I don’t care much for movies. The last one I saw in an actual theater was Slumdog Millionaire, which had to have been about 2 years ago. But every now and then, there’s a movie that looks compelling enough to spend my time and money on – like For Colored Girls. I’ve been waiting for this one for awhile and I strode into my local cineplex at 12:50 p.m. today, bursting with anticipation.
Since I’m so out of practice, when I bought my ticket from the machine, I accidentally signed up for the 2 p.m. time slot, instead of 1 p.m. Which left me with about an hour to kill before showtime. A few minutes later, as I was exiting a nearby Starbucks, I ran into one of my favorite co-workers on 125th St. She suggested that I walk down to 5th Avenue to “watch the runners.”
I forgot that it was Marathon Day in New York, and that I don’t live too far away from a section of its course. I walked over to 126th St. and 5th Avenue to stand on the sidelines and cheer the runners on until it was time to leave for the movie. Except that when it was time to leave for the movie, I wasn’t ready to go yet. This was the first time I’d ever watched people run a marathon so up close and personally, and I got into it. I spent the entire afternoon out there, never more than two feet away from the competitors. My hands are sore from clapping and my face feels numb from smiling. This year, I only knew one person who had enough guts and discipline to run this thing and, at 2:46 p.m., I had the privilege of seeing her speed by, in all her determined glory.
By the time they reached my spot, the runners had already finished at least 20 miles. Although many of them were visibly in pain, many more were in great spirits, existentially taking everything in and keeping their eyes on that prize. When I thought about what these soldiers must have gone through to reach this milestone, I started crying. But then I became too angrily distracted by the steady stream of assholic bystanders who had the audacity to fuck with these athletes’ momentum. On the 5th Avenue stretch of the marathon’s course, there are no barricades to separate the runners from the watchers. The people standing on either side of the street are virtually right up in the runners’ faces. And every few minutes, some of the watchers would suddenly sprint across 5th Avenue – AS IN DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE PACKS OF ONCOMING RUNNERS - to get to the other side of the street. Some wouldn’t even bother to sprint as they interfered - they would just mosey across the road, letting the exhausted, blindsided marathoners trip over them. One woman leisurely walked a stroller (that contained a live infant) in front of a massive herd of runners, and it’s miraculous that no one seemed to get seriously injured in the pile-up that ensued – although it did cause one of the runners (who had been cheerfully plodding along, in his zone) to fall to the ground and almost get trampled by the racers behind him. Most, if not all, of this wanton disrespect could have been prevented. But the NYPD was as useless as usual, enabling everything – there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts a few avenues away from where we stood, so the officers’ hearts and minds were elsewhere.
If I ever run a marathon, it can’t be in New York – it would have to be in a more civilized city. But I’ve got nothing to worry about - the only kind of marathons I’m cut out for are the ones involving hot dogs or shot glasses.
Such Masterpieces…My Masterpieces…
5 days ago