I went to a race today not to win, but to cheer. Cheering is a very important job and I didn’t want to be late, so I woke up before the alarm to run around the house screaming. That way, Mom would wake up in time for us to make an inspiring sign. “How do I be encouraging without pressuring her… just in case she’s the kind of person who barfs?” I asked. I know all about barfing before the finish line because that’s what Mom used to do when she was excited and messed up her pacing. “How about just ‘Go‘?” Mom said. “Yeah! That’s good! Use two of them!” I told her. “And how will she know that it’s special for her?” “How about we use her name?” Mom suggested. “Cathy! Her name’s Cathy,” I directed, looking over Mom’s shoulder to make sure she got it right. “You should also let her know that you’re proud to be her Friend,” Mom recommended. The best way to show you’re proud of someone is to brag about them to strangers, so I said, “Write that she’s the one that’s winning. So people will know how special she is and be jealous that I know her.” Mom wrote all that, and then she drew a support unicorn* next to the words. Then we took our sign and got in the car.
When we got out of the car, Mom stood still to ask The Witch about something. While we were standing there, a woman in running clothes came out of the house-door next to us. “Go ,Cathy, go!” I barked as I ran up to her with such force that Mom almost dropped The Witch on the sidewalk. “Oscar, leave her alone,” Mom said. “We don’t know her.” “It’s okay. Hi, buddy!” Not-Cathy said as she scratched my butt for inspiration before her Saturday morning run.
Then we walked a little ways down to the water, where runners had just finished starting the race. Mom walked toward a woman in a traffic vest whose witch was a talkie-walkie. “Go, Cathy, Go!” I wagged, pulling Mom so hard that the leash almost ripped out of her paw as I climbed the sidewalk like Spiderdog. “That’s not Cathy!” Mom told me. Then she asked Also-Not-Cathy, “Will the runners pass by here before the finish?” Also-Not-Cathy said they would, so Mom and I chose our spot to cheer. Finally, Mom put on my unicorn hat, which was our signal for Cathy to recognize me, and we waited for the runners to come back.
We watched lots of people win, and each one was exciting, but especially the people who said how cute I was. Then I heard a far away voice say, “IS THAT OSCAR?!” This was my moment to shine! I shook my unicorn hat off in the grass and rocketed up-race, dragging Mom behind me. “Which one is she?! Which one is she?!” Mom asked. “Are you Cathy?” I asked the first man I met. “Are you Cathy?!” I barked the lady behind him. Then I saw a man and a lady waving at me, and Mom dropped the leash for me to say hi in style! “Which one of you is Cathy?” I asked the man-friend. Then the lady-friend said my name and handed me a unicorn toy. “Cathy!!!!” I barked. Then I said “nyoink” as I grabbed the unicorn and shook my head to break his neck. “I love it!” I screeched, and then I dumped it in the grass for Mom to carry. “Did you say thank you?“ Mom asked, like I’d done something wrong. “Strangers are excited to see me and give me gifts all the time,” I pointed out. “Isn’t that just what people do?” “I think that’s one of those things that only happens to you, Oscar…” Mom said. “Well then maybe you should be nicer to strangers, Mom!” I said.
Oscar the Cheerleader
*If you aren’t a member of the running group, you may not know how hot unicorns are right now. The unicorns refer to the post below, which refers to someone else’s post about unicorns which was taken down by group administrators:
I don’t know how it started, but I’ve been seeing all of my Friends posting pictures about unicorns. “Mom, unicorns are really on trend right now. Can I talk about unicorns too?” “Oscar, I don’t want you to get involved in people being ugly on the internet. We don’t know what the fight was about that started the unicorn war, and I’d rather not get involved.” “Mom, you’ve got it all wrong. The unicorn is a symbol that people love and support each other in real life. The internet is just the tool they use to reach out to each other. I’m all about love and support. It’s totally on brand.” “Oh. I thought it was the symbol for the Boston Marathon.” “Shows what you know…”
Despite Mom being scared of trolls on the internet, she bought me a unicorn hat and we took it out for a run in My Hometown. It was our third day running in a row, and these days Mom’s body can’t handle running on too many consecutive days, but the unicorn hat must have had some magic powers because Mom ran the 150 stairs up the mountain 3 times when it would have been easier to run farther and flatter.
“You know, I qualified for the Boston Marathon once,” Mom huffed when we got to the stairs for the second time. “There really is something magical about that unicorn. For me anyway…” “You BQ’ed? But that’s only for fast people!” “Yeah. I was fast for about a year. Then I wasn’t. So I get both perspectives.” “What happened?” “It’s sort of like a fairy tale, actually,” Mom explained. “In my youth I was impatient, and ran Boston illegally. That was a dozen years ago, back before safety was an issue and you could still do that sort of thing.” “Mom! That’s unethical! There are people who work very hard for the honor of running the Boston Marathong.” “There is a long history of bandits sneaking in to Boston to push boundaries, but that isn’t why I did it. I did it because I wanted something that I hadn’t earned yet.” “I hope you were ashamed of yourself.” “I was. I felt so rotten about it that I promised myself that I would qualify someday. The problem was that I would need to run a lot faster to qualify. Like more than a minute per mile faster, for every single mile.” “That’s a lot.” I know all about minutes and miles because I’m an experienced runner. “It took me more than 5 years to do it. One year I ran A LOT, and came within 3 minutes of qualifying at two marathons in a row. It was so frustrating. I was so close.” “So what did you do?” “Like in every story, the magic happened on the third try. On my third marathon that fall I ran the race of my life. It was magical. I set a 13 minute PR, BQ’ed by 10 minutes, and I didn’t even feel tired until the last mile. I cried at the finish line I was so happy.” “Mom, you shouldn’t cry. It’s not very manly. And it looks ugly in pictures,” I explained. “Well I ran Boston in 2015, and then my body broke down. The next marathon I ran was almost an hour slower. It’s like the unicorn granted me one final wish before I had to say goodbye to competitive running.” “See? Unicorns grant running wishes!” I grinned. “Can you put my hat back on, please?” “I thought you hated hats.” “This isn’t just a hat. It’s a message that tells people that I hope we all win. The spike reminds them that we need to be ferocious and keep your head pointing at a wish for a long time to make it happen. But the flowers and sparkles remind them that there is also a lot of love, support and magic from your Friends if you follow your spike. I need to make sure to send enough unicorns that all my Friends’ running wishes will be granted.”
“Okay. Say cheese,” Mom said, holding up The Witch. “WHERE?!”
Oscar the Unicorn
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