The Annoying Ultra-Athlete Friend Everyone Has
We call him Captain America. He road bikes 50 miles before our mountain bike ride and still has to hand feed me like an abandoned baby squirrel when I bonk. I imbibe around the campfire to calm my seizing calves while he bounds off for another 10-mile trail run. His dog is a sociopath because he’s made to run every day when all he wants to do is chew sticks, lick his anus, and sleep on the couch. He ferries his kayak to the bay by bike, paddles for hours, then hauls the whole damned contraption back home. He breaks trail while towing his dad with a bungee cord as I lag two switchbacks behind. After a day of ski patrolling, he plays intramural soccer, runs to the bar to meet up with me, downs three glasses of water and a basket of peanuts, then runs back home. He wears Vibram FiveFingers and still has sex more regularly than me. He is the very definition of a bastard.
Her name is Sage. She slips into bed at 9pm, runs 10 miles at 5am, works a 10-hour ER shift, rides her bike to the climbing gym, and warms up on an overhung 5.10c, all while I’m rubbing the sleep boogers from my eyes and stretching my hammies. I stumble out of the tent with my hoodie pulled over my head and coffee in hand as she saunters back from bagging a peak I can barely make out in the distance looking as magnificent as the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Sleep and rest to her are as immaterial as Ibuprofen and icepacks. I scarf down a burger and fries while she masticates kale and tells me about her glorious four daily bowel movements. I have wished constipation upon her many times. All ultra-athlete friends are annoying in the same way; we regular athletes just refer to them by different names. My butchered paraphrasing of Tolstoy refers to the fact that we all know one of these people regardless of where we live or what activity we’re partaking in. They thrive in any environment. They’re like feral pigs.
We Regular Joe’s have all been there. We bike, ski, climb, run, and paddle at our regular pace smelling the flowers we’ve smelled a hundred times before and chatting about our
equally-regular significant others and unspectacular mortgages. Then all of a sudden our annoying ultra-athlete friend blows by at terminal velocity in search of the udumbara flower said to blossom only once every 3,000 years to present to their equally-ultra significant other. We have no choice but to jack our heart rate up to five million BPM
because we’d like to avoid “We heard so-and-so picked his girlfriend a once-every- 3,000-years blossom” to be the first thing we hear upon our return home. So 30 minutes
later everyone but our annoying ultra-athlete friend is doubled over clenching their seized calves and hallucinating pogo-sticking leprechauns crapping Skittles.
Or how about this scene: At 4am the next morning we hear our annoying ultra-athlete friend stomping around outside the tent vocalizing like a rutting elk restless to start the day. We rush into our gear and blast off only to crankily wince at our chaffing groins and bleeding nipples because we had to forego coffee, chamois cream, and nipple band-aids. Even if we weren’t rushed, the annoying ultra-athletes’ testicles and nipples are surely so spectacularly huge and tough that they probably ate our coffee, chamois cream, and nipple band-aids for breakfast anyways. Or, more likely, our annoying ultra-athlete friends dropped tire spikes directly into their shorts and glued sandpaper onto their nipples to increase the discomfort because that’s the only explanation for their masochism. Our annoying ultra-athlete friends’ behavior is idiotic and self-inflicted but for some reason they are praised while self-mutilators are labeled insane and institutionalized. I just don’t get it.
You know what the most annoying part is? Not only are Captain America and Sage way fitter than me, they’re also the nicest damned people in the world. I bet your annoying ultra-athlete friend is too. I’m a big jerk compared to them. A big, fat jerk. And that’s even after thinking much more highly of myself than I should. It would be so much easier to hate our ultra-athlete friends if they were egotistical bastards. But instead, the Captain happily breaks trail all day, shakes his head rather than rages when I hotbox his bedroom, and always points me to the nicest crappers.
Please allow me to explain that last point because this act of kindness is the most infuriating. When we kayak guided together in the San Juan Islands, on my first day and without my asking, the Captain pointed out the secret hidden crappers. Similarly, when we ski patrolled together, one of the first things the Captain did was show me the Stag Lodge crapper. This jewel sat on the side of a ski run far away from the masses crapping and pissing together like plebeians at the crowded lodges below. This tangential crapper rant may sound silly to you but it meant the world to me. Crapping is an important part of my day. It’s a time for silence and reflection. It is also where a man feels his most vulnerable. A man should not share his crapper so freely. If he did, everybody would swarm the thing and instead of a nice meditative throne available only to you, you would have a filthy cesspool. If that’s not saint-worthy, I don’t know what is. I can barely contain my rage as I sit here thinking about it.
My actions, I believe, run the gamut of how all us Regular Joe’s react to our annoying ultra-athlete friends’ annoyingness. Half of the time I sulk from self-loathing. Sometimes I ridicule their nauseating glee. But almost always I do what I do best, of which this rant is an example: I dole out backhanded compliments and muttered expressions of gratitude between convulsive gasps.