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.