Thursday, May 10, 2012

E=MCHammer and His Friends

My father, the age-defying marathoner, is a member of the Langley Runner's Club, and on Tuesday evening he invited me to run in their 5K. The last 5K I ran was in the Run for Romania race that Aislynn organized to raise money for the orphans she helps in Romania. I forgot gloves (it was freezing!) and I was running on about 3 hours of sleep. All excuses aside, I managed a miserable 27 minutes (or something around there). But the Langley 5K was my best yet—23:30! It sure was humid (and about 85 degrees), but at least I was able to breathe! Another beautiful thing about Virginia: when you walk outside, the air is so thick and full that you feel like you're drinking oxygen. 

After the race, Dad wanted to run another 5K just for fun (yes, you read that correctly), so I sat with some of the other runners and watched two of the teams in the Langley Softball League battle it out. The runners I was sitting with—two pleasant, slightly inebriated laser engineers—kept up a running commentary which definitely enhanced the experience. They started giving players nicknames, including Thumbelina and Old Man. My personal favorite was their nickname for the old, stoic, slightly oblivious umpire: E=MCHammer. Yes. I was surrounded by nerds. And that was what made this game so funny! One team was obviously better than the other—four innings in, the score was 11 to 1. According to the heckling scientists I sat with, this team had won the Langley Softball Championship every year since 2003, and everyone was desperate to take them down (sounds like the set up for a Will Ferrell movie, or maybe Jack Black or Owen Wilson). 

The losing team seemed to be filled with all your normal misfits: Awkwardly Tall Fellow, Mother Of Six, Man Wearing Safety Glasses, Man With The Squeaky Voice, Silent One, Guy Sitting In Left Field Picking Daisies While Doing Complex Multilinear Algebra In His Head, and so on. One of my favorites was I Know I Can't Trash-Talk But That Won't Stop Me From Trying. The pitcher on the winning team made some snide remark like, "Hey Paul, watch out, this pitch is going to be tricky!" And Paul tried to say something to the effect of, "Famous last words!" However, it came out more like, "Those will be your last famous words before something bad happens to you or something..." I winced as he stuttered to a halt and then proceeded to hit the ball right into the glove of the third-baseman. But something about this losing team was so wonderfully endearing, and by the end of the game, I became their most dedicated fan. (Granted, that's not saying much...) 

I was slightly in awe of the winning team at first, but then something occurred to me.  Really, despite all their celebration and butt-slaps and cheers and "Yeah, man, you rock!" and "Let's grab some beers and then go hit things with our bats!" let's face it. This is the Langley Softball League. You work for NASA. So even if you win, you're still a nerd. 

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