Soggy Jogging: The Etymology of a Column

Jogging, like soggy, is an ugly word. Like me, it owns its awkwardness. Sluggishness. Glottal stops.

I prefer “jogging” to “running” because the latter suggests a smooth, slick action. And that’s not what I do.

When I jog, my back hunches, my arms flail feverishly and my face freezes in an unparalleled grimace. With my sweatpants from 8th grade and a T-shirt that doesn’t reveal too much, I hit the streets of Fargo.
Sorry, streets of Fargo.

I laugh whenever I catch a glimpse of myself jogging — usually out loud, manically and unadulterated. It’s quite the sight, watching this scene hurl down sidewalks.

Once, when jogging down 12th Avenue, I looked over to a poster on a building by the St. Paul Newman Center. I had seen it before, but never read the sign closely: “Have you HERD the good news?”

This gag made my mouth and throat make a sound that went something like: “Gruuhhggmmhuh.” I gurgled this noise out right as a woman walked by. She flinched. My bad.

And then there is the perspiration.

My pores pump like an oil rig: continuously, no matter the situation.

My being is composed of 90 percent water and hot air, so sweating is an innate trait that I do well. This is nothing new.

On a warm day in second grade, a classmate remarked on how hairy my arms were. I was like a gorilla, he said.

The classmate had made an astute observation. Dark hair covered my limbs, and my T-shirt showcased my apelike characteristics.

My life was shattered. Mom wouldn’t let me shave, so I had to salvage what was left of my dignity and do the next best thing: cover every hairy inch of my body, no matter the temperature.

I found salvation in denim.

I adorned a jean jacket for the rest of the year. My life got moist in a hurry.

I remember once my teacher addressing my fashion choices on a particularly warm day.

“Ben,” she said, “You need to take your jean jacket off. You are sweating.”

“Mrs. Meyer,” I said, dabbing my face with a handkerchief, “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that.”

Life remains hot and awkward, and jogging upholds the status quo well.

I’m all the better for it. Self-depreciation is as healthy as a three-mile run, when embarrassing enough. Shrinking the ego helps with clarity. Not to mention, jogging has given me an arsenal of painful stories.

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