Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Heavy medal

When I was a child, we went to a super fancy church. Mom wouldn't drive the clunker there, we had to take the good car. The parking attendants wore gloves. There were parking attendants. It sat on the shores of Long Lake and the grounds had old stone fountains and Canada geese. There were grounds. It was called The Kirk in the Hills.

In my mind's eye, the minister was Robert Mitchum's kindly older brother who went to seminary. We called him Doctor something. Tall, avuncular, kind, dignified. Even at this young age, I sensed the reverence that adults felt for this man. One Sunday after church, we were enjoying coffee cake in the refectory, and my parents were talking to Rachel's parents. Rachel was three years old, a delicate girl with porcelain skin and a head of ginger curls. She wore a frilly little dress that stopped above the knee.

Dr.___I forget his name____ chatted briefly with the parents, then leaned from his tremendous height to rest a gentle hand on the little girl's head.

"Well, hello there, Rachel!"he said.

She gazed up at him and blinked her green eyes.

"I HAVE NEW PANTIES!" she yelled, pulling her dress up over her head.

This is exactly how I feel when I win a medal at a race. I will put that baby around my neck and wear it for the rest of the day just waiting for someone to ask me about it. If they don't ask, I'm not above bringing it up myself. I'm not comfortable going more than a day, but I'll get as much mileage as I can for that one.

Last Saturday, I won the most ridiculous, fabulous medal of all. It's the heaviest and largest in my collection, a slice of birch mounted on a metal gear ring. It weighed heavy on my neck as we made our way through the White Mountains and the hills of western Maine, and I felt like the damn Pimp of the Forest. I wore it into the convenience stores and the ice cream shop, just waiting for someone to ask me about it. This being New England, of course, no one did.

Dammit, I thought, we have to keep going to stores until someone asks me about my medal. I kept telling Jayme I had to stop for the bathroom. I think she knew I was just looking for more exposure for my Fairy Gangster medallion. Eventually, we got back home, and since NO ONE had asked, I had to go to Fresh off the Farm, where I knew everyone and I could count on them to make a fuss. Sheesh.

There's a part of this that's ego, of course. A part that's showing off.. A part that I'm self conscious about. But the part I like is the part that's rooted in that three-year-old girl. There's that thing we have as kids that's pure and exuberant and gleeful, that's not braggy. That thing where we get something new that we think is so cool, and we want to wear it every second, we want people to ask us about it, we want everyone to know, to feel the unbearable joy of possession. We want to walk into the convenience store and yell, I GOT A MEDAL!

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