Friday, February 26, 2010

The Social Channel

My vocation and avocation - and the line blurs - is to draw pictures and write stories and swim and bike and run and draw pictures and write stories about swimming and cycling and running. The pay is OK, but I really do it for the benefits.

The benefits include fitness, a relaxed dress code and flexible hours, though not to the extent people think. (I can count on finishing a race but not necessarily winning anything; I'm barefoot right now but otherwise clothed; and you'll recall from Wednesday's Stinky Dog blog that some days those flexible hours begin at 3 a.m.)

But my favorite part of the job is who I meet. And I don't just meet more people; I meet people who are kind of like me. Only more so.

Today's Frazz is a great example. When I drew it, I specifically had Elaine in mind. I met Elaine when she interviewed me for the NEM News, the New England Masters Swimming regional newsletter (and again for Swimmer, Masters Swimming's national magazine). Clearly she was interviewing me as a cartoonist who writes about Masters Swimming, not for anything like swimming talent. That was no secret, but I still felt a little obligated to say something impressive about my swimming, so I pulled out the only thing I had: My 2007 Straits of Mackinac crossing. Had I put more effort into learning about Elaine than I put into telling Elaine about myself, I'd have spared myself the embarrassment of using a slow, 4-mile swim in fresh water to try and impress someone who had just swum the Catalina Channel (21 miles in 10:57:44), and the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (8:39:50) and was mere weeks from swimming across the English Channel in 13:55:00. At least I looked dumb in front of a person who didn't seem to see it that way, and we've been friends since.

Elaine, today's strip is for you.

But not, as it turns out, for you exclusively. Because since I drew that strip, I met Jenny when I spoke at her team's banquet. Now we're friends. And she's gearing up for a Channel swim herself.

Two great people. Two jaw-droppingly talented and ambitious athletes. Two more friends I'm thrilled to know and can't begin to keep up with, just like that. And they're but two of many. It's possible you still meet people like that if you spend your free hours at the Slug Harbor Saloon under the big neon Happy Hour sign. Who's to say? But I don't have time to find out. Not if I'm ever going to swim 500 yards at the exact same pace Elaine swam 28.5 miles around Manhattan.

Upcoming events

Friday Night with Frazz, March 5 at Century Cycles in Rocky River, Ohio, just west of Cleveland;
The Seattle Bicycle Expo, March 13-14;

In both cases, these guys know how to put on a great show, one that even I can't screw up. If you're nearby, they'll make you glad you stopped in. And if you stop in, come and talk with me a while. I'll be glad you did.


Jesse said...

Argh! Blasted timing. I get back to Seattle 2 weeks too late!

Enjoy the rain for me, and say Hi to our new mayor, he's a bike commuter!


Anonymous said...

just make sure there's no stinky dogs at the bike expo. ha!

see you there Jef. peter

Liz said...

Looking forward to seeing you in Seattle! Yay.

Jim Smith II said...

Looking forward to the Expo in Seattle, will definitely say hello!

Besides, gotta get my book signed...

Jef Mallett said...

Awesome! Seattle's looking better and better (other than Jesse's timing ... bummer). Can't wait!

Elaine said...

OMG, my Internet was down and I've been out sick from work for most of the past week, and hadn't seen this yet. Wow! I am so flattered and psyched about this strip and your post. By golly, you're making me blush something fierce! How cool! Really- this is one of the coolest things EVER. Thanks so much for the strip and the shout out. Wheeee! I'm off to email this to my mom now!