The Observer's birthday loot 

While the big-time pundits are going on about the loss of civility in America, The Observer has noticed a rise in what might be called commercial civility. (This habit of noticing the wrong things may be what has kept The Observer out of big-time punditry.) In recent weeks, The Observer has received birthday cards from both his dentist and his auto insurance agent, the first time he's gotten birthday wishes from either of these sources. Maybe it's the economy.

Then The Observer underwent a medical procedure at a Little Rock hospital, and a few days later he received a handwritten thank-you note. "Thanks for choosing the cath lab at ______," it said. "Your cath team," followed by the names of the three cath-team members.

This too was the first time The Observer had received such a communication, and the recent procedure was not The Observer's first cath-lab rodeo.

He didn't get anything from the doctor who procedured him, though. The economy's not that bad.

Speaking of civility, one of The Observer's many deputies called in last week with a report from the halls of the Capitol building. There was an unpleasantness sparked by a bill that would require smaller towns to fluoridate water supplies.

It seems a House member supportive of the legislation found himself engaged in debate with an anti-fluoridation female by the elevator on the first floor. Finally, he'd had enough of her logic.

"You are a stupid motherf***er," the lawmaker told the woman.

A man standing next to the woman jumped quickly to her defense, saying, "Did you just call my wife a stupid motherf***er?"

Sayeth the legislator: "If you're with her, you're a stupid motherf***er, too."

As the story goes, a police officer happened to be standing nearby and separated the antagonists before physical mayhem occurred.

What the heck is in the water at the state Capitol?

Sunday morning found The Observer right in the middle of roughly 5,000 others who gathered to run the Little Rock Marathon and half marathon. For the second year, we were in the latter category.

There were a few things that set this race apart from last year's. For one, it was downright chilly. The temperature, somewhere in the mid-30s, left us with purple hands by the end of the race. Last year's weather was much better — sunny, maybe even hot.

For another, this year we ran the race as a member of the opposite sex. No, The Observer did not have a recent operation. However, we did wait until it was too late to sign up for the event. Instead of just joining in the run without paying, we found someone who was signed up, yet unable to attend, and bought her registration.

That we were buying a woman's registration made absolutely no difference to The Observer. We just wanted to be counted among the ranks of those that braved the cold, all in the name of fitness, competition and possibly stupidity. Who cares if the name listed in the final results was our own or that of Jane Doe?

Some things were exactly like they were last year, though. There were the throngs of cheering crowds (who will shout for you even though they really showed up to see their boyfriend, wife, daughter, son, mother or whoever), the friendly volunteers who hand out cups of Gatorade and water to parched runners, and the camaraderie of those legging it out, just trying to make it across that finish line.

When it was all said and done, we were curious to see how we stacked up against all the other women in the race. Turns out we didn't do that great (not bad, just not great). We came in closer to the bottom of the pack than the top — around 1,040 or so out of 1,723.

Males are taught since birth that, whatever happens, you can't let the girls win. If that's a true measure of manhood then The Observer is in trouble, because we let a lot of girls win on Sunday.


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