Mo is looking at a painting on her easel she has just finished. It’s a small still life of a can of Pearl beer. I have no idea what caused her to choose that particular subject. I can’t recall the Masters painting beer cans. But I mostly slept through Art History in college, so who knows. Mr. Pants, probably.

“What do you think?” she asks.

My mind drifts back. It’s 1981, give or take a few hundred yards. We didn’t have garmins back then.  I’m in Menard, a  little town in West Texas. If you’re a facebook peep, the pecan photo at the top of my page is from Menard.

The occasion: The Menardville Run.

I have no idea what the point of it was. I was  in my mid-20s and just beginning to peek behind the curtain to see what running was about. I had done a lot of 5ks and 10s over the past couple of years, but this was my first long race.

It was 18 miles. I wish I knew why they chose that distance. I guess back in those days distance was more arbitrary. Or maybe one of the guys just wanted to run an 18-miler with company. And why “Menardville” when the name of the town is Menard? Runners are weird.

It was just a simple 9 miles out and 9 miles back on a country road. There was probably a guy handing out water somewhere along the way, but that was before people realized you need electrolytes and GU and salt tablets and gummy bears. We just ran.

I lost contact with the group somewhere around the starting line. I finished a solid 10th in a field of 10. I couldn’t have been happier. That was the day I first thought anything was possible. All you needed were a pair of running shoes and a dream.

Afterward the other guys, who were all really old (maybe mid-30s) were standing around a cooler full of beer. They gave me one. It’s the best post-run prize I will ever receive.

The beer? Pearl Light.

Why Pearl Light, I asked them.

“Closest thing you can get to water,” one of them said.

It was my first encounter with the science of beer as a recovery drink. It was not the last.

I think it’s the only Pearl Light I ever drank. But that was the day I became a True Believer in the joy of running. The simple happiness that comes with racing. All these years later, I still believe. Hallejulah.

Now I’m sitting in my living room, looking at a painting of the can that changed my life.

“What do you think?” she asks.

I love it, I tell her.

I’m heading out to run now. I hope someone gives me a beer …


About gary

no sock monkeys were harmed in the making of this blog.
This entry was posted in running and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to pearl

  1. Jessica says:

    I like this

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