Please note, Billy Crudup isn’t actually in this story. He appears only as a post-pop cultural manifestation playing the part of my inner critic.
That being said, I exercised today. Sigh. Finally.
Exercise has largely remained illusory to me during my adult career. I am unsure as to why, but I suspect it has something to do with the story I tell myself. Or rather it’s that sinister voice inside my head that sounds like Billy Crudup in Big Fish and loves to use my new favorite four-letter word:
That voice—we’ll aptly call him Billy—comes on gently like an airplane floating blissfully over the horizon.
“How ya doing, buddy?” Billy will ask, smiling that slightly condescending yet encouraging smile of his, as if we both share a secret no one else knows. “Hey listen,” he’ll begin, “I have an idea.”
Ugh that smile, I can never resist. “Tell me,” lathered in a faux enthusiasm perfected from over ten years in corporate America’s luxurious bosom.
“Well,” a Pinter pause, “We’ve been wanting to get in shape for some time now.”
“Yeah?” I say, curiously blending my Bulletproof Grass-fed Ghee coffee in my Magic Bullet Blender.
“And so, you know, I’ve been thinking maybe today is the day.”
That smile again. That grin. Thin lips pressed tightly into the corners of his mouth, eyes as honest as Abe Lincoln, “Today.”
“Let’s do it.”
And cue in Alan Silvestri’s heroic theme music to Forrest Gump as I get ready for the run of a lifetime. “This is it,” Billy continues over the crescendoing orchestra, “This is the day we’ve been waiting for. This is the moment where it’s all going to change. Last year—and all the years prior, I guess—was just leading up to this… very… moment.
“It’s time to get,” here it comes…
So off I go dressed in an old pair of running shoes, an unflattering pair of lightweight shorts and a tank top, hurling myself westward down Willoughby Avenue, ready to run all the way to the ocean if need be. For I am motivated. Today is the day I’m going to change my physical fitness status from average to athletic. I’ll alter my metabolism down at the genetic level, maybe even start training for a marathon. All is right with the world and I have Billy Crudup and his smile running right here next to me.
But, as is always the case, Billy gets greedy.
“Hey,” he nudges me halfway into mile one.
“What?” I say, pulling my earbud out and putting my motivational Tim Ferris podcast on pause.
“How about we double it?”
“Double it?” dodging a mine field of sidewalk tents.
“Instead of two miles, let’s do four,” he’s showing teeth now. He means business.
“Four miles?” I ask, slightly concerned.
“You’re right. Fuck it. Let’s do ten.”
“All right Billy. Let’s do ten.”
It’s around mile three that Billy and his goddamn motivation go from an airplane hovering gently over the horizon to a giant jumbo continental airliner screaming at dangerous decibel levels soaring right above me and I realize I’ve gotten in way over my head.
Shit. This always happens. Billy Crudup and his big ideas.
At mile four point one my knee starts to feel as if the cartilage has melted away entirely and the bones are painfully rubbing against each other like sandpaper on my nerve endings and I stop to take a breath and tell Billy to go on, I’ll catch up. Without a second thought I call a Lyft and hightail it back home.
And so tomorrow when he shows up wiping the shaving cream off his freshly shaved face trying, once again, to get me to join in on one of his grandiose health schemes I’ll politely tell him to fuck off.
Sorry Billy Crudup, but I don’t need your motivation today.