Mile Non-Competitor

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Personal / Stories / Themes / Dreams /
@ K. 2005 05 22

My best friend in the army, as I’ve told many times, was Phil. After I’d known him a few years I had a few dreams in which the two of us starred. I told him at least one of them. He said, “You know me very well.” I’ll tell at least a short version of that one, and perhaps another, here.

In high school I joined the track team, ran the mile. I chose the mile because I thought it would be easy for me. Foolish me had no intention of working hard, trying to get strong, trying to be the best athlete I could be. I’d run since boyhood. I wasn’t fast, but I could keep going. I had natural endurance. My smoking didn’t help, I’m sure, but I had good endurance anyway. I would run hard enough to get a letter: that’s all. I was there to hang out with my buddies. We all joined the track team. Most of us smoked before, during, and after. Some of us secreted cold beers around the track so we could drink while we “worked out.”

Phil smoked. Plenty. I sure never heard of him running. He loved baseball, played it a little, not terribly proud of his prowess. We were intellectuals, you see: poets. (Phil actually wrote some good poems: I write — plenty, but little verse.)

In my dream we were in a race: the mile. In my experience, tracks were laid out in an oval with a little stem on one side for a straight finish. The oval was installed to measure 440 yards from start to finish for one lap. Half-milers ran two laps: and finished in the straight, milers ran four. In my dream there was a little copse of trees overgrowing the far loop: at the first turn from the start.

After one compete lap, running companionably, Phil and I nodded to each other once among the trees. We subtracted ourselves from the field, take a rest for one lap. Light up. Let the others exhaust themselves. We talked and joked while the others ran. Actually, we said, why not sit out for two laps? Then we’ll rejoin the pack, finish respectably.
I can’t swear today whether we bothered to finish the race, completing a pretence: like that girl who took a subway during the Boston Marathon, then showed up at the finish line, way ahead of the others. Phil and I had no intention of finishing first: just respectably: go without notice.

Whether he, I, or both of us pretending to “finish” the race I can’t swear these decades later; but I’m sure of one thing: I speculated in the dream, “Phil, what if we had run the whole race? Could either of us have won? Is there a chance in hell you could have outrun me?”
In my mind, I didn’t assume I could have beaten the field, but I certainly would have out-run Phil.
“Why I would have won. Of course,” said Phil.

“You know me very well,” I repeat, Phil said in reality.

Phil was not a runner; I was. So the truth is clear to me.

Now: much of, any of pk’s domains or blogs, tells any visitor how great I am: tells it, hints it: saturated. If you know Phil Rowe you won’t have to dig deep to find a lot of ego. And it’s justified: to a huge extent. I’ll give a simple illustration: at the end of his Ph.D. orals at Rutgers, one of his committee opined that that was the finest orals he had ever sat on. (The first question of that orals had been: “Which of George Eliot’s novels have you not read?” Phil’s answer was simplicity itself: “None.”) (I doubt that any of those testing him could have said the same.)

But, was Phil a star at Rutgers? I don’t think so. Could that have been because, like me at NYU, no one understood a word he said? Or could he have been loafing for a lap, smoking a cigarette in the copse of trees at the first curve of the track? I abandoned my Ph.D. to concentrate on offering a 1970s internet. I don’t know why Phil didn’t finish his doctorate. (None of my friends finished their doctorates. There’s a thesis topic right there!) Once out of the army, we were no longer best friends. (A betrayal.)

I’ll give a fragment of another ’60s Phil dream that ties right in. We were living in a shack in the Hamptons: right in the tide line. It was full of tide half the time. We tangled among nets, traps, lines, but never bothered to straighten the place: or move the shack to dry land.

(In reality, that’s far more a “Phil” dream, even though it was pk having it. Phil was the slob. I’ve always been at least partly a neat-freak. The seashore part is more pk than Phil: though he knows ocean too.)

Stories by Age by Theme by Others

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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