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I like to pretend I don’t have commitment issues. But, twice a year, that little “submit” button on the race registration screen reminds me that I am living in a state of denial.
I am currently in the midst of heavy training for my fall marathon. High mileage. Weekly long runs. Track workouts. A compromised social life. I am fully committed to training, and I experience the ramifications of that commitment on a daily basis. Sacrifices are made. Electrolytes are consumed. Horrific tan lines are had. But for some reason, I just can’t bring myself to sign up for said fall marathon. It’s just so… final.
I guess you could say my commitment issues are selective. There are some things to which I have no problem committing. Training for instance. I just dive in headfirst. No second thoughts. And then, of course, there is… hmm… huh…
Let me get back to you on that.
It was a haircut that reminded me I have yet to sign up for my marathon. I recently made my annual pilgrimage to the salon for a trim. While I was being chided by my hairstylist (who also happens to be my little sister) for my follicular negligence, we happened upon the grand idea of really cutting my hair and going for a sleek bob. My stylist (sister) and I experimented with the whole bob look. We held up and pinned back and fashioned my hair into a mock, crisp, short new ‘do. It actually didn’t look too horrible, and for several risky minutes, we came dangerously close to chopping off the necessary fourteen inches of hair to get the bob look.
Then, of course, the commitment issues reared their ugly, Monday-morning-quarterback heads.
“It looks good,” I said to my stylist (sister) as I sucked in my cheeks and made the weird faces that people make when they’re experimenting with new hairdos, “but you know what’s gonna happen, don’t you?”
“I’m going to make the first big cut, and you’re gonna change your mind?” (She knows me well. She is my sister, after all.)
Needless to say, we settled for a half-inch trim.
The bob episode spearheaded further conversation about actions without retraction. Here’s the deal: The very phrase “point of no return” implies that there are previous points of return. Gyms offer trial periods. Magazine subscriptions give you three free months. Airplanes have until half the fuel tank is expended. Actions that have a “point of no return” by necessity have, at some time or another, the option of turning back. Hence the phrase a “no risk trial.”
But there are some activities that, by their very nature, are themselves points of no return. Once you start, there is no turning back. Chopping off your hair is one of those activities. Streaking is another.
Aside from the fact that streaking in and of itself is generally frowned upon for many reasons (most of them having to do with a prevailing standard of morality) and is punishable by jail time, I can think of few things worse than being an indecisive streaker. I mean, really.
For the sake of argument, let’s say we all have an indecisive friend named… oh… Ferne Clyffe. Now, picture Ferne Cylffe at Fenway Park (hey, if you’re gonna go, go all-out). He’s having a grand time with his buddies when it occurs to him that streaking across the field just might be the most fantastic idea ever. He tosses his beer in the air and yells, “Yeah! C’mon! Let’s do it!” Exceedingly pleased with himself and his brilliant tenacity, he jumps over the wall in a delighted frenzy. He gets about halfway across the field when suddenly… he changes his mind. Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea, he thinks. This inopportune ambivalence most likely occurs the moment he spots the army of taser-toting security guards just ahead of him. Yet, there he is, Ferne Clyffe– poor, indecisive Ferne Clyffe– buck-naked in centerfield, flanked by the Green Monster and inevitable incarceration, and he suddenly realizes that this was indeed a very, very bad idea.
Sorry, dude. Ain’t no turning back.
Yes, for a streaker, the starting line and the point of no return are one and the same. This is why I have such a hard time registering for marathons. I can fill out every blank on the form—even through the little three-digit security code on the back of my credit card—but I just can’t make myself hit the “submit” button. For every marathon for which I’ve actually registered, I’ve “almost registered” fifteen or twenty times.
It’s those darn finality phrases. You know, the “non-refundable,” “non-transferable,” “no-matter-what-you-do-you’ll-never-ever-ever-be-able-to-undo-this-action” rigmarole. It freaks me out.
I used to work retail. Every day, when I went to clock out, there would flash across the computer screen the incriminating, condescending, doubt-inducing inquiry, “Do you really want to clock out?” (Note: The italics are mine. But I felt like the computer italicized the word.) And every day, I’d second guess myself.
“Why? Don’t you think I should? Is something bad going to happen? Why are you asking me?” (These questions were directed at the computer.)
It’s a good thing race registration forms don’t question my assuredness. If a little window ever popped up on the screen asking, “Do you really want to sign up for this marathon?” I’d have zero marathons under my belt. I couldn’t take the pressure.
But, alas, I’m sure I’ll sign up for my marathon soon enough. You’ve got to take a risk sometimes, right? At any rate, the bob haircut would be too hard to pull back into a ponytail. And I don’t live anywhere near Fenway.
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