Everlasting Gobstoppers Aren’t Really Everlasting

My husband runs too, but to say that we are both runners is like saying that the man who gave us “Pants on the Ground” and Beethoven are both musicians. Already forgot “Pants on the Ground” and the man who gave it to us? Exactly.

I have six tattoos.

In 1981, the world was given Music Television, familiarly known as MTV.  An all-music, all-the-time channel, MTV introduced music videos to millions of cable viewers. For young people with access to cable television, life would never be the same.

Everybody knows that Henry VIII had six wives.

I think it’s fairly safe for me to say that I may very well be the worst runner in the history of runners. Within six months of the inception of my running life, I had iliotibial band syndrome, Achilles tendinitis and shin splints.  I wore a bulky, black boot to keep my foot aligned for more than a month and went to physical therapy for twice that amount of time.

The average movie lasts from an hour and a half to two hours; a television drama is usually one hour; a sitcom is half an hour; a music video is about three minutes, unless it’s long—if it’s long, it’s about five.

The first time Henry VIII didn’t want to be married anymore, he went through the trouble of creating a whole new church so he’d be allowed to get an annulment. Sometimes I’m too lazy to get up and go to the bathroom—Henry must have really disliked his wife.

Tattoos have existed for thousands of years. Though the meaning of tattoos among ancient cultures varied, all who practiced tattooing shared the intention of adorning the body in a permanent way.

If I had to choose an ancient god or goddess type to represent myself, as my son often requests, I’d choose the Venus of Willendorf. If I had to choose one for my husband, I’d choose Achilles (look no further, I am the heel).

The creation of Celtic knots is attributed to sailors from the days of yore. Having to leave their lovers for a long time, these sailors, expert knot-makers that they were, fashioned rope into knots for their lovers to hold onto as keepsakes.

By the time the late 1980s rolled around, MTV, instead of playing videos back-to-back to back all willy-nilly, had organized shows that focused on different styles of music. Dial MTV allowed viewers to call and vote for their favorite videos, and the top ten were later played; 120 Minutes featured alternative fare; Headbangers Ball played heavy metal; and Yo! MTV Raps showed—surprise, surprise—rap.  MTV was now broken up into shows, but, still, each of these shows played nothing but videos.

Ability and agility are not the only things that separate my husband’s running from mine. He’s a treadmill man. I run outside when I can.

Knowing he couldn’t just get annulments left and right, when it was time to get rid of his second wife, Henry VIII did away with her life.

Tattoos have been used as amulets, displays of devotion, declarations of social standing, and adornment. People who got tattoos went into it knowing they would be marked forever.  That was the point.

My husband started running about four years ago on a whim and never stopped. Last year, he ran 2,500 miles. A week ago, he crossed the 7,000-mile threshold. He’s probably running right now.

Sailors are famously known to have a girl in every port.

Maybe if I weren’t a dead ringer for the Venus of Willendorf, I’d be a better runner. Maybe if my husband weren’t a modern day Achilles, he’d be a worse one.

In 1997, Dial MTV was no more. In its place was Total Request. Total Request evolved into Total Request Live, five apparently too-difficult-to-say syllables that became TRL. Although it was a request show in the same spirit as the original Dial MTV, TRL didn’t play videos in their entirety.

People no longer have to be marked forever by tattoos. At some point between the beginning of time and now, tattoo removal was created.

Celtic knots are symbols that represent continuity and permanence. They are sometimes called endless knots because they have no beginning and no end.

After having his second wife beheaded, Henry VIII didn’t waste any time getting engaged. This wife gave birth to a child and then died after ten days.

Even though I’m constantly injured and have the Venus of Willendorf thing working against me, I run. I don’t do it constantly, though. Sometimes, because I feel genetics have done me wrong by sticking me with square-shaped feet à la Fred Flintstone and Greek-Italian birthin’ hips that weigh me down, I give up because I just can’t take the injustice of it all; sometimes, because some alternative activity—what? I can get in shape by climbing a wall of fake rocks? Kickbox and learn to fight like Buffy?—seems more exciting, I lose the desire to run; sometimes, because a person can only do so much of one thing, I just get bored.

Not long after TRL began shortening three to five minute videos to twenty to thirty second clips, whole videos on MTV became scarce. The generation of the three to five minute attention span gave way to the thirty-second one.

