I have lots of t-shirts with phrases and sayings on them.
I used to have one that said “Super Stud
ent.” That one was awesome. It made my campus pastor laugh when I went up for communion.
Sometimes the truth is really funny.
And I have one from my college days that says, “Don’t You Wish You Were Me?” It glows in the dark. I bought it 20lbs and 20,000 hair follicles ago, but I still wear it to work out at the gym.
It used to be funny. Now it’s ironic.
They don’t make many of those t-shirts anymore. Sigh…I pine for the days when a t-shirt said something about a person.
Anyway, I was wearing this last shirt to the gym tonight, and in my right hand I had yesterday’s (Wednesday’s) Redeye paper, the free paper here in Chicago with all the news that’s fit to be printed in a free paper.
I like the Redeye…but I like it mostly for its Sudoku.
I’m not a Sudoko wiz. In fact, I’d call my Sudoku skills as “above average,” with my number skills falling somewhere between an 8th grade mathelete and Stephen Hawkings. But I can usually tackle the Wednesday Sudoku with little problem. It’s a “medium” in difficulty.
And so I came up with the brilliant idea to do the Sudoku while jogging on the treadmill. I did this for two reasons. A) my biggest stumbling block when it comes to running/jogging is boredom. God, it’s boring. Ugh. Boring, boring, boring. Runner’s high? Nope. Jogger’s boredom. B) Because running is boring, I need a goal to get me through. Past goals include, “Run until Cops is over.” Another goal, “Get through half the Scissor Sisters album, and then you can stop.”
Tonight’s goal: do the medium Sudoku from Wednesday’s Redeye.
I started up the ‘mill. 5.5. Easy, easy jog.
It wasn’t until about 30 seconds in that I figured out this was the dumbest idea ever. First of all, it was really hard to read the blocks. I don’t run with my glasses on (sweat streaks), and I don’t wear contacts (can’t touch my eyeballs), so I had to squint really hard to see the blocks.
Secondly, have you ever tried to write numbers in blocks while jogging? Not easy, my friend. Not easy.
So I lowered that level down to a “brisk walk,” where I could hold the Sudoku up to my face and work on it.
That’s when I started hearing the high-pitched squeaking noise coming from my treadmill. I thought to myself, “Awesome. I chose the squeaky treadmill that everyone else avoided and hates, and I’m going to annoy the hell out of all of these people…”
And then I realized that the treadmill only squeaked if you neared an edge. And then context clues led me to conclude that the treadmill is designed to do this to tell the user, “Hey, get your eyes off of the Sudoku, you’re about to fall off!”
Apparently I was walking much slower than the speed given.
So I adjusted and started filling in the blanks, and I was doing a pretty good job (except my 7’s began looking like 4’s, causing some momentary confusion).
And then the sweat started. It started dripping on my paper. And the ink started to run. And here I was, 32 minutes into my jog/brisk walk Sudoku challenge with about half the boxes filled in, and my hard work began to suffer terribly because my body started flinging juice everywhere.
So I started filling in boxes; guessing at answers. And before I knew it, two fours appeared in the same line and, blamo, challenge met.
Subconsciously I self-sabotaged my Sudoku challenge to stop the embarrassment; I know this to be true. Between the squeaking, squinting, odd gait, feverish sweating, and intermittent vocalizations of “Ahhh” and “No…” that just come from me when doing math problems, my true self had had enough, ramped up the sweat, and called the question.
As I was wiping down the machine, my failed Sudoku in hand, another jogger passed by, looked at my shirt, and just said, “Nope.”
It took me a minute, as he stared at my face, and then at my chest, and back at my face. “Nope.”
He walked away.
Inside I said quietly, “Me neither, buddy, me neither.”
And then I balled up the Sudoku and tossed it to the trashcan.
And I missed.