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.