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author:  Margie Culbertson

Tied for first place in the November/December 2000
Humor Writing Contest Winner
Best "Short" Humor!

The Studmuffins


Brian Humphreys

From: "Brian Humphreys" ( WordsThe Studmuffins, by Brian Humphreys With the arrival of March came the spring, and with spring came the start of the 1999 Marion Center Track & Field season. The previous Senior Commencement had not been friendly to the team that year, gobbling up skilled athletes in every area of scholastic competition – the distance runners, the slackers (a.k.a. sprinters), the throwers, the jumpers, and the studmuffins (hurdlers). The distance runners absorbed the blow with the least damage, as over three quarters of the Cross Country team, undefeated for three seasons, had joined track. The throwers had their Triple Towers – Jarod McKinney, Sam Kirk, and Brent Race, whose combined weight approached twelve hundred pounds. Even if some inhuman monstrosity did manage to out–throw them, together they could rough up the officials, the opposing thrower, or, if necessary, both. The slackers had their secret weapon, Ben Cronan, whose sprinting style was so comical that the opposing slackers couldn't help but laugh so hard at it that they stumbled out of their lanes, thus becoming disqualified and assuring Ben of his victory (the other slackers avoided seeing Ben because of their heavily tinted contact lenses, provided to them by our coach). The distance runners and slackers both shared in the jumping events, with an impressive amount of success. Yes, the team was able to put forth a valiant effort in the fight against crappy athletes everywhere, in all areas except for one: the studmuffins. Not a single athlete wanted to be a studmuffin at the beginning of the season. Naturally, Coach Young didn't want to give free points to any school capable of producing an athlete who could go from point A, the start, to point B, the finish, without hitting point C, a hurdle, and slamming point D, his face, into point E, the ground. To counter this possibility, Coach recruited two of his toughest, most unforgiving athletes – Jimmy "The Rabid Wolverine" Cooper and Nathan "The Funny–Colored Stick" Elkin. After a few days of practice, they became hurdling machines, capable of flying over any insanely high obstacle that you could find without even breaking stride. Of course, one of the primary goals of every member of the track team is to make it to Districts. Once this goal has been achieved, an athlete can relax for the rest of the season, knowing that his free ride of missing a whole day of school for a total of three minutes of effort, including warm up, stretching, and cool down, is assured. This is why, as soon as the qualifying times for Districts were released, I hurried to compare my personal records to them to see how much work I had ahead of me. First I looked at my times. Then I looked at the Districts times. I blinked twice and looked at my times again. Once more I checked the qualifying times. I squeezed my eyes shut tight, counted to six, and looked again. They hadn't changed. Crap. It was then that I realized that a trip to Districts was not very likely for me that year (or, to put it more accurately, pretty darn near impossible). Looking for a possible solution, I put together three facts in my head: 1. Nathan Elkin runs hurdles. 2. Nathan Elkin wins a lot of races. 3. Nathan Elkin was really slow at the beginning of the season. Using these three facts, I was able to come up with a fourth: 4. I could probably beat Nathan in hurdles. However, I failed to realize one extremely important fact: 5. Nathan Elkin has motor skills. My first day of hurdling practice was probably the biggest embarrassment to the school in Marion Center sports history. I could barely hear the words of advice from Jimmy and Nathan over Coach's shouts of "Don't break the hurdles! Don't break the hurdles!" (The fact that their advice was coming between bouts of choked laughter didn't help matters any.) I was so terrible that some of the slackers even let their eyes stray from Ben to see what the crazy studmuffin was doing. If it weren't for my incredible stoicism (actually, blind stubbornness), I would have quit and gone back to distance running after that first day. Luckily for me, though, there was one benefit to running hurdles that I found very quickly (and it wasn't the female hurdlers. They were all going after Nathan). As long as you told Coach that you were working on your form, you didn't have to do any actual running! If the coach gave you a workout card that said to do eight repeats of jumping over three hurdles (among other things, some of which involved running), by working on our form we could stretch it out to twenty, thirty, or even forty repeats, and then we would say "Whoops! It's a quarter ‘till! Got to catch the activity bus!" This way, we would never make it to the four repeats of 200–meter sprints at the bottom of the card. It's a good thing that we worked on our form so much, because mine was terrible. I could go over the first five of the eight hurdles in the 300 meter race, but then I would get tired and have trouble making it over the last few, and a couple of times I actually had to hop over the last hurdle with both feet. The worst meet of all was the second that I ran hurdles in. I don't remember the name of the school that the meet was held at (a friend insists that it was Saltsburg, but my psychiatrist tells me that it's best that I try to forget), but I remember the track clearly – it was a studmuffin's nightmare, a tiny four–laner with sharp curves and thin lanes. To top it off, it was made of cinders, little rocks that not only gave you terrible traction, but could also get lodged under your skin if you fell down and give you little bumps on your knees that look like maggot colonies. Before my race I was careful to choose the lane that didn't have a low–hanging oak snag in it, as well as making any other meager preparations that I could. During the race I was actually ahead of the other person in my heat (I think that he hit his head on the hanging limb) until before the last two hurdles, when we came neck–to–neck. We both picked it up a notch, trying to edge out the other person. Together we leapt over the next hurdle. Due to my taller height, I managed to land a couple of inches ahead of him, all that it takes to win in such a close race. Amid the cheers of my teammates, I pushed out every last bit of a surge that I had in me. This race was mine! I flew to the last hurdle, lunged over the top of it, felt my ankle catch on the bar… and was slammed mercilessly into point E. Needless to say, I didn't make it to Districts that year.

©Brian Humphreys

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