Please, allow me to share my newest inspiration for night terrors.
Recently, I decided to try running again. Careful-ishly.
The new running regimen has been nothing crazy. Three miles, maybe four. And not with high frequency. More of an aging-knees-saving once or twice a week. It’s all part of my latest effort to (once again), get back in shape. I’m not sure how many “get back into shapes” there’ve been in my life. I’m not a statistician.
My outings had been a mix of road and treadmill running. Not at the same time. That would be silly.
On the treadmill, I started running intervals: running for a minute, then fast walking for a minute, running, walking, running, walking. You get it.
The goal was simple: increasing my pace, which wouldn’t be difficult. On one road run, I was actually passed by butterflies. With my high-mileage knees, I felt that a pace of 10 minutes per mile was respectable. Let’s see a butterfly do that.
And great news: It was working. When I was running the road, I wasn’t walking at all. And my speed was increasing.
Then, for various reasons, I began spending more time in the gym. That meant more treadmill runs. I slowly upped the time of my running intervals. Three minutes running to every one minute walking.
Finally, it’s time to run outside again. Positive I’d do better, I was curious to see how much faster I could run my normal, four-mile route.
iPod? Check! Earbuds? Check! Insect repellent from head to toe? Check! (More on that last check in a moment.)
After loosening up by walking the first quarter mile, I begin running. As usual, it took a couple of minutes to relax into my breathing and find my stride.
After the initial exertion, my body kept wanting to slow down to its regular, butterfly pace. But I told myself, No! Break through that feeling! My mind now maintained a new cadence developed with the assistance of a Planet Fitness treadmill. I was focusing on form. Showing the people behind me the soles of my shoes! (There’s never anybody behind me.)
The run was an out and back. On the way out, I crushed it. With the caveat, ‘for me.’ I’d altered my stride for uphill verses downhill. My breathing was deep and even. All is seeming right with the world.
Turning back required a bit more talking to myself, reminding myself to stay relaxed in my faster pace.
On the next to last uphill, I felt my energy leaving me. But hearing a car coming up from behind, I did the thing we all do: speed up to look like a real runner while a stranger passed. After all, I might run into this stranger someday. I’d rather them say, “Hey, wasn’t that you running the other day on Mill Drive?” So much better than, “Wasn’t that you on Mill Drive hugging the road kill?”
The car passes as I made it up the hill. Descending the in a cloud of automotive exhaust, I continued increasing my stride. I started to feel like a rock star.
But pride cometh before a fall.
One of my earbuds had slipped out. I hadn’t noticed, but someone or something had. A buzzing and a fluttering as a bug the size of a military drone flew into my now available ear canal. “What the shit! Ah! Damn it!”
I carefully yet frantically reached a finger into the earhole, trying to get it out. “Crap! Shit! Mother f*cker!” I felt it. “Ah!” But it’s still in there fighting for its right to stay in my head.
Panic. Panic. Panic. No. Wait. Smart. Be smart. Do not squish. Scoop.
On the fourth or fifth try—SUCCESS! I got it out. But I keep slapping my ear. Why? Why am I slapping my ear?! I don’t know!
Did it bite me? Sting me? What the f*ck?! Did I get it out before it set up house and laid eggs?
But the bastard (yes, I turned that egg-laying bitch into a male) wasn’t done with me. He started circling. So I ran faster, trying to get away from it and get the hell out of there. “I used bug repellent. Repel!”
I was now fleeing and flailing my way past the thick and humid woods of a nature preserve packed with trees, bushes and, of course, a swamp.
At that point, I was running in full freak mode, flailing my arms, trying to outrun this enraged mini Satan, swatting at it and cursing at it. It tried to bite me twice. Was the little F-er mad at me for not letting it take up residence in my brain.
That image made me check my ear again. It was really out of there, right?
Once I finally cleared the damp wooded area, the demon seemed to have given up. But now, between sprinting, swatting, yelling and panicking, I was exhausted. I had to stop running and walk the rest of the way home, bested by something the size of my fingernail.
But that’s a huge bug, right?
As I’m typing this, I’m still checking to see if my ear canal is going to swell up or, worse, start buzzing. Should I flush it out? Do I have any Benadryl?
I know I won’t sleep well tonight. You?
Honey Parker has been writing, writing, writing for decades, decades, decades. In there, she has also been a standup comedian, a Hollywood screenwriter, a director, and a co-author of edgy business books. Careful-ish is her debut novel. It is the first in a trilogy. It is comedy-ish.