Thanksgiving Turkey Trot
click and hear the voice behind the words
Both home from college,
in Union Township NJ for Thanksgiving
they had a custom of running together,
the Thanksgiving Day 5K Turkey Trot in Flemington,
4,000 runners from 30 States.
For him it was just an opportunity
to be with his girl,
for her, a serious affair.
This would be their third year.
The first two years she had insisted
on not spending the night before at his place
– they were athletes in training –
So last year, around 6:30 the evening before
after they said goodbye
he went out drinking with the guys
and came home 5 o’clock in the morning
though she was supposed to pick him up
at 7:30 am.
When she arrived he was still snoring away.
She paced the living room floor
while he tried to clean up
throw on some cloths
and a dirty pair of sneakers.
They rushed down Highway 31
and between the crowds near Flemington
she would later complain:
“We were so late
we had to run to the starting line
and just keep running from there.”
So this year, she told him
he could make his own way there.
She would drive with her girlfriend.
Wanting to redeem himself
he had trained for months
shopped at Efinger’s Sporting Goods
in Bound Brook
bought himself a completely new outfit,
and the best of running shoes.
He was ready in Flemington
an hour before she usually planned
for them to arrive,
sat in The Great Lodge Coffee Shop,
relaxed with an energy drink
taking in the scene on Main Street
through the large plate glass windows.
Then he actually warmed up,
did some stretching exercises
in which he never believed.
When he spied her at the scorer’s table
getting her entry number
he walked up,
his number already snuggly affixed to his cotton shirt,
wondering whether she
would notice the new doo, which she did.
She speculated whether he had done this just for her,
so curious her first words were:
“Have you been here long?”
although she dreaded the answer
since she noticed that he had
worked up a slight sweat.
As was their custom,
he stood next to her at the starting line
surrounded by runners dressed up as turkeys,
ax men, Pilgrims, and a few Indians
although being an Indian
was no longer politically correct.
The starting gun burst.
Then in the brisk Thanksgiving day air,
as was his practice –
he paced himself a few steps behind her.
In front of the County Courthouse
he usually fell back –
last year had actually dropped
right out of the race.
They approached the front portico
filled with cheering on lookers
and a few dignitaries.
She glanced back.
He was still just a few paces behind.
She turned it up just a little
only to find that he came up abreast of her.
Stride for stride they met each other’s pace
except that he with longer legs
moved out at one point
as much as 15 yards.
He could have stayed there, but eased up,
let her in the last 3/4ths of a mile
cross the finish line with him
and for a moment in exhaustion
fell into each other’s arms.
When they married the June following graduation
they each wore their running shoes from that day –
he with his tuxedo
and her below her wedding gown.