Get Over It!


There are people doing something, which they seemingly enjoy,
But a different thing than I would like to do
I could celebrate our differences… or note how they annoy,
Demonstrating I’m superior to you

You’re a runner, with a logo on your car or on your shirt?
What a narcissistic way of showing off!
You’re a writer, with a column where you’re always slinging dirt?
Must be cushy, when you’re getting paid to scoff!

You’re a Catholic with a crucifix, a Baptist with a fish,
A new-ager proudly wearing “co-exist”
Superciliously asking for the local, vegan dish
Yes, I know the types—I’ve made a little list.

You’re a pompous ass “new atheist”, of which you’re very proud,
And you never waste a chance to bring it up
You proclaim it with your coffee (doesn’t have to be out loud)
With that scarlet “A” emblazoned on your cup

You support your local college, or your city, or your state,
You have t-shirts from the places you have been
It’s displaying your enjoyment that’s precisely what I hate
Cos I know you only do it to be seen

You’re just flogging your accomplishments—“ooh, look at what I’ve done!”
In a blatant move to make us all feel worse!
Yes, it’s simply inconceivable you do it just for fun…
It’s just showing off! (… he finished up… in verse.)

Ok, here’s the thing. I know that what I do is pretentious. But I either really enjoy doing it, or I am obsessively stuck unable to do otherwise (it varies by day). Fortunately, very few people (it has happened) tell me “yeah, ok, we get it, you can rhyme things, get over it.”

But Chad Stafko, in the Wall Street Journal, apparently just wrote a piece telling runners to just get over it.

There is one kind of bumper sticker I see almost daily here in my small Midwestern town: a small oval printed with “26.2” or “13.1.” In case you’re lucky enough not to know what these numbers represent, let me explain: They indicate that the driver or someone in the car has run a marathon (26.2 miles) or a half-marathon (13.1 miles).

There is only one reason running aficionados display the stickers. They want the rest of us to know about their long-distance feats. So let me be the first to offer my hearty congratulations. I’d even offer to give them a pat on the back—once they’re done doing it themselves.

What’s with this infatuation with running and the near-mandatory ritual of preening about it?

Honestly? I was thinking, at about that point, that the column was going to be a brilliant metaphor–how the completely innocuous act of running, and our wearing of running-specific gear, was how we *should* be treating the display of, say, religious or political affiliations. Nobody gets bent out of shape because someone else is wearing a shirt from a local 5K race, after all. Except, Stafko does get bent out of shape over such shirts, opining that they are only worn to make the wearer feel superior to all the non-runners (and, importantly, to make the non-runners feel inferior). Apparently (and I would love to be wrong), the Stafko piece is literally about running, runners’ apparel, and showing off. Pretty much all of the commenters take it that way–including one commenter with a pitch-perfect reply:

There is one kind display I see almost daily on the internet: a small white, rectangle printed with up to 500 words. In case you’re lucky enough not to know what these words represent, let me explain: They indicate that the poster or who posted it can write.

There is only one reason writers become published with a byline. They want the rest of us to know about their publications. So let me be the first to offer my hearty congratulations. I’d even offer to give them a pat on the back—once they’re done doing it themselves.

What’s with this infatuation with writing an opinion article and the near-mandatory ritual of preening about it?

(it continues, translating the entire piece perfectly.)

Runner’s World offers their own translation of Stafko’s piece, from Bizarre Angry Rant into English, which is fun. Predictably, the commenters there are once again too literal, and see the snarky translation as every bit as small-minded as the original piece. Oh, well.

I wish it had been a story on how we should treat the various divisions in our societies as trivially as we treat the t-shirts we wear… but then I remember the t-shirt ads I used to get during the political season, and I shudder for humanity’s future.

But if you want a T-shirt that really and truly allows you to feel superior to everybody who is not wearing one, I do have some suggestions.

