Last Saturday before run club for E2 Multisport, we gathered in the lobby of USA Gym to chitchat and take stock of who came to run. We were pleased to see a friend named Mike Behr show up. He’s a stellar distance runner and erstwhile multisport athlete. Recent champion of races such as the Naperville Half Marathon and former Iowa State University runner.
So Mike and I started out running at 9:00 pace, but dropped it to 8:15 the next mile. And stayed there the rest of the way. This was Easy Street for Mike, who just last week did a tempo run at 5:38 pace. He’s rounding into fitness for a 10-mile race on the Chicago lakefront in March.
We ran on paths make slick by a combination of freezing rain and a skiff of snow frozen into place. I kept rolling at 8:15 pace, a bit on the edge of my conversation pace, so Mike led the conversation most of the way. This included an observation that it was good practice running on an icy path. “It forces you to keep your body weight over your foot,” he observed.
Keeping his balance
Such is the intellect of an engineer. That’s what I recall Mike does for a living. He alternated semesters running at ISU and diving deep into his engineering studies. “You couldn’t do both,” he related last year when we first talked after the Sno Fun Run in Lake Geneva. “They were both too intense to do together.”
Yes, studying at the upper ranks of college engineering and running at the Division 1 level in track and cross country are not always compatible. To his credit, Mike knew how to balance the needs of being a high achiever.
That makes me think of the main character in the Matt Damon movie Good Will Hunting. He played a kid gifted with an unbridled math genius brain. Yet a rough upbringing kept him from getting in sync with the world. Unrelenting abuse by an angry or alcoholic father can do that to a young man.
So the Damon character (named Will) rambled about as an underachiever working a job as a janitor at a university. He spent most nights slumming it with friends at Boston bars and driving around in beater cars.
But one day Will could not resist solving a complex math equation on a blackboard. Watch this clip and get chills down your spine.
That set in motion a chain of events that led to his meeting with a psychiatrist played by Robin Williams. Their lives merged because the Williams character was also considered an underachiever by his brilliant university friend who coveted the boy genius Will as a potential feather in his own cap.
All this achieving and underachieving is the hallmark of so much in life. Which brings me to another movie about another Boston underachiever played by Mark Wahlberg in the movie Ted and Ted2. He bears resemblance to the Good Will Hunting character played by Matt Damon.
My fiancee’s son Chris turned the movie on and left after a while, leaving Sue and I to absorb it’s schticky humor in couch-lounging style. She turned her head after a few minutes and said, “This exceeds my Stupid Threshold.”
I burst out laughing. That is exactly why I love the woman. She’s not big on drama nor is she likely to entertain stupidity. Perhaps that’s why we both are disgusted by the likes of Donald Trump, but that’s a topic I’ve covered aplenty.
Ted 2 Triumphs
Watching Ted 2 was light entertainment. What’s not funny about a stuffed teddy bear who swears like a sailor? The F bomb still rules.
Meanwhile, the Wahlberg character is a dope-smoking semi-fool with a soft spot for Ted. But not too soft. In one scene, they can be seen in the background fighting over the last bottle of Bud Light in the refrigerator. They whack each other and wrestle and play tricks like cartoon characters until Ted shakes the beer bottle and gives it back to Wahlberg. The beer explodes in his face. Not highbrow humor, but still funny.
So I was laughing and Sue was rolling her eyes in disgust at these antics, and with good reason. In one scene the Wahlberg character pulls a rack of sperm samples over in a fertility clinic and gets soaked by exploding vials of jizz. Now that’s lowbrow High Art if there ever was such a thing.
Then they pair up with an elegant looking Amanda Seyfried who plays a lawyer representing Ted in his trial to gain status for personhood. The courtroom scenes actually offer some legitimate commentary about equality and tolerance. This dialogue is on the same level with the sentiment and insight of movies such as Miracle on 34th Street. So you can rip on immature movies all you want, they still often contain valuable social insights.
Which made the scene in which Ted and his human friends gather on the roof to throw fruit down at runners even funnier. The “jogger,” as they call him, stands there and yells up at the trio throwing apples down from three stories up. The apples strike the runner who tries to dodge them until a cyclist comes along and gets hit so hard by an apple the bike piles right into the runner. They both lay wounded on the ground as Ted yells out, “Serves you right for exercising!”
And I have to say, that’s a pretty funny scene. The movie is lowbrow, yet let’s admit it: there are plenty of people in America who think and feel exactly like that.
Runners and cyclists and swimmers can be a pretty pretentious bunch. Our preening Facebook pages and running selfies are fucking obnoxious. So are the photos of our bikes. Carbon Fiber Porn. So we deserve a little humorous scorn for these memes and antics. None other than Hunter S. Thompson and his artist Ralph Steadman agreed. Here’s an illustration from the book, The Curse of Lono.
Head to bed
But that was the point in the movie at which both Sue and I decided it was time to head up for bed. As we walked through the front room, I was still laughing out loud about her branding the movie beyond her Stupid Threshold. “What’s so funny?” her daughter Stephanie inquired from her gaming perch on the couch.
“Your mom thinks the movie Ted 2 is a stupid move,” I chuckled.
“It is a stupid movie,” Stephanie agreed. But she smiled.
And that made me laugh even more.
The next morning, I decided to finish my poll of the women in the household by asking Sue’s daughter Sarah what she thinks of Ted 2. “It is stupid,” she admitted. “But it’s still funny.”
And that puts a capper on these observations about the value of overachieving, underachieving and hanging out with Behrs and Bears.