As a damn fool runner back in the 1970s, people found my jogging passion and Boston Marathon experience unique and that led to opportunities to speak to Rotary clubs, Toastmaster organizations, and community groups.
Running at that time was considered strange by most folks and outright crazy by a few. Having fun with that opinion, I concluded my talks by reciting an edited version to the Music Man lyrics, “You Got Trouble.”
It goes like this:
“Friends of River City,
“Either you are closing your eyes to a situation you do not wish to acknowledge, or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated by the presence of joggers in your community. Well, you got trouble my friends, right here, I say trouble right here in River City.
“Well sure I’m an exerciser and mighty proud, always mighty proud to say it. I consider the hours I spent with a bowling ball in my hand to be golden. They helped me cultivate horse sense, a cool head, and a keen eye. Did you ever try to make a 7-10 split in the last frame when the Bud was on the line? But just as I say that it takes judgement, brains, and maturity to score in the 10-pin game, any fool can run five miles in a pair of foreign rubber shoes.
“I call in un-American, the first big step on the road to the depths of degradation. I say first Gatorade from the grocer and then Body Punch by mail. And the next thing you know your son is runnin’ on Sunday in a short little suit and listening to some big out-of-town jasper here to tell about a Boston Marathon. Not a wholesome sack race, mind you, but a race where they run half-clothed right out in the street. Like to see some stuck-up marathoner out on Main Street? Make your blood boil, well I should say.
“Well friends, let me tell you what I mean. All day long your youth will be fritterin’ away, I say your young people will be fritterin”. Fritterin’ noontime, suppertime, chore time, too. Just jog five miles, never mind about doing any grass, filling up with gas or going to the store till you’re caught without booze on a Saturday night. You got lots and lots of trouble.
“Now I know all you folks are the right kind of people. I’m going to be perfectly frank. Would you like to know what kind of things go on while they’re loafing around those races? They’ll be trying out Nikes, trying out Adidas, trying out Reebok like running fiends, and bragging about how they’re going to cover up a telltale shin splint with Spencos. Friends, the runner’s brain is the devil’s playground. We got to figure out a way to keep the young ones from running after school.
“Folks, heed this warning before it’s too late. Watch for the telltale signs of corruption. The minute your son leaves the house, does he jog at a slow pace and break into a run when he thinks you can’t see. Is there a Vaseline stain on his tennies … or a Runner’s World hidden in his van? Is he starting to spout philosophy from Sheehan, Anderson or Henderson? Are certain words creeping into his conversation such as “intervals,” “fartlek,” and “carbohydrate loading?” Is he gone for two or three hours, coming home muttering about “a long one” and being too tired to watch Dallas?
“Well, we got trouble. We got terrible, terrible trouble. That sport with the chalk lines on the road is the devil’s tool.”