The optimist

Yesterday when I was in an exercise store, I saw a boxer buying dumb-bells. I have seen him before; he used to take drugs. I wanted to buy a 30-pound dumb-bell and he was buying only a 25-pound one. He looked at me and said, “Thirty, you? You try 20 pounds!” Then he said, “No, 10 pounds is enough for you.”

Now what was I going to do? All the time, Vinaya remained silent. He did not tell the boxer what I could really lift. Afterwards, Vinaya lifted up 45 pounds, and then he told the man about me.

When the boxer heard my name, he was so excited. Then he came over to me and said the funniest thing: “My wife thinks I am crazy. I want to break the world record in the marathon.”

I said to him, “How many times have you run a marathon?”

He replied, “Not even once.”

“Then what do you do?” I asked him.

“I swim,” he replied.

Then I asked him when he planned to run his first marathon, and his answer was, “I will run two marathons before the New York Marathon, and then I will break the world record.”

I told him that Carlos Lopes, who holds the world record, is about 38 years old, but he corrected me: “Oh no, Lopes is about 40 now. If Lopes can do it, then I can also do it.”

“That is good,” I said.

So Vinaya told him all about our marathon in case he wanted to come and run with us. He said definitely he would run our marathon and also the New York City Marathon. Now look at this! Is it possible for him? He has taken drugs for many, many years. Now he wants to break the world record in the New York Marathon, and he has not yet started running!

— 4 February 1986