Cheese Overdose, Penance, Humiliation at the Blood Bank

For various reasons, both fascinating and banal, I have been eating a lot of cheese lately. I've generally been eating more than usual. (It occurred to me to say, "I'm eating for two" if anyone looked at me askance, even though I'm decidedly not with child. It just seems like a funny thing to say. I don't think this is my joke, I think I heard someone else say it.)


So I have been trying to lay off the cheese and lay on the running, because you know that "my clothes feel tight, must be the cheese" feeling? I've been having it, and while I've faced the fact that most people lose and gain weight on a weekly basis, I don't have time to buy new clothes right now. Cutting out the cheese usually helps drastically.

Yesterday, I went running and I have a few things to say:

1. Runners, you know Body Glide, that perversely-named product that you put on to prevent chafing that you think doesn't really work but just feels sticky? I'm here to report, as someone who forgot to put it on yesterday, that it works. Don't you dare forget to put it on your thighs or you're asking for a long, painful night facing down a canister of Gold Bond powder.

2. Don't add "Rosalita" by Bruce Springsteen to your running playlist at the last minute because it's going to throw off your inner stopwatch that dictates that you don't stop running until after "Hey Ya" and you will run too long, get an angina feeling in your arm, feel like your feet were run over by a steamroller, and go for 51 minutes when you meant to do a leisurely 30, and be essentially limping home. Especially when you factor in the cheese. "Rosalita," while amazing and very good to run to, is a long song.

Today I went running again, determined to do a solid 30 minutes, slathered from tip to toe in Body Glide. Can I just say that I really, really like running? Not as much as I like cheese, of course, but much more than I like feeling really full after too much cheese. And I get my best thinking done after about a mile (or, if you prefer, somewhere between "Love Me or Hate Me" by Lady Sovereign" and "Let's Get Loud" by Jennifer Lopez). I also tried to think "heel, toe; heel, toe" with every stride today because of yesterday's bad foot situation, and also "faster, faster" because it's winter and I've gotten slow. Also, cheese.

So I got to "The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World (I hope someone else is getting a chuckle out of my dork-o-rama playlist), which is usually smack in the middle of my run according to the inner iPod-ruled stopwatch, and decided to do another lap around the desolate retirement community, id est through Alien Ant Farm's cover of "Smooth Criminal by Michael Jackson, just to be sure I did a cool 30 and maybe a few extra minutes for good measure. I got back to my bike -- tired, chafey, panting -- to find that I had run a mere 27 minutes. I felt lazy and sort of defeated, but rallied when I saw that there was a BLOOD DRIVE right in front of me. I could make up those three minutes by doing something good like giving blood!!

So here I am, a sweaty mess in shorts, tank top, sneaks, and Jimmy Connors sweatband, descending on the Blood Drive like Mother Theresa come to save the lepers. The room is chock-a-block with people, average age: 91. The old lady running the operation tells me I can donate but I should come in and sit down and have some juice and a cookie first because she's got her hands full. The people waiting are looking at me like I'm insane. In fact, one old man yells at me "WHY ARE YOU SO RED????" and I say, scraping up my last bits of sorry 27-minute dignity, "Because I've been running!" and he screams, "BUT YOU'RE ALL RED!! YOUR WHOLE BODY, YOUR LEGS, YOUR ARMS!" And I say, "Yes, it's cold out" because the weather report lied to me through its teeth when it said it was 60 out and I was dressed for 30 hardcore minutes and oh anyway. The guy's companion, an old lady who looks a lot like his twin, screams "YOU NINNY! IT'S BLOOD! SHE'S ALL RED BECAUSE OF THE BLOOD!" I wonder if I am indeed all red because of blood or because of cold, but I let her defend me.

I make some joke about appearing hotter than I am, and the blood drive organizer directs me to go sit down and have juice. I realize that this could be an all-afternoon endeavor, and that what I want and need is water, not juice, so I say, "Thank you, but I'll come back. I don't drink juice." I mean, come on, it's not that I don't ever drink juice -- I am, in fact, very into my new juicer -- it's just that I'm not going to reconsume the handful of calories I just burnt via a Solo cup of Ocean Spray. On my way out the door, the old man yells, "WHO DOESN'T DRINK JUICE?? WHO ON EARTH DOESN'T DRINK JUICE!?!?!?!?!"

I lope back to my bike, realizing my legs are indeed red, and another old man, presumably on his way to the blood drive, comes up really close to me, like two inches away, and in the cutest way possible for an old man up in your grille, warbles, "Summertime...and the living is are jumping and the cotton is high..." I laugh and he says "That's how it goes, right?" And I say, "I know, I'm dressed for summer, but it gets HOT when you're running!" By now I have built a 27-minute jog into an ultramarathon. I now know why I always keep my headphones on, even after I've stopped running. I don't want to hear the comments, even though this one was definitely adorable. I put on Billie Holiday singing "God Bless the Child," because I felt very much like a child, and biked home.

Tour, TourMelissa Kirsch