Comments

  1. coragyps says

    I do kind of like that same little white oval with “0.0” on it, though. My style of running…..

  2. says

    Actually, there is some merit to the editorial. I do not run, I walk. I walk the same and sometimes longer distances than many runners do. Tell people you ran five miles today and they express admiration. Tell people you walked five miles today, and they just say “Oh” and change the subject or ask “Why?” or (and this really pisses me off) ask “Why don’t you just run that instead?” I am tired of being seen as inferior or insane because I walk the 6.5 miles to and from the grocery store (with my purchases) rather than drive there, run five miles on the trail that surrounds it, then drive home. Or walk the 4 mile round trip to the library with books rather than driving it and then running 5 miles on the same streets.

  3. says

    The Cuttlefish’s pretentiousness
    Bespeaks cerebral deliciousness
    Compared to others’ tendentiousness
    And ego-driven maliciousness.

    Spray them out, Cuttlefish, the rhymes and the verses,
    Make ‘em all jealous, those snobs with their curses.
    This little white rectangle nimbly rehearses
    Our mark on the world that our one life disperses.

  4. maddog1129 says

    I can’t do a 13.1 or a 26.2. I have a couple of 5K/10K t-shirts which I wear
    1) because they depict local art,
    and
    2) not to brag to others, but to inspire ME.

  5. 4oz of reason says

    But also, what’s wrong with being proud and saying, “Look at this thing I did!” every now and then? Within reason of course. If your immediate reaction to someone being proud of an accomplishment is to feel like you’re being made to feel inferior (ignoring for the moment the small number of assholes who DO have that as a motive) then maybe the real issue is that you’re not out doing all the things you want to be doing.

  6. sailor1031 says

    Typical head-up-ass WSJ opinion piece. What could possibly be the point of publishing it? I don’t run but my wife does and I sure don’t begrudge her the right to wear the odd Boston T-shirt (she ran it twice) – I know how much effort went into getting there. As for me I’ll stick wiyth my “NH” and Evolve-fish (you know – the fish with legs holding a wrench in its right front paw?)…..and fuck the Wall Street Journal.

  7. left0ver1under says

    sailor1031 (#7) –

    Typical head-up-ass WSJ opinion piece. What could possibly be the point of publishing it?

    This article from 2011 almost mirrors the one from Runner’s World:

    http://6thfloor.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/i-was-a-teenage-cyclist-or-how-anti-bike-lane-arguments-echo-the-tea-party/

    From the sound of it, the anti-jogging and anti-cycling types are either anti-health or they’re dumb enough to “think” only cars have a right to the road. It’s a popular position of ignorance among the far right wing.

    If they’re so much against “boastful stickers”, why aren’t they attacking people who put “My kid is an honours student” on the back of their car? The kids became honours students because the parents actually put effort in their kids educations and then the parents boastfully take pride in it. Do the rightwing extremist find that to be “annoying”?

    Here’s one item on it:

    http://www.treehugger.com/bikes/demonization-cyclists-and-anti-bike-culture-war-toronto-reaches-new-low-rosie-dimanno-column.html

    And examples of said stupidity:

    http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/10/09/foot_soldier_declares_war_on_sanctimonious_cyclists_dimanno.html

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303482504579177811109786586

    http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/world-our-backyard/2013/nov/14/residential-parking-sacrificed-bicycle-lanes-bike-/

    Hypocrisy comes with the territory of rightwing extremism. If we as atheists criticize “john 3:16″ shirts all over the place, we’re supposedly being “offensive” yet the wearers of the shirts aren’t?

  8. M can help you with that. says

    There is only one reason running aficionados display the stickers. They want the rest of us to know about their long-distance feats.

    Really? I mean, how many non-runners even know what these stickers mean? I certainly didn’t until just now. I’d tend to think that the audience for the stickers is other runners; it’s a clever way of saying “I run, and if you get the point of this sticker then you probably do too. Yay for running!”

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