The Runaround

Chapter 27, Blog 2

By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang


When the weather blew wintry in late November, I couldn’t run outdoors. So Harry and I took my training madness to Valparaiso University where VU officials were pleased to have a potential Olympian use their indoor facility. But the checker at the front door didn’t get the memo. He still asked to see my student I.D. every morning. That would lead to Harry’s suggesting that the conscientious student instead check out a therapeutic lobotomy.

For all the actual running I did, I could have stayed in the basement. But Harry enjoyed seeing co-eds jog lap after lap while I sat and visualized sprinting the last 200 lactic-acid-soaked meters of a tight 800. At this point, my coach would allow me only a handful of laps at three-quarter speed. Harry claimed anything else would burn too many muscle fibers and make me stale. Funny, I did long for that real, lactic-acid fire.

One day, I had to ask. I knew better, but the issue was a beaver gnawing at my thick, wooden brain. It was time to ask “The Question.”


Harry ignored me and smiled as a slender co-ed in a tight, teal halter top bench pressed iron twice her weight. I twisted in front of Harry and grabbed his walker.

“And what in the world do you want?” he asked with the annoyance of a surgeon in the middle of a heart transplant. I persisted.

“Why, Harry?”

He didn’t blink.

“Why what?”

“Why pick me?”

“You baby boomers are relentless, bordering on obsessive.”

“Just tell me why.”

“I believe you came to me, son.”

“I mean, why did you think I had any chance?”

Harry rolled his eyes, considered his words – and hesitated. He sighed.

“When this is finished, yes, then maybe, we will sit down, have a beer, and I will tell you.” Harry looked me in the eye. “Right now, I doubt you could handle it.”

That made me angry. I spun and sprinted three laps at top speed and walked a couple of cool-down laps. Peering around, I realized Harry had left the building. I toweled off, threw on my sweats and hustled out to the car. Harry sat there. I got in and started to drive home. Harry stared straight ahead.

“Listen, Charlie. You should get yourself someone else.”

“You’re just upset,” I said. “You’ll get over it.”

“Son, you’re 48 years old.”

“I know.”

“You have the spunk of a 20-something.”

“Thanks, that’s the nicest thing you’ve said to me.”

“But you have the maturity of a 9-year-old.”

“Yeah? So tell me something I don’t know.”

“I swear, your whole generation never grew up.”

“OK, I’ll give you that one,” I said. “Maybe we didn’t. Maybe we couldn’t.”

I pulled the car over to the curb and turned off the engine. We sat there for at least five minutes without a word.

“All right,” I said. “Don’t tell me.”

Copyright © 2012 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang

1 thought on “The Runaround

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