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home > community > viewpoint > the towel, the conniption, and my world record

The Towel, the Conniption, and my World Record
I forget exactly when the race was, but I believe it was on that very cold day when . . .

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By Will Mason
Posted Monday, 18 February, 2002

I forget exactly when the race was, but I believe it was on that very cold day when the shorts-clad Gary Wallace coined the word "dickcicle." I recall it to have been a typical Merrimack area run where every runner's need is attended to except the training. And partly because of the cold, most of us headed immediately to the hot showers in the local school. Well, the Winner's Circle group actually headed to the refreshments directly from the finish line. And the now, or should be, defunct TriftyWay Athletic Team actually headed directly to the refreshments from the starting line. But the conniption would take place in the showers, and they missed it.

I cannot identify the victim exactly, lest he kills me, but he is a well-known runner who can be found in Newburyport, Massachusetts. And none of this was his fault. It seems that when he came out of the showers, the poor guy discovered that someone had filched his towel. That was when the conniption started. Until that day I thought a conniption had to be accompanied by a fit. But this conniption stood on its own strength. What occurred was an outburst second only to Krakatoa. I had, of course, heard all those words and phrases before, but never quite in that order. Miss Scott, my 8th grade English teacher, would have described it as "inventive invective." Except the "conniptioner" had no need for punctuation-that was provided by bouncing running shoes [.,.,.,.,] a slammed running bag [!!!!] and the suggestions of what should happen to the miserable perpetrator [***&###&>>>].

Given time the fury diminished to a level of just "hopping mad", but the victim had proved extremely able, through that extraordinary verbalism, to move all of us curious, collectively blameworthy, reflective souls to an ever-expanding circle of safe retreat. Locker room banter had not only subsided; it died. We sensed those fury-laden words that were ricocheting off the walls, and none of us wished to risk a pierced noggin. He was scary and we were wary!

The victim did a remarkable job drying himself with his damp socks and race number and stormed away, the rest of us prepared to move out silently, with a "There but for the grace of . . ." understanding. Me, I gathered my own duds and stuffed them into my running bag. Lastly, I grabbed my own wet towel and stuffed it also into my running bag, right on top of, AAAAAiiiiiiiEEEEEEE!!!!!, my unused towel.

Oh, the World Record? Well, I do not know the exact distance between that spot in that locker room and my car, but I am sure I covered it faster than anyone has ever done. I did not look in my rearview mirror either, until today. Please do not kill me, Mr. Yankee Runner.



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