Monday, January 12, 2009

Gibson's Pants

I grew up in Kirkwood, MO, a St. Louis suburb not unlike Omaha's Dundee. I went to a Catholic grade school. We had ordinary teachers, priests and nuns. We wore uniforms of navy blue corduroy pants and light blue collared shirts. Playground moms volunteered as recess supervisors and then returned for carpools in the afternoon with the catholic cruiser: a Pontiac/Buick/Oldsmobile station wagon. Looking back at those days is like reading the book of Genesis before Adam took the apple from Eve. It was a highly protected, orderly and a loving atmosphere where no child was left behind.

All of that goodness came to an end one day. I had just finished my lunch --PB&J, apple slices and a thermos of milk from my Kung Fu lunch box -- and had run along to join my second grade classmates for recess kickball. Though it was a warm spring day, the air had a foul odor to it. In the rock garden not far from the chapel, I summoned up the courage to ask a big fourth-grader, Steve Doyle, why it smelled so bad outside. His reply was abject and cold: "Gibson shit his pants."

Paradise lost. Doyle was the first kid that I heard cuss openly on those hallowed grounds. Suddenly, an awareness of my innocence was gone. It was as if we were all like crapped-his-pants-Gibson, having filth all over us. Poor us. Poor Gibson.

Although he later went on to do doctorate work in Biology, primary school was a hellacious proving ground for Gibson. I'm pretty sure every school has one like him. He's the kid whose pen was perpetually exploding in his mouth, who threw up all over his desk (and collaterally into the girl's hair seated in front of him), or as mentioned, who crapped his pants at recess. Of course, he was ridiculed by me and the rest of his classmates. Yet with vomit strands dangling squarish potato cubes from his chin, or smelling like a hamper full of dirty diapers, Gibson carried on courageously with his dignity in tact.

Anyway, I thought of Gibson yesterday during my ten mile run.

Although I took precaution by eating wisely and and visiting the toilet beforehand, I soon discovered that my GI tract had other plans.

Initially, I thought it was just gas. What usually works in this situation is to slow down and -- if you're a gentleman -- check over your shoulder/drop to the back of the pack in a group before let one squeak out. Anyhow, I tried this and it was nearly disastrous. Like Gibson. Whew! I still had eight miles to go!

While avoiding dumping in my pants, I was still feeling acutely awful. Fortunately, the port-a-potty in Elmwood saved the day. It was a godsend: no line, clean and plenty of T.P. What at a relief.

Gibson was like the Biblical goat driven out of town to carry away all of the wickedness of the group. If you're reading this, Gibson, I am sorry for those days. Even more, I will say this: as a second grader, you possessed more courage and grace than I'll ever have.


  1. What a grandeliquoent way of letting all of us into your GI Tract. I'm amazed, enlightened and disgusted.

    His older Sister Michelle was in my class. She too was semi-askward ut turned out nice. They had a sister maybe Matt's age that stole the beauty and grace genes from her older and younger siblings if I remember correctly.

  2. I think many of us can relate to the Gibson story. Some of us may even have been a Gibson.

    However, from one runner to another, a port-a-potty in the middle of a long run when you have "something knocking at the back door" is a joyous sight.

  3. Wow. You're really running with this "humility" thing.

  4. Ladies and Gentlemen, that was a spontaneous apology to Gibson.

    At -3F, swimming practice wasn't fun this morning.

  5. You've biked to work. You've run to work. Do you think you could round it out and devise a way to swim to work?

    When you get home, check out these videos:

    Dump before you jump

    and for a laugh

    Dump before you jump with translations

    This heeded advice goes through my mind each morning while getting ready to head out. Being vegetarian makes it easy. It can be done almost on command. :)

  6. Excuse me while I scrub my eyes out with sandpaper.


  7. I've thought about swimming to work. It would entail riding the bike to the Anchor Inn and then swimming the mighty MO downstream to the Lewis and Clark landing. Going home would include running back to the bike to complete the tri-fecta.

    Problems: wetsuit and barefoot in UPC won't fly. Also, there are things far worse than Gibson's pants in that river.

    Nah, I'll stick to running and biking to work.

    Thanks for the video clips.

  8. Where do you swim at? I am supposed to do the 1/2 ironman ks. or Alcatraz again and am wondering if you swim at UNO or ST Mary's? I need some coaching to maximize time/effort.
    Every class has a Gibson or 2 I appologize for 40-50 swirley's I gave long ago and made peace with it.

  9. Hi Johnny: I swim with the St Mary's Masters Swim team. I'm amazed that there are 25 - 30 swimmers of all ages on any given day at 6 AM. It's very well organized by Todd Samland, who is the current Mav's women's swimming coach.

    Someday I'll blog about how I was finally able to overtake the leader in my lane. It wasn't that I got any faster, but more to do with the fact that she was pregnant, no very pregnant (as in 3rd trimester) when "steel-cut" took over the leadership.

    good times.

  10. Disturbing, that's all I have to say.