To whit, terminology can be harsh. Calling someone a “jogger” when they consider themselves a runner is a cold, hard, reality check. In this day and age, you hardly hear the term jogger at all. It’s considered impolite. No matter how slow you go in the Modern Running Era, you’re a runner. No insult there.
Likewise, it goes with calling someone a Fred on the bike. That means they aren’t quite up to the cycling meme in how to dress or ride. Or else they try too hard.
For example, the first time I showed up for a group ride on my new carbon fiber Felt bike, my cycling friends did not initially tell me that the sunshade insert on the front of my helmet was not cool. Later on, they made clear that only mountain bikers really keep those on their lids. They also suggested (kindly) that I take the reflectors off my bike wheels. Frankly, my conversion from a Fred into a cyclist took well over a year. That’s how it works.
All this hearkens back to the days when as kids, we are forced to learn what is socially acceptable. People of a certain age recall with dread the social stigma of being caught wearing “flood pants.” If you grew out of a pair of jeans or your mom shrank them in the wash, your pants might be too short for your legs. And kids were merciless about mocking you for it.
And now, Flood Pants are actually a “thing.” So go figure. Society is cruel and stupid.
Same went for wearing white socks with street clothes. That was cause for terrifyingly mean commentary about your family’s origin, especially that of the hillbilly variety.
How some of these critical views come into being is the why sociologists have jobs. Why do people feel such a need to criticize and categorize? Because we’re cruel, heartless bastards and bitches, for one thing. Both evolution and religion admit that people are soulless beings unless they are somehow slapped into shape by either failure or confession.
The Catholic Church even produced a series of institutions collectively known as The Inquisition to draw confessions about heresy, witchcraft or whatever else they did not like. This was serious business, as evidenced by this excerpt from one of their dictums:
“It has recently come to our ears, not without great pain to us, that in some parts of upper Germany, […] Mainz, Koin, Trier, Salzburg, and Bremen, many persons of both sexes, heedless of their own salvation and forsaking the catholic faith, give themselves over to devils male and female, and by their incantations, charms, and conjurings, and by other abominable superstitions and sortileges, offences, crimes, and misdeeds, ruin and cause to perish the offspring of women, the foal of animals, the products of the earth, the grapes of vines, and the fruits of trees, as well as men and women, cattle and flocks and herds and animals of every kind, vineyards also and orchards, meadows, pastures, harvests, grains and other fruits of the earth; that they afflict and torture with dire pains and anguish, both internal and external, these men, women, cattle, flocks, herds, and animals, and hinder men from begetting…”
The illustration below is what happened to people who pissed off the Catholic Church. They’re pouring hot liquid down the throat of a woman accused of poisoning other people. Notice the guy standing in the background reading a list of the accused sins? He’s reading off a list of her sins. As if she’s listening right now. But like all religious zealotry, confessions are not really about saving the victim. They are about making the people doing the accusing feel superior.
Which is why the Catholic Church and every other religious zealot in history blathers on and so on. Zealots tend to talk quite a bit in run-on sentences. That way, if someone figures out they are full of crap along the way, they can always refer to the phrase before, and before that. That’s how all zealots run their enterprise. Keep talking and keep torturing those who oppose you. It’s a political strategy too.
The attempted founders of the New Inquisition in America are Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee. If these two ran on the same political ticket all hellfire would rain down on the earth, and dogs would bark in fear and warning that the apocalypse was about to begin.
End Times for Joggers and Freds
Which is actually what 50% of America seems to want these days. Tired of all the political mess created by fighting between Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians, much less the Green Party, people are practically begging for the End of Days to come.
In the meantime, they occupy themselves by forming angry packs and calling themselves True Christians, reading books by Tim LaHaye and listening to shows like Bible Times on Moody Radio.
Truth be told, much of this End Times theology has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus and everything to do with ending Social Security and Medicare because taking care of the sick and elderly is a really miserable thing to do. In this regard, the movement to end social programs bears much in similarity to The Inquisition, only without the whole burning people at the stake part. But give them time, they’re just getting warmed up. According to men like Ben Carson, legislation such as Obamacare and the theory of evolution are the work of the devil.
Those of us Joggers and Freds like think we’re innocent in all this as we roll along in our happy travels through weather thick and thin. Yet we live in a time period that some so-called Christian believers consider The Tribulation. As it happens, some people are all too happy to enfold themselves in expectation of The Rapture and laugh at those of us who wear too little clothing and spend too much time thinking about Garmin or Strava stats. Those numbers can’t save your soul!
Such occupations are considered narcissism, and it is contagious. So perhaps the accusers do have a point.
To whit (again) society does seem to be regressing toward a Ground Zero where the Anti-Christ is set to emerge as the leader of the sports world.
After all, consistent display of the human gluteus maximus is now almost commonplace. The region of the body known as the buttocks or ass, is now perfectly acceptable to show off in public. Truly, it was once was a cause for concern if your ass was showing. Now it’s a hobby to show it off, especially during events like the Tour de France. You can blame Borat for that.
This modern trend makes the issue of wearing flood pants or white socks rather amusing in retrospect. But that’s how human society works. It loves turning taboos intro traditions. What else can explain something the sport of triathlon, an event established by mashing three separate sports together like an endurance hash? Yet people seem to love it. But be smart about it. Take your time, especially in transition. No need to rush a multisport buffet. Who really cares what your End Time turns out to be? It will come soon enough.
This all makes me worry a lot less about my humble status in the pool. It’s taken more than a year to swim long enough to even call myself a swimmer. Up until then you’re a paddler and a heavy-breather.
But in deference to some social pressures, I do wear a decent length Speedo swimsuit. It is the color black, so that nothing underneath will show in outline. That, I agree, is never a good look. Women friends assure me they do not want to look at that. The rule holds true for bike shorts and running shorts as well. There are no shortcuts to impressing a woman. Even if you’re well-endowed.
There are also no shortcuts to becoming something other than a jogger or a Fred, either. Not on the run, nor the bike, nor in the pool. One wishes there were, like those children’s games, an opportunity to land on a square and instantly slide to a better position in life. But we all know that’s not how it works. Why we ever teach our children that is impossible to understand. The more realistic aspect of those games is when you suddenly get sent to Jail or ushered back to Square One with a debilitating shake of the dice. We all know that happens a lot more in life than you might think.
Burned at the stake
Well, at least we’re not going to get burned at the stake for being a jogger or a Fred. Not publicly, anyway. None of us can really control the things that people say behind our backs. Trust me, those are the cruelest inquisitions of all.
In the meantime, we keep plodding and rolling and paddling along. Content in our jogging and Fredding and sputtering, we make ourselves into something we did not used to be. That might be a triathlete. Or it might not. You’ll have to ask your friends about that.
But don’t expect a truly honest answer. Honesty is the ultimate tarsnake. It waits like a test of internal balance for every innocent to come rolling by.