Tai Chi posture. Any anonymity I enjoyed jumped out the window and ran for it.
Chicago TV stations 5 and 7 called, wanting to film my training. The sports radio stations asked me to do their shows. Even Dan Patrick wanted five minutes.
I should have said “no.” It was humiliating how they painted me as a 48-year-old nutjob with a Fountain of Youth fixation. Off the air, one offered 15-1 odds I wouldn’t make it. On the other hand, a few classmates I hadn’t heard from since high school called to wish me luck. One said he had trouble chasing his grandkids, much less running. But one nameless asshole asked if I had lost my mind. Even my barber doubted me.
Twice, I considered calling Sheila to complain. But knowing her magical ways, I was afraid of ending up at her place with consequences I didn’t need to visualize. Plus, most of my friends still treated me like warm beer, even Ralphie. All he got was a story hidden in the sports section despite his Trials-qualifying toss in Atlanta. Ralphie chalked it up to my history with Sheila and got over it.
Who knew what Melinda thought?
Worse, some who didn’t know me thought it had to be a publicity stunt.
“There goes that poor, deluded man,” I overheard a mother tell her 5-year-old at Walmart.
… at least, she didn’t say “old” …
But it did hurt, and I was angry. I ran with anger. I visualized with anger. I ate with anger.
In the face of my deepening turmoil, Harry proved unflappable. It was obvious to him that we could not waste a single second. My coach bought a compact disc player and a set of Russian language CDs that I could play while I slept.
“We need to power up some of those unused synapses,” Harry said. “The more brain connectors firing away, the better.”
“If we fail to challenge ourselves mentally on a daily basis, or even minute by minute, we lose vital brain capacity, and the synapses are the first to go,” he said. “By simply hearing a foreign language, perhaps you could resurrect a few. Certainly, it is plausible.”
I stared blankly at him.
“Yes, in your case, it is a longshot. But we must try.”
At first, the Russian jabbering kept me awake, but after I got used to it, I found it relaxing. Harry said that was a clear indication the CDs were doing some good. Maybe they were. I did develop a craving for borscht.
Copyright © 2012 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang