Sunday, April 8, 2012

In Our Favor

I wish this could be a celebratory post on good economic news.  But, alas, the most recent monthly employment numbers will not permit that.  Likewise, would that I could express at least partial sympathy with my fellow football fans, who rashly - and with impressive ferocity - have come out in full-throated support of the New Orleans Saints organization.  Unfortunately, in my opinion that outfit has now incontrovertibly been shown to have operated as a criminal enterprise.

But, do not despair, for as I was pleasantly reminded yesterday, there is so much more to our story.  In the morning I rode my bicycle to view the running of the Crescent City Classic 10K footrace, where it passes through the Treme neighborhood along Esplanade Avenue.  Last year, I got to my favorite spot just in time to catch my older son as he ran by, and pass an ice cold sports drink to him.  It was a pretty hot and humid day, and I felt good for having done what I could to help insure his safe conduct of the long run.  This year, I was too late getting there, and shortly realized I had missed him.  But the morning was fairly cool and the air relatively dry.  And knowing how strong a runner he is from having done this endurance race with him numerous times in years gone by - um, too many years gone by - I had no concern for his easy negotiation of the route.  So, I settled in to enjoy the rest of the procession.

What a procession: tens of thousands of New Orleanians and visitors poured out a traveling tableau of sweating humanity, colorfully costumed in an assortment of wardrobes bespeaking everything from the most serious of athletic commitment to spooferry of the highest hilarity.  The sleekest from the Reebok collection to the silliest of Bunny Rabbit outfits were raced and tumbled along in accordance with the specific or peculiar personal calculus behind their exhibition.  It was almost as if the Mississippi River at the foot of Esplanade Avenue had opened up and spilled out some heavenly treasure trove of living party favors.  Three fellow carnival club members shouted greetings as they passed, and another IBEW union member pulled-up for a brief chat and sports drink hand-off. 

Then, as the end finally neared, a remarkably strange, rather surprisingly inappropriate image and thought came to me.  Out of nowhere, memories of countless pictures of rutted roads, choked with desperately bedraggled crowds of human misery, fleeing the advance of ruthless armies throughout history caused me to surrealistically speculate about what big, bad army could have been pushing all these folks down the Avenue.  I decided to stay as long as it took to see.

And, just as I suspected, it turned out that the long and gaily outfitted parade was being trailed by a mere couple of non-menacing municipal vehicles.  I delighted in the fancy that years ago three boyhood friends and I with sling-shots could have easily overwhelmed them.  All of a sudden, I was consciously grateful for living in a civil and stable society, despite its infirmities.  We are lucky not to have to wake up in a new world every day, as so many throughout history have had to and so many still do. 

On the bike ride back home, I stopped by the weekly Farmers Market at the corner of Magazine and Girod.  I picked-up four little potted herb plants, which fit comfortably in my basket, and ate a remarkable and delicious Avocado Cream ice-cream bar.  I admit there was a lot more cream and sweetness to the taste than anything else, but the color and flavor of avocado were both definitely in evidence.  Later in the day, I joined my son - the runner- and daughter-in-law for yet another annual public party, which fills up seven or eight blocks of Freret Street with food and music and fun. 

As I said, we are lucky.  This truth perhaps is most pointedly anchored in the fact that we can sensibly and confidently make plans to prepare to happily engage in events even another year away.  I have done so by promising myself, and "threatening" my son, to be in shape enough to once again personally test his strength as an endurance runner in the next Crescent City Classic. 

In other words, I have decided to give my knees a break.  No, not the literal kind that Greg Williams specializes in, but by not lying on them anymore.  I am going to stop blaming them for my giving in to laziness and age.  I am actually going to run the Classic with my son again.  I'm coming back.  As the saying has it, "Next year in Jerusalem."  Shalom and Happy Easter.

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