Monthly Archives: February 2007

5K Racist (or “Cheaty Gonzales”)

Even though they still ooze, my toes have healed enough to allow me to run again. On Tuesday, the gym at work sponsored a little 5K race. It was not a giant affair — only a dozen people entered — but I was pleased to managed to win pretty cleanly. I took off right at the beginning and never looked back.

Or did I?

The course followed the loop around the campus. Not being quite 5K, we also had to run down Seaport a ways and turn around. See map.

Cute little four inch pylons with cute little arrows drawn on them like happy faces marked the course. OK, cool. I saw a bunch of them, as they directed me around the loop and down the straightaway towards Redwood City.

I ran down Seaport, and eventually I saw two large orange pylons and a metal bar ahead of me. So I planned how I would jump over the bar and turn around and come back on the other side of the pylons. As I got closer, I realized that the bar was actually a downed light pole. Wow, pretty severe. How about that.

I turned around and finished the course, easily in first place, running in 20:10, almost two minutes ahead of the fellow who came in second. The fellow who arranged it congratulated me, and told me I won the $25 gift card for first place.

As I overheard him talking to someone else about how he set out the course, I started thinking how lucky it was that the downed light pole happened to be right at the turnaround. Then I remembered how those pylons were much bigger than all the others. That’s when it dawned on me: that was not the designated turn-around point.

Sheepishly, I went to him and said, “Um, I think maybe I cheated.” I explained what happened. Another racer chimed in that the actual turnaround point was only maybe 70 feet after where I turned around, so he agreed that my margin was sufficient to make no difference to my first place.

It sure made me feel stupid though. Maybe I do have an athlete in me. I just wish it wasn’t in my brain.

On My Toes

I cut my toenails last week. For normal people, this is an event of utter insignificance. However, I have this problem with ingrown toenails on the big toe, and I guess when you cut your toenails your body says, “Hey, something’s happened here; toenails too short. I’m gonna pick up the pace!” and they start growing faster. For me, that means they grow deeper and deeper into the flesh on the side. Sure enough, a couple of days after I cut them, I could feel pressure on my right big toe that I recognized as the hints of an ingrowth that could possibly blossom into full-fledged toenail irritation.

So Monday morning I called the podiatrist and went in Tuesday. He explained to me my options: remove the edge of the toenail; or remove the edge of toenail AND the corresponding nail matrix so that the toenail is permanently narrower over the toe, which should hopefully ensure that I never get this problem again. I breathed a heavy sigh, and opted for the more extensive surgery.

I had both sides of both toes treated. Each toe was injected with an anesthetic. Then the doc used this tool to pop the edge of the toenail out, and he trimmed it ALL THE WAY DOWN to the nail matrix (where the nail grows from). If I weren’t numb, I would totally be telling him anything he wanted to hear. Instead, I was watching this graphic, bloody surgery with half-interest like it was a television show I’d already seen.

Then he jams these acid-tipped rods to burn away the nail matrix cells, and scrapes it out with a tiny melon baller. And repeats. Three times for each of the four locations.

He told me it could take up to six weeks to heal. And one of my feet did hurt last night enough to wake me up. But tonight — less than 36 hours after surgery — I was wearing my shoes again, walking around pretty much normally. I think I could even run if I needed to.

Wow. Good choice. And I still get the joy of changing the moist bloody dressing once a day, which appeals to some bizarre gross-out animal instinct in me.

Cutting my toenails will no longer induce pangs of dread. A feeling I don’t think I’ll miss.

The Thermometer Brothers

Two older fellows who were seated at our table were quickly nicknamed “The Vaudeville Brothers” by Sean and me because of their habit of telling non-stop old-timey jokes of increasingly questionable taste. One introduced the two of them as “the thermometer brothers: I’m Oral and he’s Anal!”

On the second or third night, the older fellow was telling a joke whose punch line featured simulated but enthusiastic male masturbation while reciting a poem “Hickory Dickory Dock”. After the long-winded set-up, he got to the unfortunate punch line just as our wonderful waitress Sorvina (from Romania) was trying to place a bowl of soup in front of him.

His first stroke struck the plate beneath the soup with such force that the bowl flew into the air, spilling its contents on his pants, his chair, and somewhat on her. There was a clatter of dishes and the whole table went silent as we realized we were witnessing something most unfortunate.

The resulting mutual apologies and wave of seriousness was palpable, and a senior restaurant manager came by later to add to the stew of sorry.

I must admit to wanting to hear the punch line to the joke even though I knew it would be especially anti-climactic given the circumstance. My wish was granted when after what seemed to be too short a period of mourning, he backed up a couple lines and delivered the finale.

It might have been just my imagination, but it seemed that Sorvina exhibited a little post-tramautic stress disorder when serving our table for the rest of the night. Or perhaps it was just well-placed caution.

The joke is more or less this one.