Celtic knots aren’t only for lovers. The special thing about them is that they have no beginning and no end. They can represent devotion to deity, bonds of family or love between friends.

Not one to remain single, Henry VIII had a marriage arranged; not so surprisingly, his mind soon changed. Because he hadn’t had an annulment since wife number one, the pope quickly granted his wish, and marriage number four was done.

Unlike biomechanically-challenged me, my husband is a biomechanical dream, and his jaunty, tight stride knows no lulls. Still, as physically able as he is, seven thousand miles is a lot to run. I’d be lying if I said it were entirely easy. He limps occasionally and gets shooting pains in his knees. Last Christmas, I stuffed his stocking with an ACE Bandage.

According to tattoohealth.org, “Until the last decade, tattoo removal was often painful and left unsightly scarring.  Today, it is now much easier to significantly fade or completely remove a tattoo.”

When I was a little girl, my father gave me some type of Celtic knot-shaped jewelry, either a charm or a pair of earrings.

After running a half-marathon, I could barely walk for two months.  I stretched, taped my toes down and put frozen peas and carrots on my inflamed parts. I don’t think there’s a podiatrist in South Florida I haven’t met, and I’ll probably get a birthday card from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. I swore I’d never run again.

Henry VIII indeed found another wife—an adulterer, it seems. Because history so often repeats itself, she was beheaded on the Tower Green.

Snippets of videos were replaced with reality shows and reruns of old television series on MTV. The network, as my generation knew it, is over; the music is no more.

No matter how badly he hurts, my husband never stops running.

My father and I haven’t spoken in months.

Although tattoo removal has come a long way, it’s not fail-safe. Hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, scarring and burning are all possibilities. Things that are meant to be permanent do not go gently.

Of course Henry VIII married again—apparently habits are hard to break. Lucky lady number six outlived old Hank.

I ran again.

Kel McIntyre Marthe in sunglassesKel McIntyre Marthe, an MFA student at Florida Atlantic University, has had essays published in Southern Women’s Review and Coastlines Literary Magazine. When she’s not under the needle adding to her tattoo collection, she can be found doting on her Australian Shepherd, Hudson, or playing dress-up with her big black dog-of-questionable-origin, Jazzy. Though she is still involved with her running shoes, she is currently embroiled in a love affair with a red and white retro Schwinn she calls Pepper. She lives in South Florida with her husband and two sons.

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  • This read like excerpts from your diary. Glad you are happy with your tattoos, your husband and MTV.

    • I don’t know if the diary excerpt thing is good or bad, but–thank you? And I’m actually not happy with all of those things. But thank you for reading and taking the time to comment.

  • ValNeidig123

    Kel- Love the pacing of this piece. Did you mean for it to seem like running? I thought it gathered speed in a VERY interesting way and I truly enjoyed the weaving of thoughts and themes. Nothing lasts forever. Yet, they do. I’m still taking this all in. I think that through concrete examples you created a mysterious piece, one in which every reader might take away something just a bit or a lot different from the next. You have created a very unique form. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am looking for more from you in the future! Very creative! -Val

    • I thought I left you a comment, but it’s not here. Let me try this again!

      Thank you! I’m so glad you like it. The piece came together organically, so, no, I didn’t intentionally mean to make it seem like running.

      If you’re interested in reading more of my writing, I have a blog. It’s much different than this, but it’s got me written all over it. Here’s the address: hudsys-girl.livejournal.com/

      Thanks again!
      Kel 🙂

      • ValNeidig123

        Thanks, Kel! I’ll check it out! 😀 As far as the running goes… organic works for you! 😀 I agree with Nathan… perfectly executed! It does make for a great re-read! Reading this, I felt like I was running. The continual cycle of themes and their ordered progression as well as their gathered speed gave your piece energy and life, I thought. Again, very original. I loved it! Val This piece moves! 😀 Watch out!

  • ValNeidig123

    P.S. I LOVE the title!!!

  • The structure of this is so clever that when you get to the end you just want to go back to the start and read it again. I’m a big fan of this piece; an excellent idea, perfectly executed.

  • dan

    that is so the essence of the person i remember.

  • dan

    that is so the essence of the person i remember.

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