Recently Stoker and I went for a bike ride on the greenway. We passed an extremely obese older man wearing an oversized T-shirt and sweatpants and perspiring heavily. He'd just come up one of the steep hills. I've seen this guy before and every time I think, "Great job!" Because I'm secretly really proud of him. I learned this from my friend Anna K., who rolls down the window and cheers people on when she sees them out exercising. The first time she did this, I think I was about to make fun of them with a snide remark about their weight, because sometimes I'm really small like that. And then Anna surprised me by rolling down the window, waving, and letting out a "woo-hoo, great job!"
At first I was embarrassed for her and for me a little, thinking, what will they say? And then I thought, "Who the hell are they?" After realizing there was no they to laugh at me, I thought wow. Then I asked Anna why she'd do something like that. I probably said, "Anna? What the heck?" And she said something like, "What? It's so cool that they're out doing that. I love it when people exercise!" Something very Anna to say. She has a lust for life that I envy.
And I think when people cheer you on, it really makes you go harder. It helps you to believe in yourself. One time I was out running and going hard. I was sweating up a storm, what with the humidity and the heat. As I came around a bend, there were two older guys walking towards me, who I had passed earlier. This time when I passed them, one of the guys said to me, "Great job! Keep it up!" Or something like that. I smiled and wanted to say thanks, but I might have been out of breath, having just tackled a hill (curse you, Tennessee, and your rolling hills!). But that encouragement from a complete stranger gave me a burst of energy and I felt I could run for forever.
When Stoker and I passed the obese gentlemen, I gave him a silent cheer in my head. Then I looked at Stoker and he seemed sad. I asked him if he was all right and he said:
"Sometimes don't you just want to give people a hug and say, 'It's OK, everything will work out'?"
And I said: "Do you mean that guy we just passed?"
And Stoker said: "Yeah. It just looks like he has a sad life. We pass a lot of people who look like they have sad lives and I wish I could tell them something reassuring."
Then I said: "I've seen that guy a lot. I usually just want to cheer him on, but I know what you mean."
Then I told Stoker how I love and adore him and think he's really precious. How can I not? I'm f-ing lucky to be married to him (f-ing lucky = flucky. New word. It will be all the rage!). As for Obese-Exercise-Man, I don't know if I'll ever have the courage to actually say, out loud, "Keep it up!" Because I am a chicken. So I'll say it here: "Great job, man!" Maybe he's out there, somewhere, reading this.